When the Going Is Hard

MEMORY VERSE: “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” —Philippians 4:13


OBSTACLES, hindrances, handicaps, disappointments, rejection, illness, and other difficulties do not in themselves promote Christian development, and of course are not joyful experiences; however, what really matters is the manner in which these experiences are accepted, dealt with, and overcome. Those who accept them as being evidences of the Lord’s dealings in their lives and overcome them in the proper spirit will gain the victory, for which purpose the difficulties were permitted.

The Apostle Paul, who tells us in our memory text that he could do all things through Christ from whom he received his abundant strength, is an outstanding example to us of overcoming difficulties and hardship in his consecrated walk. Regarding some of these experiences, he says (II Cor. 11:23-27) that he was “in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.”

And in addition to these experiences which the great apostle has enumerated for our consideration as sufferings for Christ, he also points out that “beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches” (vs. 28), which suggests to us the far-reaching sense of responsibility which he assumed for the truth and the brethren. Indeed Paul, perhaps as much as anyone else who has taken the name of the Lord, knew from firsthand experience what it meant to endure hardness and sufferings for Christ, yet he did not boast of these things, nor did he tell us about them to draw attention to himself.

He endured difficult experiences for a reason, and our Lord was surely preparing him for a very special position in his kingdom. And so with us: if we find that life’s experiences are varied, we too may realize that our Lord sees that we need both the joyful and bitter things to help shape our characters for a position in that marvelous kingdom of the future. Let us, then, even as the apostle did, learn how to abound, not allowing the abundance of earthly good things to swerve us from our consecration vows; and let us learn also how to be in need, if the occasion so arises, and yet not want anything beyond what the Lord’s wisdom and providence sees best to give.

We should learn to be satisfied with the Lord’s overruling care in our lives, even as the apostle expresses it: “I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: everywhere and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.”—Phil. 4:12

The apostle’s close relationship, intimate union, and complete reliance upon our Lord was the reason he could accept with faith the many difficulties that came into his life. He was abiding as a branch in the vine and was strengthened by the same spirit; he was enabled to do all things and to pass through hardships with thanksgiving and gratitude.

And should it not be so with us who have also accepted so much of the Lord’s good pleasure in our lives? Can we not learn a valuable lesson from the great apostle who assured us that he could do those things because he trusted in God? If we can answer yes to these questions, then we too can press along life’s journey even though the going may be hard from time to time; and we can learn to rejoice in the Lord’s providences until the time that we may hear that wonderful invitation to enter into the everlasting joy of the Lord. “His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.”—Matt. 25:23

Dawn Bible Students Association
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