“That is why we never give up” (II Corinthians 4:16)
Psalm 56:8 tells us that God keeps track of our sorrows and keeps all our tears in a bottle. What compassion! Because of the extend of his empathy towards us, I suspect he also keeps a list of all the things we pray for over the years in our journey with Christ. Things like physical healings, needed provisions, wisdom, emotional strength, forgiveness. But when sifting back through the mounds of petitions we have lifted to God, it is probably safe to say that none of us has asked for trials and troubles, nor difficulties and dilemmas. We get enough of them without asking for them.
The bible never sugarcoats the struggles and strains life brings. Nor does the bible promise that unwanted circumstances are somehow going to bypass God’s children. In fact, in John 16:33 Jesus clearly promised the opposite when he said, “in this world you will have trouble.” God does not guarantee that troubles will bypass us, but he does pledge to deliver us from them (Psalm 34:19)
So, what is the stress and strain that is going on in your life right now? What is getting the best of you at this moment? What is about to push you over the edge? Is it physical? Is it a situation you can’t seem to find an end to? Is it a family predicament that lingers on and on? Or perhaps it’s all the stress from the turmoil our nation and world are in? What about the future? Am I going to be safe? Whatever the struggle, God has something good for you as you walk through the rough waters of life.
Don’t forget that Joseph found favor with Pharaoh while he was locked in a dungeon. The apostle Paul wrote his best epistles from prison. John’s Revelation was written while he was in exile. Paul Bunyan wrote Pilgrim’s Progress from the Bedford jail. These men found God’s best in the middle of their worse. Without that dungeon, Joseph would not have been reunited with his family. Without that exile John’s book of Revelation would not be our comfort for the future. Without that jail Pilgrim’s Progress would not be the most famous Christian allegory. And without those prison cells Paul’s epistles would not be the light that guides our daily path.
God can and does always bring the best out of the worse. That is why Paul encourages us to “not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So, we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (II Corinthians 4:16-18)
Never give up, my friend! We will be home before we know it.