Archives for posts with tag: DIFFICULTY

Why is my life filled with so much pain and struggle? What have I done wrong to deserve this? If I just had enough faith, this would not have happened! These and other comments reflect a misunderstanding of faith and life.

There are people who believe that faith in God will prevent tragedy and adversity. They espouse the understanding that God watches over God’s people and will shield them from all harm. They have scripture on their side and they quote verses like 2 Samuel 22:3 “My God is my rock—I take refuge in him!— he’s my shield and my salvation’s strength, my place of safety and my shelter.” Or “God is a shield for all who take refuge in him” (Psalm 18:30).

There are many more similar expressions of confidence that God looks out for God’s own- and I believe them too. But we have to consider the whole of the Bible and not just select verses.

The Bible contains many strong assertions that God will protect and prevent people of faith from suffering disaster. There are many examples where that is dramatically demonstrated and the faith of God’s followers is affirmed. Stories in the Bible and history contain details of people who trusted God and were spared. The Hebrew Children is an excellent example. King Nebuchadnezzar had them thrown into a fiery furnace but they were rescued without even the hair on their head being burned.

Trust God and everything will be alright! But Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego understood the possibility that they would not be spared. With that awareness they said, “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us… But even if he does not…we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up” (Daniel 3:17-18).

The story of Job is an interesting one. In spite of the fact that he had lost many of the things that were important, he refused to stop trusting God. He said, “Even if God killed me, I’d keep on hoping.” What about the Apostle Paul. It has been said that he is second only to Jesus as the most important person in the origins of Christianity and he certainly did not have an easy life.

Ok, so faith does not always prevent adversity but God will deliver those who put their trust in Him. Right? Yes but perhaps not exactly as we would wish.

Chapter 11 of The Book of Hebrews chronicles the exploits of many “heroes of faith.” Their mighty and miraculous deeds are listed and the writer suggests there are too many such people and stories to mention them all. But the record shows that there were others who were tortured, imprisoned, stoned, and persecuted in ways too horrible to mention. “Not one of these people, even though their lives of faith were exemplary, got their hands on what was promised” (Heb. 11:39-40 MSG).

“When disaster strikes, or calamity becomes the norm, there is no human logic that can explain all of the questions, ‘Why?’  There are things that, quite frankly, seem to make no sense at all.  Much of our human suffering appears arbitrary and senseless…One day every person faces eternity through death; better to believe in God through His son Jesus, and at least have the assurance of eternal life.  The trials of this life are temporary, even though they may seem to drag on forever.  Faith becomes the reality and evidence of what eternity will one day make vivid and real.”**

The Apostle Paul wrote to the Christians in Corinth, “ For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure, because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:17-18, NRSV).

It is important to maintain faith in a loving and powerful God Almighty. To believe that all things are possible if you believe. At the same time one must realize that faith does not guarantee a victorious outcome in this earthly life. The words to a song by Mercy Me captures what I am trying to say.

I know You’re able and I know You can save through the fire with Your mighty hand. But even if You don’t my hope is You alone.

They say it only takes a little faith to move a mountain. Good thing. A little faith is all I have right now. But God, when You choose To leave mountains unmovable give me the strength to be able to sing it is well with my soul.”

Regardless of circumstances the important thing is to come to the end of this earthly journey and be able to say, “I have finished my course. I have fought a good fight. I have kept the faith.” Then you can be assured that you will receive God’s approval and the prize will be worth the journey (2 Timothy 4:7-8).

Jamie Jenkins
*”Even If” by MercyMe- writers: Bart Millard, Ben Glover, Crystal Lewis, David Garcia, Tim Timmons

**Why Should I Believe In A God Who Doesn’t Seem To Help? by Craig Blumel

 

 

“I have been through a lot in my life,” he said. Then the young man talked about the health issues he had experienced in his soon to be twenty-four years. He had surgery to remove a brain tumor and then he was diagnosed with a very rare form of cancer.

The survival rate for children who had this type of cancer was 40-70%. The prognosis for people over 18 was not nearly as good- less than 15%. Over the past 30 years there were less than 500 cases of adults with this form of cancer in the United States and the United Kingdom.

The cancer began in his lungs and then spread to the bone in his left arm. Chemotherapy and radiation reduced the size of the tumor. Then surgery removed the rotator cuff and the deltoid, the muscle forming the rounded contour of the human shoulder. He said the upper four inches of his left arm were “metal bone.” Two and a half weeks ago he was declared cancer free. “In reality I am a dead man walking,” he remarked.

As I listened I was struck with this young man’s attitude. There was no hint of bitterness or anger. No whining. Just a deep sense of gratitude for the knowledge and compassionate care of the medical personnel that treated him.

stock photo of medical personnel - portrait of successful medical team - JPG

Harry Emerson Fosdick said, “It is not what life brings to us in its hand but what we bring to it in our spirit that makes the difference.” This twenty-something man exhibited the kind of attitude that I wish was present in more people. He was an exceptional example that adversity does not have to make us bitter. If we respond as he has, difficulty can make us better.

Positive Attitude

Later in the same day that I overheard the aforementioned comments I visited two people in a rehab facility recovering from a fall. They were both decades older than the young fellow who had “been through a lot.” Because of their injuries their lives had taken a dramatic turn but they too had a hopeful and cheerful attitude and were doing what was needed to recover.

Cross that bridge

The Apostle Paul’s instructions were to “give thanks in every situation because this is God’s will for you.” I don’t believe he was suggesting that facing difficult times was what God wanted for you. Rather he was trying to help us realize that the only disability in life is a bad attitude and folks want to be around other folks who maintain a positive outlook.

Jesus said, “In the world you have trouble. But be encouraged! I have conquered the world.” (John 16:33)

Tom Stoppard reminds us that after all is said and done, “A healthy attitude is contagious but don’t wait to catch it from others. Be a carrier.”

Jamie Jenkins

ADVENTURE 1

http://yourshot.nationalgeographic.com/profile/228500/

Life is full of starts and stops. Ups and downs. Cycles. But I believe that people of faith ought to always see life as an adventure.

Long ago God called Abram to pick up and leave everything that was familiar and journey to a place that he did not know (Genesis 12). Although Abram did not know the destination, God assured him of guidance to the “land that I will show you.”

It was not necessary for Abram to know the end from the beginning. God knew the way.

Along the way Abram and his entourage encountered some difficult circumstances but the promise of God was that blessings would be the reward for faithful obedience. As they traveled on their divinely directed journey we are told that “the Canaanites were in the land” (Gen. 12:6) and they lived in “great cities walled up to the sky.” The Canaan Convention and Visitors Bureau was not very hospitable. But Abram continued to follow God’s direction.

It is irrational to believe that all of life will be smooth sailing- even for people who follow God’s leading. We mistakenly think that the absence of struggle and challenge is a good thing. In fact the opposite is true. Adversity is not our enemy; it is often our good friend strengthening us for the journey.

 

In 1962, Victor and Mildred Goertzel published a revealing study of 413 “famous and exceptionally gifted people” called Cradles of Eminence. They spent years attempting to understand what produced such greatness, what common thread might run through all of these outstanding people’s lives. Surprisingly, the most outstanding fact was that virtually all of them, 392, had to overcome very difficult obstacles in order to become who they were.

Malcolm Muggeridge

Malcolm Muggeridge said, “Contrary to what might be expected, I look back on experiences that at the time seemed especially desolating and painful with particular satisfaction. Indeed, I can say with complete truthfulness that everything I have learned in my 75 years in this world, everything that has truly enhanced and enlightened my experience, has been through affliction and not through happiness.”

It seems to me that the key is to be on the path that God has planned for us. If we are, we will be equal to every test and able to overcome any obstacle. As we journey with God we will learn, as Abram did, that God will bless us and make us a blessing to others.

Jamie Jenkins

PATIENCE 2

I am writing this from the airport in Newark, New Jersey. I arrived here about four hours ago from Tel Aviv. The uneventful flight landed right on time and I slept for several hours on the 12 hour flight, which is unusual for me. This trip began two weeks ago with the cancellation of my outbound flight from Atlanta due to what the media called a historical winter storm.

Processing through passport control and customs went smoothly this morning and I was told that I needed to re-check my bag to Atlanta. I was then directed to the Transfer Desk where I learned that my flight had been cancelled due to freezing rain. I was re-booked on a flight that departed five and a half hours later. Just what you want to hear after being up 24 hours.
PATIENCE 1
I am not a good wait-er and I am not always flexible but I tried to take it in stride. After all as the ticket agent said, “We can’t control Mother Nature.” Even if we could I am glad that we are not in control of the weather. As bad as things may be at times, I am sure it would be much worse if we decided when the rain or snow came and if we managed the temperature and climate. What a mess that would be.

So I settled into the “comfortable” environments of the Newark Liberty Airport.

I am sure I do not fully understand the axiom “tribulation works patience” but I doubt that it was intended for situations like my interrupted travel. Whatever the situation, when things don’t go like we planned, the results may be unpleasant or painful but often the unexpected changes result in a wonderful experience.

PATIENCE 4

Unexpected circumstances often provide excellent opportunities to develop and practice patience.  And “patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next” (Romans 5:3, MSG).
Life is not always orderly and predictable. Our path is often through hills and valleys with curves and rough places at times. Detours occur and we may not reach our intended destination on time or not at all. Through it all we have the opportunity to learn and grow. After all, life is more about the journey than the destination. God help us to relax and enjoy the ride.

PATIENCE 5

Jamie Jenkins