the stress becomes more than you can bear….
everything in your life is shaken….
it feels like the world is caving in around you?
It would be so easy to collapse. To give in and give up. To walk away from God.
But, what would we gain if we responded that way to the trials and storms that come? Would our character ever have a chance to strengthen and develop or would we remain weak and fragile beings, lost in the sea of humanity?
It has been said quite often, but it bears repeating – if we want our bodies to be strong, then we must use them. It takes work and resistance to strengthen our muscles and so it takes work and resistance to strengthen our character.
Romans 5:3-5 explains how problems and trials should be perceived by those who accept the name, “Christian” – i.e. as a way to develop endurance, which in turn strengthens our character. We are assured that it is only with a strong and mature character that we will be able to keep hope alive in the face of any difficulty or problem.
We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.
It is, however, always good to take the Bible in context. If we back up just one chapter to Romans 4:16, Paul has this to say:
“….For Abraham is the father of all who believe. That is what the Scriptures mean when God told him, “I have made you the father of many nations.” This happened because Abraham believed in the God who brings the dead back to life and who creates new things out of nothing.
Even when there was no reason for hope, Abraham kept hoping—believing that he would become the father of many nations. For God had said to him, “That’s how many descendants you will have!” And Abraham’s faith did not weaken, even though, at about 100 years of age, he figured his body was as good as dead—and so was Sarah’s womb.
Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God. He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever he promises.
In the natural, Abraham’s situation was hopeless. He had every reason to fall apart. And every year that he and Sarah remained childless, the situation only grew darker.
But, Abraham did not fall apart.
He did not lose hope.
He did not walk away from God when it looked like God had forsaken His promise.
Instead, Abraham “believed in the God who brings the dead back to life and who creates new things out of nothing” and he “never wavered in believing God’s promise … his faith grew stronger … fully convinced that God is able to do whatever He promises.”
Are you facing something that seems impossible right now? Are you trials overwhelming? If so, how are you responding? Are you standing firm in the hope of God’s promises no matter what you see with your eyes?
If you are a Christian, you can look to Abraham as your example. He did not allow his trials to paralyze him. He just kept walking with God. He lived his life, loved his wife, friends and family, knowing that one way or another, God would indeed fulfill His promises.
And, eventually, God did. He sent Isaac to be born of Sarah, and they were so thrilled that they named their son “Laughter”. While this was an allusion to Sarah’s laughter at God’s promise to give them a child in their old age, I have no doubt that it carried a two-fold meaning for Abraham and Sarah who were filled with such great joy in watching the plan of God fulfilled in their lives.
The bottom line is, we will go through trials (yes, even – no – especially Christians!) in this world, but we can choose to trust God and allow Him to develop our character and make us stronger or we can fall apart and come to the end of our lives no better than we started out. But, while helpless and fragile are endearing character traits in a precious infant, they are not so useful to maturing adults.
So, keep your hope alive! Use your trials to grow stronger. Develop endurance, perseverance, strength of character. As you do, every trial will become easier to face and you will find that you are not as fragile as you once thought. As for me, despite the storm that is surrounding me, I will
Trust in Jesus, my great Deliverer
My strong Defender, the Son of God
I trust in Jesus, blessed Redeemer
My Lord forever, the Holy One, the Holy One
(From the song, “Trust in Jesus” by Third Day)