“. . . strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying, ‘We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God’ ” (Acts 14:22).

IT IS ONLY TO BE EXPECTED THAT WE WILL MEET RESISTANCE IN OUR PROGRESS TOWARD GOD. Satan will surely try to defeat us with problems and pains, and God knows that it’s better to allow these difficulties than to prevent them. “We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God,” said Paul and Barnabas as they encouraged certain new converts to remain steadfast.

In the Homilies of Pseudo-Macarius, there is this observation: “We read in the Bible about some people who pleased God. They are considered God’s friends and favorites. We miss one important detail. They suffered for God . . . We applaud them and wish we could be honored in a similar way, but we ignore the cost.”

Not only do we ignore the cost, some of us avoid difficulty so often that a pain-free life almost appears to be our main priority. But why should we want to be exempt from the hardships that so many of our brethren have suffered? How fair would it be for us to be granted the special consideration of an easier path to God? Do we not remember that old hymn “Am I a Soldier of the Cross?” The second stanza should prick our conscience: “Must I be carried to the skies on flowr’y beds of ease, while others fought to win the prize and sailed through bloody seas?”

The matter really comes down to a simple question: do we really want our hearts to be adjusted to God’s holiness or not? If we do, there is a price to be paid and a discipline to be submitted to. Jesus’ glory was on the other side of His suffering, and so it must be with us (Mark 8:34). Paul wrote that he was glad to have made sacrifices in order to know Jesus Christ: “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead” (Philippians 3:10,11). The crown of Christ is for those who, with Him, have borne the cross.

We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom. There is no other entrance.

“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired, and success achieved” (Helen Keller).

Gary Henry — WordPoints.com + AreYouaChristian.com

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