“If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten?” (Hebrews 12:7).

STRANGE AS IT SEEMS, THE DIFFICULTIES IN OUR LIVES ARE EVIDENCE OF GOD’S LOVE. He knows we need some storms in our lives, and He loves us too much to give us only what we want and never what we need. If we were coddled and protected from ever having to deal with difficulty, the results would be disastrous, as any parent knows who has seen what “spoiling” does to a child.

In a familiar text, James wrote, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience” (James 1:2,3). Hardship is not pleasant, and we shouldn’t try to trick our minds into thinking that it is. The point of this text is that the result of hardship is something we can be thankful for. We can “count it all joy” that a particular hardship draws us closer to God, although the pain itself is not joyful.

There is literally nothing that happens in this world that can’t be put to good use in some way. Even the things that Satan confronts us with can strengthen us if we deal with them properly. God does not tempt us, of course, but He does allow Satan to do so. Within the limits imposed by God (1 Corinthians 10:13), our adversary is allowed to make life difficult for us. Presumably, God could keep this from happening, but He deems it better for us to deal with the difficulty than to be isolated from it altogether.

So it is naive to expect that life will always be easy. When we encounter serious obstacles on our way to heaven, we shouldn’t be surprised. This happens to be a hard world, and godly people aren’t going to get through it painlessly. Jesus certainly didn’t.

But more than that, we shouldn’t want life always to be easy. Whatever hardship God sends, or allows to be sent, into our lives, we should embrace the “problem” with gratitude. Paul’s example in dealing with his “thorn in the flesh” illustrates this principle. It was a “messenger of Satan” (2 Corinthians 12:7) and not a gift from God. But Paul was grateful for it anyway — because of the result. “Therefore,” Paul wrote, “I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10).

“All sunshine makes the desert” (Arabian Proverb).

Gary Henry — WordPoints.com + AreYouaChristian.com

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