If we had no struggles, difficulties, or persecution in life, there would be no need for faith. There would be little opportunity to see the power of God at work in our lives through His Word. Proverbs 3:11 (Amplified Bible) says, "My son do not despise or shrink from the chastening of the Lord [His correction by punishment or by subjection to suffering or trial]." We can see that there are several kinds of struggles and difficulties that we may encounter. The first comes when correction is needed.
A few days ago, my husband gave our 13-year-old son, Luke, a list of items he needed to pack for their hunting trip. He procrastinated even though we reminded him to get his things packed. When he brought down his gear, I offered to help him double-check for everything. He quickly assured me he had remembered everything and then hurried off to put his things in the truck. Upon arrival to the deer lease, my husband realized that Luke had forgotten to pack his sleeping bag and pillow. His appropriate consequence was the discomfort of sleeping on a cot with no bedding. There are times that our suffering is a direct result of bad choices.
There have been times I have acted sinfully or selfishly in certain situations. And God, in His mercy, has used those times to form His character within me. Through such times of suffering caused by my own sinful nature I have gained knowledge and learned life lessons that are forever etched on my heart. In retrospect I know I have gained godly character and greater integrity through such times.
There are other times that we experience suffering and trials that are not a result of our own actions. God allows these difficult times for a reason also. In the midst of our struggles there is an opportunity for God to show us aspects of himself, His mercy and His grace we might not otherwise see. We can gain skillful, godly wisdom in hard times by making God's Word our treasure. As we daily read God's Word and take it to heart it will be there like a reservoir of fresh water when difficult times come our way. Proverbs 7:1 (Amplified Bible) says, "My son, keep my words; lay up within you my commandments [for use when needed] and treasure them."
One of the most valuable things God is continuing to teach me is the power that is available to me through His Word. I have found no greater medicine for my aching heart than the Book of Psalms. It is our handbook with answers for our marriages, parenting, financial issues and healing. It gives us solutions for overcoming pride, laziness, and sexual lust. For everything we will ever face there is an answer in God's Word. I am learning no matter what situation I face His Word gives me wisdom and godly council so that I can always walk in victory. All I have to do is look for the answer. God promises that we will find Him when we seek Him with all our hearts.
That's oftentimes the problem. Our hectic pace in life keeps us from taking the time to become a student of His Word and our lives reflect that. Most people would agree that they don't want to take the time to spend with the banker as a result of financial problems. Nor would any of us desire to spend time with a counselor fixing a broken or troubled marriage. Believing and living by God's Word by getting it into our hearts can keep us from living on the edge of disaster.
I've found that if I don't have time to study God's Word then it's time to rearrange my schedule. As a full-time wife and mother of four children I know what it's like to scurry through the day tending to my children and household. But on such days when I am unable to spend my usual time in God's Word I carry it with me. I write a Scripture on an index card as a handy constant reminder. As I meditate on that Scripture throughout the day I gain strength and am able to maintain the proper focus. I find when I think on God's Word throughout the day the Holy Spirit brings to mind other passages that speak to my present situation. I am able to maintain a peaceful outlook when frustrations arise.
When we make a conscious choice to put God's Word first in our lives and order our paths by it, God will honor us. He is so ready to bless us with the wisdom and peace that we need in our lives. But He will not just dump it on us. There must be some effort on our part. I have found that any amount of energy I spend sowing the seed of God's Word into my mind and heart is time well spent. After all it is sure to bring a harvest of righteousness (see 1 Corinthians 9:10).
So in times of difficulty and persecution, if we speak God's Word and remind ourselves of His promises, we will gain skillful and godly wisdom. If we are faithful to believe God's Word works in our lives then we will grow and mature spiritually.
Have you noticed how hopeless unbelievers are in times of trouble? Their situation makes no sense to them. Their suffering leads them to a bleak perspective on life, which leads them to make unwise decisions during their time of struggle, thus compounding their problems.
But as Christians we have everything we need to come through each struggle with greater strength, maturity and unexplainable peace. We know that our trials are opportunities for us to develop and grow. So nothing in life, good or bad, is without purpose for the follower of Christ. It is all filtered through the hands of a loving God and can be accepted as an opportunity for growth and victory. Now that is a perspective that will set us apart in a lost world and bring glory to God.