“….the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They are there to stop the other people…..Brick walls are there for a reason. They give us a chance to show how badly we want something.”
In The Last Lecture the brick walls Randy speaks of are hindrances to our goals. We can allow the brick walls to make us bitter or better depending on how we view them. We can choose to give up because of the walls or persevere in spite of the brick walls.
Perseverance, as defined in the dictionary, is steady persistence in a course of action, a purpose, a state, etc., especially in spite of difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement.
Our finest goal is to be Christ-like. The hindrance to this goal is sin. To grow spiritually in order to become like Christ we need perseverance to overcome sin. It is a daily challenge that requires daily help, staying in God’s Word.
God Can Use Our Suffering
God, our loving Heavenly Father, uses suffering or misfortune in our lives to prove our faith or to test our character.
As a parent I would never push my son into the road in front of traffic, but if my son ran out into the road I would discipline him to teach him of the possible danger. I have purposely inflicted temporary pain on my son’s backside in order to teach him to avoid much greater pain in the future. I am much wiser than he is. I can see a bigger picture.
Sin and disobedience usually cause our suffering, but God can use it to make us stronger if we let Him. Character built by the Holy Spirit is different compared to our born again experience. Salvation is a gift. Character growth is built through proving: tribulation, hardships, sorrow, and trials.
“Count it all a joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.” James 1:2-3
We are human. We spend a great deal of our lives seeking comforts and avoiding pain because it is natural to relate negatively to suffering.
Romans 8:28 says “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
If we believe God’s Word we can embrace obstacles and difficulties. We can look at the bigger picture and see God has a greater plan.
Becoming a Christian never means a life without suffering. In fact, we are promised hindrances and tribulation:
- ~ Man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward (Job 5:7).
- ~ Many are the afflictions of the righteous but the Lord delivered him out of them all (Psa. 34:19).
- ~ For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory (2 Cor. 4:17).
- ~ Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution(2 Tim. 3:12).
- ~ In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. (John 16:33).
- ~ And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience. (Rom. 5:3).
How can a loving God use suffering? This is a very hard lesson to understand. God continually uses means to bring our heart to closer relations and nearness to Christ. The means that He uses are not important.
What is important is that we view suffering and trials as allowing God to build our spiritual life and character. To allow Him to be the Potter while we are the clay. This is TRUST and FAITH. The stronger the character and deeper the life in Him, the nearer we are brought to Our Lord.
That I May Know Him…
Christ suffered for us–persecution, pain, and death. He suffered much more than the cross; he faced every day difficulties similar to those we face. He learned obedience through suffering (Heb 5:8).
We are quick to balk if we are slightly uncomfortable, but Paul calls us to share in the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings:
I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death. Phil 3:10
Look at this verse in the Amplified Bible:
For my determined purpose is that I may know Him that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly, and that I may in that same way come to know the power outflowing from His resurrection which it exerts over believers, and that I may so share His sufferings as to be continually transformed in spirit into His likeness even to His death, in the hope. Phil 3:10
Tribulation means threshing. The farmer threshes the wheat that the grain may be separated from the chaff and the sticks. He wants pure grain. God said, “Tribulation worketh patience.”
Plants produce better and richer fruit when the vine is pruned. Patience, long-suffering, and kindness come by way of threshing or pruning.
Think about the struggles and trials you have faced in your lifetime. Did you grow? Was it worth it? Did Corrie Ten Boom grow during her hardships?
The prodigal son’s father knew the son was headed for destruction. In tough love, he allowed him to leave with his inheritance. The boy learned and grew. In the end he became the man his father wanted him to be–through great suffering.
North Korean Missionary
Today, I heard a portion of a radio show interview of a North Korean missionary. They discussed the changes in the last 20 years – how persecution dropped from 80% to 20%. The interviewer asked the missionary “Do you want to be rid of all persecution?” The missionary quickly replied, “God’s will be done; we have grown by leaps and bounds spiritually through the persecution.”
North Korean Christians welcome suffering. By most standards, the entire country is a prison camp; cold, hunger and death are everywhere. Believers in North Korea’s underground church recite five principles, along with the Lord’s Prayer, at their secret gatherings:
- Our persecution and suffering are our joy and honor.
- We want to accept ridicule, scorn and disadvantages with joy in Jesus’ name.
- As Christians, we want to wipe others’ tears away and comfort the suffering.
- We want to be ready to risk our lives because of our love for our neighbor, so that they also become Christians.
- We want to live our lives according to the standards set in God’s Word.
Bitter or Better
Suffering does not automatically make you stronger. It depends on how you react to it. Difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement can make you either bitter or better.
I watched one of the sweetest, kindest, most loving people I have ever known turn into a bitter hard woman in a few short months. Her husband left her and their children after he fell in love with her best friend. She was full of anger and rage. I watched it eat her from the inside out.
It took over a year and a lot of prayer but she turned back to God. Praise God. She chose to forgive (God, her husband and the other woman) and is now becoming a loving person again.
I have had the opportunity to watch the transformation. As she allows God to be in charge, she is growing stronger though the deep pain and suffering. I see new fresh fruit in her life. She is learning to continually surrender and forgive as the angry feelings return, again and again. She has to surrender–as we all do, over and over–and each time she grows closer to Christ and produces more fruit of the Spirit.
When we ask God to make us Christ-like we need to expect difficulties which allow Him to break our pride, rebellion, selfishness and independence so we can learn to be totally dependent on Him.
Do you want deliverance or development? Consider difficulties and obstacles as your signal to turn to God just as a sailor turns to a lighthouse in the storm. A difficulty can be a wonderful instrument if it forces you to turn to the Light.
You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. (Jeremiah 29:13)