Somehow the sentiment of this verse really challenged me. I couldn’t help wondering whether troubles that come my way really do produce endurance in me or whether, initially at least, they tend to bring out something quite different and not nearly as helpful. I’d like to feel that after many years as a Christian I am more able to resist the carnal reactions (that would undoubtedly have surfaced freely in the past) but maybe only those who know me very well would be able to judge whether that is indeed the case!
So today, I am challenging you to consider, what is your default setting when trouble comes? It might be a relatively small trouble or something that threatens health and happiness. What is your initial reaction? Do you start moaning that it isn’t fair and lapse into self-pity? Do you blame God for letting you down and allowing this problem to affect you? Do you become angry and aggressive- and heaven help the cat who is near enough to be kicked? Do you desperately strive to control, in whatever way you can, to try to find your own solution? I expect some of us do a mixture of more than one of these. The problem is after these reactions. We don’t just have the original trouble, but now we have added to that trouble with our ungodliness.
It seems to me that if I want this verse to be true for me I need to recognise what is my default reaction, when trouble strikes. Then I can repent of these ungodly ways of reacting and ask the Holy Spirit to help me to choose to respond in a more God-centred way. If I can do this then the trouble becomes a moment of personal spiritual warfare through which I can grow in trusting in God. It is this trust that develops endurance, a steadfast holding on to what is right and godly, even in the midst of the trouble. This also means I can channel my energy, not to try to fight against the circumstances in my own strength, but to cling to God’s purposes, whatever they may be.
The truth is that troubles of many kinds will affect us in this world. Jesus says so in John 16:33, but He also says that He has overcome the world. The question is can we trust Him? Can we let Him work His work in the midst of our troubles? Or does our, often unrecognised, default setting, (our carnal reaction to problems) get in the way of His comfort for us, and His trouble-solving on our behalf?
Prayer: Father when trouble comes help me to recognise my carnal reactions. I desire to change my old habits which have been my default setting in times of trouble, and learn to turn more readily to You. May I find peace in You and be able to grow in godly endurance, even in the midst of my troubles. I pray this in Jesus’ mighty name. Amen.
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