Devotional #19, "Troubled times will make us stronger."
"We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us--they help us learn to endure. And endurance developes strength of character in us, and character strengthens our confident expectation of salvation. And this expectation will not disappoint us. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with love." Romans 5:3-5
"It is God who gives us, along with you, the ability to stand firm for Christ. He has commissioned us, and he has identified us as his own by placing the Holy Spirit in our hearts as the first installment of everything he will give us." 2 Cor. 1:21&22
These are certainly difficult times for everyone. War is raging on around the world and the economy looks grim. People are losing thier jobs and homes and ultimately, thier faith in everything. And as the whole world suffers, they can sometimes take solice in finding scapegoats to exercise thier frustrations on. Unfortunately, people like minor attracted adults happen to make good scapegoats. It is also unfortunate that Christians tend to make good scapegoats too. So what happens when you are both? Does anyone know how to make goat cheese?
But let us keep in mind that everyone is having problems and trouble nowadays, not just us. We would be tempted to only look at our own problems but God would want us to do more. If we are to be His children, then we must do as He would do. What would Jesus do in our shoes? I beleive he would find ways to look beyond his own troubles, trusting God to provide for him, and then try to help others who are hurting. And even though these "others" might be the same people who are trying to persecute him, he would still find a way to bless or help them. This was His way and it must be our way. How can we do this?
Paul explained the process quite well in the passage taken from Romans above. As we experience problems and trials, we learn to endure. Endurence grows in us over time and this developes strength of character, which is needed if we are to forgive others and then turn around and try to help them. Ultimately our expectation of salvation is strengthened and we become confident in what our Lord has promised us and given us. This salvation will eventually shine so bright in our lives that it will be a witness to everyone who knows us. This is what his Holy Spirit will do for us. His gift of strength and love is but the first installment of everything he will give us, praise God!
Dear Lord, we know we are having some pretty difficult times right now with everything that is going on around us. It seems like the whole world is going crazy and sometimes we feel like we might go crazy along with it. But your word tell us that we have been given the Holy Spirit to strengthen us and help us to endure all troubles. He gives us the means to forgive and love those who persecute us. Thank you for providing for us so well, Lord. Amen.