“They preached the gospel in that city and won a large number of disciples. Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. ‘We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,’ they said (Acts 14:21,22).”
This morning I awoke early to an unwelcome surprise. Because of high winds, the basketball goal in your driveway had blown over and smashed the windshield of my car.
This incident occurred after a night in which we had problems with our plumbing because of the extreme cold. The busted wind screen in my car just added to the difficulties.
I reported the car mishap on Facebook, and one of my friends commented,”Just what you needed!” Indeed.
I was somewhat proud of myself during this epidode, however. In past days I would have whined and complained and perhaps exploded in anger.
This time, though, I responded calmly and spent my morning just getting the thing repaired. I was quite thankful actually that I had the money to pay for fixing my vehicle. A few bucks and a few hours and I had my car back in the same shape as it was last night.
The reason I got up so early this morning is because I attend a men’s meeting every week at my church. At this meeting the moderator alluded to the fact that with repeated practice we learn to do the right thing. So, I am happy that perhaps I am maturing a little bit (finally, in middle age!).
I am not totally satisfied with my maturity level, even today. Even with the success of the morning, I ended up blowing it in the afternoon. Due to some unjust treatment, I lost my temper. Back to the drawing board.
At least I am trying. This signals to me that I am indeed in the realm of those who call themselves believers in Jesus Christ.
The speaker on the video we watch at these men’s meetings shared this morning about his conversion experience. He put his trust in Jesus Christ, but said that he didn’t change immediately. However, he said,”Even when I did the wrong thing, I sensed Him in me.”
This has been my experience my whole life. I have almost never doubted my salvation, even when I sinned against God.
(I say “almost” because after a bout with poor behavior recently I did in fact begin to have a little doubt as to the status of my soul before God. After a return to obedience, I have since gotten my assurance back. Fancy that.)
Life is full of suffering. Some of this suffering we bring on ourselves.
How we handle this adversity tells a lot about our spiritual condition.
The disciple Peter denied Jesus Christ not once, but three times. Yet, despite his anguish he returned to faith and was restored (Mark 14:66-72;John 21:15-19).
On the other hand, Judas also betrayed Jesus but had a terrible end. He committed suicide (Matthew 26:14-16; Matthew 27:1-5). His regret did not lead to repentance.
Job spoke truth when he remarked,”Mortals, born of woman,are of few days and full of trouble (Job 14:1). Sometimes we get our fill of life.
Job certainly did. But even in the midst of his plight, he longed for the day of release from it the pain:
“If only you would hide me in the grave
and conceal me till your anger has passed!
If only you would set me a time
and then remember me!
If someone dies, will they live again?
All the days of my hard service
I will wait for my renewal to come.
You will call and I will answer you;
you will long for the creature your hands have made.
Surely then you will count my steps
but not keep track of my sin.
My offenses will be sealed up in a bag;
you will cover over my sin (Job 14:13-17).”
Job longed for death because of his suffering, but he still had hope and trust down deep in his heart. He knew His Redeemer lived.
We might want to hasten the day of our death. We’re not the only one. Satan and perhaps enemies would, too.
Earl Weaver, the Hall of Fame baseball manager of my boyhood major league team, was recently mentioned as being in heaven by a newspaper columnist. However, he is very much alive, although he is 80 and his knees have given out. “I’m still here!”, he told an newspaper reporter.
This should be our attitude in our suffering if we are truly disciples of Jesus. With the knowledge that we have Him as our Savior and that He is in our hearts, we can endure, even rejoice. We ain’t dead yet!