It is not far-fetched to say that Christians are truly a different breed. Much of our beliefs seem paradoxical in the eyes of the world. Take for example this statement from James.
“My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing (Jas 1:2-4).”
Who enjoys trials and difficulties? Rightly, no one does. But Christians are encouraged not only to be positive but to rejoice. This is not a defense mechanism; the Christian is not retreating into denial.
Trials and hardships, when handled correctly, produce the fruit of patience and maturity. We will undergo some hardships in life. It is inevitable. Let us, then, learn what these experiences can teach us.
Spiritual Health More Important than Physical Health
Poor health is a burden none of us appreciate, yet even in poor physical health we can be reminded of something even more important—our spiritual health. In Matthew 9 we read of a man suffering from palsy.
“And, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee (Mat 9:2).”
Of all the things the Lord could have said to him, the Lord, “Thy sins be forgiven thee.” The man’s sins were worse than palsy and the Lord was more concerned about the man’s spiritual wellbeing.
By all means, please take good care of your physical health. Our bodies are given to us by our Creator. It is through the physical body that we serve Him in this world. While we take care of our physical and mental wellbeing, let’s keep in mind our spiritual wellbeing.
Our relationship with our Lord is the most important relationship we have, above that even of the closest familial ties. Our Lord does His part in maintaining this relationship. Let us do ours in cultivating this relationship.
This physical body we have now is only temporary. The Lord has promised us immortality.
“For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked. For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life (2Co 5:1-4).”
Material Needs Teach Us to Rely on God
We have everything we need. But there are people so poor they do not know when their next meal may be. Whenever we learn of people in need, let us be ready and willing to lend a helping hand like the Macedonian churches.
“Moreover, brethren, we make known to you the grace of God which hath been given in the churches of Macedonia; how that in much proof of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality. For according to their power, I bear witness, yea and beyond their power, they gave of their own accord, beseeching us with much entreaty in regard of this grace and the fellowship in the ministering to the saints: and this, not as we had hoped, but first they gave their own selves to the Lord, and to us through the will of God (2Co 8:1-5).”
What if we should suffer material needs? Remember the lesson the Lord was teaching Israel in the wilderness.
“And thou shalt remember all the way which the LORD thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no. And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live (Deu 8:2-3).”
Paul learned contentment and dependence on God through his own sufferings.
“Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me (Php 4:11-13).”
There is no reason for Christians to be envious of what others have. We have all that we need and more. We have God who provides all our needs.
Trials and hardships can range from irritations to full-fledged struggles. In these situations when our faith is put to the test, let’s dig in, trust in the Lord and press on with resolve. The Lord will carry us through to greater maturity.