Challenges are a part of everyday life. They make us stronger and, without them, life becomes somewhat meaningless because we have nothing to compare the good times to.
These challenges come in many forms. For some, the challenge is doing well at school, for others it is getting to grips with financial worries. (home, work, spouse family)
But, regardless of the challenge, facing up to it is key. Doing so will make you feel like you can take care of yourself, it will also make you understand the value of what you have now.
Facing up to challenges and living through them give us the experiences that make up our life.
As much as I have read my Bible, I do not recall finding any verse in any chapter that claimed we (as Christians) would live of life of ease without challenges or hardship.
We all know about the Glory of God as, I’m certain, we’ve all read our Bible (His Word) and understand how great He is… but did He tell us we would like “worry-free?”
During the winter of 57–58 AD, The Apostle Paul was in the Greek city of Corinth. From Corinth, he wrote the longest single letter in the New Testament, which he addressed to “God’s beloved in Rome.” Like most New Testament letters, this letter is known by the name of the recipients, in this case, the Romans.
Romans 5:3-5 – “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”
We will be challenged, again from Paul…
2 Timothy 3:12 – “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted”
What we need…
2 Peter 1:3 – “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.”
More importantly, remember what Jesus said regarding what “we need!”
Matthew 6:26-27 – “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
This lesson from Jesus is probably the most important thing we need to remember when we’re going through trials and tribulations. There is NOTHING that “we need,” that God has not already provided to us!
What is Our Mission
Sometimes, I believe a lot of Christians over-think what is expected of them. They think God has some enormous task that He wants you to accomplish and you feel like a failure because you don’t believe you have completed His commands.
A man was sleeping at night in his cabin when suddenly his room filled with light, and God appeared. The Lord told the man he had work for him to do and showed him a large rock in front of his cabin. The Lord explained that the man was to push against the rock all day with all his might. So, this the man did, day after day.
For many years he toiled from sunup to sundown, his shoulders set squarely against the cold, massive surface of the unmoving rock, pushing with all his might. Each night the man returned to his cabin sore and worn out, feeling that his whole day had been spent in vain.
Since the man was showing discouragement, the adversary (Satan) decided to enter the picture by placing thoughts into the weary mind: “You have been pushing against that rock for a long time, and it hasn’t moved.”
Thus, he gave the man the impression that the task was impossible and that he was a failure. These thoughts discouraged and disheartened the man.
Satan, again, said, “Why kill yourself over this? Just put in your time, giving just the minimum effort; and that will be good enough.”
That’s what the weary man planned to do but decided to make it a matter of prayer and to take his troubled thoughts to the Lord. “Lord,” he said, “I have labored long and hard in your service, putting all my strength to do that which you have asked. Yet, after all this time, I have not even budged that rock by half a millimeter. What is wrong? Why am I failing?”
The Lord responded compassionately, “My child, when I asked you to serve Me and you accepted, I told you that your task was to push against the rock with all of your strength, which you have done. Never once did I mention to you that I expected you to move it. Your task was to push.”
“And now you come to Me with your strength spent, thinking that you have failed. But is that really so? Look at yourself. Your arms are strong and muscled, your back sinewy and brown; your hands are callused from constant pressure, your legs have become massive and hard.”
“Through opposition you have grown much, and your abilities now surpass that which you used to have. True, you haven’t moved the rock. But your calling was to be obedient and to push and to exercise your faith and trust in My wisdom. That you have done. Now I, my child, will move the rock.”
At times, when we hear a word from God, we tend to use our own intellect to decipher what He wants, when actually, what God truly wants is just simple obedience and faith in Him. By all means, exercise the faith that moves mountains, but know that it is still God who moves mountains.
- When everything seems to go wrong… just P.U.S.H.
- When the job gets you down… just P.U.S.H.
- When people don’t react the way you think they should… continue to… just P.U.S.H.
- When your money is “gone,” and the bills are due… just P.U.S.H.!
- When people just don’t understand you (as you know they won’t)… just P.U.S.H.
So, what does “PUSH” mean (from 2017)?
P = Pray U = Until S = Something H = Happens
The Bow and Arrow
(Putting us to the Test)
Another lesson: A lot of us ask ourselves, “Why is God putting me through these trials?” “Why does everything seem so hard?”
Let’s take a look at the ancient sport of archery…
The Bow (You): Making archery bows requires several characteristics for the best performance. Certain woods provides these physical characteristics (i.e. maple, oak and ash) and also provides several other benefits.
Overall, the wood must be flexible enough to handle the bending and stress applied during every shot. Maple, for example, can be consistently found in good, clear grades and is a hard, dense wood with a straight grain. (readily available)
The Arrow (Your Faith): (Feathers) The plastic vanes or feathers on an arrow. Fletching cuts through the wind and also can cause the arrow to spin similar to a rifle bullet, providing stability and accuracy in flight. Fletching is made up of three or more vanes or feathers.
(The Wood of an Arrow) Birch (good candidate) is a hard, tough, white wood, and the best of it comes from the New England States, especially Maine. Birch was used by most archers and is specially selected and is as straight as this wood comes.
Birch has one distinct advantage; it may be straightened with the fingers when out of line. A quiver full of sturdy birch field arrows have been in use for a long time. They get lost, but they stand up and rarely break.
The Archer (God): The archer will know and stands with the proper stance. Strong and ready! He will know best how to hold his bow. Who knows better than God as He is the one who made you?
The archer will then draw his bow up, pulling it back and drawing the bowstring across his chest… stretching the bow to its maximum flexibility (as he inhales). The bow will be strained; you may even hear it crackle under the force of the archer’s pull… but it WILL NOT BREAK!
Once the archer has strained his bow and affixed both eyes on his target, he will then release the arrow as he exhales and will follow the arrow intently, not releasing the bow or his stance, until the arrow reaches its destination… true and straight, penetrating the target with maximum velocity.
This, to me, was an interesting analogy and this is how I see myself in the sport (or art) of archery.
- You are the Bow – You have been carefully selected by God, to do His will. He sees you as strong, able and up to the task. Through your belief in Him, you cannot be broken.
- The arrow is your Faith – While it has been tested and will continue to be tested and bent, it is flexible and through our trust in God, it will be realigned and straightened.
- God is our Archer – No matter what your struggles, we know that God’s aim if perfect. He may stretch us beyond what we think we can handle but, in the end… if we continue to believe in Him, the target (our enemy) of my faith will be defeated!
- You will be tested – This testing will not always be conducted by God, but the devil will most certainly test you.
- What we need – Remember, as Christ told us, we have all that we “need!” It’s not always what WE think we need but it is, most assuredly, what God knows we need!
- Our tasks are simple – Don’t look for the complexity in what you think God wants you to do. Listen to His commands (read your Bible). Hear with your heart and not your mind. When God tells you to PUSH, do just that and nothing more as that instruction is very clear.
- Stay strong – You have been chosen by God (the Archer) as He believes in your strength. It doesn’t matter what others think of you… its God’s opinion and His love for you that matters.
- Be the Bow.
– Choose your Arrow carefully.
– Let God be the Archer and Believe in Him
Go with God; be good to one another; always stay humble; always be kind…. God Bless (Amen)!