The title does not suggest that you look forward to difficult times. Nor am I suggesting that facing difficulties is easy. What I am suggesting is embracing your very special life challenges so that you can become more mature. All too often we see difficulties as God’s displeasure with me. It is as if “the Man upstairs” is trying to get even with me. Yet the Bible is clear is that this is not how God operates, even when the difficulties I face are the consequence of my choices.
This summer our sermon series, “Realizing Greatness” from 1 Samuel reminds us that greatness is realized when we embrace our difficulties. This means we take responsibility in one of a couple ways: first, we own our behavior and choices. If we blow it, we accept the consequences. Second, when we are not responsible we embrace the fact that God is working in my life. I need to mention again that difficulties are not something to be sought out nor are they enjoyable, but me must embrace what the Lord is doing.
The account of David as a fugitive from King Saul provides us with some helps for when we face those difficult times. First, David was running for his life because of no fault of his own. He was suffering because of the sins of another (King Saul). We need to be frequently reminded that we live in a broken world with broken people. It is the unfortunate consequence of man’s free will. Others can make choices that hurt you. You can read some of David’s struggles here.
Second, No matter if you are at fault, someone or something else, the best response is to embrace what the Lord is doing. What impressed me from the passage linked above is that David refused to take Saul life when he had the chance. He lived out our saying, “Two wrongs never make a Right.” He chose to honor God’s man, King Saul, even though the King was in the wrong. When you choose to embrace the difficulties that you are facing you are accepting God’s will in your life. If they are the result of your choices, it means you seek His help to turn your life around. If it is not your fault, you can trust in the fact that the God will guide you through.
Third, do not let the struggle isolate you from the people that can help. Yes, the Lord is there and He will use people to encourage you. Saul’s son Jonathan was one of these advocates, but so too were the people that joined him in the desert. God will often send those that are hurting themselves. Our tendency during difficult time is to isolate ourselves from others or retaliate at those trying to help.
Fourth, be honest with God. The most important step to embracing what is happening is by being honest with yourself , honest with others and honest with God. Sometime we are afraid that we will hurt the Lord’s feelings. It is only when we open our hearts that the Lord can give us strength to face the challenge before us. We often are robbed of the Lord’s power because we attempt to spiritualize or sugar coat the difficult upon us. The reality is difficulties are hard. They involve some type of pain. He can help you carry the burden when you honestly open your heart and share your frustrations with Him. It is amazing how this changes our perspective on what we are facing.
Difficulties are a part of living. The sooner we begin to embrace them, the sooner we benefit from them.
-Pastor Joe Parkinson