Sunday, July 31, 2011

Not a Power, but a Person

"And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever-- "the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.
John 14:16,17 NKJV


We are not alone. Am I the only one who finds comfort in that knowledge? I doubt it. I remember when my daughters were very young and were terrified of thunderstorms so that at the first sight or sound of an approaching storm they would run to either their mother or I and hold on for dear life. As they grew that changed only in that instead of needing a hug and wanting to be held, they just wanted to be with us. Years ago we built a mother-in-law apartment on the back of our property for the girls to live in while they each went to college, and one of my favorite memories is remembering the sight of them quickly walking from the apartment to our back door during thunderstorms even when they were in their twenties.

In this passage of scripture we find the disciples in much the same position. They have gotten used to having Jesus with them, and relying on His leadership and comfort. They now are faced with the reality of His leaving and are seriously in need of some reassurance. So here we find that Jesus addresses that need by telling the disciples that He is going to send “another” to take over the responsibilities that He had been providing up to this point in time.

The Greek word for another used here is allos, which is important to know because in the Greek there are two different words that can be used for another. One means another of the same kind, and the other is used when referring to another of a different kind. The word allos means another of the same kind, so what Jesus is saying is that He is about to send them a helper that is just like Him. Why is this distinction important? Jesus knew that the disciples strength and confidence was in Him and His power, so He wanted them to know that He wasn't about to send them something “different”, but rather just Himself in another form.

I think of it this way; my daughters were assured by my presence, not someone else. If I were to leave knowing a storm was coming and just tell them to go see a neighbor if they were scared wouldn't work. It's not the same. What Jesus was telling the disciples, and us, is that He was leaving because while in the form of a man, He couldn't be everywhere but in the form of the Holy Spirit He could. The Holy Spirit is the same Jesus who walked this earth, but simply in a different form.

How do we know this? Because Jesus went on to explain;

"At that day you will know that I [am] in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.
John 14:20 NKJV


What Jesus taught, and what He wants us to understand is that we have a relationship with a real person, not a power. In this chapter alone there are 13 personal pronouns used when referring to the Holy Spirit. Personal pronouns are used to refer to people, not powers or inanimate objects. People have personalities, and from what we read in the Bible, the Holy Spirit does as well. To have a personality you must have three things; intelligence, emotion, and will. Does the Holy Spirit have these?

"But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.
John 14:26 NKJV


In order to teach, it's a given you must have intelligence, or knowledge to impart. Here we are told the Spirit will teach us “all things” as well as reminding us of all the things that Jesus said while He was here. So the Holy Spirit has intelligence, but what about emotion? Well, let's use a verse we talked about a couple of weeks ago.

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
Ephesians 4:30 NKJV


There have been many times where I have had an emotional response to a force of nature like rain or snow, or even being shocked by touching the wrong wire while working with electricity. So was the force of nature affected by my reaction? Nope. I can yell or carry on in a display of frustration towards whatever it is but the rain and snow keeps falling and the electricity keeps shocking. The Holy Spirit, however, can and is affected by our actions and we can “grieve” Him by our actions or lack of them. The knowledge that we can hurt the feelings of the Holy Spirit should seriously affect the choices we make every day. So does the Holy Spirit demonstrate that He has a will also?

But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.
1 Corinthians 12:11 NKJV


The Holy Spirit has a will, and He does as He sees fit in relation to His followers. Those who choose to believe are evaluated by an intelligent, emotional person called the Holy Spirit who then gives power and ability to serve Him in the way He deems appropriate. These are the actions of a person, not a power, and this person is none other than the same Jesus, God the Father in human form, who walked the earth 2000 years ago and now lives in each of His believers in the form of the Holy Spirit.

Why is this so important? Because God wants us to understand that we can have a personal relationship with Him, and the Holy Spirit is His affirmation to us that not only is He real, but He can live inside of us giving us the help we need every day of our lives. We can talk to Him, ask Him for help, share our thoughts and emotions with Him, all because He is right here with us in the person of the Holy Spirit.

Not a power, but a person.

Keep watching.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Don't Be Disqualified

Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain [it]. And everyone who competes [for the prize] is temperate in all things. Now they [do it] to obtain a perishable crown, but we [for] an imperishable [crown]. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as [one who] beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring [it] into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified. 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 NKJV

The past few weeks we have been talking about the struggles we face as believers, and how God wants us to deal with them. Although I have examined these verses before, there are just some parts of scripture we need to revisit once in awhile because of the importance of the wisdom they contain. This message from Paul has always been one of my favorites because running played a significant part in my life for many years. I started running track when I was 13 years old, and continued to run competitively until I graduated from college some 10 or 11 years later. I learned many lessons from my participation which I have carried with me ever since, and which have applied to many facets of my life. This passage of scripture has always been one of my favorites, not just because it refers to our lives as believers as a race to be run, but because it teaches some of the very same principles I was taught during my years as an runner. I want to share those with you this morning and hopefully, without boring you, use a few memorable moments from my experiences to illustrate them. I will call these the four "be" rules of running.

1. Run To Be Victorious. In verse 24 Paul says we should run to win! We should not just be satisfied to be in the race, but rather run in order to win the prize. What we are being told here is that we are required as believers to run for first place, and give our maximum effort for God. I recall the first time I was selected to participate in an invitational only competition while in college. This of course was the sort of recognition most of us lived for then. Yet imagine my feelings when I arrived at the competition and found I was the last one selected for my event, and my qualifying time was the slowest in the field. Of course I could have given my very best effort in front of a stadium full of people, but in reality I was so affected by the knowledge I was outclassed I not only came in last, I actually ran slower than my qualifying time. By not running to win, I not only lost, but looked pretty bad doing it. My coach later made sure I understood the lesson with a little pointed critique in language no one could misunderstand. It must have worked, for I never forgot it, and later had an opportunity to redeem myself against some of the very same competition. Our attitude plays a very important part in the effort we put forth, and the bottom line is we must run with the attitude we can win.

For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world--our faith. 1 John 5:4 NKJV

Run to win, for the victory is already ours!

2. Run With Discipline. Verse 25 tells us that if we want to compete, we need to be "temperate" in everything. Temperate here is another word for self-control, or to be steadfast and unmovable. Have you ever looked closely at what athletes, especially runners, eat and don't eat? As someone who has always thought of pizza being at the very top of the food pyramid, imagine how hard it was for me to control what I ate while competing. Eat this, don't eat that, and don't even think of drinking cola. Of course there was also the obligatory carb chowdown the night before the competition where spaghetti was king. (I am amazed I still like it!) Then there was the eight hours (minimum) sleep every night, and no staying out late on weekends etc. and especially avoid any "high risk" activities with friends that might result in an accidental injury. Boy, what fun. Yet I forced myself to do these things with the knowledge it would pay off in the end. The rules God has put down for us can often seem to be taking some of the fun out of life, yet we need to understand everything He asks us to do, and the things He tells us to avoid are there for only one reason; to help us win.

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord. 1 Corinthians 15:58 NKJV

The do's and don'ts of the Christian life may at times seem to be a burden, yet we are told without question that our efforts to live life as God wants is not in vain.

3. Run Efficiently. Paul uses a great illustration of running in verse 26 that I have always liked. He actually paints a picture that most of us could recognize, and that is of someone trying to run while beating at the air with their hands. I had the opportunity to observe many other competitors running styles over the years, and always wondered about my own. While in college I took a class called The Biomechanics of Human Movement where I learned the principles that govern our ability to walk and to run. One of the most important rules of running is to be sure all of your movements are focused in the direction you want to go. In other words, don't flap your arms like you want to fly when you are trying to run. In order to perform a self-critique, I had my coach film me running in a straight line, and wouldn't you know it, I had some very "inefficient" habits to break. After only a couple of weeks my times improved dramatically solely because I was obeying the number one rule of running. If we find ourselves struggling in life the first thing we should do as believers is take an honest look at ourselves to see if we are doing everything we need to do in order to move in the direction God wants us to go. Are we being distracted by something Satan uses to move us in a different direction? We must continually examine our lives to be sure we are on God's path, and not another.

Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. Romans 6:12 NKJV

If Satan can get us to form habits not "in line" with Gods' will for us, we become inefficient runners.

4. Run With Focus. We are told in verse 27 that Paul had to mentally bring his body into subjection in order to run the race without being disqualified. His point here is to say that there are rules to follow, and by breaking the rules he stood the chance of being disqualified. Pauls' "race" was as an apostle spreading the message of Jesus to an unbelieving world. If he violated the rules he preached to others, his ministry would then become ineffective. So Paul "focused" on the rules in order not to fail. When I first started running I developed a bad habit that cost me quite a few races, and that was looking around to see where everyone else was in order to know how I was doing. By not looking ahead, and focusing on the finish line, I actually got disqualified from a couple of races for running out of my lane. In order not to be disqualified, we as believers need to focus our eyes on the finish line and not be distracted by the things going on around us. Remember what happened to Peter when he lost focus?

But when he saw that the wind [was] boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, "Lord, save me!" Matthew 14:30 NKJV

We know what awaits us at the finish line at the end of our race. Our focus should be on that, the finish, and nothing else.

Why follow all these rules? Paul simply tells us that if we don't, we face the possibility of disqualification. Now at first glance many wonder if this is talking about losing our salvation, but let me assure you this is not what Paul is saying. Rather, what he is referring to is losing his right to teach others because he fails to practice what he teaches. I'm sure most of us can think of a situation where we had those thoughts about someone else who was trying to tell us how or what to do. No one wants to take advice from someone who doesn't take his or hers own advice and here Paul tells us God will not allow us to teach others if we ourselves do not live as He says we should.

Is it a struggle to live this way? Certainly, however God understands this which is why He decided to give us the help we need in order to live in a way that glorifies Him. Next we will look closer at the power given to us in the person of the Holy Spirit.

Keep Watching.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Grieving God

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
Ephesians 4:30 NKJV


Have you ever had your feelings hurt? Has there ever been a time where someone close to you, someone you really cared about did or said something to hurt you? I think it is safe to say that we all have, as it seems almost impossible to go through life without experiencing this kind of hurt from those who are close to us. I think it is also safe to say that the reason it hurts so bad is that this kind of hurt can only come from those we are closest to, from those who we really care about and would not expect it from.

Yet as we tend to focus on the hurts we receive from others, are we honest enough with ourselves to acknowledge that we might be hurting the one who is closest to us? In this chapter of Ephesians Paul is instructing believers concerning the changes in our behavior which are a result of our new relationship with Christ. After he talks about those changes, he then uses this verse to remind us that the failure to exhibit the attitudes expected from true believers results in “grieving” the Holy Spirit. The word used here for grieve is “lypeŇć” which translated means “to make sorrowful, to affect with sadness, cause grief, to throw into sorrow, to grieve, offend, to make one uneasy, cause him a scruple.”

When my daughters were quite young, they had a saying they would use whenever they felt they experienced any sort of injustice from a family member. They would look the offender in the eye and say “you made baby Jesus cry”. Now quite often that made us laugh, and it was common for it to be used in a humorous way, yet if you think about it how often do we really acknowledge that we can, in fact, grieve the Holy Spirit in this way? There are things we can do which actually cause the Holy Spirit to be sad, offended, and deeply hurt. Why is He hurt so badly? Because He loves us so much that He made the greatest sacrifice He could by sending His Son to die for our sins, which is the gift which “seals” us for the “day of redemption”.

So what is it we do that grieves the Holy Spirit this badly? Paul tells us in the next two verses.

Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.
Ephesians 4:31,32 NKJV


Simply put it is our reaction to those who offend us, and our unwillingness to forgive them which grieves the Holy Spirit. Paul spends an entire chapter explaining how we are to be changed by our decision to become believers and to allow God to enter our lives and show us His way. He makes the point that when we do make this decision, a changed life is not only desired, but expected. We are not to walk as the world walks, and as we used to, but to walk in a manner that demonstrates the power of God's love which is now in us.

I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
Ephesians 4:1-3 NKJV


It seems apparent as well from the context that Paul is talking about our relationships with our fellow believers, and especially how we choose to treat them. Why is that? As we have said before, we would all agree that the biggest hurts come from those who are closest to us, and who is closer than our own family? So what is the key to maintaining the unity of our family? How are we to react when we are offended by something someone does or says that causes us to hurt? Paul tells us in the very last verse in the chapter when he says “forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you. “

So how has God forgiven us? Let me share just a few things that came to mind when I began to think seriously about that question.

Unconditionally. The first thing I thought of in my own life is that no matter what I have done, God has forgiven me. Doesn't matter what it was, how big a sin, how offensive to Him, He forgives. How often have we looked at something someone else has done and said “I can't forgive them for that!” Truth be told, you can, you just choose not to. How often have you found yourself trying to justify feeling the way you do towards another? Honestly, if you have to try and justify it you have already admitted you are wrong.

Repeatedly. So I have finally arrived at the point in my life where I no longer sin? Wrong. We all struggle with sin, and as long as we are trapped in this body we will sin. I don't like it, you don't like it, but we all have a sin nature and we all sin. However no matter how often we fall, God is willing to forgive us time after time after time. Do you know someone who continually offends you by sinning? Is your attitude towards them one of reluctance to forgive because “they” don't change? How comfortable would you be if God refused to forgive you because “you” didn't change? Our attitude towards others should always be to forgive and never hesitate to extend to them the same forgiveness God extends to us.

Genuinely. “Talk is cheap”. Ever hear that expression? Most of us have at one time or another, and I'm sure most of us understand that the meaning behind it is clear; talk is no good if it is not backed up by action. Try another one; “if you are going to talk the talk, walk the walk”. Did you notice something in the last verse of this chapter? When God instructs us to forgive someone, He tells us first to be kind. This is not describing an attitude, but rather an action. We are being told to treat someone who offends us in a kind manner, rather than striking out in anger letting our emotions get the best of us. How many of us would be here if God struck out at us “unkindly” every time we sinned?

Our sin does not affect God's love, His patience, nor His actions towards us. Our feelings and patience and actions towards sin from a brother or sister should not be any different. Is there a brother or sister you are holding something against? Is there someone in the family you treat unkindly because you just can't bring yourself to forgive them? If so, according to this passage you are grieving the Holy Spirit, hurting Him worse than you yourselves are hurt. Should we not follow God's example towards us?

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
1 John 1:9 NKJV


Keep watching. ( and forgiving )

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Struggling With Doubt

Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, "Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!"
Mark 9:24 NKJV


Have you ever struggled with doubt? I'm reasonably certain we all have at one time or another, but as believers shouldn't we be immune to doubt? After all, if we believe in God and the fact that He is omnipotent there really isn't any room left for doubt is there? Unfortunately, this passage from the book of Mark shows us the answer to that question is yes, there is plenty of room in our human minds for doubt. In this verse we see that both belief and unbelief can exist at the same time in the minds of those who choose to follow Christ. So exactly what does this mean and what can we as believers do about it?

I remember a time when I took my three daughters on a trip to see my parents in California which required a two hour trip by plane. We were all excited as we went through the preparations to leave, and as we finally climbed on board the plane. However, as we began to taxi out to leave I could see the expressions on the faces of my daughters begin to change somewhat. The excitement was slowly being replaced by anxiety, and as the engines began to roar and we accelerated down the runway there appeared a little fear on their faces.

Now I certainly had my failures as a father, and I can remember things in the past I wish I could change or do over, but this was one of my shining moments. As I looked at their faces and saw them beginning to be afraid I began to fly the plane myself to show them I had everything under control. No, seriously. Since I had flown so often before I knew the route and when and where the plane would turn and bank, so as I sat in my seat I pretended to have the controls in my hand and began to “fly” the plane. The effect on my daughters was hilarious as they began to smile, giggle, and even laugh as Daddy flew the plane.

I think this is a perfect example of how someone can believe, yet also doubt. You see my daughters had no problem getting on the plane because they believed it could fly and get them to California. Yet once we left, they began to experience some unbelief because the ride was not exactly what they expected due to the fact they had not flown nearly as much as I had, and didn't know what to expect. I think this is a perfect picture of how we as believers can choose to believe in Christ and accept Him into our lives, yet as we begin to experience the bumps and turns of life, a little doubt begins to show itself. Our cry then is the same as this fathers' cry; "Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!"

A wonderful picture of this situation, and how we can deal with it is found in the book of Psalms. In this psalm written by Asaph we find that although he believes, he is troubled by his circumstances and begins to doubt. He then deals with his problem of doubt by following a two step process that all of us should commit to memory because it is by far the most effective method we have to cure the seeds of doubt.

To the Chief Musician. To Jeduthun. A Psalm of Asaph. I cried out to God with my voice--To God with my voice; And He gave ear to me. In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord; My hand was stretched out in the night without ceasing; My soul refused to be comforted. I remembered God, and was troubled; I complained, and my spirit was overwhelmed. Selah
Psalm 77:1-3 NKJV


Have you ever been so troubled that you complained to God? Hey, who hasn't? We all have, and probably more often than we should. Yet isn't it a little comforting to find we are not alone? We can find situations like this in the lives of just about everyone we read about in the scriptures. In this passage Asaph tells us he was so troubled he couldn't sleep! He was stretching out his hands to God in the middle of the night. Ever have a sleepless night? Been there, done that!

You hold my eyelids [open]; I am so troubled that I cannot speak. I have considered the days of old, The years of ancient times. I call to remembrance my song in the night; I meditate within my heart, And my spirit makes diligent search. Will the Lord cast off forever? And will He be favorable no more?Has His mercy ceased forever? Has [His] promise failed forevermore? Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has He in anger shut up His tender mercies? Selah
Psalm 77:4-9 NKJV


Here we find his doubt is so great that he feels like God has turned His back on him, and the possibility exists that God will never again take care of him! Wow. This is serious doubt, and although we might not know his exact circumstances, his trouble was enough to cause him to question the fact that God still loved him! I think this is a perfect example of a believer experiencing unbelief. Deep down in his heart I know Asaph believes, but his circumstances are such that he is as low as he could possibly go. Yet there is a way out, and Asaph shows us what it is.

And I said, "This [is] my anguish; [But I will remember] the years of the right hand of the Most High." I will remember the works of the LORD; Surely I will remember Your wonders of old.
Psalm 77:10-11 NKJV


“I will remember”. We all have a past, full of experiences of times when God has come through for us. The first thing Asaph does is to remember the times in his past when God did in fact deliver him. He mentally starts a list of the things God had done for him before, the “works” and “wonders”. How has God delivered you in the past? What are some of the things He has done that you probably have forgotten? Has God ever failed you? Of course not, and I'm sure that there is probably a whole lot we have all taken for granted without really giving God the credit. God never fails, and the first step to dealing with doubt is to remember the times in the past when God has come through for us.

I will also meditate on all Your work, And talk of Your deeds. Your way, O God, [is] in the sanctuary; Who [is] so great a God as [our] God? You [are] the God who does wonders; You have declared Your strength among the peoples. You have with [Your] arm redeemed Your people, The sons of Jacob and Joseph. Selah
Psalms 77:12-15 NKJV


It's not enough to just remember according to Asaph, but we also need to “meditate” on all that God has done for us. The Hebrew word for meditate is “hagah” which in effect means to “growl over” like a lion growling over it's prey. When I think of that picture and apply it to doubt I can't help but think of where doubt comes from. Since we know it doesn't come from God, it can only come from one other source; Satan. So get the picture in your mind of God as a lion standing over Satan and growling while saying something like “how can anyone doubt me after all I have done!” To “meditate” is to not just remember what God has done in the past, but to use it as an offensive tool against doubt. God has delivered us in the past, and He will deliver us from whatever situation we find ourselves in now.

The more “belief” we can store in our minds leaves less room for “unbelief” to creep in. The key to dealing with doubt during our times of struggle is to “remember” what God has already done for us and to then “meditate” on it until God delivers us as He has promised to do. Make a mental list of everything you can think of that God has done and then memorize it and repeat it over and over again to remind yourself of His faithfulness. Remember, God is flying the plane, and God never fails.

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to [His] purpose.
Romans 8:28 NKJV


Keep watching.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Why Struggle Is Good

It just seems strange to consider the possibility that struggle in our lives might be a good thing, yet if we look closely at the examples of the lives of believers throughout the Bible we find that without question they all suffered at one time or another. Now at first I think we would all rather not go through our periods of struggling, yet if we take the time to remember our past struggles I think it possible we would find positives that came out of them.

I certainly recall as a teenager coming to the realization that my parents were slowly allowing me to endure personal hardships rather than trying to “fix” things for me as a means to help me mature. I can also remember doing the same thing with my own daughters, as difficult as that was, in order to help them grow. So as I looked at the subject of Christians suffering, I tried to come up with some reasons why a loving God and Father would allow us to struggle at times, rather than smoothing out life's road. What follows are some of the ideas I came up with, and I hope they help a little in understanding why struggling can be good.

We are loved.

For whom the LORD loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives."If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten?
Hebrews 12:6-7 NKJV


I'm sure no one would argue that allowing us to struggle can certainly be seen as a form of chastening. I can recall certain instances in the lives of all my children where I knew I could fix something, yet held back in order to teach them a lesson. It was very painful for me to do, and it hurt to see them struggle, yet I knew it was for the best and in later years they have thanked me for doing it. God loves us, and takes no pleasure in watching us struggle, yet in His wisdom He knows we need to learn a lesson so He then allows us to learn by enduring.

We are taught.

Before I was afflicted I went astray, But now I keep Your word. You [are] good, and do good; Teach me Your statutes.
Psalm 119:67-68 NKJV


[It is] good for me that I have been afflicted, That I may learn Your statutes.
Psalm 119:71 NKJV


How often have I looked back and thought about how much easier my life might have been if I had been more “teachable”! I was one of those people who seemed to only learn my lesson the hard way. I wonder if that was the thinking behind these verses? Do you notice the result of the struggles? “Now I keep your word”. How many lessons have you learned and kept because you had to struggle during the teaching of them? I think we call them the “hard” lessons of life? No one I know likes it, but struggles can certainly teach us a lesson we will never forget.

We are judged.

Yet if [anyone suffers] as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter. For the time [has come] for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if [it begins] with us first, what will [be] the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God?
1 Peter 4:16-17 NKJV


Have you ever considered that God allows us to struggle as both a test and as a witness to others? If that seems strange to you, consider how often you have watched someone else struggle and think to yourself how you might react in the same situation. We all have done that, yet we often think to ourselves that no one else knows what we are going through. On the contrary, God uses the struggles we face as both a test for us and also as a witness to others. If we understand this we then can actually look at our struggles as a way to show others the power available to us as believers because we can call on God for the help we need.

We are saved.

For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding [and] eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen [are] temporary, but the things which are not seen [are] eternal.
2 Corinthians 4:17-18 NKJV


How easy is it for us to focus on the immediate rather than the future when we struggle. I certainly understand that this is a natural reaction, and I do it as well, yet the advice given to us here by Paul is to fight that tendency and focus rather on our future deliverance and reward in Heaven. Did you notice here that we are told what we endure right now is “light”? I'm sure you and I would agree there are times we would like to argue that point, but the truth is that God will not allow us to struggle in futility. Whatever we are called to deal with here and now is “working for us” in Glory.

No one likes to struggle, yet it seems clear we are called to do so as part of our “job description” as believers. Struggles can be good for both us, and for those around us who watch how we deal with them. If you are struggling now, or when you do in the future, remember that we are promised;

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to [His] purpose.
Romans 8:28 NKJV


Keep watching.