Someone once said, “There is no growth without challenge, and there is no challenge without change.” Is that the way you look at challenges, as opportunities to change and grow? And are you willing to make the changes in your life that are necessary to meet those challenges so that you may grow? It’s easy to say, “bring it on,” It’s something much different to find the good in challenges while they’re happening.
It’s understandable to wonder how we grow through hardship. When money troubles hit, when a loved one dies, when someone in our family is very sick, its hard to see the good in the aftermath. Some challenges in life are very hard to climb, but, even from our most dire challenges, blessings can come.
About 10 years into our marriage, my wife and I were living in Rugby, North Dakota trying to start a business in a town that had seen 7 people in 6 years try to do what I was hoping to do and had failed. Undaunted (and many would say unwisely) I accepted the challenge. Let’s just say it didn’t take long to understand what I was up against.
To make it work, my home office would keep expending my territory wider and wider. This meant lots of travel, often with little result. As our money ran out, so did our hope. We didn’t want to answer the phone because it was usually someone wanting money we didn’t have. It caused tension in the workplace, at home and even in my social life.
Yet, God heard our prayers and, s-l-o-w-l-y, we began to make it work. We often look back at those times and wonder how we made it. But for God’s grace and mercy, we would have just been the latest to have tried and failed. He gave us the strength to overcome the challenges.
In Philippians 4:6, God through Paul tells us, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” God proved to us His faithfulness by bringing this about in our own lives. Once we were able to lay our challenges at His feet, enduring them became much easier. When we finally surrendered all our struggle to Him, he made Himself even more obvious in our lives.
If not for those struggles, I would not be doing what I am currently blessed to do. If not for the lessons I learned through hardship, I would not have the relationship with God that I am so very blessed to possess.
Romans 5:1-11 reminds us, “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
Challenges will come, it’s a condition brought on by sin which we must all endure. But challenges don’t have to reign over us. Our God is willing and able to carry us through any challenge and He asks all of us to trust in Him to be our strength. We learned that very valuable lesson in our lives and so can you. “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the Word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). Please pray with me:
Heavenly Father, forgive me for those times I have let my struggles get the best of me. Help me to surrender those challenges to your gracious oversight and teach me to trust in you. Amen.