Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Confident Hope Under Pressure

Encouragement for your daily walk with God 

As a pastor, people often ask me to pray for them That’s part of my sacerdotal duties. Even if I weren’t a pastor, as a Christ follower, I’m told to pray for one another. Now I can’t speak for you, but not all of my prayers are answered in the way I think they should be. 

Some years ago, a man asked me to pray for him because he had been sick for quite a while. So I prayed for him. He got worse! In fact, he told me (with tongue-in-cheek), “I’ll never ask you to pray for me again!” 

It’s interesting, isn’t it, that we want God to be glorified in healing a person, but God seems to say, “I will be glorified, but in another way.” Yes, sometimes God removes a sickness or difficult situation. Sometimes He does the miraculous, like removing cancer from someone. But let’s be honest here, sometimes when we pray, things just get worse.

Why is that? Because God can be glorified by suffering saints, and there are things to learn from our pain. Everyone suffers, believer and unbeliever alike. But when a believer suffers, and glorifies God in the process, it is a powerful testimony to unbelievers. When they see you honoring God in the midst of suffering, it demonstrates to them, and to yourself, just how real your faith in God is. 

Maybe this will come as a surprise to you, but you can actually grow stronger through hardship because there are lessons you can only learn while you are there. Our tribulations (the Greek word thulipsis, meaning pressure, to be pressed) produces something in us, if we take it the right way. The Apostle Paul agrees. He said there are benefits in our suffering—it produces many things, one of which is hope. One of my Bible College professors was fond of saying, “Hope grows in the garden of suffering.”

So don’t stop praying; it is a blessing, and a duty, to pray. But let God be God. And if things get worse, glorify God anyway. Let your pain develop endurance, character and hope. According to the Apostle Paul, that hope will not lead to disappointment.

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. Romans 5:3-5

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