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Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Strength in the Struggle

I pray that my pain disappears when I have a pain. I pray that money comes in when I have the lack of money. I pray that that my struggles disappear when I have a difficulty. I want life without troubles. Why would I want anything else?

However, I admit that there is another possibility which I have failed to pray. What if I prayed for strength to handle my troubles rather than that they all disappear? Is there any value in that?

Peter and John went back to the church after being thrown in jail and threatened for preaching the gospel. They had resolved to continue regardless of the consequences. They prayed to speak the gospel boldly even though they were threatened. They prayed that God would continue to do miracles so that they would have the opportunity to point people to Jesus.

Why didn't they pray that they wouldn't be beaten if they preached the gospel? Surely, that would have made it easier to get others to join them.

Is that true today? Are more people preaching the gospel because there are no threats? Are more people coming to the Lord because there are no threats?


Have you ever thought that the gospel may speak louder when it is given by someone who has something to lose for spreading it? Maybe our struggles define our faith so that we know exactly why we are sharing it with others. Maybe others are listening because they know it isn't just a whim we are following. Maybe all the pseudo-Christians leave the church when a price must be paid. Doesn't that make our faith more pure? Doesn't that reveal what we really believe? Doesn't the world stand up to notice those who are willing to lose everything for what they say is the truth?

Are you willing to pray that you can stand for Christ in the struggle you are now facing? Will the strength you are receiving from Him become a testimony for Him?

After 911 the churches filled with people. Within three weeks they had lost their sudden fervor. They went back to their old lifestyles. They said they would never forget but they did. What kind of faith only runs to church in order to lose your struggles? Sure, Jesus can help but does that mean He will always remove the struggle or that He will sometimes make the struggle powerful?

When Paul prayed that his "thorn in the flesh" be removed, Jesus told him, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Note that He didn't remove it.

When Paul is talking to the Corinthians about their own temptations he said, "No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it." Note that He gives the strength to stand up under it rather than removing it.

There is strength in the struggle. I may not like struggles and I don't ask for them but when they come, I praise Him when I remain steadfast in my faith without having the struggles removed.

Acts 4:29-30 (NIV)
29 Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. 30 Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus."

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