“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 . . . to be conformed to the image of His Son . . . these He also glorified.” Romans 8:28-30
The Apostle Paul is the perfect example of someone who endured a great deal of real suffering, yet still managed to keep going. The Book of Acts and other scriptures, tell us that Paul was given 39 lashes with cat-o-nine-tails on several occasions. He was bound and put in chains. He was shipwrecked and nearly lost his life. Paul was imprisoned for 2 whole years. He was ridiculed, rejected, thrown out of town, and his enemies even plotted to kill him. I’d say those were bad circumstances! Yet in spite of all his troubles, Paul was able to say as he wrote to the Philippians, “But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel.” Paul never got bitter because he suffered or ran into difficulty. He only got better. His trials deepened his faith and strengthened his determination.
Knowing that God’s strength would get him through every difficulty, Paul wrote, “Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (I Corinthians 12:10) Wow! What an attitude! Paul had learned that God was always at work in his life to fulfill His promises, and to show Himself strong, and bring about good. There was no reason for bitterness in Paul’s life.
When you feel like life is giving you only heartache and pain, remember that God is still at work. See life’s difficulties and hardships not as something to run from, but as something to embrace because they lead you to a higher place. As Warren Wiersbe the great Bible scholar put it, “The bumps are what you climb on.” My friend, let God help you gain a new perspective, grow closer to Him, and deepen your faith. Grow better not bitter as God works.
Prayer: Lord, there are days when the sun doesn’t seem to shine and the heaviness of what’s going on around me pulls me down. Instead of getting bitter and hateful about my circumstances, help me to see them as opportunities for You to work in me and through me and for me. Then may I rejoice.