By Karen Treharne
Itís easy for me to be appreciative when I see the green trees rising high above me on both sides of the highway, looking over my shoulders like guardian angels; Iím filled with awe at the beauty and magnitude of our Holy Fatherís creation.
It takes no effort to feel gratitude for the precious gift of my children as I enjoy their laughter at play. Prayer and thankfulness for good health, a secure job, a comfortable home and food comes without any exertion.
Being part of a church family brings immediate joy to my heart, as does the privilege to freely study Godís Word. And it is difficult to take for granted the love and support of a Christian mate that has been provided to me by our Lordís gracious hand.
But what about the trials that God sends? Do I find a blessing in them? Do I fall on my knees and praise Him for the opportunity to suffer for His cause as Jesus suffered for me? Do I anticipate the chariot ride that will bring me closer to Godís likeness as I trust and obey, or do I feel burdened and trampled down as if being plowed by a bulldozer? Are the problems our Lord sends my way teaching me, growing me and making me stronger? Or do they anger me and cause me to become bitter toward God and others?
In order to answer these questions, I remember Paul who, by his own words, suffered the most for Christís sake: "ÖI have served him far more! I have worked harder, been put in jail more often, been whipped times without number, and faced death again and again. Five different times the Jews gave me thirty-nine lashes, three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea. I have traveled many weary miles. I have faced danger from flooded rivers and from robbers. I have faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles. I have faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on the stormy seas. And I have faced danger from men who claim to be Christians but are not. I have lived with weariness and pain and sleepless nights. Often I have been hungry and thirsty and have gone without food. Often I have shivered with cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm. Then, besides all this, I have the daily burde
n of how the churches are getting along." (2 Corinthians 11:23-28 NLT)
Obviously Paul didnít have an easy life. But he was steadfast in his commitment to do Godís work and spread the Good News about Jesus, no matter what happened. His appreciation and optimistic attitude toward God because of these trials was expressed in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10: "ÖBut to keep me from getting puffed up, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from getting proud. Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, ĎMy gracious favor is all you need. My power works best in your weakness.í So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may work through me. Since I know it is all for Christís good, I am quite content with my weaknesses and with insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong." (NLT)
His testimony was, "For when I am weak, then I am strong." What humility before God and what a blessing for me to read and ponder.
Faith in Christ brings great blessings but often great suffering, too. God called Paul and He also calls me, to commitment, not to comfort. And as with Paul, He promises to be with me through suffering and hardship, but not to spare me from them. I know without a doubt, that the trials and hurts I experience for Christís sake, build my character, demonstrate my faith, and prepare me for further service to the Lord.
I now pray for opportunities to suffer in humility and I offer praises to God for these obstacles that cause me to depend on Him. I understand, like Paul, that it is through my weaknesses and limitations that God gives me courage and hope and deepens my worship as I affirm Godís strength.
And it is through my appreciation of His provisions, easy and difficult, that He makes me effective for Him and helps me to do work that has lasting value.
Karen Treharne is a published writer who loves to write about Godís presence in her life. It is her desire to honor Him with her words and to be used for His purpose and glory. You can write to Karen through the Letters page of this magazine.
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