Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Conquering Life's Hardships

How do you handle the hardships and setbacks you encounter in life? When you fight against constant opposition, nagging problems, and frequent hindrances do you find your encouragement and optimism drying up as pessimism and spiritual exhaustion takes their place?

I thought this week's broadcast of The Lutheran Hour proved really helpful. Rev. Gregory Seltz revisited a 1931 sermon from the first Lutheran Hour Speaker, Walter A. Maier:

"Remember,--and I am speaking especially to those of you who may feel in human bitterness that God has dealt unkindly with you, you who linger on weary beds of sickness, you whose life has brought one crushed hope after another, you who live on under the blight of some consuming sorrow that gnaws away incessantly at your happiness and peace of mind ..."

Who of us hasn't been there? Who hasn't experienced dark times when we wonder where God is -- and why He isn't stepping in to help us out. Dr. Maier reminds us it is precisely in those struggles that the Lord is at work in us and for us:

"... Remember that, if God is for you through Jesus Christ, all of these thwarted purposes and shattered hopes will only promote the growth of your inner life."

Then he gives us some perspective, some encouraging perspective:

"The purest gold is the metal that has been refined in the hottest flame. Steel that is tempered in the blazing crucible gains in strength and value. The diamond must be cut and ground and polished to sparkle in its fiery radiance. And in your own spiritual lives there must be conflict and resistance to strengthen your Christian character and to bring out those qualities which mark the victorious life that lives in Jesus."

I like that -- no, not the pain and suffering -- but the reminder that God has a purpose for permitting me to go through these tough times of life. I like to think of it like a spiritual workout.

When I drag my old body to the gym for a workout, that weight and resistance is breaking down my muscles so they can rebuild to be stronger than they were. I don't always get excited about going to the gym, but I always feel better afterwards.

In the same way, life's struggles and hardships break down my spirit and drive me to our Savior -- so He can rebuild me with more spiritual strength, power, perseverance -- and perspective.

Hardships and struggles in life aren't pleasant, but with the comfort, support and encouragement of God's Word we can push through and conquer them for Jesus' sake.

Fiery are the ordeals life can put us through. Do you know of someone close who's experienced something supremely difficult and emerged on the other end better because of it? Is that someone you?

If so, take a few minutes and let us know what the situation was -- and how it helped transform -- like purifying gold -- that person into someone more equipped to handle the challenges of life.

You can do this by clicking here and sharing your thoughts.

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