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Monday, June 11, 2007

Hardships are a part of any life. They can range in scope and size and frequency. For one, the hardship may be changing the course of their life in midstream. For another, the hardship could be the loss of a loved one(s). Hardships are very seldom seen ahead of time and never easy to navigate (hence, the name "hardship"). Given that all these things are true, I have learned that we too often see hardship as an intrusion into our lives. Difficult situations surprise all of us. But they do not surprise God. Rather than intrusions, I believe that many of the hardships that come in our life are allowed by God so that He can do His work in our lives.

Take, for example, the fruit of the Spirit that is talked about in the book of Galatians, chapter 5, verses 21-22. Many followers of Christ mistakenly believe that just because they begin a relationship with Him, they are transformed overnight into an individual with the character traits listed there. That's not the case. The Bible is clear that God uses "life" to produce that fruit in us--to cut away excesses, to trim back the dead spots and to produce in us a bountiful existence. Your hardship today is God's way of "increasing production", if you will. Make no mistake, it is most often our own sinful nature or the work of the enemy (Satan) that serves as the origin of our hardship. But God allows those things to occur to make us into the people of character that He desires. It's no mistake that the Bible is filled with stories of people who faced hardship and either failed or came out on top as better people. (God wants us to know that both can happen and it's our choice). It's also no mistake that, in the book of Romans, God puts this all important truth for you and me: And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. Romans 8:28 NLT

My words of encouragement for you are this. First, don't miss the chances you have to see God work in your life because you are running from hardship. Hardships must come so that we can be re-made into the image of Christ. Those hardships serve a purpose.
Second, know that you will make mistakes. Do not allow those to drop you in your path. They must be acknowledged; they must be confessed; they must be avoided. But there has never been a failure that could sidetrack God from glorifying Himself in you if you will only receive His grace and forgiveness. God can cause everything to work for the good of you and me. I believe he is absolutely capable of keeping that promise for you. So, next time you have a hardship (or maybe you are in the middle of one right now) simply say to God, "I don't want to be here. Don't like what's happening at this moment. But I hold to your promises that you can and will bring good from all that I face. Do that now in my life so that you may be glorified by what others will see." Interruptions can be Divine. Allow them to become trophy cases of God's grace in your life.

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