Strengthened By Hardship

On Paul’s first missionary journey, he traveled with Barnabas to Cyprus and then up through several cities in Galatia. After preaching the gospel in Antioch, Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe, they returned back through the same cities so they could strengthen those who had recently placed their faith in Jesus.

Acts 14:21-22
“They returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. ‘We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,’ they said.”

The early church was facing great persecution for simply turning to Christ; and Paul himself faced many hardships, including a recent stoning, for preaching the gospel. And though many Christians around the world face this same type of persecution for their faith, and many more face lessor hardships in their workplace, school, or with their family simply because they are a Christian, there remains a much more universal truth to this passage.

Those who have placed their complete faith in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sin have begun a journey which leads to the kingdom of God. Once we truly begin this journey we are a child of God and our place in God’s kingdom has been reserved; “He anointed us, set His seal of ownership on us, and put His Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come” (2 Corinthians 1:21-22).

However, while on this journey, God has a great plan and purpose for our life; “For those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brothers” (Romans 8:29). Every step is for the purpose of drawing us closer and conforming us to the image of Christ. And hardship is the tool which seems to best accomplish this goal. I’m sure God would prefer to shape and mold us through praise and blessings, but we seem to respond best to hardship.

It’s hardship which reminds us of our dependence on God when we’ve begun to trust in our own abilities and understanding. It’s hardship which brings us back to our knees in prayer after long seasons of silence. It’s hardship which develops the character of a mature believer: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:2-4).

As difficult as this may be to accept and understand, the truth is that part of God’s plan is for us to experience some hardship. For in our lost and fallen world where we come to God filled with pride and arrogance, hardship is the only way to humble our spirit and soften our heart. Our Father loves us enough do whatever it takes to draw us closer to His side – even when this means being strengthened by hardship.

Have a Great Day!
Steve Troxel God’s Daily Word Ministries