Growing Through Trials

My grandfather once said, “If you ever find yourself in the doghouse, don’t waste time putting up curtains.” Grandmother once said, “There is no good excuse for bad behavior.” These little phrases and bits of wisdom tend to stick with us and come back to memory when needed. Secular wisdom, quotes, and truisms often help us understand our lives or give us motivation. For example, John F. Kennedy once said, “We do not do these things because they are easy but because they are hard.”

Difficulties in Being a Christian

The most valuable goals in our lives are often not easy to achieve, but we expect the reward will be worth the effort. Overcoming hardship can even be its own reward – independent of other expected outcomes. The very process of surmounting is fulfilling in and of itself. Living as a Christian, living godly, is difficult. It is so much easier to just give in to any and all temptations. Matthew 7:12-14 warns us that our path requires effort and dedication. It requires self-sacrifice and determination.

As children, we often have rules to follow that evolve into developing principles as we grow older. Simple rules no longer suffice as our moral compass. We need an internal sense of right-and-wrong to help guide our behaviors and attitudes. Once necessary as the result of sin, God gave His people a list of what is acceptable and what is unacceptable. He gave the Law. This has evolved with the sacrifice of Christ and the institution of the church. We are now instructed to follow the pattern and the principles of Christ. We are to emulate godly behaviors and attitudes.

The Bushido code follows seven basic core principles: right attitude, bravery, love, sincerity, honor, loyalty, and right actions. The key principle is honor. It is the foundation of this code as we have a foundation we build our lives upon. The morals and values we hold to provide the foundation that honor anchors us to. It is what gives us our set of principles that encourages to do what we view as most right.

As Christians, how anchored are we to what we believe? If Christ is our foundation (see Matthew 7:24-27), how strongly do we hold to the example He set and the commitment He demands? Consequences and difficulties might weaken our hold to that foundation, but overcoming those difficulties makes us stronger Christians. We are made better through those trials.

Jesus did not follow an easy path in His martyrdom and the salvation He offers, and the path we follow is difficult. These difficulties, though, make the journey all the more worthwhile. We recognize the value in things that take effort to attain, and Christ asks us to provide effort in following Him. In Matthew 11:30, Jesus talks about the lightness of His burden compared to that of the world’s, but bearing a yoke still requires effort. By taking Christ’s burden, we remove the spiritual weight and consequences of sin, but we may still face difficult choices and circumstances in this life. In the verse directly prior, Jesus asks us to take that burden upon ourselves voluntarily. We should be welcoming the challenges of our faith as the disciples did in Acts 5:40-42.

Conclusion

God loves us as a Father to His children. He loves us regardless of who we are, but He has expectations for us. He expects us to obey His word, and His standard is what we should be holding ourselves to. It is easy to create our own standard and adjust it as we need to, but God wants us to take the more challenging path as Peter points out in I Peter 1:16. As His children, we should be working to follow His will in His way. Jesus did His Father’s will when He came to this world, knowing the pain He would endure, and, in doing this, He set an example for us. Jesus took a difficult path for the sake of God, and so can we.

lesson by Brad Rosene

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