Scripture References: Numbers 11:1-3, Hebrews 11:32-40, 12:1-3, Phillipians 4:11-13, Romans 4:11-13, John 16:33
As I was listening to a message recently by Dr. Dobson from Focus on the Family, I was really impressed by his message that our faith must be tough. I was reminded that though life is seldom easy, God wants his people to be fighters, to hang in and be tough when the problems come. Somehow, we have gotten the idea in America that we are entitled to 75 years of easy life, with plenty of material gains and few problems and stress. We have huge over-expectations of the “good life”, and when our real circumstances don’t match up to our lofty expectations, we are depressed and discouraged. We want to bail out and go somewhere else. We Americans (and I speak for myself) are soft. We are not used to hardships and we don’t know how to hang in there when adversity strikes. This seems to be especially true in our marriages. Americans are bailing out of their marriages at an alarming rate.
In Numbers Ch. 11, God was angry when his people began to complain because of their circumstances. The Hebrew word that we translate complains is “kvetch” and is a shaking of the fist at God and griping and whining. God had provided for everything they needed in a harsh environment, yet they were not satisfied for even three days. Because of this “kvetching”, God anger burned against them. When we complain, we are saying to God that we don’t trust Him; we don’t think that he will provide and sustain us in hard times.
We need to accept the fact that we are going to go through hard times. Jesus told us this in John 16:33 when he said,” in this world you will have trouble”. All of the heroes of the faith listed in Hebrews Ch. 11 were listed there because of their endurance and perseverance in time of testing and trouble.
Paul said it best in Phillipians 4:11-13 about what our frame of mind should be. Notice Paul says, I have “learned” to be content. It wasn’t something that he was born with or got when he was saved. He had to “learn” to be content. By going through all the ups and downs of his life, and he had plenty, he learned that he could do all things through Christ who strengthened him. A lot of people quote that verse, but when you read it in context, it is talking about overcoming the adversities of life.
God wants and expects me to be “tough” in my approach to the circumstances of life. When life throws you a curve, and it will, we must react with perseverance (Rom 5:3-4). Suffering produces perseverance and perseverance produces character. Hebrews 12:1-3 says, “Let us run with perseverance the race set before us….. So we won’t grow weary and lose heart”.
These scriptures are especially pertinent for marriage and family situations and the problems associated with older age. Count on the fact that you will experience trials and tribulations and plan on hanging tough for the long haul. The Christian life is not for sissies! We don’t get to move to Hawaii when we get saved! We are going to have to tough it out here in the desert of this life. So be strong and courageous and hang on to him!