Pressure and Patience

Life is difficult. It sometimes seems as if we cannot get through a single day without encountering a problem that threatens to upset our lives. There are times in life when we do our best to wake up in the morning with a good attitude, spend an hour in quiet meditation, prayer, Bible study, a walk in nature, and in the stillness of those moments we place ourselves in an attitude of peace, thanksgiving, and hope, knowing that God is at the center of our lives.

But then the rest of the world wakes up. Your children wake up asking you for money they need for a school activity–money that you hadn’t planned to spend. Your spouse wakes up on the wrong side of the bed and begins complaining about how difficult work is going to be today. The electric bill arrives in the mail, and it is twice as high as you thought it was going to be. Your employer changes your schedule and disrupts plans you had made to spend time with your family. Your best friend calls you on the phone in a fit of emotional hysteria because their spouse is threatening divorce. It seems that everywhere you turn you encounter bad news, negative emotions, and disappointment.

At times like these, we think to ourselves, “God, what am I doing wrong? I spend time in prayer. I read the Bible. I meditate on your promises. I do my best to maintain a heart of thankfulness. Still, I am surrounded by nothing but negativity and stress.”

Friend, the Bible has an answer for this–if willing to hear it: God is intentionally allowing you to suffer hardships, persecution, and stress so that you can grow stronger in faith, more persistent in hope, and deeper in the love of our Heavenly Father.

Jesus said, “Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world” (John 16:33 NLT). May of us are familiar with this verse, but not many of us have paid close attention to the sentence that Jesus spoke immediately before this verse. He said, “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me.”

The storms of life are always going to rage, but we always have a place of shelter from the storm. Just as God instructed Noah to build an ark to save himself and his family from the flood that God promised to use to destroy the world, so do we have a place of refuge where we can be held safely from the storms of life.

When trials, hardships, and difficulties arise, God reminds us to turn to his son. When our emotions boil over and the world seems to be falling apart, we can find comfort, love, peace, and safety in the loving arms of Jesus. The more that you mature in your relationship with God, the more often you will find that God does not allow you to find peace in your circumstances. If you think that a new job is going to bring you peace, you are wrong. If you believe that a pay raise is going to take away your troubles, you are mistaken. If you think that your life will improve when everyone else learns to stop complaining, you have not accepted the truth of what Jesus has already declared. Our Savior made us a promise, “You will have trouble.”

When we seek fulfillment in a new job, a new car, a new house, a new relationship, new clothes, or new experiences, we are trying to find comfort, peace, and joy from sources other than our Savior. This is why it is so often the case that spending more time in prayer, more time in Bible study, and more time in developing a thankful heart is going to cause the pressures of life to increase around you. God is testing you. He is helping you to learn that there is nothing in life that is going to be better for you than deepening your relationship with him.

James acknowledges this when he writes, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing” James 1:2-4 NKJV).

Repeatedly, we are reminded by Jesus and by all his apostles that choosing a life of commitment to God will always result in a life of increased burdens, increased afflictions, and increased tribulations. However, we are also reminded that God will be walking with us through every trial we face.

God wants you to be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. When you face a difficult situation, God is teaching you how to respond to that problem the way that his son would respond to it. God certainly promises to bless us in our circumstances, but the primary blessing that he bestows upon us is to give us an opportunity to conform to his image. If we never experience any hardships, our character will never be changed.

So when you wake up in the morning and commit yourself to prayer, be reminded that God is preparing you to face a day of distress. God is not promising to make your troubles disappear. He is promising to shape you into the type of person who can walk through those troubles with the fullness of Christ’s love, patience, and confidence.

When you commit your life to God, the Bible says that you will face death all day long, like a sheep being led to the slaughterhouse (Psalm 44:22). Jesus said that if anyone wants to be his disciple, that person must pick up their own cross, for persecution is promised to those who choose to follow Jesus.

The Christian life is not a life of comfortable situations. Rather, it is a life that teaches us how to comfort people in uncomfortable situations. We are able to walk through distress along our journey because we know that our destination is the eternal bliss of heaven and the blissful experience of love in God’s presence. The end of our road is not persecution, but comfort. It is not violence, but peace. It is not fear, but hope. It is not hatred, but love. It is not death, but life.

In all things, whether suffering, stress, or sickness, we are more than conquerors through Jesus Christ, who loves us. As you patiently endure the pressures of life, God is transforming you into a new creation. As you persist through the trials and tribulations of life, you will find yourself looking less like the stressed-out person you used to see in the mirror, and you will find yourself looking more like the child of God you have been called to become.

[Do you need encouragement in your walk with the Lord? Click here to set up an appointment with a Christian counselor who can support you in your faith].

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