Unfortunately, one of the promises Jesus gave us was written in John 16:33. He said that we would have trouble in this world. Yet somehow we always seemed surprised when we encounter troubles and set backs. I’m one of the biggest offenders. I like things to happen on schedule, the way I planned them, with no disruptions or issues. When things happen that mess up my plans, or I run into a period when nothing seems to go right, I lose my calm demeanor. I complain, and I let people and God know I’m not happy. My focus switches from long term to immediate, and in doing that, I lose my eternal perspective as well. In those times, I allow my troubles to block my view of God.
Consider Abraham. Hebrews 11:8 reminds us that God called him to leave his home where he had grown up and where his family was. God didn’t even tell him where he was going. He just said that He would show it to him. He and his wife Sarah lived in the land God promised him as a foreigner all his life. There was even a famine in the land that God took him to which forced him to leave for a period. Verse 10 says, “Abraham was confidently looking forward to a city with eternal foundations, a city designed and built by God” (NLT). Even when things didn’t happen the way he thought they should or in his timing, he kept looking past his troubles to God’s promises.
In 2 Corinthians 4, Paul starts out by saying they were pressed on every side by troubles, but they were not crushed. He continues talking about how constant his troubles are and that he keeps going and pushing forward. Then in the final verse of the chapter he writes, “So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.” He is teaching us to keep an eternal perspective by looking past our current situation. We must rely on God’s promises when things are going wrong. Our faith in what God says should give us the strength to persist even in times of trouble. Don’t allow today’s issues cause you to lose sight of tomorrow’s fulfilled promises.
I don’t know if you ever played sports or not, but if you did, you had a coach. Some coaches are there to help you have a good time, others are there to teach you the basics and others help you elevate your game. Those coaches demand a lot out of you, and sometimes get in your face and yell at you when you’re not giving it your all. They’re so hard on you at times that you feel like quitting, but at the same time you know that would disappoint them, and you definitely don’t want to do that. Their discipline and training cause you to respect them and make you want todo more. In the end, you’re a better player because they pushed you beyond what you saw in your abilities. Those coaches you remember for life.
Hebrews 12:6 says, “For the Lord’s training of your life is the evidence of his faithful love. And when he draws you to himself, it proves you are his delightful child” (TPT). God is always training us and preparing us for our future. You might go through an intense training at 35 to prepare you for an intense battle at 50. His training conditions our mind and spirit to be ready for those times in our life. At times it seems harsh and you feel like quitting, but God encourages us through these times because He loves us. He draws more out of us and gives us the strength to endure more than we ever thought we could because His grace is sufficient for whatever you go through.
The deeper your pain or the harder your struggle is will give you greater insight into who God is because you get to experience the depth of His grace and character more. You may hit rock bottom in life, but you will never hit rock bottom of His grace. Your times of training and difficulties only prove how strong His grip on you is and how deeply He loves you. His training grounds and discipline are designed to teach you how to dig deeper in your faith so that when the really hard times come, you have an anchor of hope in Him. Instead of being driven away by the struggles, you stay firm in your faith and your relationship grows. God understands what we need in our training in order to take us to places and victories we would otherwise never know. Keep trusting Him. You are His child whom He loves and He’s drawing you closer to Himself.