Here some of my thoughts about facing challenges as a Christian.

“The glory of the young is their strength; the gray hair of experience is the splendor of the old.” Prov. 20:29 NLT

  • We often feel lost in-between the “glory of the young” and the “splendor of the old”.
  • We are conscious that we don’t have the strength we once had, but we are often unconscious of our gain of wisdom, endurance, discernment, patience, perspective, steadfastness.

“Be assured and understand that the trial and proving of your faith bring out endurance and steadfastness and patience.” James 1:3-4 AMP

  • Steadfast: resolutely firm and unwavering – steady
  • Endurance: enduring an unpleasant or difficult process or situation without giving way.
  • Patience: the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.

You can’t go through life without encountering trials.

  • You possess far more now – be assured and understand.

God is developing us into a steady person.

  • “I will steady him with my hand and strengthen him with my arm. My loyalty and love will be with him. Through me he will be strong.” Psalm 89:21, 24 NCV
  • They won’t be afraid of bad news; their hearts are steady because they trust the Lord. (Psalm 112:7 NCV)

Courage is not the absence of fear
Maturity is not the absence of struggle
Faith is not the absence of doubt
Strength is not the absence of weakness
Success is not the absence of failure
Gains are not the absence of losses
Passion is not the absence of discouragement
Hearing God is not the absence of silence
Wisdom is not the absence of uncertainty

A courageous friend of mine wrote this “confession” on FaceBook and asked for feedback: “I’ve tried to discover my calling or purpose or dream or whatever for decades and have failed miserably. It is nearly impossible for me to dream or look positively toward the future. I’m ….. years old and …. and …… yep I’ve got every excuse in the book and a few more.”

I think this could be written into a book of common confessions. Why?

  • I think we all hope for more from our life then we are presently experiencing.
  • I think we all interpret the mystery of our life as failure.
  • I think there is more to us and to our life then we see.
  • I think that the multitude of voices that we hear are confusing: the voice of God, of Satan, of the flesh (ours & others) and of our redeemed heart.
  • Added to all of this are the combustibles and accelerates of physical and emotional pain.

So, here is what I’d say to my friend who wrote this and to my friends who are reading this.

First, there is something glorious that God has been doing in your life; an interior reconstruction that perhaps you’ve not fully seen yet, like in Extreme Home Makeover or Restaurant Impossible.  So we despair over our seemingly dilapidated or failing life.

God, fully aware of our present condition and His current work, says “Do not lose heart…though outwardly [you] are wasting away, yet inwardly [you] are being renewed day by day.”  2 Cor. 4:16.

I have to hold on to this as absolute truth or despair will take root and debilitation will set in.

I heard Mike Bickle say, “Satan wants us to feel good about feeling bad.”  It’s very tempting and easy to abide in the despair of a wounded past and a difficult present – it’s a welcoming and familiar place. That’s why Jesus told us that we need to abide in Him to bear much fruit.  Mike went on to say, “We are saints struggling with sin; not sinners struggling with God.”

So, hold on to the truth and to your faith.

Secondly, there is something that you can and must do.  You must offer what you have in order to acquire more clarity, while resting in the fact that you can only offer what you are aware of and have capacity for at this moment.

Ultimately, validation comes through the enacting, the creating, the bringing into existance what we believe or hope is true about the weightiness or giftedness of our life.  Affirming words are very helpful, but it’s only through trying, offering, risking, experiencing that we come to know what is true about our calling.

Thus, Paul wrote, “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect (fruitless). No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.” (1 Corinthians 15:10 NIV).

So, I can assure you that you are a different, stronger, better man than you were in earlier days because God’s grace to you is effective, is fruitful.  Now, in God’s strength, put in the effort and risk to “fulfill [your] every desire for goodness and the work of faith with power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus will be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Thessalonians 1:11-12 NASB)

What is something that you’d like to do or are aware of that’s good?  Go do it, whether big or small, visible or invisible, according your current ability and capacity.  More clarity will come from that place.

It is helpful to remember that:

  • Maturity is not the absence of struggle
  • Faith is not the absence of doubt
  • Strength is not the absence of weakness
  • Success is not the absence of failure
  • Gains are not the absence of losses
  • Passion is not the absence of discouragement
  • Hearing God is not the absence of silence
  • Wisdom is not the absence of uncertainty

Remembering and walking with you,

Gary