I don’t know about you all, but the last few weeks have been a series of ups and downs. The issue is that the downs have far outweighed the ups lately. It seems that once one thing has been dealt with, ten more pop up. Life does this to us all at times, doesn’t it? It just keeps beating us down until we just feel like we can’t go on. But as Christians, we know we must keep going. We know we can’t just give up or fold under all the stress.
My favorite Biblical example of this is Job. God in His sovereignty actually has me reading through Job right now as I have all these issues coming at me. When I see the problems I am facing compared to Job’s, I realize that really my issues are quite small. Job had all his wealth taken from him, (Job 1). Job had all his children killed in on day, (Job 1). Job had his health taken from him as well, (Job 2). Job even had people around him giving him bad advise. Job 2:9 says “Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die”” Soon after this Job’s friends come and tell him how all the bad stuff that has happened to him is because of his sin. Talk about salt in the wound!
Now thankfully my wife has offered encouragement through my storms and no friends have come to tell me my recent problems are from my sins. But when life is falling apart we can feel like we just want to give up. Satan loves to tempt us in our storms that God must not be there or love us if He would allow us to go through such issues. This of course is a bold faced lie but one that many have fallen for over the years. That being a Christian means that each day will be smooth is far from reality. So why, in the midst of all of this, do Christians keep going? Why don’t we just heed the words of Job’s wife or just go and live a life that pursues comfort and pleasure?
First, Christians keep going because we know there is a purpose. We know that God is good. We know that he loves us, so why does He allow us to suffer through storms in our lives? Because He has a glorious purpose for them. Maybe He is trying to teach us to depend upon Him more. Let’s be honest, when things are going great we don’t really feel the need to depend upon God. But when life is tough, we cry our for His help. Isn’t His allowing us to suffer earthly trials in order to grow our dependance upon Him a supremely glorious and good purpose for us? 2 Corinthians 1:9 says “Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.”
Or maybe God just wants us to see a sin stronghold in our life. When things are going smoothly I rarely am able to spot sin issues in my life. But when trials come, I more keenly feel the areas in my life that are not completely surrendered to God. Hebrews 12:4-6 says “In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.”
God loves us enough to allow us to go through trials because He has a greater purpose in mind. This is what Romans 8:28 really means: “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”
Second, Christians keep going because our prize is not here on earth. Philippians 3:20 says “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” We are creatures prone to only focus on right now. We forget where our ultimate home is. Remembering heaven is our home can keep us moving, albeit slowly, step-by-step towards God through all the trials that are coming at us. If we understand that the prize of God in heaven is far greater than any trial we are currently facing we too can face trials with the idea that our greater treasure is in heaven, (Matthew 13:44-46).
Finally, Christians keep going because of the examples found throughout the Bible and with the help of the Holy Spirit. The Bible tells us another name for the Holy Spirit is the “Comforter” or “Helper” (John 14:26). When we are facing trials is when the Holy Spirit comes to comfort and help us. He doesn’t necessarily just take the trial away but rather allows us to go through them with enough strength and grace to keep moving towards God.
God also provides us with many Biblical examples of brothers and sisters of old who suffered but kept going despite their storms. Besides Job we also see the trials and storms of Paul, (2 Corinthians 11:23-33), the early Church, (Acts 7-8), and the Israelites (2 Chronicles 36:17-21) just to name a few. Not only these examples, but we also have the ultimate example of Jesus. Much of our suffering is a result of some sin or foolishness, (some suffering is not as we saw in Job’s life), but all of Jesus’ suffering was not a result of anything He had done wrong but actually because of all that we have done wrong, (1 Peter 2:22-24).
If today you are in the midst of trials, I just want to encourage you to keep going. Understand that God is good and has a glorious purpose for allowing you to go through what you are going through right now. Stop asking God “why me?” and instead ask him “what are you trying to show me?” Remember that our citizenship is in heaven and we keep going because we are marching each day towards God in Paradise. And finally, let the Holy Spirit comfort you as He always does and allow the examples throughout the Bible to encourage you through your storms. Let us all keep going towards Christ that we may say with Paul “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.” (2 Timothy 4:7-8).