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Overcoming Difficulties

Overcoming Difficulties
By Richard Nichols

Published in
The Christian Informer
March  2006

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In this lesson we want to focus on a need which all Christians have–overcoming difficulties in living for the Lord.  Not that unbelievers have no difficulties to overcome, of course they do, but their first need is to hear the gospel message, believe, and obey the Lord.  As we embark on the lesson we might note that from a practical standpoint this is one of the most important matters for Christians to consideration.
Through the years we have continued to point out that it is easy to talk, and do and act like a Christian, to even appear strong and faithful to the Lord as long as all things go well.  But things don't always go well, and the Scriptures refer to these situations in a Christian's life as "the trying" of their faith.  You may remember that Felix told Paul, "when it's convenient" I'll call for you–I'll listen to the gospel.  The Bible record says as the apostle Paul, "reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee" (Acts 24:25).
A convenient season?!  A convenient time is when something is just as easy to do as not to do.  The man says, "Not now, Paul.  Come back later and I will listen to you talk about giving up sin, leaving my debauchery and standing in judgment."  This was a man frightened out of his skin by Paul's preaching, but, somehow, down the road these things will be easier to listen to?  When is it easy to quit lusting, sinning, and living for self and turn to Christ?  Never!  Mark it down—A person who lives a "convenient life" is not living a Christian life!
We are told that "all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution" (2 Timothy 3:12).  One day you need to take the time, sit down and read of all the persecution brought upon the people of God in the New Testament and ask yourself, "is Christianity a religion of convenience?"  It certainly is not!  However, we are assured that if we view all difficulties as challenges and trust in the Lord we can become "more than conquerors."  But whatever we may encounter, whether it be our personal conflict with Satan working in our flesh, some serious physical illness which has come on us, the loss of a job, persecution from our enemies, or whatever it might be, the Scriptures encourage us to always consider it to be an opportunity– a chance to prove our faith.
The Bible says, "My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;  Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.  But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.  If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.  But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.  For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.  A double minded man is unstable in all his ways" (James 1:2-8).
The phrase "when ye fall into divers temptations" simply means, "whenever you face trials of many kinds."  Along the road of life a child of God encounters tests–tests of faith.  These are allowed by God not to cause you to fall and sin, but each trial or temptation to do wrong is an opportunity to prove your faith to God and to yourself, and, by the way, to others who are watching how you handle the situation.  Each encounter is a "testing of your faith."
Peter, addressing Christians of his day, said, "Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 1:6,7).
All Christians do not have the same weaknesses and our trials will not all be the same.  But again, we will all have trials of one kind or another, and persecution in some form.  No one who walks the path of righteousness escapes being tried.  Sooner or later we all face the question to answer: "Shall I overcome difficulties, or shall they overcome me?
In the infancy of the church, the apostle's lives were being threatened by the Jewish council who told them never to preach about Jesus again and here Peter issued the wonderful challenge– "Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye?"  They continued to preach Christ.  Then later this same high court brought them in and reminded the apostles that they had commanded them not to preach this gospel ever again, and Peter told them plainly, "We ought to obey God rather than men" (Acts 4:19; 5:29).  After this they beat the apostles and told them again not to preach in the name of Jesus and let them go.  "And they departed from the presence of the council REJOICING THAT THEY WERE COUNTED WORTHY TO SUFFER SHAME FOR HIS NAME."  What a wonderful spirit!!!  Some in our day would say "that's enough and I quit," but the Bible says, "And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus as the Christ" (Acts 5:41)
Finally, Paul asks, "If God be for us, who can be against us?  He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?  Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth.  Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.  Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?  As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.  Nay, in all these things WE ARE MORE THAN CONQUERORS through him that loved us.  For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,  Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 9:31-39).
Thanks be to God for His blessed assurance!
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Sometimes we simply pray to the Father to allow the sick Christian to get well, but often times there are care givers who are taxed to the breaking point who need the strength to carry on.  Let's pray to the Lord for them.  We are sure that many of our readers will relate to this kind care-giver's words– in this case a devoted Christian wife:
Having a tired, aching heart,
Striving to keep a good attitude each day;
Fighting denial, anger and tears,
Hoping to find a better way.
That's heartsick.
Looking into solemn, searching eyes,
Lost in time, thoughts seem to roam;
Familiar faces, without any names,
Always saying, "I want to go home."
That's heartsick.
Watching him falter as he walks,
Providing a helping hand;
Meaningless phrases as he talks,
It's more than you think you can stand.
That's heartsick.
Doctors try, but can't possibly know,
The "little" things that vex us so;
Medicine won't cure this phantom pain,
It follows wherever you go.
That's heartsick.
Doing my best to keep active and strong,
Showing compassion, hiding my fears.
For Alzheimer's there is not yet a cure,
And this agony may go on for years.
That's heartsick.
—Madge Lore