Year of Challenges – Re-post

At the beginning of this year, I had shared this word to our church.  It is entitled, “A Year of Challenges.”  Not to say that it was necessarily prophetic, but it serves to remind us that God is in control, He knows what we go through, and He is here to carry us through and to offer us hope and encouragement in the roughest of times.  

The false hope of this world is that naturally things are going to get easier, things are going to get brighter. Unfortunately, things don’t naturally get easier, better, or brighter.  If things do, reality is that it does not last, naturally that is.

As a new year unfolds, most of us look forward with hope and anticipation for better future. However, in as much as we are hopeful and desiring good things to happen, much has already happened in our world or in our lives that appear contrary to what we hope or desire.  Not to be a pessimist, but Jesus says that in our world, we will have tribulations, hardships, difficulties (John 16:33).  We will be challenged if not already.  Reality is that things will come that will rock our world, shake us, try us.  It doesn’t mean we should cease praying for God’s blessing or protection.  However, things will continue to happen because we live in a fallen world where death, decay, and destruction are the norm.

Challenges may involve our families, our finances, our marriage, our relationships, our employment, our church, or our areas of ministry.  No one likes to face problems, difficulties and hardships.  

God’s word gives us direction and instruction on how to survive and thrive through crisis and challenges that come our way.  Read Psalm 1:1-3, Jeremiah 17:7-8, and Matthew 7:24-29.  In quick summary, we have a picture:  “blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him.  He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream.  It does not fear when heat comes (times of trial and difficulties); its leaves are always green.  It has no worries in a year of drought (times when lacking or without) and never fails to bear fruit.” Friends, if we faithfully abide in the Lord and apply his word, we will not be shaken but will remain like a rock whose foundation is in Christ. 

On the other hand, challenges are not necessarily bad.  Read James 1 and Romans 5:1-5.  Challenges mold our character, shows us where our faith is at.  With challenges come opportunities for growth, maturity, and deeper relationship with Jesus.  We will know the reality of God, gain a deeper revelation of his compassion, receive a far greater perspective of life when we learn to trust him and lean on him during life’s difficulties.  Paul encourages us in 2 Corinthians 1:3-7 with a perspective that looks beyond ourselves.

Friends, our real hope is in Jesus Christ and in the on-going relationship that we might experience with Him on a daily basis.  A new year begins and along with it challenges.  It is in Christ that we not only survive but thrive through the challenges and difficulties.

May you experience daily the reality of God with you as you put your trust in Him.