Disappointment. Discouragement. Frustration. All are words that often characterize our responses to difficult, if not impossible, circumstances. As I look back over my life I see so many difficulties and impossibilities. Why, I ask, is it that life always seems to be so hard? Why are there always so many challenges and so many limitations? If I am truly walking with God, then I should think that life and ministry would be much easier than the reality I’ve experienced.
And yet when I stop to consider the big picture I can see the hand of God at work in a truly powerful way. Based on the circumstances I’ve faced, my life really shouldn’t have worked out as well as it has to this point. What’s up with that?
In a sense I’ve always known that God wants to perfect His faith in me, but still I’ve struggled with the limitations and difficulties I continue to face. And then it dawned on me. (I’m sure I heard it before, but something didn’t quite register.) How many significant people in Bible can you name who did not face impossible circumstances? The Son of God Himself was born into an impossible situation and given an impossible mission!
Can we name a few Biblical notables who faced a wide array of incredible difficulties? Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Esther, Ruth, David, Mary, Paul . . . and the list goes on and on and on. Actually, a far greater difficulty would be to name a handful of heroes of the faith who had it comfortable and easy! How is it that we have come to think that a blessed life should be a walk in the park?
God likes to grow people, but growth never comes by way of comfort. Personal discipline certainly helps. But there’s nothing like impossible circumstances when it comes to forging our character and firmly establishing our faith—if, and only if, we latch onto the promises of God when it appears as though He is devilishly absent.
There’s something noble and romantic about responding to an altar call to be willing to attempt the impossible for God. But that’s when you’re standing on a spiritual mountain top where the presence of God is thick and emotions are running high. Any and everything seems possible then. To come down from the mountain to face the day to day realities of trench warfare, or simply mundane living—well that’s an entirely different matter.
What would happen if we stopped lamenting our impossibilities and began embracing them as opportunities to see God move? As opportunities for us to grow in a faith that is more precious than gold? I can’t say exactly, but I am in the process of finding out. And truth be told, there is very little disappointing, discouraging and frustrating about seeing God reveal Himself in powerful and amazing ways!
“Against hope Abraham believed in hope with the result that he became the father of many nations according to the pronouncement, ‘so will your descendants be.’ Without being weak in faith, he considered his own body as dead (because he was about one hundred years old) and the deadness of Sarah’s womb. He did not waver in unbelief about the promise of God but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God. He was fully convinced that what God promised he was also able to do. So indeed it was credited to Abraham as righteousness.” Romans 4:18-22 (NET)