You can call them whatever you want, but they are part of our lives and the life of the church. Some view them as grave problems. Others see them as insurmountable obstacles, certain defeats, or reasons to give up, but when viewed through the eyes of faith they are simply challenges on the road to heaven.
Thank God for challenges because they teach us to rely on Him. Every reader has one of the “insurmountable obstacles” in his life now or one which will soon be there. We never want them, but they are simply part of life. We need to have an appreciation for them because they help us realize just how weak we are. If we were stronger, we could “fix” them and they would cease to be problems. However, the truth is that such trials force us to admit our weakness and turn to God. Perhaps Paul said it best, “Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor. 12:10). That last phrase sums it up best—when I am weak, then I am strong.
Thank God for challenges for they strengthen our souls. The strongest oak is not the one which is nurtured in a greenhouse environment, but one that grows in the open where it battles against the storms around it. The same is true of Christians and the “storms” in their lives. Here is the way God describes trials, “The testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing” (James 1:3-4). The way to full maturity (perfection and completion) is to travel the road of adversity.
Thank God for challenges because they give us a sense of certain victory. We may not win every individual skirmish but the bottom line is that we are winning. Each of us has come a long way in our walk with the Lord and though it has at times been trying, we are better people now than we were before. This is because we are overcoming our encounters with adversity. Look back at your life. You are winning! There are challenges ahead, but you have been winning and with God’s help you will achieve victory!
Now think about the challenges around us and how God is working through us to become victorious. Our latest victory was the lectureship this past weekend. It was the finest we have ever experienced! If you want to know the primary reason, then read David’s article this week. Our finest days and greatest victories lie before us!