Problems. Difficulties. Obstacles. Challenges. Complications. Hurdles.
We all have them.
Problems do not differentiate between the young or the old. Difficulties hit the homes of the rich and the poor. Obstacles arise for the wise and the fools. Challenges face both the faithful and the faithless. Complications change the lives of the healthy and of those who are ill. Hurdles show up out of nowhere for the singles just as they do for the married.
In the past eight months alone I have seen cancer come out of the blue, marriages dissolve behind the doors of a "happy home." I have seen friends hurt by lies, and addictions retake their claim. I have seen cars spin out of control and flat tires ruin preset plans. I have seen financial troubles lead friends down the road of hopeless debt, and abusive words rip away any ounce of self worth. I have seen work situations gone awry and how the needs of a baby can spoil time tables. I have seen friendships dissolve and the bitter stains of unforgiveness. I have received emails from friends requesting prayer for unknown problems, and have had several prayer requests of my own for the 'snags of life' I’ve experienced.
None, not one of us are immune from the complications of life . . . but there is hope!
Remember the apostle John? The brother of James, cousin of Jesus, the son of Thunder? The John who witnessed the agony of Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane and the one who took Mary, the mother of Jesus into his care after her son’s death on the cross? The one who walks step in step with Peter passionate about building the church and gets thrown into prison? It is traditionally taught that John was dipped into boiling oil only to survive and be exiled to the Island of Patmos. It is there, on this sterile, barren island that was used by the Roman government to banish and punish criminals, that John got to see into the doors of heaven. (Revelation 4)
If you pick up in Revelation 7 around verse 11 we see that an elder turns to John and explains that all of those who have come from the great suffering, those who have washed their robes white and those who have scrubbed them clean in the blood of the Lamb encircles the throne of God giving worship of praise and thanksgiving.
Living in a world of petty annoyances, life changing problems and experiencing unimaginable heartaches provides reason for us to forget to look up. But here we see, that when John does, what hope, promise, and salvation He finds. His problems aren’t gone, he stills find himself on the desolate island, but His burden is made lighter in the promise coming of Jesus Christ. Later John calls those who are redeemed and who walk in this life of trouble, “blessed.”
I read 1 Peter 1:3-9 this week and couldn’t help but be reminded of those I know who are facing struggles, for the struggles I too find myself in, and the hope of John’s story found in Revelation. As we walk this life full of unexpected twists and turns, saturated with troubles of large and small magnitude, and full of seasons of doubts, where there seems to be more questions than answers, it’s so easy to look around and get distracted by the annoyances, the crises, the tribulations and the set backs. May we remember, as those He has called redeemed-His beloved, that it is through suffering our faith is proven genuine.
Keep walking my friends, keep looking up, and know that you are not on this journey alone.
1 Peter 1:4-9
"...we've been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, including a future in heaven--and the future starts now! God is keeping careful watch over us and the future. The Day is coming when you'll have it all--life healed and whole.
I know how great this makes you feel, even though you have to put up with every kind of aggravation in the meantime. Pure gold put in the fire comes out of it proved pure; genuine faith put through this suffering comes out proved genuine. When Jesus wraps this all up, it's your faith, not your gold, that God will have on display as evidence of his victory. You never saw him, yet you love him. You still don't see him, yet you trust him--with laughter and singing. because you kept on believing, you'll get what you're looking forward to: total salvation.”