Endurance (Finding Victory through Jesus)
Many people recognize Joseph of the Old Testament as the young man with the multicolored coat. But do you know what happened in the rest of his story? When Joseph was a young man, God gave him dreams that foretold encounters and prepared him to be a leader of great influence. Because of those dreams, Joseph knew that God was going to lead him into favor, abundance, and blessing. The road to get there however, was not an easy one.
Joseph’s challenges began when he was sold into slavery by his brothers. Even as a slave in another man’s house, Joseph honored God and was given favor and influence in his position. During his time there, he was falsely accused and thrown into prison; but once again Joseph chose to honor God despite the circumstances. After years in prison, Joseph was taken to Pharaoh – the leader over all of Egypt – to interpret a dream. He gained great favor with the Pharaoh and was promoted to second-in-command over all of Egypt. By keeping his heart and focus in the right place, Joseph enjoyed all that God had promised him as a young man including great favor and influence! (Genesis 37-50.)
Joseph kept his trust in the promises of God even as he was sold into slavery, falsely accused, thrown in prison, and seemingly forgotten for years. Because he honored and trusted God, God was able to bless Joseph. As you invite God to work in your life, honoring and trusting Him even through the hard situations, He can do the same for you!
Following Jesus is not always easy. Like Joseph, we all face temptations, trials, and hardships in our lives. Romans 12:2 gives us an important key in how we can live victoriously: Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. Conforming to the world around you is as easy as flowing downstream with the current, but God calls us to something greater. The life, purpose, and blessing that He has for you is often upstream against the currents of this world. Swimming upstream against the current is challenging – you are going to run into people who oppose you and the debris that naturally flows with the current.
You might ask: why is there so much opposition to God’s Word and will? The answer is pretty simple. You are facing the enemy who does not want you to live in God’s goodness and abundance; his only desire is to kill, steal, and destroy God’s people. We know that the life of a believer is a fight from the womb to the tomb, so if you feel as though the enemy is leaving you alone, you may want to make sure you are not going in the same direction he is!
The reality of suffering is not a popular topic today, and it can be difficult to understand especially when we come face to face with it in our own lives. We face pain and hardship because the enemy is here to oppose us, but what are we supposed to do when it comes our way?
1 Peter 2:20-21 says, For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps… As you face trials and respond as Jesus did – with patience, wisdom, and love for God – you are pleasing and honoring Him.
God calls us to endure these trials because He knows what is on the other side. There is something better – deeper intimacy and trust with Him, stronger character, and an eternal reward. 1 Peter 1:6-8 says, In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Like Joseph, when you put your trust in God and choose to honor Him even when you are suffering and facing trials, you invite Him into your situation and allow Him to work.
A Doer of the Word
In order to weather the hardships you face in life, you need to have a strong foundation in Christ. Without Him as your anchor, you will be swept away with the current. He is your rock, your strong foundation, and your deliverer!
Take care to build your foundation before the hard times come – you cannot build your boat in the middle of a hurricane! You need history with God, just like any other relationship, in order to build the trust and faith that will sustain you through the storms.
But God will not invade your life – you need to invite Him into the middle of your storm. James 1:22-24 says, Be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. Simply hearing God’s Word without acting on it does not build your personal history with God. Only when you renew your mind and follow His ways, will you see His faithfulness and promises come to life. Your trust in Him and willingness to step out in faith grows as you see Him work more and more.
You see, God was able to work in Joseph’s life because, even in slavery and prison, Joseph chose to honor God. He endured through pain and suffering while trusting in the Lord. When you are in the pit like Joseph, it is difficult to stand in faith, but take heart! Begin to act on God’s Word and His promises in preparation for the breakthrough. Continue to be in the Word, spend time in prayer, and speak out your faith.
Proverbs 10:29 says that the way of the Lord is strength to the upright. When you put your trust in God and follow His ways, your spirit is strengthened, encouraged, and refreshed. However, hardships can easily produce offense and bitterness toward others. Remember that God calls us to forgive and love those around us. When you choose forgiveness you are breaking the cycle of returning evil for evil and are set free from any bitterness. God strengthens and gives us eternal rewards as we follow Him.
A Heart of Flesh
Hardships and trials will only produce bad fruit in your life if you allow them to. When that is the case, you will most likely see seeds of disappointment, anger, and fear attempt to take root. Hebrews 3:15 tells us to take care that our hearts are not hardened toward God. Rather than allowing these seeds to take root and distance us from God, seek Him even more during these times! Dive deeper into His Word, get to know His character, and listen for His voice.
Ask Him to search your heart for hardness and bad seeds that may have taken root during a hard time. He wants to heal that brokenness and turn that heart of stone back into a heart of flesh again (Ezekiel 36:26). He is so good to free us from those hurts! With a soft heart of flesh you can once again receive His peace and be moved by what moves Him.
Are you facing any trials or hardships right now that are seemingly wearing out your faith and endurance? Be encouraged! Hebrews 10:36 NIV says, You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. Seeking God may feel like swimming against the current with all sorts of obstacles coming at you, but God knows what He has in store for you. Invite Him into your situation, listen for His voice, and get ready to celebrate the victory!
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All scriptures are quoted from the New King James Version unless otherwise stated.