Growing and Enduring...
...Through Difficult Times
By John Braland, President of IMF's Board of Directors
Every believer has a God given dream and a God given destiny. The vast majority of people believe that God has a purpose for them but very few actually understand what it means to fulfill it. We get side tracked, we get confused, we take a few hits and fail a couple times and eventually we give up shelving the very dream that God placed on our heart. God wants you to fulfill your purpose and destiny and it’s going to take strong character in order for you to do it.
Genesis 39 records a situation where Joseph refused Potiphar’s wife’s advances. She tried to seduce him and he ran but was still accused of rape and put into prison. Joseph had no idea why God allowed him to be put into prison for doing the right thing but it was in prison that Joseph learned to persevere and it is also where his character was strengthened.
God will develop your character through trials and tribulation. Jesus said, “33 I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
In Matthew 7:24-27 Jesus told a parable about two houses that were built. One was built on the sand and the other was built on the rock. Both houses were hit by the storm but only one survived. The point is that storms and trouble come and wise people have strong character that can endure them.
How can God use tribulations to strengthen your character? First, tribulation produces perseverance. When you go through long periods of testing you learn to trust God and not expect immediate answers. Perseverance involves fighting the battle while you are waiting with contentment.
We learn patience at the DMV. We learn patience going through TSA at the airport. But we learn to persevere when we endure long periods of testing. When the trial you are in goes on for months and months or even year after year and you stand in faith you are persevering. There is a difference between learning patience and persevering. James writes: “2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” James 1:2-3
Second, while tribulation produces perseverance, perseverance produces character. In deep trials our character is pressed. Our worst often gets squeezed out under pressure. But if you let the Holy Spirit work in you, your faith can actually come out when you are being squeezed. Why? Because character produces hope and hope will strengthen your character.
Hope is believing that God is working everything for our good right now. Hope is believing that God loves us and is going to take care of us right now. Hope is believing we are in the center of God’s will even if we are in the center of a dozen problems. This is Biblical hope.
And guess what hope produces? Hope produces divine appointments. Romans 5:5 tells us that hope does not disappoint. To disappoint is the opposite of appoint. So hope appoints, lack of hope disappoints. Hope produces divine appointments.
Joseph did not have a pity party when he was thrown into prison. He continued to serve God and look for opportunities to bless others even when he was incarcerated. The king had imprisoned his cupbearer and baker. One day Joseph noticed they were sad so he asked them what was going on. They had dreams and wanted them to be interpreted and that’s what Joseph did. He was interested in them because he didn’t let his own problems consume him. He still saw an opportunity to minister to someone else.
When you go through a difficult trial allow it to produce perseverance in you. And as you persevere, let God strengthen your character. And as your character gets stronger, you will be better able to see things from a different perspective and that will give you hope. And when you have hope you will look for divine appointments to minister to others and take one step closer to fulfilling your destiny. God can use trials and tribulations to strengthen your character if you let him, the choice is up to you.