I marvel at Jesus. He doesn’t try being positive, like, “You will have opportunities every day.” He says, “Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matt. 6:34). We’ve all experienced it. Christians miss planes, lose jobs, endure flat tires, get beat out in political contests, catch the flu, and deal with injustice on the job.
We don’t escape the results of the fall because we are in the family. In the new earth we will; meanwhile, we endure. Add to that taking up our cross, and we’re glad when some days are over.
Jesus did not promise us a smooth ride. He did say that if we stayed close to Him, we would have a lighter load than if we traveled alone.
We can be thankful that the preceding verse said, “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” “All these things” include what we need to function. If we are not distracted by the troubles, we will discover that our heavenly Father knows our needs (v. 32).
As one grandfather said, “Life wouldn’t be so hard if you didn’t expect it to be so easy.” It doesn’t make us groan with fatalism, “Whatever will be will be.” It makes us people of faith who believe that in the midst of daily trials, God works all things for good.
Paul sounds like Jesus. He writes that “we must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22). Doesn’t sound like he trying to get disciples. Or is he? His letters do not contain the statistics—how many came forward, were healed and filled with the Spirit. Never.
But he does put out a lot of warnings. He tells Timothy, “You know all about my teaching…love, endurance, persecutions, sufferings” (2 Tim. 3:10,11). Then he adds, “Everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (12).
Thanks for being so upbeat, Paul! He’s writing to encourage a younger disciple with a tough assignment in Ephesus, so he says, “Endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. Almost sounds like the grandfather. C. S. Lewis wrote, “Hardship often prepares an ordinary person for an extraordinary destiny.”
Miracles masquerade behind difficulties, so we learn to convert them into divine encounters. Winston Churchill said, “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity. An optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” What we call obstacles heaven calls opportunities, so we are not thrown by what Paul calls “light and momentary afflictions.” They, in fact, help us to focus more fully on the age to come, knowing that we are not home yet.