It’s important to examine your heart when times of hardship come. There are two types of hardship that can hit us: hardship brought on by our disobedience and hardship from our obedience.
I, personally, have been really enjoying this study of hardship. You don’t hear many people speaking about hardship in a way that doesn’t make you feel like everything is going to hell in a handbasket.
The truth is that we are MORE than conquerors in Christ Jesus.
31 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?Romans 8:31 KJV
So don’t hear what I’m not saying. The devil is a liar and these times of hardship are but light momentary afflictions when we consider the vast depth of the faithfulness of God. But it’s important to know how to go through hardship and win.
12 For we are not wrestling with flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the despotisms, against the powers, against [the master spirits who are] the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spirit forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) sphere.
13 Therefore put on God’s complete armor, that you may be able to resist and stand your ground on the evil day [of danger], and, having done all [the crisis demands], to stand [firmly in your place].
14 Stand therefore [hold your ground], having tightened the belt of truth around your loins and having put on the breastplate of integrity and of moral rectitude and right standing with God,Ephesians 6:12-14 AMPC
Times of hardship come to everyone – even if you’ve done nothing wrong.
I’m reminded of a song I grew up listening to. It says, “There are traps all along on the way for a pilgrim to fail, and in a mind there can be prison bonds stronger than jail.”
If we aren’t careful when difficulty comes we will want to shrink back or examine ourselves for some sin that we’re in. And while we should do this, remember that as long as you have done everything you know to do, sometimes it’s an attack of the enemy, and you just need to remain faithful.
Our text today is important because if we look at our enemy it’s not people but things operating in the spirit realm. Now we certainly can also cause our own times of hardship by doing stupid things, but sometimes it’s not us at all.
2 Kinds of Hardship
There are two primary types of hardship.
Hardship from Rebellion (Jonah)
Remember when Jonah was running away from God? He faced hardship on that ship, but that storm was there because he didn’t listen to God and was in rebellion.
Hardship from Obedience (Peter)
Now remember Peter? When Peter said, “Lord, I want to follow you to an even deeper place.” Jesus said, “Come Peter”. Peter started walking on the water above the storms. He was in a place of intense hardship, but also in the perfect will of Jesus.
When Peter got distracted by the waves of the circumstances that’s the moment that he began to sink.
Same with us. If we allow ourselves to be distracted by the circumstances many times the hardships we are going through can feel overwhelming. If we allow ourselves to be moved by sight we too will begin to sink under the pressure.
Examine your Heart
I know personally that I have experienced both of these types of hardship. I’ve been rebellious and I’ve been obedient and obedient is better.
Sometimes the circumstances look the exact same. If we look at Peter and Jonah from the natural perspective their storms looked very similar. The difference is the heart.
Have you done “all [the crisis demands], to stand [firmly in your place]”?
It’s really important to examine ourselves that we are in faith.
5 Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!2 Corinthians 13:5 ESV
It’s really important to examine ourselves to ensure that we are in faith.
The children of Israel as we talked about previously allowed their time of hardship in the wilderness to press them into committing sin.
Some faced struggles with lust, sexual immorality, and idolatry. Others simply fell prey to griping and complaining, but the common thing among all of them was that none of them entered into the promised land.
13 For no temptation (no trial regarded as enticing to sin), [no matter how it comes or where it leads] has overtaken you and laid hold on you that is not common to man [that is, no temptation or trial has come to you that is beyond human resistance and that is not [a]adjusted and [b]adapted and belonging to human experience, and such as man can bear]. But God is faithful [to His Word and to His compassionate nature], and He [can be trusted] not to let you be tempted and tried and assayed beyond your ability and strength of resistance and power to endure, but with the temptation He will [always] also provide the way out (the means of escape to [c]a landing place), that you may be capable and strong and powerful to bear up under it patiently.1 Corinthians 10:13 AMPC
The truth is that God will never leave us to be subject unto a trial that we are not able to overcome. It’s our responsibility to walk in all the knowledge we have and God will provide the way of escape.
Just remain faithful to God.
My name is Nathan Zimmer and I want to pray with you. Maybe you’ve never accepted Jesus as your savior, you’ve fallen away and used to serve God but aren’t sure how to get back, or maybe you’re going through a time of difficulty.
Right now you can contact me either through email at [email protected] or via the chat on this website. I’d like to help you in any way that I can.