How Do You Endure Hardships?
“But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. ‘Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened.’” 1 Peter 3:14
Gus Bess was a pastor in the northwest. He manifests a passion for everything he does, including bow hunting. When Gus was pastoring near Bellingham, Washington, he regularly saw large elk feeding next to a small wooded area. Whenever he stopped his car and got out, they made their way through the woods and escaped to the open area on the other side.
One day Gus decided to have Danny, his 14-year-old son, help him set a trap for the wary elk. They both piled out of the car and looked around, but no elk were visible. Gus told his son, “You give me about 10 minutes to walk around to the back of the woods, then you start walking to the front part where we’ve previously seen them feeding. Maybe they’re back in the woods and you’ll scare them to me when they run out.”
Gus moved quickly to his set position and nocked an arrow. He waited, wondering if his young son was ever going to walk through the woods. Suddenly he heard the familiar beat of hoofs running across the forest floor. As he waited, it became apparent that the noise was moving away from him. Concerned for his son, Gus ran through the woods to see Danny standing perfectly still, eyes bulging out of his head.
“Son,” Gus yelled, “Are you all right?” “Yeah Dad, I’m just scared.” Gus could see the fright in the boy’s face. “What happened?” “Well Dad, I did just what you said. I waited about ten minutes and started walking towards the woods when I stepped right into the middle of an entire herd of elk bedded down. The six big bulls jumped to their feet, acting like they wanted to fight me. They were snorting and digging at the ground. I was scared stiff; I didn’t know what to do.”
Gus figures that, once the elk scented the boy, they ran off away from both Danny and Gus. As the two men now recall this adventure, they are reminded how, even in obedience, we can find troubles.
We often suffer as a consequence for our disobedience, but to suffer for righteousness is a special blessing. Suffering for good, for obedience to God’s Word, can still be really hard: we don’t get the promotion, we’re left out of a group gathering, or we’re mocked, simply because we’re trying to live a righteous life as a follower of Christ.
Peter, in writing to the first century church throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, left us some encouraging words for those times when we try to do the right thing and find ourselves in troubled times. “It is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God…” 1 Peter 3:17-18a. As a general rule, people are not harmed for doing what is right, but when it happens we can know we’re in good company. All the disciples suffered plenty.
Danny was obedient to His father, but things didn’t turn out the way he expected. At the time, it was a very scary situation, but it was relatively brief. Let us be obedient to our Father, knowing that even when things get scary, we can take comfort in knowing that our Father is right beside us ready to comfort, strengthen, and guide us. And in the glorious end…I’m sure our suffering will seem ever so brief.
The Power of Truth:
“Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus.” 2 Tim. 2:3
“But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.” 1 Peter 4:13
“Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will give us later.” Rom. 8:18 (NLT)
Suggestion for Prayer:
If obedience has brought you rejection, disappointment, or fear, bring it to the Lord and let Him comfort you.