Facing Difficulties

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When news came in 1866 that the Korean government had killed 8,000 Catholic converts, Thomas resolved to go to Korea and give the pure Gospel to the people there. Despite the dangers, he boldly sailed to the Korean peninsula to shine the Light of the World into a kingdom of darkness.
In 1655, Stephen Charnock took a bold step into the public sphere. He went to Ireland with Henry Cromwell, son of Oliver Cromwell, who was recently appointed Governor of Ireland, and became the court chaplain.
It was thought by all who knew the Ryle family that young John would follow his father into banking, and maybe even serve in Parliament someday. But during a severe sickness, he thought much of God, eternity, sin, and salvation.
In the summer of 1901, an American army officer was waging a most unusual war in the city of Havana. Some thought the colonel was crazy. Others believed him to be a genius.
A rescue ship drifted slowly toward the rocky coastline. This particular area was known to be at “the end of the earth.” Long feared by sailors for its violent storms, hidden rocks, and savage natives, this desolate region of rocky islands is known as Tierra de Fuego. It is located off the coast of Patagonia, the southernmost tip of the mainland of South America. The mission of the rescue ship was a desperate one: to locate and assist seven missionaries who had come to bring the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ to these desolate islands.
Colonel Jim Irwin became the eighth man to walk on the moon’s surface. The mission successfully explored the Hadley Rille area and collected valuable rock samples, including the famous “Genesis Rock.” The deployment of the Rover was a grand success, and famous video footage was taken of the wild ride Astronauts Irwin and Scott took in the vehicle as they bounded over rocks and craters. After one particularly harrowing bump when the Rover almost flipped over in the slight gravity of the moon, Commander Scott broke the tension by saying, “Somebody forgot to put up the ‘Dip’ sign back there.” Colonel Irwin responded by adding, “. . . we’d be sitting here a long time waiting for a wrecker.”
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Soli Deo Gloria—“glory to God alone”—was the testimony of Johann Sebastian Bach. Three centuries have not diminished the influence or the legacy of Bach. As recently as 2019, a poll was taken among almost 200 living musical composers, asking who they considered to be the greatest composer of all time. The winner was Bach, setting him above all other greats, such as Handel, Mozart, Hayden, and Beethoven. Bach’s masterpieces have stood the test of time, and his concertos, fugues, counterpoints, and magnificent cantatas are still studied and performed the world over.
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Imagine your spouse, your children, and the spouses of your friends and their children being captured and taken to another country. The enemy had looted your neighborhood and burned down your home and the homes of your friends. Now your friends blame you for their losses! Would you be angry? Frustrated? Would you cry out to God to know what to do?
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Contentment is a rare grace today. Finding men and women who truly submit to and delight in the will of God is like getting a breath of fresh air. Frances Ridley Havergal is one of these fresh breezes among the pages of history.
Have you ever experienced such pain and sorrow that you felt that God abandoned you? Has God’s love ever seemed distant, far away? Such feelings of abandonment are common to God’s people, especially in times of grief and tragedy. In such times, it is important to remember the fact that, regardless of our feelings and our perceptions, the love of God is an inherent part of His eternal nature. His love is described in Scripture as “an everlasting love.
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When I come up against a difficult problem, I throw all my weight against it. I say, “I’m tough, I’m tough.” Sometimes, when I give it everything I have, I find that problems give way. But there are those times when every ounce of strength I can muster, every bit of creativity at my disposal, every talent I can apply leaves me helpless with my problem.
Robert Edward Lee suffered many disappointments in life. Near the end of his life, Lee wrote a letter to a close friend and former staff officer, Colonel Charles Marshall. The letter reveals how Lee’s hope was anchored in his understanding of the eternal nature of God. Lee wrote: “The truth is this: The march of Providence is so slow, and our desires so impatient; the work of progress is so immense and our means of aiding it so feeble; the life of humanity is so long, that of the individual so brief, that we often see only the ebb of the advancing wave and are thus discouraged. It is history that teaches us to hope.”
The Brewsters took a bold step when they left the established church to unite with a small, persecuted body of believers known as Separatists. William Brewster knew that he was risking his status, his livelihood, and perhaps his own life by uniting with these despised Christians, but he saw the justice of their cause and he loved the truth more than his own life.
Stephen, the first Christian martyr, was a man of God who consistently and faithfully loved his neighbor. His name is of Greek origin and means “crowned one.” When Stephen first became a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ is uncertain. He was probably a Hellenistic (Greek) Jew from Jerusalem who came to trust and follow the Lord Jesus during His public ministry.
The tenth commandment warns against the danger of coveting the possessions or positions of other men. Obedience to this important command calls for us to abstain from coveting. However, this is only the bare minimum required by the commandment. On the positive side, we are to learn contentment with the various items that God has provided to us.
The young missionary eagerly awaited the arrival of his bride. For months Henry Martyn had been expecting his beloved Lydia to make the journey from England to take up residence with him at Danapur, on the banks of the Ganges River in northeast India. Week after week passed as he waited for his bride.
“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13). How many times have you heard this familiar, beloved verse? It has been used in a variety of ways. Christian business leaders have used it to encourage their employees to do their best. Christian politicians have quoted this verse to announce hope for the future. Christian military officers have referenced it on the eve of battle, encouraging the soldiers under their command that Christ gives strength for the victory. It has even been used by Christian volleyball teams as a pep cheer before a game!
Contentment does not come naturally to the selfish heart of man. Neither did it come naturally to the Apostle Paul. In a letter to the Philippians, he testified that it was through hardships and adversity that he had “learned to be content” (Philippians 4:11). We too must learn contentment through the daily experiences of our lives.
Rare in this world is genuine contentment. Very easily we can compare ourselves with others and then grumble and murmur about our difficult lot in life. Covetousness arises very naturally to the heart of man, and it is very easy to envy the blessings that others enjoy. While it may seem that our trials and difficulties are insurmountable, we can always find another man in circumstances that are worse than our own. Today’s biographical sketch looks at the inspiring example of a pastor who not only became blind and lame, but even lost his voice. Still, he remained content with the providence of God.
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As you seek to discern how to find meaning, strength, and growth when trials come, these seven basic questions can be a helpful tool for you. By asking questions and seeking wisdom and guidance from God, you can discover purpose as you recognize the transforming work of Christ, even in the midst of suffering.
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