Take a moment to reflect on this past year and really marinate in all that God has been doing in your life. To be sure, He has given you many victories in 2010. It is always good to take some time to reflect on these; even better, write them down and file them away so you can keep a record of all the blessings God has brought into your life. “Count your many blessings, name them one by one,” is the lovely refrain, “and it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.” We have been doing this as a family for years, and it has proven to be a source of great encouragement to us to review them periodically and to be reminded of just how faithful our God has been to us.
Today, however, I am going to ask you to do something that you’ve probably never been challenged to do: take some time to review all of the difficulties you’ve faced throughout the past year. By nature, we have a tendency to look only at our victories and block out “the bad stuff.” Yet every good coach will tell you they learned more from their defeats than they ever did from their victories. So take a moment to reflect on the difficulties, disappointments, and defeats you faced in 2010. There is much that God teaches us in our times of struggle and suffering. Of all the lessons we should learn, at the top of the list is this one:
Difficulties Deepen Dependence!
The difficulties we face in life are divinely ordained to deepen our dependence upon God. They are designed to drive us back to the cross, where we find the strength to press on. As Peter reassures us, “For a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:6-7). When we get to the other side of our difficulties, we know that it was the grace of God that carried us through.
This understanding puts us in the place of Paul, who said, “I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me” (1 Corinthians 15:10). Paul did his part by working through every difficult situation, yet he knew he got through only by the grace of God. He knew this because he knew just how broken, sinful, and flawed he was . . . and how desperately he needed Jesus.
It is only the power of the Gospel that gets us through the difficulties of life. It is only the power of the Gospel that encourages us to run to Jesus when we are in deep need. It is only the power of the Gospel that empowers us to quit depending upon ourselves and place our dependence where it should be—on Christ. The key to difficulties deepening our dependence upon God is to rest in the truth that we are never alone in our difficulties. Your colleagues, neighbors, friends, and even family may abandon you, but Jesus will not.
“Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”
“The LORD will not forsake his people; he will not abandon his heritage.”
“Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5)
Difficulties deepen our dependence when we remember that in every difficulty Jesus is right there with us ready, willing, and able to give to us everything we need to get through it.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!