No person grows or matures in Christ apart from hardship, trials, and difficulty.  No one.  A good friend of mine and I got into a “discussion” one time listening to Dr. Chuck Swindoll preach several years ago.  Dr. Swindoll said, “God doesn’t use anyone He doesn’t first break.”  Now consider the brief conversation that ensued as I turned to my friend and said…

Me: “He’s wrong…”

My friend: “No.  YOU’RE wrong…”

Me: “NO.  HE is wrong!”

My friend: “No.  You ARE wrong…”

Me: “What do you mean?”

My friend: “He is right.  You ARE wrong!”

At that point I decided to be the godly one and not make a scene (Ah-hum.  Yea right…).

Not long after that… and for many years since… I’ve come to realize I was wrong and Dr. Swindoll was right (I just can’t bring myself to say my friend was right though!).  During one of those difficult times in my life I ran across two verses in Psalms and ever since then when life presses in on me I fall back on them.  They are from Psalm 119…

Ps 119:67 Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep Your word.

Ps 119:71 It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn Your statutes.

Let those settle into your heart for a little bit.  Meditate upon them.  Submit your soul, spirit, and emotions to the truth of God’s Word.

119:67.  Affliction is used by God to draw His children back to Him.  He uses difficulty to teach us to keep His Commands (Which are for our good).

119:71.  Sometimes our hardship and affliction is NOT necessarily because of anything we’ve done wrong.  When life is hard, it is then that we are much more prone to listen… and hear… God speak to us.  It is in difficulty that we learn (to the depths of our heart) to keep God’s commands.

Are you having a hard time?  Is someone close to you struggling?  Consider the love of God in the event and what He is working out in life as we find in Hebrews 12:5-7, 10-11…

“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by Him. 6 For the Lord disciplines the one He loves, and chastises every son whom He receives.”  7 It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. 10 …But He disciplines us for our good, that we may share His holiness. 11  For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.