What are you becoming? Faith does not focus on where it is right now or what it is going through, but on what it is becoming! The Apostle Paul said “we are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed but not in despair. Persecuted but not forsaken; struck down but not destroyed”. (2 Cor. 4:8-9) Could you imagine what Paul must have been through? Is it possible to be hard-pressed and yet not be crushed? Yes! The Bible says “A merry heart does good like medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones” (Prov. 17:22) and also, “The human spirit can endure a sick body but who can bear it if the spirit is crushed.” (Prov. 18:14 N.L.T) Job’s story comes to mind; in all that he went through, we were told he did not sin nor charge God with wrong (Job 1:22). The Bible talks about the patience of Job: “Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord” (James 5:11). The Bible says the testing of our faith works patience and when we allow patience to run its full course, we become mature and complete, lacking nothing (James 1:1-4). We are to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promise. (Heb 6:12) A lot of people talk about faith but very few talk about patience. Notice, it isn’t faith or patience, it is faith AND patience! “Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise”. (Heb 10:35-36) This tells me that one reason why people don’t inherit the promise is the lack of patience. Paul said “We are perplexed, but we don’t give up and quit.” (2 Cor. 4:8 NLT)
Do you feel forsaken when going through persecution? The fact that you are going through persecution or a rough patch does not mean God has left you. He said He will never leave you nor forsake you. (Heb 13:6) He said, even if a mother could forget her nursing child, He will not forget you because you are inscribed on the palm of His hands (Is 49:15). Do you remember Joseph? He was stripped of his coat of many colours and sold as a slave by his brothers; yet the Bible says “The Lord was with Joseph and he was a successful man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian” (Gen 39:2). Joseph was thrown into the prison for an offence he didn’t commit; “But the LORD was with Joseph and showed him mercy, and He gave him favour in the sight of the keeper of the prison.” (Gen 39:21) Didn’t Jesus say we would have a hundredfold in this life whatever we give up for His sake and the gospel’s “with persecutions” (Mark 10:29,30). Paul said “We are hunted down, but God never abandons us. We get knocked down, but we get up again and keep going.” (Cor 4:10 NLT) It is indeed possible to be struck down yet not destroyed! “For a righteous man may fall seven times and rise again.” (Prov 24:16) Truly, tough times don’t last but tough people do! Joseph kept going in spite of all the set-backs he suffered. The Psalmist said “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all.” (Ps 34:19) Not just out of some of them, but out of them all! Hallelujah! Another exciting thing about that also is that by the time the deliverance comes, one would not be the same. This was what James meant when he said we would become mature, lacking nothing!
I remember what God said to me when we were in the process of relocating to the United Kingdom in year 2000. He said though in the natural, it looked like the same scenario when I moved to Kano, Nigeria in 1988, in the spirit it was different. I had acquired a greater stature in the spirit over the twelve years of living and doing ministry in the ‘wilderness’ of Kano! “For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow! So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything.” (Jas 1:3,4 NLT) God told me that because of my new level of maturity, I will find myself walking in a new level of authority. That is, what took me many years to accomplish in my past, would be accomplished in a shorter time. And that was what we experienced as we came into our new place of assignment.
Rev. Kola Ewuosho
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