Thursday, December 18, 2008

Suffering & Staying Power

Last time we found that our suffering produces inner-strength.

Have you ever been house hunting, and the agent said "I've got a great property for you to look at. It's an older home, but it has character." When a real estate agent says it has "character" it's about like saying a blind date has a "good personality." You know the house may not be beautiful, but most likely it will look like it has weathered some storms.

Romans 5:3
“Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance (produces) character ….”

The word translated “character” can also be translated “proof.” Another good term is “staying power.” When you weather storms you have a chance to prove to the world what you're made of, and prove to the world how God is faithful to protect you through trials.

Bible teacher Steve Brown says that, “Whenever a non-Christian gets cancer, God allows a Christian to get cancer so that the world can see the difference.” Now obviously Brown’s statement is made somewhat facetiously. The statement is intended simply to make a point: a believer endures difficulties differently than a non-believer. God's presence in the life of a believer gives him the power to endure, and the proof is in the end result. When you endure suffering, you develop character; you develop staying power.

All kinds of records have been set in major league sports. Most have them to do with a player's performance in a single-game, or a particular season. Cal Ripken Jr.'s record (he played 2,632 baseball games consecutively) is different. It is not a record that can be attributed to talent, but character. He has proven that he had the drive to hit the field every day, even when his body hurt, or his head ached, or his nose was runny, or he had personal problems, or he was in a slump, or he didn't feel playing that particular day. We don't have to wonder if Cal Ripken Jr. was a great player; his record is proof that he was.

When you endure suffering, you develop staying power. Staying power proves to yourself and to the world that God’s power really is “perfected in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:8).

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