Friday, February 12, 2016

When Hard Times Come: Pressing On



On this date in 1994, the ice storm had already done its dastardly best. It left behind downed power lines all over this portion of our state. Since my house was off the road, and my lines only served one house, I was one of the last to have power restored.

That sad news meant I was without electricity for more than two weeks. With a toddler in diapers. Cloth diapers. No electricity meant there was no running water and no heat. 

I used oil lamps for light, continuous fires in both fireplaces for heat, and hauled water from the lake for flushing. I bought jugs of water for drinking and cooking and hauled water from a generous neighbor for bathing. We let the livestock into the lake pasture so they could get a drink.

It was a lot of work.

It was also a grand adventure and I still look back on the jambalaya in the dutch oven, simmering in the corner of the fireplace, with fond memories.

I wouldn't want to do it again, but I could if I had to, because the ice storm of 1994 trained me.

Two years ago at this time, we had a rare snow, the water to the barn froze, and I found myself hauling water again. This time for livestock.

It was a lot of work, but I'd had a harder time in 1994 and survived it. I persevered.

This week, the skies have been blue, the days have been pretty, and not a snow flake in sight. 

The aftermath of the 1994 storm seemed interminable, but it wasn't. The days of frozen water pipes in 2014 seemed interminable, but they weren't.

The Apostle Paul knew more than he wanted about hard times. He was beaten, stoned, shipwrecked, and imprisoned. He was hungry, thirsty, cold, and uncomfortable. Life after Christ was more difficult than I can imagine, but he didn't whine or complain. He didn't curse his circumstances or struggle to break free. 

Instead, Paul counted it all as a small inconvenience in comparison to the gift of Christ and praised God for the opportunity to suffer for Him. He understood one important fact.

All the hard times we face are temporary. 

When hard times come, and they will, we have several choices to make.

Will we whine and complain, or will we respond with good humor and rejoicing in our adversity?

Will we persevere or crumble under the pressure?

Will we look for a lesson to learn, a skill to gain, a witness to demonstrate in the midst of our trial?

Will we see God's hand of blessing in the midst of our hard times, or only see the difficulty?

Let's use our hard times as an opportunity to glorify God in our response. Like Paul, let's press on, persevere through, and rejoice in whatever comes our way. No matter how long.

"I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus..."  (Phil. 3:14 nasb)

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