Referencing her challenges to lead a world-wide ministry, Mother Teresa once commented: “I wish God didn’t trust me so much.” Paul, on the other hand, almost seemed to brag about his challenges. I encourage people to read 2 Corinthians 11:16-33 when they feel they are having a bad string of challenging events in their lives. Most of us haven’t survived shipwrecks, been left for dead, or secretly escaped over a wall in a basket.
Though I do not like to face challenges myself, I can see the benefit from the challenges of life. I am stretched further than I ever imagined. These days my faith is growing to see that God can strengthen me to do far beyond what I thought I was capable of. Through my challenges I stop focusing on what I can do and open my heart and soul to what God can do through me. It is true that, like Paul, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).
From Abraham to Joseph to Moses to David, challenges seem to be a way God prepares us for the work He has for us on this earth. A life without challenges is a life without faith. Challenges are necessary to grow the kind of faith that believes God is good even when you feel the rug being pulled out from under your feet.
For some, the challenge is to stay focused on God when things are going along at an ordinary and expected rate. In those days it can become even more of a challenge not to get too caught up in the things of this world. It’s easy to think of God when you have no human resources to turn to. When you are feeling up to the tasks ahead, faith diminishes somewhat—faith can become more of a challenge in good times than in bad.
I have lessened my questioning and trying to figure out why I or those I love face so many challenges when we are attempting to grow closer to God. I am beginning to see that God is doing a good work in us by calling us to be greater than we are. God sees that there is more strength and faith inside of me than I know.
It helps me understand why Paul boasted about his sufferings. It wasn’t that he thought he was more loved by God or that he was better than anyone else. It was that God had done something in him that could only be God because Paul himself understood that he was not up to the task. He was too weak to endure the challenges he faced. He knew—it had to be God!
Challenges are part of each day of our life. The greatest challenge is to trust in God’s goodness and purpose every day. Whether you have an easy life or hard the challenge is the same. We are challenged to see God’s goodness and purpose for everything we do. The unchallenged life is not worth living.
Are you up to the challenge?