Not only so, but we also rejoice in our suffering, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.
I ran 6 miles the other day, and I was confused by how much it hurt. I ran 6 miles the day before and it felt great – well, the last 3 miles felt great. I was talking with God as I ran up a familiar hill, surprised at how difficult it was today… “Hmm, God. Why does this hill hurt so badly today? I know You said that hills don’t get easier; the only difference is that now I understand that I can climb them – I guess that’s why it hurts today. It’s just a reminder to me that hills are still hard. They are. When I think about different physical and spiritual struggles in my life right now – they feel like this hill.”
God said, “The difference between a civilian and a soldier is that a civilian looks at the hill and wonders if they will make it; the soldier looks at the hill and knows they will make it because of the power of Christ within them. It doesn’t make it any less physically difficult – it just makes it possible.”
Then, God brought the above scripture to mind and showed me a new depth to it. Many of us would agree that suffering produces perseverance. Even secular minded people say, “What doesn’t kill ya only makes you stronger.” As they climb hill after hill in their life, they can be misled into thinking that the victory is received at the top of the hill (in whatever accomplishment or prize exists there); they become very works oriented and dependent on themselves and their abilities and resources. They also become dependent on prizes of this earth.
But then God introduced new layers of insight in the “character and hope part.”
He said, “Even civilians can experience an increase in character due to suffering and perseverance – but the key that unlocks it all is true, Christ-Centered Hope.”
When a civilian looks at a hill and “hopes” they can make it – they doubt. “Hope deferred makes the heart sick.”
When a soldier looks at a hill – their Hope is in Christ – and the Hope of Christ does not disappoint. “We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 1:3).
The difference is that the civilian is hoping in their own ability to persevere whereas the soldier knows that their only Hope to make it up the hill is in Christ’s strength and His strength alone. Hope in Christ leads to the endurance needed to scale a hill, a mountain, or a valley. With this kind of soldier mentality – no hill is ever too big because all things are possible with God.
Kristina Seymour loves to encourage and equip women through the Word and through community. She is the author of The Warrior Mom Handbook, The Warrior Mom Leadership Manual, and The Warrior Wife Handbook; they are available at Amazon.com. Kristina's Bible studies are for women who desire to live by faith in the midst of their everyday lives. She has learned that women can't survive on caffeine and animal crackers alone; women in the Word and in community are united and able to stand firm. To learn more about Kristina, please visit her recently founded Share & Company Publishing House http://seymourkristina.wix.