FACING GIANTS

August 21, 2021

You may not be facing the same sort of giant struggles as the refugees in Afghanistan, Haiti or South Sudan are battling, but all of us have issues in our lives that threaten to overwhelm us. Issues that loom large like giants.

It makes no difference if your child's life is at risk from the Taliban or leukemia, the battle to survive is a real one. If your family is facing hunger and searching for food, it makes no difference if it is because marauding bands of soldiers stole your crops or if COVID stole your job; the battle to survive is just as real.

How can we search for HOPE in tribulation and find the strength to go on? Let's begin with the teaching of Paul the Apostle in the book of Romans.

REJOICE IN HOPE, BE PATIENT IN TRIBULATION, BE CONSTANT IN PRAYER.

What was the situation that Christians under Roman rule faced when Paul wrote this? It was not so different from some of the most dire ones they face today. The biblical book of the Acts of the Apostles documents several deadly attacks against believers in Jesus. The stoning of Stephen by the rulers of the Sanhedrin. Herod Agrippa putting James, the brother of John, to death by the sword. Paul's stoning, beatings and imprisonments are recounted for us there, and in his other New Testament writings as well.

But references to Roman persecution come to us from many other historical sources. Paul was eventually beheaded by Nero, a fact reported to us by Origen, Tertullian, and Dionysius of Corinth. The martyrdom of Jesus’ half- brother James was documented by Josephus and Clement of Alexandria. Eusebius, the first church historian confirms that Peter was crucified upside down in Rome.

This was the situation Paul faced and into which the Holy Spirit had him offer three nuggets of divine wisdom.

REJOICE IN HOPE, BE PATIENT IN TRIBULATION, BE CONSTANT IN PRAYER.

REJOICE IN HOPE
Whatever battles we fight and struggles we face, believers in Christ can rejoice in hope. We set our hope on the grace to be brought to us when Jesus Christ is revealed at His coming, the day when our battles will be fully and finally won. He will be revealed as the ultimate victor, the King of Kings; and we who have faithfully served Him will rejoice. If we know that our time of rejoicing is coming, we can be strengthened by the foretaste of it now. Peter teaches us that the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will Himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. We may have to suffer a little while, but whether we live or die we have the victory.

Soldiers In any great battle face death. Some lay down their lives for the causes before them. Whatever the earthly price we are called to pay, let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful. And since we KNOW that He is faithful, we can REJOICE IN HOPE regardless of the battles we must fight.

BE PATIENT IN TRIBULATION
The word 'tribulation' that Paul uses here speaks of a crushing pressure. This is where the importance of having our hope in Christ is so crucial. Someone once said if you've placed your hope in this world and what it offers, when this world crushes you your hope will be crushed. But if your hope is firmly placed in another world that is promised by your savior, He'll give you the strength to be patient in tribulation. Paul knew what it was to be crushed.

In his second letter to the church in Corinth, he writes, "We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed." The word he uses for 'hard pressed' is the same word -- the crushing pressure of tribulation. Paul says he's facing crushing pressure, but he's not being crushed by it. He's perplexed and can't explain or understand all that is happening, but he's not in despair. His hope is in Christ, and so his faith is strengthened. He's not facing this alone, he has not been abandoned and neither will you be. Christ has promised never to leave us or forsake us, even (especially) in the midst of great tribulation.

BE CONSTANT IN PRAYER.
Prayer is the life-breath of the believer's walk through the deepest and darkest valleys. It is prayer that connects us to Christ. It is prayer that delivers the strength we need to face the most vile and evil things this world can throw at us. Prayer binds us to Him, and also to one another. We have the gift of being able to help our brothers and sisters bear up under the heaviest of burdens. Christ reminded His disciples as they approached earth's darkest hour to watch and pray so that they would not fall into temptation; for no matter how willing our spirit, our flesh is weak. Only prayer can deliver the strength we will require to walk in victory. Only prayer will enable us to rise again when we have failed and fallen.

How do we face giant problems?

REJOICE IN HOPE, BE PATIENT IN TRIBULATION, BE CONSTANT IN PRAYER

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