By Jonathan Ho
Life is hard and complicated. As I write this there is uncertainty in our politics, threats of nuclear strikes, racial tensions within our borders, and disorder in my own life. This past summer I saw suddenly vulnerable family members in the hospital, my car engine exploded, and I almost fell for a highly personalized housing scam.
Life is hard. Sadly, there is nothing new about this. Life for our parents and their parents, as one person put it, included “both terrible problems and beautiful realities.”
As kingdom citizens, we both belong to and long for a better home. There is this tension within us of both desiring a better home and wanting to make this place better. We are like royal children on a trek through foreign lands to return to the kingdom where we belong. We have been given dignity and provision, and yet we are not what we will be once we return home.
Difficulties test us and as Jesus told in his parable of different types of soil, we respond in different ways. While there are many different ways to fall away, there is one way to produce a crop and that is by holding onto God’s word and persevering (see Luke 8:1-15).
I believe each of us has a story and God has given us these stories to share. In this edition, I have asked dear friends to share of God’s faithfulness and grace amidst extremely difficult circumstances. Matt shares of ways to look and steps to take in establishing a firm foundation in Christ, Brandon shares his pain caused by others due to the color of his skin, and Sarah and Caleb share of difficulties which arise from weaknesses outside their control.
Before reading these I ask you to pray for the Holy Spirit to give you insight into your often deceitful heart (as I must for my own heart). A friend recently shared about how a Christian man and a Muslim woman were dating and how they said they were devout to their respective faiths. I retorted they must not be very devout to be dating one another. Later that week, I had a dream that I was standing in a worship session where they played a song you might know which goes: “And I’ll stand, with arms high and heart abandoned...” and I found myself unable to raise my arms for fear of the people around me. How blind I am and how large the plank in my own eye! I say my God is all powerful and yet I am unable to worship God for fear of embarrassment even amidst other believers. Am I as devoted to God as I believe I am?
And so, even if you feel you are firm in Christ, I pray you would reflect and be built up by the stories of fellow believers who suffer alongside you. May you hear God’s word, hold it fast to your heart, and bear fruit through perseverance.
P.S. As always, we’d love to hear from you. Have a story to share of perseverance amidst difficulty? We’d love to hear your story. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with any stories, feedback, thoughts, and questions you might have.