This past year, I’ve had countless conversations with people. Inevitably, the question comes around to, “How are you doing?” Sadly, many people have responded by saying, “Oh, you know, I’m surviving…” Then, they’ll proceed to tell me about a struggle they are having in life- maybe a family member making bad decisions, or a tough financial situation because of Covid. It really could be one of many things.
I’ve been reminded so many times recently, that God’s will is not for us to merely survive. He wants us to thrive! But how is that possible, when things can get so dark? How can we do more than survive when circumstances can be against us? Or how about the sometimes suffocating negativity of media and people around us?
So much of this, I’ve learned, is directly related to the response out of our minds. You could say that surviving or thriving starts between our ears.
The Apostle Paul had a few things to say about our response during hardships.
1 Thess 5:18 Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.
James 1:2-4 Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.
Rom 5:3-4 We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.
Rejoice in problems? Great joy in troubles? Thankful?
If I didn’t know many of the things that Paul went through in his life, I would have to conclude that these verses were powerless. But I happen to know that Paul had a resume to back these bold words.
Many of the words that he wrote were done within some form of confinement or prison. In one instance, he is famously known for being thrown into prison with his ministry partner, Silas. At midnight, in the cold, dark prison cell, others started hearing singing!
Acts 16:25 Around midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening.
Talk about an upside-down response! If you keep reading, you’ll see how God allowed an earthquake to happen to shake loose all the chains in the prison. But instead of escaping, Paul and Silas used the opportunity to reach out to the shaken jail guard and lead his whole family to Jesus!
We have the same opportunity to respond- will we approach our challenges as a way to just get by, or will we see them as a great way to praise God for what He will do and how He will see us through? You never know what kind of miracle is being prepared as a result of your struggle!
My prayer is that you choose to thrive, even if your instinct tells you to merely survive.