How Do Christians Put the Trials and Troubles of Human Existence into Proper Perspective?

I have been thinking about this question this week. By the age of 93, I think I have learned what we do not do:

  1. We don’t pretend that trials and tribulations don’t exist.
  2. We don’t treat them stoically (though there are times that just “hanging on” is part of the answer).
  3. We don’t blame them on others.
  4. We don’t surrender to self-pity.
  5. We don’t ask “why me?”

So then, what do we do? The Apostle Paul was the expert in facing the harsh experiences that come in the active life of faith:

As may be seen in 2 Corinthians 11, he was three times beaten with rods; once pelted with stones; three times shipwrecked. He spent a night and a day clinging to the wreckage of a ship in the open sea. He faced danger from rivers; bandits; hostile fellow Jews who considered his “blasphemy” worthy of his death; false believers; and on and on.

It is hard to think of any man who endured so many hardships, and all in a time without modern resources and comforts.

For St. Paul, one of our most important human ancestors in the faith, what was his formula for staying on top?

In his own words, here it is: For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary but what is unseen is eternal (2 Corinthians 4:17-18).

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Photo credit: J B (via flickr.com)

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2 thoughts on “How Do Christians Put the Trials and Troubles of Human Existence into Proper Perspective?

  1. laying the path that leads up the mountain, those who went before us, might not have reached the top, but their efforts made sure others did, self-sacrifice, amen, sadly, there is a belief that suffering is good for you, fine if it’s your choice, then again, sometimes you have to derail the train…

  2. I read Romans 8 in my devotions this morning. Your blog today expanded on Paul’s words especially in verses 8:18-25 and was an encouragement to me. Thank you for writing in “justcallmepastor”. I find your teaching/sharing very helpful.
    I was diagnosed with cancer eight years ago and experience severe back pain as a result. I do not want my illness/pain to define me. I have so many blessings and desire to live this season of my life faithfully and joyfully.
    I have precious memories of the times we shared with you in the parsonage in Shelbyville, IL and the encouragement you were to David and me as we were going through a difficult time. It is hard to believe that that was more than 20 years ago! Thank you for your godly example to so many. Ruth Rupert

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