Life is not simple. We face many bumps and turns along the way. The race is real, the battle continuous, and the painful experiences may pierce our hearts. However, our circumstances should not define who we are or how we react. Rather, as believers our behavior in every situation should honor the Lord Jesus, and our identity should always be based on the salvation He has provided for us.
Chapter 11 of Hebrews is populated with men and women who endured despite adverse circumstances. You may say, “Of course they persevered—God worked so powerfully in their situations. Look how their stories turned out!” Yet understand, just like you, the saints of old did not know how their stories would end, nor whether God would keep His promises to them. First Kings 8:56 reports, “Not one word has failed of all His good promise.”
So how did they demonstrate such strong faith in God? They did so because they trusted in the fact that the Lord was able to help them and work everything out for their good (Rom. 8:28; Heb. 11:1). Even when nothing else made sense to them, they placed their hope in their sovereign Lord—and He rewarded them for their confidence (Heb. 11:6).
In the fifth grade a young man, who is now a pastor, had to memorize the inspiring list of godly people in Hebrews 11—the faithful servants of the Lord who persevered in their great trials by trusting God. It was one of the most transformative lessons of his life. When he went through a rough time in the ministry, the Lord reminded him of these great people of faith, and gave him the confidence to endure as they did.
When thinking about the Bible’s unseen cloud of witnesses (Heb. 12:1), we should likewise be encouraged by their testimonies. We should be heartened by the story of Joseph, who endured though life seemed so unfair (Gen. 45:4–8; 50:20). Or David, who obeyed God even though, at times, everything seemed to work against him becoming king of Israel as the Lord had promised (1 Sam. 23:14). Or Moses, who “endured, as seeing Him who is unseen” (Heb. 11:27) and led the people of Israel to the Promised Land. Or the disciples, who were desolated at the crucifixion of Christ, only to be strengthened, heartened, and filled with purpose at His resurrection.
Had any of them considered themselves victims of their circumstances, they would have begun their journeys with God in defeat and discouragement. Instead, they focused on the almighty hand of the Lord and triumphed with Him.
Likewise, we can say, “God, if they endured, so can I, because You are sovereign just as You were then, and You love me as You loved them. Therefore, I will not consider myself a victim of my circumstances. Rather, I will view every situation as an opportunity for Your glory to shine forth in victory.”
God knows the Christian life is not easy. When you received the Lord Jesus as your Savior, He set you on your course. As your sovereign Lord, He mapped out all the bumps, turns, detours, hills, and valleys. He knew all the difficulties you would face. He understood that you would continually clash with the world, the flesh, and the devil until you were home with Him. Yet He didn’t merely set you on the path, hoping you would find your way. He sent the Holy Spirit to indwell you, guide you, and encourage you. Endurance requires something that doesn’t come easily—and that is trust in your unseen, sovereign God. However, with the Holy Spirit to remind you of His faithfulness and power (John 14:26), you can remain committed to Him.
When the going gets rough—and it will—you can’t run away. You can’t quit. The longer you faithfully obey the Lord, regardless of the circumstances, the stronger your faith becomes. You are prepared for greater service and expanded ministry. You become strong, stalwart, and steadfast.
The One who endured the cross lives in you, so that you are fully equipped for anything He calls you to do. If you stumble, He is there to pick you up. Just remember to always keep your eyes on Jesus. Don’t quit. Persevere.
You aren’t alone—your sovereign Lord is with you in every situation. Therefore, call upon Him to infuse you with His power and wisdom, and obey anything He calls you to do. And remember that you are never a victim of your circumstances, for your sovereign God can use everything that happens to you for your blessing and His glory.
Adapted from The Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Bible, © 2009.