You put a lot of time and effort into writing your essay, but your teacher thought it was lousy. Your closest friend tells you that you have changed and are just not any fun to be around anymore. Your boss is always scolding you, never satisfied with your production. Your parents accuse you of being lazy (or your kids tell you to your face that they cannot wait until they are old enough to live on their own, because they will never come back to visit you). Your car is in the repair shop because you wrecked it when you tried to answer your mobile phone. Your refrigerator is broken, your internet server works irregularly, and to top it all off, brethren are complaining about the way you lead singing or prepare the bread for the Lord’s Supper.
We understand that life is filled with challenges. We also accept the reality that not everything in life is always going to go our way. But, on occasion we may feel overwhelmed, thinking that for some reason unbeknown to us, the whole world seems to be against us. Does that sound familiar? In the face of frustration on top of frustration, consider these biblical thoughts.
Remember Moses. When the Israelites were without water on one occasion, he said, “They are almost ready to stone me!” (Exodus 17:4).
Remember Caleb and Joshua. After they exhorted the children of Israel to rise up and go take the land of Canaan, knowing that God would bless those who trusted in Him “. . . all the congregation said to stone them with stones” (Numbers 14:10).
Remember David. When the wives and kids of David and the men under his leadership were taken as captives, “. . . David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him” (1 Samuel 30:6). What was David’s response? He “strengthened himself in the LORD his God” (30:6).
Remember Elijah. After his victory over false prophets at Mt. Carmel, Jezebel threatened to kill him. Elijah was so distraught that he asked God to take his life (1 Kings 19:1-4). Instead, God implored him to go back to work, sharing this information with him: “Yet I have reserved seven thousand in Israel, all whose knees have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him” (19:18).
Remember Job. Who could forget that poor fellow? In one day’s time, he lost his ten children and 11,000 animals (Job 1:2,3,13-19). His wife’s advice to him was, “Curse God and die” (2:9). When Job’s so-called friends came to his aid, they made things worse. In fact, Job told them, “Miserable comforters are you all” (Job 16:2).
Remember the apostles of Jesus. Just as the Master foretold, the world hated and persecuted them (John 15:18-20). They were threatened, beaten, and in some cases, murdered. Many years after Paul was added to the team of apostles, he made these observations: “. . . God has displayed us, the apostles, last, as men condemned to death; for we have been made a spectacle to the world . . . To the present hour we both hunger and thirst, and we are poorly clothed, and beaten, and homeless. And we labor, working with our own hands. Being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we endure; being defamed, we entreat. We have been made as the filth of the world, the offscouring of all things until now” (1 Corinthians 4:9,11-13).
Remember Jesus. Humans’ treatment of the Hope of the world fulfilled Isaiah’s prophecy: “He is despised and rejected by men” (Isaiah 53:3). Again, it is written, “He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him” (John 1:11). Not once did He mistreat another human, and never did He say anything that was false or inappropriate. Yet, He was hated “without a cause” (Psalm 69:4), mocked, spit upon, slapped, whipped, and brutally murdered. If ever there was one to whom it could be said, “The whole world is against you,” surely that was Jesus. Despite all of the things which He had to endure, He willingly “committed Himself to Him who judges righteously” (1 Peter 2:23) and “became obedient to the point of death” (Philippians 2:8).
Remember 1 Peter 5:7. When we are bearing what seem to be unbearable burdens, it is time to unload them, turning them over to God: “Casting all your care upon Him, for he cares for you.”
Remember Matthew 6:25,32,34. There we read our Lord’s simple, life-guiding words: “. . . do not worry . . . do not worry . . . do not worry.”
Remember Romans 8:18. Its message can really mold our outlook on life: “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” Thirteen verses later, we read, “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” (8:31). Staying in that same chapter, we are reminded that, despite the tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, or other unwanted matters that sometimes come barreling into our lives, “Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (8:37).
To be honest, when I read in the Bible of all the afflictions which God’s people faced in ancient times, I cannot fathom it completely. I have never experienced being imprisoned, stoned, or crucified. I do see, though, that Moses, Caleb, Joshua, David, Elijah, Job, the apostles, and the Lord Jesus all endured. They persevered, focusing on the heavenly joy that awaited them (Hebrews 12:2; 11:16).
When we live for the Savior, we are walking with the King of kings and Lord of lords . . . life is good!
— Roger D. Campbell