Getting the Most out of Hardship – 2

Another benefit of hardship is that it drives us to depend on God. When we are brought to the end of ourselves and see how frail and limited we are, we recognize our need for God. The apostle Peter explains what our response should be in hardship and suffering, “So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.” (1 Peter 4:19)

When I was a sophomore in high school, 23 of us young men embarked on a 1300-mile bicycle trip around Lake Superior. We had transported our bicycles from Minneapolis, MN to Superior, WI and launched our trip from there. We rode counter-clockwise around the lake through Wisconsin, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and into Ontario, Canada. After the first three days of sore muscles and butt fatigue we were all feeling pretty confident and energized by the challenges of the trip.

Then, halfway around the lake, we awoke one morning in White River, Ontario, Canada. My tent was blown up like a balloon! We were experiencing gale-force winds, driving rain and 35 degrees Fahrenheit! None of us was prepared for this kind of weather. In addition to these harsh weather conditions, the terrain had become so hilly that the locals had names for the hills!

By early afternoon I was so hypothermic and my spirits so dampened that I wanted nothing better than to call my dad to come get me. Larry, our adult leader must have recognized my despondency, because he came over to me and spoke with me. Basically, he said, “Rob, you’re at the end of your reserves aren’t you? We all are. But you know what? Being at the end of ourselves is a great place to be because it drives us to dependence on God. Through the hardships of this adventure, God is giving you an opportunity to trust Him in ways you’ve never trusted Him before. I urge you to grasp this challenge and trust God for the strength to get you through this.” 

Larry then quoted Isaiah 40:28-31, “Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

I took off on my bicycle, renewed with Larry’s encouragement from God’s Word. All afternoon, as I labored up every long, steep hill against wind and driving rain, I found strength in the Lord as I meditated on that Isaiah passage. Since then, I’ve experienced much more difficult trials that what I overcame that day and God has always proved faithful! He says to us, “My grace is sufficient for you.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)
Always let suffering and hardship drive you to God, not away from Him! Take advantage of your hardship, trials and suffering. See in them a unique opportunity to trust God!

©2010 Rob Fischer