It is odd to consider how tough time’s means we need to take tough measures. I’ve grown up hearing this phrase with giving it little thought or consideration. But what does it really mean? What one person calls a tough time another claims it is a window of opportunity. What one person calls a tough time, another person says, it’s just another day at the office. We continue to hear the phrases and clichés of the times, and continue to live our lives. But what if the tough times, are not the point of the phrase. What if the phrase means that we need to take tough measures? What would that be? What tough measures? Pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps? Brushing ourselves off and getting back to work? Turning the other cheek? The list and the statements go on don’t they? But what if, this phrase had a deeper spiritual meaning than we have considered?
Did Paul face tough times, when he went on his first, second, or third missionary journeys? Did Paul face tough times when he was imprisoned and locked away by Festus and Felix? Did Paul face tough times when the Sanhedrin plotted to kill him before he could reach Jerusalem and make his appeal to appear before Caesar in Rome? Did Paul face tough times when on the ship to Rome and become storm struck more than once on the journey, being ship wrecked, bitten by a poisonous snake, cold, and more before arriving in Rome? Did Paul face tough times while sitting in house arrest and waiting to appeal to Caesar? The unequivocal answer is a resounding yes! Paul was beaten, betrayed, beaten, left for dead, dragged out of the city, worshipped like a Greek God and beaten, thrown in jail, beaten, and the list goes on doesn’t it. Tough times, yes, Paul faced tough times. So what did Paul do about it? How did Paul respond to the tough times in his day?
Paul sat quietly in a corner and did nothing. No, that’s not what we find. We find that Paul was a man of character, conviction, determination, passion, commitment, prayer, fasting, worship and more. We know the measure of a man by the character of that same man in midst of trouble, conflict, deception, doubt, defeat and pain. We know the character of Paul by the men around him and the women which provided for him in many situations. We know the character of Paul because he lived for Christ and not for himself. Paul was willing to die that Christ could be glorified. In the face of adversity, Paul sought Christ, Christ’s will and Christ’s direction. We know that it is because of the character of this man, that the many people of Macedonia, Rome, and the regions of the globe came to know Christ and the sacrifice of His for people. The freedom which Christ offered in a time which was tough, filled with cruel hate, tyranny and greed. Nations were rising against nation. Rulers were power hungry and determined to have the world under their feet and yet Paul offered people Christ.
Tough Times? Today, possibly. But tougher yet is the measure of our character. Will we stand for Christ, will we sacrifice our desires that God may be glorified? Will we find the measure in our character to pray, be devoted, to stand for the righteousness of God and proclaim the truth of the message of God? Will we sit in the shadows and watch the world or will we engage the world and show the measure of God’s worth in us?
2 Peter 1:3 His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. 5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. 8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins. 10 Therefore, my brothers and sisters,[a] make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, 11 and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior
The writer is the pastor of Immanuel Church of Kettlersville and St. Peter’s Church in New Bremen.