Did you know that hardship, stress, trials, they are all for our benefit? 

We've been sold a lie that we need to "reduce stress" in order to live full and happy lives. The Truth is, hardship comes our way for our good.  James 1 tells us to:

2Consider it pure joy, my brothers, when you encounter trials of many kinds, 3because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4Allow perseverance to finish its work, so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 

I don't know about you, But I have been struggling to persevere these days. I'm tempted to just lay down and do nothing. To wait the storm out. I so badly needed to read this verse today. 

James goes on to say:

12Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him.

When the world looks as dark as it does today, it is so important to remember that this life is not the end. That even if we spend the rest of our lives struggling and suffering, we have eternity in Glory, waiting for us. What does that mean?

Take a moment to think about something in this world that you feel is truly glorious, the stunning fall colors, the mountains, the ocean, the laughter of a child. That image of beauty is just a glimpse of the eternal glory that awaits us. We cannot even begin to grasp how great His love is and how wonderful forever with Him will be. 

I want to leave you with these verses in the book of Ephesians. Chapter 3 is a beautiful summary of God's plan for all people. (I've included in brackets some of my own thoughts.)

God’s Mysterious Plan Revealed
1When I think of all this, I, Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus for the benefit of you Gentiles ( a prisoner! oh how he suffered! and while he suffered he encouraged so many others. Much of the New testiment was written while Paul was in jail. And when he says for the benefit of you Gentiles, we may miss how big this was. Paul was a Jew, a devout one who persecuted Christians violently.  After meeting Jesus was converted and began to spread the Gospel to both the Jews and the Gentiles. How radical is that??) 
assuming, by the way, that you know God gave me the special responsibility of extending his grace to you Gentiles. 3As I briefly wrote earlier, God himself revealed his mysterious plan to me. 4As you read what I have written, you will understand my insight into this plan regarding Christ. 5God did not reveal it to previous generations, but now by his Spirit he has revealed it to his holy apostles and prophets.
6And this is God’s plan: Both Gentiles and Jews who believe the Good News share equally in the riches inherited by God’s children. Both are part of the same body, and both enjoy the promise of blessings because they belong to Christ Jesus. 7By God’s grace and mighty power, I have been given the privilege of serving him by spreading this Good News.
8Though I am the least deserving of all God’s people, he graciously gave me the privilege of telling the Gentiles about the endless treasures available to them in Christ. 9I was chosen to explain to everyonec this mysterious plan that God, the Creator of all things, had kept secret from the beginning.
10God’s purpose in all this was to use the church to display his wisdom in its rich variety to all the unseen rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. 11This was his eternal plan, which he carried out through Christ Jesus our Lord.
12Because of Christ and our faith in him,d we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence. 13So please don’t lose heart because of my trials here. I am suffering for you, so you should feel honored.

(Paul’s Prayer for Spiritual Growth: My prayer for you)
14When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, 15the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. 16 I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. 17Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. 18And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 19May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.
20Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. 21Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.


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