Life is Tough, Are You Up To the Challenge?

Personal Development What Your Father Should Have Taught You

My Dad taught me to not expect anything to be given to me. Anything lasting needs to be worked for. Life is a struggle to overcome obstacles and by meeting those obstacles we grow to be better. We watched a lot of nature documentaries and he pointed out to me how life was. All life is a struggle. It was more obvious in the old days when people had to struggle for food, against bandits or savage raiders, against disease, or a variety of other challenges. The challenges of today may not be so graphic but they exist nonetheless. And it tells us who we are by how we choose to face the struggle that is life.

A common saying I grew up with was: When the Going gets tough the tough get going.

But my father read the Bible a lot and communicated the truths of life through Bible readings that he found true in his life. In James 1:2-4 we see:

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

In this verse, we don’t consider the struggle to be a joy because we like to suffer. No, the pleasure comes from overcoming challenges and becoming better than you are. As the scripture says your perseverance is strengthened by your faith so you can endure the trials you face. The trials themselves “finish its work so that you may be mature and complete.” Indeed, the chief trait of those who cry or crumble at the first sign of trouble is exactly immaturity. They never learned how to persevere through the trouble and so they never learned to stand on their own two feet against the storms of life.

As we grow up our parents are supposed to watch us as we grow. They watch as we try new things and learn to overcome obstacles. At the same time, they watch to ensure that we don’t stick our noses into something that we are totally unprepared for. As we struggle and overcome the little challenges our parents can trust that we are gaining the ability to face greater challenges. Eventually, they can have confidence that their children can move on into life and fend for themselves without them. That is what good parents do, prepare their children for life. They know the promise of James 1:12 that perseverance allows us to overcome our trials and once we have stood the test we get the reward of greater confidence and ability in life:

“Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.”

One of my favorites has always been this verse in Proverbs. My Dad encouraged me to memorize as many of the proverbs as I could because they would help me pick my way through the obstacles of life.

Proverbs 27:17 –

“As iron sharpens iron; so does one person sharpen another.”

It is the friction that sharpens and hones the blade into a sharper weapon. And it is the trials and friction that we face in the struggles of life that make us sharper and more capable to fight our way through the struggles we face in the future.

We live in a time where I think troubles are going to come to us with greater intensity. Some people will crumble and not be able to face their trials. But then, that is how evolution does it isn’t it? Those who are not capable of facing and overcoming the struggles of life succumb to them and fail the test. But, as Paul says in the book of Romans, suffering produces greater endurance, and endurance, in turn, produces character, and character produces hope and hope does not disappoint us because as we persevere we become stronger in body and spirit.

Romans: 5:3-5 – And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.

I watched a couple of the original Star Trek episodes tonight, and in them, the Captain pointed out (in more than one episode,) that humanity doesn’t do well when all of our needs are provided for us. We show our greatest ability and potential when we struggle to overcome obstacles. Without obstacles, we become weak and never rise to our ability. This is a theme in so many movies, TV shows, and books that we must realize that it is a pervasive truth of the existence of humanity. It was recognized by the Romans and Greeks, Germans, and our founding fathers.

A gem cannot be polished without friction, nor a man perfected without trials

– Seneca, a Senator of Rome.

As many wise men have said, “I wouldn’t give up any of my struggles because they made me the person I am today.” So don’t run from the trials life gives you. Face them, overcome or bypass them with strength and wit and become better than you were before them. Then teach your children to do the same.

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