difficulties and difficulties

Jonesville, MI

At the men's group Saturday morning, after my comments about avoiding the "thorns," Kevin pointed out that there are still many difficulties to be faced. Even more than usual, if we're following Jesus' footsteps.

Yes, but there are difficulties and difficulties. Jesus spoke of thorns that choke faith, and also persecutions that purify our faith. Unfortunately most of the stresses of our lives are the thorny kind, we bring them on ourselves through our own desires and are afraid to move away from them.

After the bible study, many of the men went to breakfast together. And Kevin and I talked with a man who had done counseling and charity work and found that many who received his help were ungrateful and demanding. That's a common enough experience. Trying to help those who lie and take advantage of good intentions. But I pointed out that these are exactly the kind of difficulties that can purify our faith.

To take a risk, trying to love someone, means that we may receive evil in return. Jesus showed that this happens even when the love is perfect. Knowing this, will we still reach out to others? And when we are burned, will we reach out again? And again?

To face resistance when we're trying to make money, or gather possessions, or exercise power over others, this is simply the struggle for the things everyone wants for themselves. It drags us all down--unless in it we recognize the futility of the struggle. But to face resistance when we're trying to give, and persevere in the giving, this purifies our intention, our heart.

"As for what was sown on rocky ground... he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away." (Mt 13.20-21)

"But he who endures to the end will be saved." (Mt 24.13)