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The Twelfth Principle of Discipeship

Be Ready and Embrace Difficulty when It Comes and Don’t Hide or Run from It 



Be Ready and Embrace Difficulty when It Comes and Don’t Hide or Run from It 

Introduction: This factor will be the most revealingand possibly the most difficult one to live out in our lives.  

I. Difficulties (trials, persecutions,and tribulations) are inevitable so prepare for them  

1. Jesusassures us of persecutions in John 15:20 

2. Paulalso assures us of persecutions and afflictions 2 Timothy 3:11-12 

3. Jamesis clear when he tells us “when” and not “if” 

4. Petertells us to not think it is strange or unusual to have these difficulties 1
Peter 4:12 

5. Consider the sources of difficulties (trials,persecutions, and tribulations). As you begin toexamine the issue of life's persistent difficulties, a reasonable question to
ask is, "Where do these hard times come from?" There are, in fact,
some specific sources of difficulties.

(1) One cause is simply making wrong decisions ourselves. OurGod-given free will allows us the opportunity and responsibility of making our
own choices. Unfortunately, though, even the most committed Christian will make
mistakes when making decisions, and the result can be a period of difficulties.

(2) Another cause are the choices of other people. The verses inJohn and 2 Timothy bear this out. This is certainly an impediment with which
the early church was familiar. Writing to the suffering Christians scattered
throughout the ancient world, Peter says, "But even if you should suffer
for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. And do not fear their
intimidation, and do not be troubled"
(1Peter 3:14). Whether it is on account of yourfaith or for some other reason altogether, a sad fact of life is that the world
is full of people who have the ability and desire to hurt you. This is
certainly a challenge for Christians seeking to respond to their oppressors in
a Christ-like manner.

(3) A third source is thefallen world in which we live. Sin has so permeated the earth that God's
original concept of paradise seems impossible. In Romans 8:20-22, Paul tells
how fallen all of creation is and that it longs for the time when redemption
will be fully realized in all of creation. Tornadoes, earthquakes, floods, plagues,
sickness, war, bloodshed, and crime are all the results of sin's impact upon
the world. Clearly, there is no way to escape the trials that seem to appear
out of nowhere. The scripture in Matthew 5:45, Jesus tells us that the sun and
the rain falls on the just and the unjust alike.

(4) Not surprisingly, a fourthsource often comes straight from the Devil and his kingdom. After all, Satan is
interested in ways in which he can torment us, and each attempt he makes has
but one purpose—to draw us further away from God.

(5) A final source is from theLord. Many people resist this idea, believing that God desires only happiness
for them, that the goodness of God is about us feeling good, comfortable, and
happy. However, the truth is that God is more concerned with our maturity and
development which has to do with loving Him and other people, than He is our personal
happiness. That is difficult for some to accept, but our relationships with Him
and others are far more important than our temporary well-being here on earth.

6. Realize thatdifficulties will continue, persist, and increase until Jesus returns Matthew
24:1-44. Verse 8 is a key to understanding Jesus’ teachings of the last days
and how this all plays out.

II. Difficulties are painful yet they arebeneficial, so persevere and have the right perspective James 1:2-4; Romans
5:3-4, Romans 8:28

1. Happinessis based on what is happening around you, joy and glorying in these
difficulties is based on knowing God and knowing He has something better. 

2. Thisis based on faith not feelings, from what the Word tells us, not from the
emotions that well up inside of us when things go bad! 

3. Allthings work together for good not just some things or most things. 

4. Difficultiescan be the best producer of patience/perseverance, character, hope, humility,
freedom from things, compassion, and love for God and others. 

III. Since difficulties are inevitable andbeneficial, what must be our response to them? 

1. Cry out to the Lord and surrender to Him asking the Holy Spirit to help us accept God’s grace to deal withsuffering or inevitably we will become bitter. We must understand God desires to be near to us and especiallyin suffering Psalm 34:18 and Psalm 50:15. This builds our dependence on God.
When we choose to trust God to bring about His purposes through the suffering, we
can avoid the trap of bitterness and grow in the grace and knowledge of the
Lord. (See II Corinthians 5:7, Ephesians 4:31, Hebrews 12:14–15, and II Peter

2. Remember that God will not allow anything tohappen to us without His permission, and He will not let any “bad thing” happen thatwill not ultimately bring us more good than destruction. (See I Peter4:12–13, Romans 9:14–24, Isaiah 55:8–9, Job 1:6–12, Genesis 50:20, and Psalm

3. Strive to keep your perspective bigger than justabout your birth to death life! In other words, this life is not just about you. Build theperspective of that which is between the Cross of Jesus and His Second Coming.
So, there are two questions to ask: 

(1) What does the cross make possible when life doesnot work? 

(2) What does His coming sustain when life is hard? 

4. Rejoice and give thanks. Sometimes being thankful and rejoicing in adifficult situation is the most difficult thing you can do. Yet, Scripture is
very clear about this response: we areinstructed to rejoice in all things: “Rejoice in the Lord always:and again I say, Rejoice” (Philippians 4:4). “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God inChrist Jesus concerning you” (I Thessalonians 5:18). To rejoice and be thankful rather than to complain takes aconscious act of the will and a sacrifice of natural desires. Psalm107:22 appropriately speaks of this choice in terms of a sacrifice: “Let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and declarehis works with rejoicing.” Unfortunately, most of us respond withmurmuring or complaining when we face hardship of any kind—emotional,
spiritual, mental, or physical. However, through difficulties, “it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his goodpleasure. Do all things without murmurings and disputings: that ye may be
blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a
crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world”(Philippians 2:13–15). Rejoicing and thankingGod in all things does not mean that werejoice and thank God for evil. It means that we are rejoicing in who God is
and thanking God for the benefits He intends for us when He allows things to

5. Believeand act on the Word of God.When Jesus was tested in the wilderness, He responded to each temptation by
quoting Scripture. For example, when Satan urged Christ to turn stones into
bread, Jesus quoted from Deuteronomy 8:3: “It is written, Man shall notlive by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God”(Matthew 4:4). We can follow Jesus’ example and successfully engage inspiritual warfare by proclaiming truth in the face of tests and temptations.Ephesians 6:17 describes the Word of God as “the sword of the Spirit”—theonly offensive weapon in our spiritual armor. Jesus said, “The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they arelife” (John 6:63). They are also the authority by which we can claimthe promises of God, since we are told, “If ye abide in me, and mywords abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you”(John 15:7). As you meditate on the truth of God’s Word, which is living and
active (see Hebrews 4:12), you can learn to effectively battle the enemy ofyour soul, Satan, with the sword of the Spirit and also deal moreeffectively with your sinful nature! 

6. Overcomeevil with good. Jesus gave Hisdisciples a clear set of instructions about responding to those who made life
miserable for them. (See Matthew 5:44.) These directions are completely
opposite to what we would naturally do: 

(1) Love your enemies. 

(2) Bless those who curseyou 

(3) Do good to those whohate you 

(4) Pray for those whodespitefully use you and persecute you 

Such responses would never be a person’s natural tendency, butthey do reflect the heart of God: “Be not overcome of evil, butovercome evil with good” (Romans 12:21). God promises to give a blessingto those who reward evil with good. Although we cannot fully predict ordescribe that blessing, we know that it will include the power of genuine love.
“Be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love asbrethren . . . not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but
contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should
inherit a blessing” (I Peter 3:8–9). If you react to a person whooffends you and become bitter toward him, you actually put yourself in an
emotional prison. Bitterness will control your thought life, youremotions, your free time, and your health. In order to be freed fromthis prison, you must forgive. Scripture provides many examples of those who
forgave offenders, including Job, Stephen, and Jesus Christ:  

(1) Job’s companions wereabout to encounter God’s wrath, but Job prayed for them and God delivered Job: “Andthe Lord turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends . . .”(Job 42:10). 

(2) Stephen prayed for God to forgive his murderers,even as they were stoning him: “And they stoned Stephen, [who was] callingupon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. And he kneeled down, and
cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he
had said this, he fell asleep” (Acts 7:59–60). 

(3) Because Jesus was wounded for our transgressionsand bruised for our iniquities (see Isaiah 53:5), we are among the group of
people He released when He said, “Father, forgive them; for they know notwhat they do” (Luke 23:34). 

Conclusion: This factor willpresent considerable challenge in applying this to everyday life, but in light
of this teaching, be ready and embrace difficulty when it comesand don’t hide or run from it! 


This complete studyalthough quite extensive can be a valuable tool in the ministry of the Church
seeking to build strong disciples and followers of Jesus. The studies although
they follow for the most part an outline form, can be expanded to cover so much
more than simply what is in print here. This manual serves as a guide into each
of these factors to lay the foundation of what can bring a believer in Christ
into a genuine walk of discipleship. It also is meant to be a replicable source
for any believer to teach another believer. The Apostle Paul writing to Timothy
admonishes him to teach the things he has learned from him to other faithful
disciples so that they in turn can teach others, thus building each believer’s
life and giving a course to follow in living out the Christian life and
spreading the faith. Actually, becoming a maker of disciple makers!!! 

My prayer is that youwill use this to build true disciples of Christ with the essential factors
necessary to make a difference in this world until Jesus comes again! 

Love in Christ, Dr. PaulEvans