WISDOM FOR LIVING DAILY DEVOTIONAL
NOVEMBER 21, 2021
TOPIC: EVERYBODY HAS CHALLENGES
BY T. O. BANSO
“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed — always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So then death is working in us, but life in you” (2 Corinthians 4:7-12 New King James Version).
Everybody is battling with one issue or the other in life. In other words, everybody has a problem he is dealing with. We could sound positive and call them challenges, but whether they’re small or serious challenges, we’re uncomfortable with them.
The reality of problems or challenges in everybody’s life is unquestionable. What one may not be sure of is the nature of the challenges. The problems could be marital, financial, health, career, behavioural, etc. Certainly, everybody has shortcomings, struggles, problems, or battles.
People might look at someone and say they wished they were in his shoes, but they didn’t know where the shoe was pinching him. They didn’t know the battles he was fighting; they didn’t know his struggles. They didn’t know what was bothering him. Not all that glitters is gold. Life is not a bed of roses – even roses have thorns. Strong persons have their weaknesses. People of faith have their battles.
Naaman was a mighty warrior. Looking at him, you could be envious of him if not that his story is now written in the Bible. You could desire to be like Naaman because you didn’t have all the details about him. However, you would change your mind after getting more information about him.
2 Kings 5:1 says, “Now Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Syria, was a great and honorable man in the eyes of his master, because by him the LORD had given victory to Syria. He was also a mighty man of valor, but a leper” (New King James Version).
Naaman had a problem in his life, despite being a great warrior. Probably his leprosy was not hidden from the soldiers under him. Evidently, it was known to those in his household, because his housemaid, who gave the information that eventually led to his healing, was aware of his health problem (2 Kings 5:2-3).
In Bible times, leprosy was a dreaded contagious and incurable disease. Victims were usually quarantined – they were not allowed to live in the city. It could be possible that Naaman’s leprosy had not advanced to a serious stage, or was not severe. To the glory of God, he was eventually healed through the ministry of the prophet Elisha in Israel (verses 9-14).
There is also the case of the Shunammite woman. 2 Kings 4:8 says, “Now it happened one day that Elisha went to Shunem, where there was a notable woman, and she persuaded him to eat some food. So it was, as often as he passed by, he would turn in there to eat some food” (New King James Version).
The prophet Elisha had enjoyed her hospitality for a period before he got to know the problem in her life. She had actually gotten used to her problem that it was no longer a problem! When Elisha asked what he could do for her, she didn’t talk about the problem in her life because she had learnt to live with it! Apparently, she had lost hope.
Then Gehazi, the servant of Elisha told him the woman’s problem, saying, “Actually, she has no son, and her husband is old” (2 Kings 4:14 New King James Version).
Anyone who had newly moved to a house near this woman’s mansion could have been praying to God to change his life to be like hers, looking at her affluence! However, that would be because the fellow didn’t have all the details about her.
The story continues: “So he said, ‘Call her.’ When he had called her, she stood in the doorway. Then he said, ‘About this time next year you shall embrace a son.’ And she said, ‘No, my lord. Man of God, do not lie to your maidservant!’ But the woman conceived, and bore a son when the appointed time had come, of which Elisha had told her” (2 Kings 4:15-17 New King James Version). Later when the child died, Elisha brought him back to life.
Just as this Shunammite woman was wealthy but had no child, other wealthy people also have their problems. Everybody has challenges. Zacchaeus was a chief tax collector and was rich. Nevertheless, he was of short stature. He had his own problem – his height! (Luke 19:1-3).
The prophets people rush to for prayers have challenges, just as the people eager to see them with their own challenges. However, life’s challenges vary from one person to another. This should keep everybody humble, and make all look unto God. Both the pastor or prophet and the people they pray for need prayers! Paul wrote to the brethren to pray for him (Colossians 4:3; 1 Thessalonians 5:25; 2 Thessalonians 3:1).
Sometimes people think that men of God don’t have problems. Everybody has because we are all human beings. Therefore, the minister that God is using for people must never take advantage of them or try to play God. He must be compassionate, knowing that he has his own problems even if he calls them challenges. We must live by faith without living in denial of our problems. We must walk by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7).
Believers must stay open to the ministry of servants of God without worshipping them. They must receive their ministry despite the challenges they may know. Believe in the LORD your God, and you shall be established; believe His prophets, and you shall prosper (2 Chronicles 20:20). God still uses His servants despite the challenges in their lives.
2 Kings 13:14 tells us that Elisha had become sick with the illness of which he would die. Notwithstanding his illness, the LORD still used him to give King Jehoash of Israel a prophecy of having victory over the Syrians three times (verses 15-19). Relate to men of God in the Spirit, not in the flesh.
Paul said concerning his troubles in the ministry, “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed — always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So then death is working in us, but life in you” (2 Corinthians 4:7-12 New King James Version).
Later in 2 Corinthians 11, Paul talked more about his suffering in the ministry. He said, “I have worked harder, been put in jail more often, been whipped times without number, and faced death again and again. Five different times the Jews gave me thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea” (verses 23b-25 New Living Translation).
He continued, “I have traveled many weary miles. I have faced danger from flooded rivers and from robbers. I have faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles. I have faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on the stormy seas. And I have faced danger from men who claim to be Christians but are not. I have lived with weariness and pain and sleepless nights. Often I have been hungry and thirsty and have gone without food. Often I have shivered with cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm” (verses 26-27 New Living Translation).
In 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, Paul talked about how he was given a thorn in the flesh, probably a handicap, physical problem, or any other problem, and he prayed three times for it to depart; but the Lord said His grace was sufficient for him.
We must not allow the problems in our lives to become our negative confessions, which would further worsen our situation. We must confess the Word of God, which is God’s will for us. We must never have more faith in our troubles than in the promises of God and our destinies.
You don’t have to envy anybody or wish you were somebody else. If you know what others are going through, you would see that nobody is exempted from the challenges of life. With faith in God, make the most of your life. It does not matter the negatives in your life; trust God to work all things together for your good (Romans 8:28).
Nobody is perfect, and there’s no perfect time. Don’t abandon your destiny because of life’s troubles. “If you wait for perfect conditions, you will never get anything done” (Ecclesiastes 11:4 New Living Translation). Have faith in God (Mark 11:22). Your faith in God will give you victory (1 John 5:4). Never stop praying (1 Thessalonians 5:17).
Don’t let life’s problems distract or hinder you from your life’s assignment or destiny. Be focused. Endure and fulfill it. Paul told Timothy, “But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry” (2 Timothy 4:5 New King James Version). Follow those who through faith and patience inherit the promises (Hebrews 6:12).
Be a blessing to others; help others. Don’t become self-centred, thinking always about your troubles. It could lead to depression. “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about what happens to you” (1 Peter 5:7 New Living Translation).
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit that you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto You today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank You, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you.
PRAYER POINTS: Father, by faith, I have victory over my problems. I shall stay focused and not allow the problems of life to distract or hinder me from fulfilling my destiny. I shall fulfill God’s purpose for my life in Jesus’ name.
(For over 280 in-depth and inspirational messages by T. O. Banso, visit: www.cedarministry.org).
T. O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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