There are times when life is difficult. I can’t think of anyone in Scripture that gives us a clearer example of not only the difficulty of life but also how to overcome that difficulty and follow Jesus fully. Paul tells us that he was shipwrecked three times, beaten with rods, stoned, beaten with lashes, put in prison, left hungry and rejected by his own people and Gentiles alike. When he was first saved and filled with the Holy Spirit Jesus told Ananias of Paul, “I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake.” Paul’s suffering or difficulty was not a form of punishment for his prior deeds persecuting the church, it was a part of his calling. Paul was going to go where no one else had ever gone, he was going to impact cities and cultures with the Gospel and there would be resistance from people, there would be rejection by leaders but there would also be a response from the kingdom of this world. Paul’s difficulty was a part of his calling.

Your difficulty may be different than Paul’s today, but I am confident of this, it has been allowed by God because if you will yield to Him, this difficulty will make you stronger. God has great purpose in all that He does and all that He allows into our lives. I believe that difficulty is no different, it serves a purpose from God. Today we will explore three of those purposes: difficulty build strength, difficulty builds trust and dependence and difficulty builds intimacy. The keys to walking in the fulfillment of purpose are trusting God, is wanting Him more than anything else and being convinced that He loves us. By the time Paul was nearing the end of his life he had endured more than most of our lives combined and yet he was more content than ever before. He told the Philippians that he now counted everything as loss compared to knowing Jesus. What I believe Paul was telling us was that his life was no longer controlled by what went on around him or even to him, he was now completely led by the presence of Jesus, each day, each victory, each trial and each difficulty were all the same, they all led him nearer and nearer to Jesus.

David wrote in Psalm 27:4 “One thing I have desired of the LORD, that I will seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in His temple.” David, like Paul had endured difficulty, and in the midst of it he came out with a new thought, “I only want one thing and that one thing I will seek with all of my life, to be in God’s presence.” I ask today, what would change if you and I only wanted “One thing”? How would your life be different if you chose to seek after and long for Jesus alone rather than Jesus in the midst of everything else you want? That is the goal I am praying for today, I want “One thing”, I want to seek God and His presence and let all of the rest be added or subtracted by His hand. I have come to believe that the key to overcoming difficulty is delight, if we will delight in the presence of God, He will give us the strength to look past difficulty and see His face. If I have His presence, I have all that I could ever need.