CHARACTER THROUGH HARDSHIPS

HH Sir Godfrey Gregg D.Div

“Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.” (Romans 8:37).

This is more than victory. This is a triumph so complete that we have not only escaped defeat and destruction, but we have destroyed our enemies and won a spoil so rich and valuable that we can thank God that the battle ever came. How can we be “more than conquerors”? We can get out of the conflict a spiritual discipline that will greatly strengthen our faith and establish our spiritual character. The temptation is necessary to settle and confirm us in the spiritual life. It is like the fire which burns in the colours of the mineral paint, or like winds that cause the mighty cedars of the mountain to strike more deeply into the soil. Our spiritual conflicts are among our choicest blessings, and our great adversary is used to train us for his ultimate defeat. The ancient Phrygians had a legend that every time they conquered an enemy the victor absorbed the physical strength of his victim and added so much more to his own strength and valour.

So temptation victoriously met doubles our spiritual strength and equipment. It is possible thus not only to defeat our enemy but to capture him and make him fight in our ranks. The prophet Isaiah speaks of flying on the shoulders of the Philistines (Isaiah 11:14). These Philistines were their deadly foes, but the figure suggested that they would be enabled not only to conquer the Philistines but to use them to carry the victors on their shoulders for further triumphs. Just as the wise sailor can use a headwind to carry him forward by tacking and taking advantage of its impelling force; so it is possible for us in our spiritual life through the victorious grace of God to turn to account the things that seem most unfriendly and unfavorable, and to be able to say continually, “The things that were against me have happened to the furtherance of the Gospel.”

A noted scientist observing that “early voyagers fancied that the coral-building animals instinctively built up the great circles of the Atoll Islands to afford themselves protection in the inner parts,” has disproved this fancy by showing that the insect builders can only live and thrive fronting the open ocean, and in the highly aerated foam of its resistless billows. So it has been commonly thought that protected ease is the most favourable condition of life, whereas all the noblest and strongest lives prove on the contrary that the endurance of hardship is the making of the men and the factor that distinguishes between existence and vigorous vitality. Hardship makes the character. 

“Now thanks be unto God Who always leads us forth to triumph with the Anointed One, and Who diffuses by us the fragrance of the knowledge of Him in every place” (2 Corinthians 2:14).

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