Persevering through Trials and Tribulations

I love movies!

I especially love ones that are based on a true story and have a message of perseverance, hope and overcoming struggles. When we have guests at His High Places, we ask them each night to watch a movie that we have chosen because it has some bearing of their lives and situations. It’s a way for them to relax a bit while still receiving encouragement and/or challenge. One of the scriptures which speaks clearly to this is Romans 5:3-5.  It is a portion of God’s word which was very instrumental in my coming to faith in Christ. 

And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
— Romans 5:3-5

I love the progression in this verse from the struggle through to hope that doesn’t disappoint. One of my favorite movies which illustrates this is “The Legend of Bagger Vance.” Will Smith plays Bagger Vance, a golf caddy for Matt Damon’s character, Juna. Juna has been persuaded to play in a golf tournament after being a virtual recluse for over 12 years. He had been emotionally broken because of experiences in WWI. I look at Bagger Vance as an example of how the Holy Spirit works in a person’s life. It’s not a perfect analogy, but it's a pretty good one. 

At a point Juna hits the ball into the woods. There Bagger helps him face his painful past. Juna shouts, “But you don’t understand!” Wisely, Bagger Vance replies, “Son, everyone’s got something they don’t understand.” He tells Juna, “Come out of the shadows. You’ve carried that burden long enough.” Juna perseveres past his pain, lets go of the need to fully understand why, ultimately hitting the ball back into play. It is then that his character is tested. The ball moves and he knows he needs to call a stroke on himself. His young friend, Hardy, begs him not to. “No one will know,” Hardy says. Juna replies, “But you’ll know, and I’ll know.” He then moves on to a very hope filled ending of the movie.

Recently I watched the movie “Rudy” and was again moved by the story of the young man who had a dream of going to Notre Dame and playing for the “Fighting Irish.” He overcame unbelievable odds to see his dream realized, becoming the only man carried off the field by his teammates. It reminded me how much I believe that we should never give up on our dreams and hopes, or reconciliation and redemption. 

The morning after watching “Rudy” I seemed to hear in my spirit that I was just being silly to believe in hopes and dreams; silly to believe in persevering through struggles; that life was pretty hopeless and I needed to give up on “fanciful” thinking. 

Later that morning I was part of our Friday celebration of the Lord’s Supper with our guests. All of a sudden I recognized that the voice I’d heard was the voice of the enemy of my soul. Satan wanted me to give up, but the Lord overwhelmed me with His Holy Spirit to encourage me to keep believing in Him and His power to bring about transformation and redemption. It was like drinking from a fire hose as he reminded me of scriptural story after story of redemption. Stories or people whose lives were full of struggles and difficulties, but the Lord brought them through them all. Sometime the journey was long and difficult.  Jacob, Joseph, Abraham, Moses, Peter, Paul, Steven.  Sarah, Ruth, Hannah, the Samaritan woman, woman caught in adultery, and so many more. 

If indeed the scripture is a story we can go to for hope in our own story, how wonderful that we can identify with so many as they struggle, perseverance, experience character transformation, and finally find hope.

The best part is that it is hope that does not disappoint.

You have taken account of my wanderings; put my tears in Your bottle; are they not in Your book? When I cry out to You, then my enemies will turn back; This I know, because God is for me.
— Psalm 56:8-9

Believe it, dear friend. 

God is so aware of our tears and pain, but we can rest assured that He is for us!