Through Many Tribulations (Part 2: Hardships)

Text: Acts 14:22

Paul and Barnabas encouraged the brethren to remain faithful to the Lord “through many tribulations” so they could reach the final reward of heaven. The kinds of tribulations that we may face could be unique to Christians or common to all people. Any of these tribulations could potentially derail our faith and cause us to come up short of the reward. So we need to prepare ourselves to make it through these tribulations to reach the eternal kingdom. This lesson will focus on the example of Jacob and how he endured hardships.

The Hardships Endured by Jacob

  • God chose Jacob over Esau for prominence and blessing as part of the promise (Romans 9:6-12) – God promised to be with him and bless him (Genesis 28:10-15); yet he faced many hardships
  • Jacob dealt with family problems – brother (Genesis 27:1-41), father-in-law (Genesis 29:18-25; 31:7); wicked sons (Genesis 35:22; 34:25-30; 37:26-28)
  • Jacob dealt with marriage problems – contention between Leah and Rachel (Genesis 30:1-2, 14-16); an idolatrous wife (Genesis 31:19; 35:2-4)
  • Jacob dealt with an economic crisis – famine that forced him to leave his home (Genesis 46:5-7)

The Hardship of Family Problems

  • Every family will experience problems because every family is made up of fallible people (Romans 3:23) – it is difficult when family relationships are characterized by hatred rather than love (Proverbs 15:17)
  • Why family problems are a challenge to our faith – distraction from what we need to be focusing on (Proverbs 17:25; Luke 21:34); family is the biggest influence on us and that could be an influence for sin (1 Corinthians 15:33)
  • How to endure family problems and remain faithful – keep your priorities in order (Proverbs 15:17; Matthew 6:33); at times we may need to set boundaries (Matthew 10:37)

The Hardship of Marriage Problems

  • No marriage is perfect (imperfect people), but some certainly have more problems than others – marriage is a great blessing if both spouses strive to follow God’s will in marriage (Proverbs 12:4)
  • Why marriage problems are a challenge to our faith – the purpose of marriage is to help one another (Genesis 2:18; Proverbs 31:12; 1 Timothy 5:8; Ephesians 5:25); produces bitterness (Proverbs 21:9, 19) and leads to sin (Hebrews 12:15); we must focus on our spouse (1 Corinthians 7:33-34) and when there are problems, it distracts us from spiritual things
  • How to endure marriage problems and remain faithful – be committed to one another (Matthew 19:6; Malachi 2:14); work through problems patiently (1 Corinthians 13:4; cf. 2 Timothy 2:24); put the Lord first (Matthew 6:33; 22:36-37) as this will affect how we treat one another (cf. 1 John 4:19-21)

The Hardship of Economic Crisis

  • Riches are uncertain (1 Timothy 6:17) – economies go through cycles; economic hardships can affect us directly (job loss) or indirectly (inflation/scarcity)
  • Why economic problems are a challenge to our faith – worrying about material things can choke out the word (Luke 8:14); can force us to do things we do not want to do (work a second job, cut back on expenses, move, etc.) which can lead to resentfulness and bitterness (Hebrews 12:15)
  • How to endure economic problems and remain faithful – be a good steward (Proverbs 27:23-24); this necessarily includes thankfulness for God’s blessings (1 Thessalonians 5:18); remember that this life and the circumstances in it are temporary (1 John 2:17)

Conclusion

  • Jacob lived 147 years (Genesis 47:28) – at 130 years old, he said his years were “few and unpleasant” (Genesis 47:7-9)
  • We will face problems in this life – we cannot allow them to distract us from our service to God
  • Life is short – do not allow temporary problems hinder you from reaching the eternal reward

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