- Esther 9:1-10:3
- Ezra 4:6-23
Battle followed battle for the people of God. When the issue with Esther, Mordecai, and the gang was resolved, in comes Artexerxes seeking to stop the rebuilding of Jerusalem. The people cannot even catch a breath before another attack comes from a different direction. In the aftermath of a victorious conquering, which only came after a fearful time before, they face the stoppage of their rebuilding. Challenge after challenge came to them. And challenge after challenge comes to us as well. How can we face it?
“…we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame…” –Romans 5:3-4, ESV
Romans 5 elucidates how we can endure battle after battle. As the battle comes, we can rejoice because we know the end of the story is hope. But between that rejoicing and hope, there comes first endurance and then character. When one battle after another comes, we must be able to endure. We cannot be surprised by the challenge.
“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.” –1 Peter 4:12-23, ESV
Challenges will come. And 1 Peter echoes the wisdom from Romans. Rejoice in the challenge. Not only will it recognize that the challenge is expected, but it will energize you to be able to endure. For in the rejoicing, there the recognition that Jesus is ultimately in control of the situation changes the outlook on the process.
When endurance produces fruit, that fruit is character. Character is consistent. It does not change when the storm rages or the winds change directions. Character comes from enduring with rejoicing heart. When you sit in the pocket of character, the rejoicing and enduring become visceral reactions to a challenge. From that character, from that steadfast location of knowing God is in control, there is hope. For eyes of character earned through rejoicing endurance, know that God is about the do something amazing. And that hope, as Romans tells us, will not disappoint or put us to shame.
Be not surprised when one challenge comes in right after another. Stand firm. Rejoice. Endure. And the character that arises from it will radiate hope.