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One of the greatest challenges and most important points of character that parents and adults ought to take seriously is the need for the young to develop character that will allow them to face the trials and joys of life - and learn to wrestle with what life offers -- and then to win. There is no doubt that we will all face moments of time in life when we will be uncertain about the future or fearful about our personal safety. Fear can grip a person so strongly that they cannot make good decisions or take needed action. The paralysis of the mind can prevent the enjoyment of that which truly is good and exciting. Far too many young people seek an escape from life, rather than wrestle with the challenges life presents. It is also true that not all of our hopes and dreams will come true. We may take a wrong direction or have a false hope and even when we are successful, one day we will be faced with the end of life. Death is promised to come once to all humans (Heb. 9:27). Death does not always wait until old age. Children must face the defeat of their efforts and plans at times and children also may die. The great lesson we need to pass on is one of living as long as there is breath and hope and not allowing fear to paralyze our actions. Many young people have encountered the horrors of war, disease and poverty in their lifetime. We cannot always hide from ugly reality, but we can learn to cope within our circumstances and apply our minds to do our best to survive and live. We can be strengthened in the knowledge that all things change and even the greatest evil will end one day. That was the truth of the terrible wars of the past 100 years.
Our Creator wants us to live life with zest and joy. He even inspired James to tell us to rejoice when we have a trial to face. The reason James states is that in the end our faith is tested and we develop patience and other good character qualities (James 1:1-3). We are also told that we should consider ourselves blessed if we suffer for Him in any way (Rom. 8:16-19). But people do not want to suffer and they certainly should not go looking for trouble or ways to suffer. Many shun pain and that which may be difficult or requires effort without realizing that some pain is always present and it is in the handling of that pain that we are able to get up again and again if we are beaten down (Prov. 24:16). In taking the position of avoiding all unpleasant things, many slip into a lifestyle that is shallow and lacking in the sense of fulfillment and contentment. It is in the effort we give forth in our endeavours and in our growth in determination and persistence that we can grasp life and wrestle with gusto against those things that would rob us of the incredible opportunity God has set before us. When we face the path each of us has before us with the guidance of our Creator, we are not only living in the here and now but we are also preparing for the great gift of eternal life God offers (Rom. 6:23). We need to want to roll up our sleeves and be busy working (2 Pet. 1:5-8).
I once had a school teacher that it seemed nobody liked. He demanded effort and work, but he also offered new opportunities and increased learning for those who put the effort into their studies. Years later, long after he had retired to a small, out of the way town, I learned that his former students would never travel through that town without stopping to say hello to this teacher. I know that because I too stopped in. It was from the demands he made of us which seemed harsh at that time, but resulted in developing determination which led to a successful life for his students, that he was feared and somewhat misunderstood. His teaching style brought about a love of study and learning in time. It seems others too had to stop to say "thank you" for he enriched their lives. He prepared us for the tests and trials that life was to offer. He showed us how to make the most out of our time and opportunities and that led to a life of accomplishment and success. We learned to tackle problems and thus tackle life itself. It was only later that we, his students, realized the great gift he had given to us.
No matter how good a teacher one has, success still depends on the student who is willing to put forth the effort and who has the ability within himself or herself to succeed. That is one lesson that is invaluable to us all, because God works in similar manner. He is the best teacher by far, but we are still the students. God has the ability to rearrange our brain cells if He so chooses, but He does not do that. He tells us that He lays before us life and death - and then strongly advises us to choose life (Deut. 30:11-15). Even God had moments of discouragement when His "students" failed (Isa. 5:4). But God does not give up easily, although the learning still remains the choice of the student. If a person does not choose life - the only alternative is to live a purposeless and meaningless life of missed opportunities and regrets. A much more enjoyable future beckons.
The apostle Peter was faced with many changes that he had to make to his outlook of life, his core of beliefs and habits. He gave the encouragement to people which he learned through experience. Peter wrote under inspiration that we are to roll up our sleeves and be busy in living. His admonition was for good and proper living, not that which results in a life of dissipation and useless waste. He stated that of the things that pertain to life, diligence in all we do, virtue in our code of living, knowledge to help us escape the mistakes of ignorance, self control to prevent giving in to lusts or desires and needs we may think we have, perseverance in all things, godliness that comes from living by the laws of our Creator and to that add brotherly kindness and love (2 Pet. 1:5-7). This path is not always an easy one and it does require effort on the part of the person involved. Each person as an individual can walk this path. It is true that we walk in the company of others. Brothers, sisters, family and friends, but each person within their own hearts and minds has the capacity to make decisions and face the future without fear - no matter how bleak things may seem to be. In the end, with His guidance, an abundant entrance is supplied into the everlasting kingdom.
Fear comes in different packages. There is the fear of the unknown, the fear of failure, the fear of success, the fear of going out or staying in, fear of darkness and fear of light. It seems a person can be riddled with fears of various sorts. Those fears stop us from living a happy and joyful life. More than that, those fears prevent us from being bold as God asks us to be (Heb. 4:16). It is a reflection of our faith in Him and our love of Him. We must learn never to be afraid to live - even if it means pain and suffering for a while. God expects those He loves deeply to put forth the effort to live - to live boldly and without fear, because fear has torment (I John 4:16-19).
"Be not afraid" because God promised He is with His people (Acts 18:9,10). Those words were used by Jesus when He was transfigured (Matt. 17:7). He explained that even though our bodies can be killed, there is nothing more that man can do to us (Luke 12:4,5). He said that we are to fear God who has power over us after death. However, it is God who wants us to live. David wrote that we are to fear no evil, because God is with us and He prepares a table before us, anoints us and cares for us. David noted that his cup was brim full and running over all the days of his life - and he would dwell in God's house forever (Psalm 23:4,5). It pleases our heavenly Father when we live life with gusto and joy, for that is a reflection of our hope and faith in Him. Live well!