I believe difficulties often are meant to bring us into maturity and out of childish bondages. Consider the way children react; one minute they're laughing and the next they're screaming. They're easily hurt and they cry a lot. In spite of all this, godly parents love and comfort their children through all of life's experiences.

Likewise, as Christians, we sometimes pout or throw fleshly tantrums when we face difficult times. We cry, "Okay, God, if that's the way You're going to treat me, if You're going to keep letting bad things happen, then why should I even pray to You?"

Yet our heavenly Father loves and comforts us through every tantrum, through our burdens, our childish ups and downs. His great desire is that in the midst of our trials we begin to grasp the knowledge of who we are and what we possess as His children. He knows that whenever we are tossed about by the winds and waves of our emotions, we often forget we are His children and we begin living far beneath our privileges. Yet His Word tells us we are His heirs and joint heirs with our older brother, Jesus!

"The heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all" (Galatians 4:1). Paul is talking about a Roman custom of the day. A child would be adopted by a rich man and then placed with a tutor until he turned eight years old. From age eight to twenty-five, the child would be put under the authority of a guardian. Through all those years, the child remained heir to a fortune yet he had virtually no control or power over his life.

Paul says such a child illustrates those who are under the law. The law is the tutor that instructs us in God's commands. But a time comes when our schooling ends and we are to take our places as heirs of God's riches through the grace of Christ. Yet, many Christians still live according to good works and rules without comprehending their position as sons of God. "We, when we were children, were in bondage" (verse 3). They are still serving God as slaves, bound by fear, guilt and despair because they don't understand their adoption.

Paul says to such believers, "You're still childish in your thinking, laboring under the bondage of laws you established for yourself. You don't see that you're now lord over all things, able to partake in everything your Father owns. He adopted you, loved you and put you in school to prepare you."