Facing Hard times
We live in a world created with the intent of perfection but broken by sin, resulting in pain and suffering. We are told there will be trouble in this life, but we are also promised we will never have to walk through the valleys alone. God gifts the Bible and the power of the Holy Spirit to seek His presence and find reassurance in whatever darkness we are facing.
Romans 5: 3-5
Let us glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
Paul, as he is speaking to the Christian church of Rome, reminds the people that their sufferings are not without reason. The Lord does not wish for us to experience pain (He even counts our tears, Psalm 56:8), but He does permit them to further our faith and strengthen our relationship with Him. Whatever you are being challenged with, God sees you in your pain and promises to meet you in it.
We are told to find joy in trials of many kinds (James 1:2). The joy is not found in the suffering itself but what God can do in and through that suffering. This verse promises us perseverance through hardship allows for growth, hope, and love. Beauty comes from brokenness.
Have I not commanded you to be strong and courageous? Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.
Here, Joshua speaks to the people of Israel, reminding them of the omnipresence of the Lord. God has the ability to meet each of us personally in every situation. We have no need to feel anxious about anything, for it has been promised to us that we will be granted peace and protection when we place our trust and obedience in God. Amidst our deepest hardships, we can remain strong and courageous because our hope comes from the Lord.
Romans 8: 28
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to His purpose.
Everything good is from God. For how can a God who is perfectly holy (Isaiah 6:3), provide anything but goodness? The trials we face do not come from the Lord but are a result of the brokenness of this world. ‘All things,’ not just the things we like, or the things we find pleasant, or the things we enjoy. But all things work for the good of those who love him.
No person asks for suffering or begs God for more hardship. The testing of our faith comes when we learn to see that God can use everything in this life to bring Himself greater glory. And when we learn to shift our perspective to realize that we are here to do just that, our trails become opportunities for joy rather than moments of darkness. If we do not experience the valley, how will we know when we stand on a mountain?
John 16: 33
“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
As Christians, there will always be tension with those who exist in a world apart from Jesus’ values and commands. Many are hostile towards Him, His gospel, and His people. It is not people alone that Christians find themselves in apprehension against. There are also circumstances we will face, not brought on by any persons, but simply a result of existing in a sinful world. God tells us there will be battles; but whatever we fight against, we can depend on Him to provide peace and comfort because we live according to His word and not the ways of the world.
God does not abandon us in a place of struggle. The ultimate victory has already been won. By Jesus’ death upon the cross, as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us (Psalm 103:12). All we must do to free ourselves from the chains of sin is accept Christ. And as our love grows for His character and His word, so shall our desire to follow His perfect commands continue to grow. Because of this, we can claim the peace of Christ in the most troublesome times.
1 Peter 5: 9-10
Resist him (the enemy), standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of suffering. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm, and steadfast.
This verse offers hope. It shows us that we are not alone in our suffering. We often seek to find our own stories reflected upon someone else’s heart. To know what we face, some else also faces. It can feel as though, no matter how many times we share our sufferings with another person, we are still lonesome in our experience of those emotions. Not only are other people of this world working through the same things we are but each of our stories is also reflected in the story of Jesus.
We are a ‘family of believers’ designed to be in community uplifting one another through our pain. God himself exists in community with His son, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. As we strive to live more like Christ, recognizing that people in our lives can assist in carrying our burdens is part of becoming Christlike.
This verse also promises that our sufferings will only last ‘a little while.’ Our lives are precious and important and good (otherwise God would not provide them to us), but they are miniscule in comparison to eternity. Whatever hurt or pain you feel now will not last forever. It will get better. Even if never in this lifetime, it is promised for eternity.
The world will change, your mind will change, but the truth of the Word and the God who created you never will. Allow yourself to find rest and comfort in His presence.