How Many of you have watched a fellow Christian fall away from the faith in difficult times in their life? They’ve either lost faith in God’s existence or worse, lost faith in God’s goodness and love for them.
God has clearly told us there will be times of trouble and suffering in our lives as Christians, even stating these sufferings will increase because of our choice to serve Him. God does not always bring testing and hard times in our lives, often it is a direct result of evil in this world, or a result of the effects of a fallen and cursed creation, or a direct attack from Satan, or even sometimes it is a self-inflicted effect of not living a devoted life to God and His precepts.
Whatever the cause you can be sure God is aware and He always has a purpose for having allowed suffering to come. Many of us have not walked away from God during troubles and hard times but we have instead struggled with bitterness, anger, and depression, losing our joy, not showing our faith to the world. Some of us put all this in a backpack and permanently carry it with us never to have a free or joyful moment.
Now honestly doesn’t that verse sound crazy or even impossible coming from a God that says “Give up your life, take up your cross and follow me” from the same God who while living on earth as a human was a Man acquainted with grief, sorrow, and pain? How is it possible to have a light burden and pick up the cross at the same time?
In all reality and practicality, we have good reason to be frustrated and depressed over our troubles but that’s if and only if this world and this time in it are all we focus on and covet after. As Christians we have become a generation who focuses on and almost lives for how we are victimized by circumstances, society and even God because or judgement of fairness is based upon our own cares in this world right now. Our own desires, pleasures, and concerns cause us to subconsciously hang on to reasons to be unhappy and dissatisfied in this culture, we are quick to be offended by anyone—including God Himself— when things don’t go our way, because our satisfaction has unknowingly become the main thing in life, our perspective becomes only the right one, and in the world becomes unfair, God becomes unfair, and we are not pleased.
In this we could not be further from God’s plan for how we are to live when difficult times distract us from faith in God. We become miserable and powerless with this mindset. Our mindset and spiritual focus is one of the single most important things in our walk with Christ. How we handle these moments will build a foundation for our faith, our relationship with Christ, and our testimony to the world, or it will destroy the foundation under our faith.
Tough times will come to us as Christians, bad and even unfair things fall on us as it does to the rest of the world. First, stop believing the crazy, unscriptural, self-serving teachings that say they will not and learn this life changing truth: It is not even close enough that we simply learn to suffer through life and keep the faith for Christ, “just getting through” difficult times or unfair situations is completely missing everything God wants to do in us and through us.
These scriptures from Paul, James. And Peter about attitudes in hard times: Romans 5:3-5, James 1:2-4, 1 Peter 1:6-9. Now, God doesn’t mean to put on a smile and party during your worst experiences in life— even Jesus wept at the pains sin brings on this earth— He means we learn to trust Him, His purposes, His plan, and understand that trouble is an opportunity to show your entire view of life is different through Him, because our focus should not be living a trouble-free, good time living life, but bringing glory to God—to the One that died for us when trouble comes. And if we truly believe that everything that comes into our lives is going to be used to serve and glorify Him, we can Have joy in the midst of our pain and loss.
So often our natural response to anything negative in our lives is “Why God” and this is understandable because there is enormous comfort in knowing that something horrible hasn’t come as a random or unstoppable or evil act. A true commitment in tough times begins by clearly believing that there is a great purpose in what we are going through. Scriptures do not leave us to wonder what God is doing through our trials and pains, so let’s look at some things that God is working out in our lives when He allows great trials or sufferings to occur.
Trials are absolutely necessary to grow us in faith, character, and even to action. Just imagine a road that has huge potholes in it. It’s aggravating having to drive around or through the potholes but when traffic is redirected or delayed because of repair we get even more frustrated. We want something better but we also don’t like the process involved in making it better. This is so true in our lives.
Honestly, most Christians rarely seek after or experience God powerfully in their day to day lives. We rarely see or appreciate the miraculous gifts we are blessed with (until we fear losing them). We rarely understand that it is Him who gives us that daily provisions in so many ways (until they’re not provided anymore). We rarely trust Him to do more than we can accomplish in our own strength (until it is only Him that can do it). We desperately need spiritual improvement and expansion, just like roads, but we never take the steps to change things because it is to inconvenient until it is forced.
2 Corinthians 1:8-9, 2 Corinthians 12:8-10
God allows trouble to show us that it is not our power that drives our lives and ministry but His power only that can be trust. Some of us need this epiphany and would get it no other way. Paul and James repeatedly told us God teaches us perseverance, character, and faith, helping us to realize He can do things that we have never trusted Him for as we should, helping us realize He can do things through us that we never trusted Him for as we should have.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4
When we go through something terribly difficult and God brings us through because we learned to lean on Him, it’s the most powerful connection to others in the same situation that God could ever create. Some people could never trust another to share their problems with anyone unless they have been where they are walking, and there is a hope in seeing someone on the other side of the problem, knowing God brought them through.
We rarely trust God for anything that will grow our faith in the good days. In the good days, we just exist spiritually, none of the struggles required for this kind of growth would be chosen by us. God sometimes allows troubles to reveal what was in our hearts all along and trouble quickly removes the disguise.
Most often, true beliefs will surface only in times of trouble. Your true treasure appears, your true source of strength, your real motives—troubles are a true light on the hidden motives of a person.
1 Corinthians 11:30-32, Hebrews 12:5-7, 10-13
If we have troubles in our lives it is wise and scriptural to ask “is it because God is trying to wake me up from sin?” and quickly repent if sin is revealed to you, and quickly look elsewhere if sin isn’t revealed.
Understand that the act of discipline proves He loves you and accepts you.
After a horrible beating, being put in an inner cell with no light, feet put in stocks, given no way to relieve themselves or to be comfortable and in the midst of this they chose to trust God and show their faith. This attitude reached the entire prison and led to salvation of the jailer and his family. This is one of the most powerful reasons that God sometimes allows us to endure difficult times.
Can anyone truly claim that God is everything to them in easy times? When we go through times that would cause many to falter, we show that God is all we need, we are actually happy in God’s will, we are loving towards those that may have aided in our troubles. We show the proof that God is real, He is everything to us that the world could ever see, and even more importantly, our attitude in suffering and hard times shows God our personal desire to live for Him at any cost.
2 Corinthians 11:24-28
Imagine being beaten with 39 lashes and rods even once, being stoned until it was thought you were dead, imprisoned, starved, overworked…would you be angry? Question God? Cry to anyone that would listen? Quit? Paul considered it nothing, in the light of knowing and serving Christ. He understood the importance and meaning behind all he was suffering.
We have to stop looking for ways to get out of troubles or hard times before we can be happy in life or with God, otherwise, we will be unhappy for the majority of our lives. We have to learn to not just survive but to thrive in the middle of difficult times, rather than hold on and pray in dread embrace every moment—realizing these are the moments we can use to do more than we ever could in easy times, use every moment in a conscious effort to show faith and glory to God in the middle of the struggle. These are the moments that matter the most to God….
Romans 8:17-18, 1 Peter 1:6-9, 2 Corinthians 4:17-18, James 1:12
Many times a military man or woman will return from hard, toll taking lives in combat, risking everything daily, for an important purpose just to return to a east sacrifice free life of pleasure and be nauseated and restless in their lives realizing there is more to living than existing comfortably.
Should we find ourselves stuck in misery, self-pity and blame we need to recommit ourselves to love and faith in Christ. We need to understand there is great meaning behind our troubles and suffering. He is growing us in character and faith, revealing our true heart, turning us from sins we have embraced, giving us an opportunity to glorify Him in our lives.
We need to embrace the opportunity and find joy right where we are this moment!
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