|Volume 23 Number 2 February 2021
Everyone who lives will undergo hard times. Even those of us who are Christians are not exempt from trying times and unfortunate circumstances. Jesus told His disciples that tribulation was guaranteed, but He had overcome the world (John 16:33). Paul told Timothy that all people that live godly will suffer persecution (2 Timothy 3:12). There are general hardships that we face just because we are human. Then, there are specific things to happen to us because we are Christians. While we know these things will come into our lives, the area in which we often need help is how to cope with them. How can we survive when we are in the storms of life? How can we keep from giving up when surrender seems like the easier option?
See the Benefits of Adversity
As Christians, we must remind ourselves that adversity can be used to bring about good in our lives. This does not mean that the adversity itself is good, but God can use all things to bring about what is best for His people, and He does (Romans 8:28). The world may frown upon any type of discomfort or inconvenience, but as the people of God, we must remember that it is often through hard times that the best things come about. Paul told the Romans that tribulation produces patience, patience produces experience and experience produces hope (Romans 5:2-5). When we are going through hard times, we should be asking, “What is it that I can learn at this time? What is God potentially trying to teach me? How can I use this as a way to grow?” James told Christians to count it all joy when we fall into various trials because of what happens as a result (James 1:2-4). The man that endures the test is blessed with a crown of life (James 1:12).
Joseph had a lot of things happen to him that he did not enjoy. Joseph was sold by his brothers, lied about by Potiphar’s wife and forgotten in prison (Genesis 37-39). Yet, for all that Joseph endured, he kept his relationship with God intact and was able to look back later and see God working (Genesis 45:5; 50:19-20). He saw the benefits of adversity and was able to save the family lineage of Abraham from famine. For some, it may be extremely difficult to see anything good about through which they are going at the moment. Sometimes, we can only notice the positive aspects of adversity in hindsight. Nevertheless, we can press on through unfavorable times if we can appreciate that there may be a blessing in the burden that we are temporarily called to bear.
On arguably the worst day of Job’s life, he lost ten children, his servants and a good amount of his property (Job 1:13-19). Job was no doubt hurt and distraught; he tore his clothes in anguish and shaved his head. However, he did not allow all through which he was going keep him from worshipping the Lord. Job fell down and worshipped God (Job 1:20). Then, Job opened his mouth and blessed God. “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; but blessed be the name of the LORD” (Job 1:21 ESV). Job realized a few things: The LORD is the giver of good things, the LORD does what is best always and the LORD is still to be blessed even on our bad days.
We can mimic Job’s behavior by resolving to worship God in the hard seasons of life. We know to do this privately by maintaining our devotional practices of study, singing and praying to God (James 5:13-14). Moreover, we should make sure to assemble corporately to worship God with our Christian family (Hebrews 10:25). There are several reasons why worship is a necessity even when undergoing difficulty. First, we need to remember how small we are and how colossal God is (Isaiah 40:25-29). Remember that God cares about us. Many times, the things that overwhelm and burden us are so small in the grand scheme of things. Secondly, we need encouragement from others by being in the presence of other Christians (Hebrews 10:24). Worship helps us to sing the promises of God, read the blessings from God and pray to God for strength in good and bad times. We must continue to worship in seasons of night so that we do not forget the God who brings joy in the morning (Psalm 30:5).
Receive and Share God’s Comfort
The God we serve is the God of all grace (1 Peter 5:10) and the God of all comfort (2 Corinthians 1:3). Paul assures us that God comforts us in all of our troubles (2 Corinthians 1:4). Whenever we are going through adversity, though we do not feel anything physically reassuring us of God’s presence, we can know He is with us. Through God’s passages in Scripture, His people in the assembly and the providential blessings He provides, He is comforting us. We need to open our eyes and our hands to receive it and not allow ourselves to wallow in misery. We should lift our heads to the hills from where our help comes (Psalm 121:1).
The comfort that we receive from God is not only for our benefit. We are to comfort others with the comfort we have received from God (2 Corinthians 1:4). God is with us in hardship so we can later be with others who are in a similar situation. When we are experiencing misfortune, we should be thinking of how we may be able to help someone else later who may face the same thing we are facing. One of the ways to make it through dark times is to get the focus off of ourselves. As Jesus was heading to the cross, He not only prayed for Himself, but He prayed for His apostles as well as for you and me (John 17:6-21). He prayed for Peter concerning his falling away (Luke 22:31-32). He prayed for those at the foot of the cross and promised eternal life to the penitent thief (Luke 23:34, 39-43). As Jesus was suffering on the cross, He was thinking of others. As we bear our cross, we would be wise to think of others and comfort those who are in the same or worse situations than we are.
If we are not currently undergoing hard times, we can be sure that they are coming. Part of being a human being in a fallen world is experiencing bad times. This reality does not have to crush us. We can make it through woes and retain our faith. If we are prepared beforehand, we are in a better position to withstand when the adversity comes. If you are currently undergoing life’s storms, you do not need to bear it alone (Galatians 6:2). If we practice the things mentioned in this article, we may come out of hardship like Job did, “blessed in the latter end more than in the beginning” (Job 42:12)!
Fear: A Lesson from King David
We all know the Bible character King David, and from him one can learn lessons about fear, worry and anxiety. Throughout his life, David had to deal with situations that would naturally bring about these three emotions in anyone. One emotion that he knew about especially was fear. His whole life had been turned upside down when his son Absalom stole the allegiance of the nation of Israel from him and was attempting to take the throne for himself. David didn’t know who was loyal to him and who was against him. His only option seemed to be to run for his life. He said to his servants, “Arise, and let us flee, or we shall not escape from Absalom. Make haste to depart, lest he overtake us suddenly and bring disaster upon us, and strike the city with the edge of the sword” (2 Samuel 15:14).
As David was fleeing for his life, he wrote in a Psalm, “I cried to the Lord with my voice, and He heard me from His Holy Hill” (Psalm 3:4). All believers must remember that worry is a burden God never meant for us to bear (Matthew 11:28-30). David looked to God in the midst of fear. God showed him grace and restored him to the throne. In Psalm 4:4-5, 8, David showed a very important lesson for how we should handle stressful events in our lives, which can bring up emotions of fear and of worry. We can discover from David how to release those emotions into God’s strong hand. He will help us through our trials and emotional moments. First, he said, “Be agitated, and do not sin. Meditate [think] within your heart on your bed, and be still. Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the LORD” (Psalm 4:4-5). Then, David said, “Lie down in peace, and sleep, for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety” (Psalm 4:8).
Each Christian can say to the Lord at the end of the day before we sleep, “Thank you Lord, that we, like King David of old, do not have to be weighed down by fear and worry. Help me Lord to place my concerns in Your care so that I do not fear tomorrow, in Jesus name, Amen!” (See 1 Peter 5:6-7).