If, for whatever reason, your life is difficult and you have to gear up just to face each new day, remember the tremendous amount of hope you might be giving others. Those who know you well, and even those who barely know you, can be encouraged by your example.
If you lack general comfort but you are relying on the Comforter (Romans 8:26,27).
If you lost someone dear but you are leaning on the Giver of Life (John 5:24).
If your tasks are overwhelming but you trust in the promise of rest (Matt. 11:28-30).
If your struggles keep multiplying but your faith is unwavering (1 Peter 1:7).
If your body is weak but you know a better one awaits (Phil. 3:20,21).
If your nights are long but you go on because it is only temporary (Rev. 21:22-25).
Then even though you might feel like you can barely tackle one day at a time, rejoice in the fact that you are strengthening others. A conversation with you fills others with courage for whatever they might face and lets them see that all things are indeed possible with God (Matt. 19:26). What good you are doing in the kingdom! Thank you for your invaluable commitment and faithfulness. May God uphold you as you continue to encourage others.
We’ve all heard the phrase, “When it rains, it pours.” While there are rare occasions that we might get to focus on a single responsibility or situation, most of our time is spent juggling several simultaneously. When one challenge arises, we expect a few more to come knocking. While this can be overwhelming (a feeling Satan just loves for us to have), these are the times in our life when we find out what we’re really made of. When it seems hardest to make a godly decision, when it seems impossible to know the right answer, when you don’t WANT to do the right thing, when the rubber meets the road, your response reveals the contents of your heart. Over the past few weeks, I have seen fellow Christians, young children, and total strangers whose lives have been turned upside down by tragedy, uncertainty, and harm. In moments like these, we must ask ourselves: When the rubber meets the road, who am I? In His word, God tells us how we can know who we truly are. The following questions paired with scripture help us answer this question for ourselves.
>>When life gets hard what do I cling to for comfort?
1. Read Numbers 13:25-14:4… After spying out the land of Canaan, fear turned the Israelites’ hearts back towards Egypt. They had finally set their eyes upon the promised land…but it wasn’t that simple. Canaan was filled with bigger, stronger men than the Israelites. Instead of marching forth in faith to overtake the land, the Israelites’ response was to retreat to their past lives in slavery to Egypt. When life gets hard, do I miss my past life without God?
2. Read Psalm 18:29-31…When David was surrounded by adversity, his gut reaction was to cry out to God. David relied solely on the power, perfection, and precepts of God to pull him through. When life gets hard, is turning to Him my gut reaction?
>>How much can my faith take?
1. Read Job 2:9…Job’s wife endured suffering and loss alongside Job, but her faith in God had its limits. Faithfulness to God wasn’t worth the pain. When our faith crumbles, our hope is lost along with it. Job’s wife allowed present sorrows to overshadow her trust in God. At what point does life shake my faith? How much can life dish out before my faith in God’s way and word weakens?
2. Read Job 2:10…Job kept his faith, knowing that hardships are inevitable. God blesses, but He also disciplines those He loves (Heb. 12:6-7).
>>Do I let my own life take away from the good I can do for others?
1. Read Phil. 2:3-11… Christ knew the pain, temptation, and ridicule that awaited, yet His heart was not consumed with His own grief. Pain was part of the process. The sole purpose of Jesus’ life was to offer healing, hope, and salvation to others. Our Savior’s earthly hardships never swayed Him from His Heavenly purpose. Do I allow my own stress and difficulties to distract me from lightening the burdens of others?
“Trials teach us what we are; they dig up the soil and let us see what we are made of.”
May was kind of a difficult month for us. We attended my first cousin’s memorial. Our youngest son was in a serious motorcycle accident. And my brother-in-law was admitted to Trauma ICU. It seemed like every week I was asking for prayers on behalf of our family. May has always been my favorite month of the year. Spring is in full force and we celebrate Mother’s Day, my birthday, and our anniversary. I usually want the month to go by slowly so I can enjoy it to the fullest. This year, though, I couldn’t help but feel a little relieved when it was time to turn the calendar page.
May also contained reasons for rejoicing. My sister came for a visit. Neal and I celebrated 29 years together. And our youngest son got married. Sometimes God’s blessings shine brighter during times of trouble. I hadn’t seen my sister in ages and was extra grateful to spend time with her. Carl’s marriage to our beautiful new daughter-in-law was especially joyful in light of his recent accident. But as I thought back over last month’s events, it dawned on me that God’s goodness was evident in more than the obvious ways. We also saw it through the many prayers offered on our behalf. We were blessed by fellow Christians offering to house family members visiting the hospital. Brothers and sisters were checking in with us and letting us know they cared. We were given many words of encouragement and love.
Things may not always go the way we expect. Sometimes happy events are interrupted by the trials of life. Loss, fear, illness, trauma, disappointments…even in these we can see God with us. We can be reminded that we need each other and can ask for help. We can grow closer to God as we lean on Him or cry out to Him. We can see God’s goodness in the Family He gave us. And we have a unique opportunity to look within ourselves and see if we are as quick and willing to reach out to those in need.
May has passed but the troubles haven’t. I know people struggling or suffering, and so do you. I thank God for His consistent goodness even through hard times! May we always see it and share it.
“Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!” -Psalm 34:8
“Oh, how abundant is Your goodness, which You have stored up for those who fear You and worked for those who take refuge in You…” -Psalm 31:19
“The Lord is good to all, and His mercy is over all that He has made.” -Psalm 145:9
“I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living!” -Psalm 27:13
Janelle snapped this precious pic of Emily and me praying before the ceremony.
The three-word phrase at the top of this article has become my personal catch phrase this year, and here is why. Our lives are made up of both good, prosperous, times and hard, not-so-prosperous times. If we made it through life without a single trial, our faith would never grow. But if our lives were filled only with trials, we would probably lose our minds. So, God, in His infinite grace and wisdom, provides for His children’s needs (Matthew 6:25-34), and He also allows us to experience growth-inspiring challenges (Hebrews 12:3-11).
Now, with these thoughts on your mind, think back to the phrase “Heaven is better.” The truth is whether you find yourself in a peaceful life season or in the midst of the most difficult situation you’ve ever faced, you will find a needed dose of perspective in remembering that Heaven is better. Like Paul in Philippians 4:12, when he says, “I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound,” we can all better remember to glorify God in any season of life when we remember that, ultimately, our actions in this life should be motivated by the eternal life hereafter.
As humans, it seems that staying focused on our end goal can be equally difficult in both good and hard times. Are you currently in one those wonderful phases of life in which your family and finances are all in order? Remember that Heaven is better than any level of temporal happiness or security we experience on earth. Praise God for those blessings, but remember that He has an even greater blessing waiting after this life.
It could be that you are on the opposite end of that spectrum, facing the hardest physical, financial, or spiritual circumstances you ever have. If that’s the case, take heart in knowing that Heaven is better, and faithfulness to God will lead you to an eternal life filled with nothing but peace and glory in God’s presence.
It’s true. Shouting “Heaven is better!” when you find yourself struggling with materialism or going through hardships won’t immediately eradicate the problems in your life or change your level of earthly prosperity. But keeping your mind on the glory of Heaven will completely change, for the better, your perspective of life on earth. In the best or worst seasons of life, may we all remember that Heaven is better!
Problems, situations, and trials that seem irresolvable happen to each of us. Running into a situation that you don’t know how to fix, likely even a situation you can’t fix, is inevitable in this life. The beauty, however, of encountering these challenges as a Christian is that we don’t have to face them alone, and we are actually expected to place our anxieties and issues into someone else’s hands: God’s hands. Before you keep reading, take a moment to think about the last trial or problem you experienced. What was your first thought? How did you react? What did you do to take care of it? As humans, often, our first thought is “Oh great,” which is then followed by something like “What am I gonna do?,” which is then followed by “Okay, here’s what I’ll do to fix this.” Do you notice what’s missing from this process?… GOD! Those thoughts may come naturally as humans, but as Christians, our first reaction to any challenge should be to bring it to the all-knowing Creator.
In scripture, we see three steps in the process of coping with trial’s as a Christian.
First, start by praising God. James 1:2 instructs us to “count it all joy” when we have trials because they are opportunities. Our lowest points inspire us to grow in the Word, depend on our God, and see His glory in the midst of it all. So, when a problem arises, thank God for it! Thank Him for the opportunity to grow and the help you know He will provide, and thank Him for all of the other blessings you still have.
Second, pray to God. In Hebrews 10:32-39, the writer talks of Christians who “joyfully accepted” when their own property was plundered. In verse 39, the audience and Christians today are encouraged to keep trusting in God regardless of circumstance: “But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.” When you face hardship, allow it to bring you closer to God by pleading to Him for help.
Third, praise God. Yes, praising God was also the first step, but every trial should begin and end with praise. We begin with praise to thank God for blessing us with a growth opportunity and with help to endure. We end in praise to thank Him for His continued faithfulness in past, present, and future hardships.
Praise God for your problems, pray to God for your solutions, and praise Him again for your deliverance.
“I will call upon the Lord, Who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies.”
Revive Me, Week 12–A Year of Growing Stronger in the Lord
Count Your BLESSONS
Karen Salmansohn came up with the word “blesson.” She said it means “when you’re able to see the blessing in the lesson that your trial taught you.” I love this reminder of a very biblical concept!
Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials,knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
We serve such an amazing God! It’s all too easy to count our problems, to wring our hands over trials and disappointments. First of all, they do exist. Christians aren’t exempt from experiencing hardships (John 16:33; Psa. 34:17,18). As long as we’re in this world, we may barely get through one difficulty only to encounter another. Second, it’s also all too easy to count our burdens because nearly everyone does it. What’s covered in the nightly news? What’s trending on social media? Typically it includes what’s wrong with the world. And yet, again I say, we serve an amazing God! While we are surrounded by “trials dark on every hand,” God wants us to KNOW that they are temporary (2 Cor. 4:18), that He will not forsake us (Heb. 13:5), and that good can come from suffering (see several passages listed below).
Jesus lived a perfect life and was the Son of God yet “He learned obedience from the things which He suffered.And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation” (Heb. 5:8,9).
The world points to suffering as proof of an indifferent God or a nonexistent one but Christians know better. We trust God because we know He loves us, refines us, and works for our ultimate good (Rom. 8:28). Please remember that, dear reader. No matter what life throws at you, you can smile anyway because your Creator holds you in His care.
Suggestions for the Week:
Go ahead and list your problems but then list how you can grow from them. Do you need refining in attitude or character? Do you need to increase your faith or trust? Have you been relying more on yourself instead of God?
Read through 1 Peter, paying close attention to what you can learn about suffering as a Christian.
For personal Bible study or family devotional time, list the spiritual good that can come from suffering or the hope God offers: