My uncle used to tell me, “Life’s rough, and the hours are lousy.” I guess that was his synthesis of Psalm 34:19a, which says
“Many are the afflictions of the righteous” [NASB, emphasis added]
Or maybe John 16:33…
“In this world you will have trouble…” [NIV, emphasis added]
And we can’t forget James 1:2:
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds” [ESV, emphasis added]
We all have challenges, stresses, pains, and difficulties. The Bible talks a lot about this topic, which some might see as a downer. I, however, see it like a user manual that has a troubleshooting guide. You’ll run into stuff like this. Let’s examine how to deal with it.
When we find ourselves in challenging situations, I come back to 1 Peter 2:23, which discusses the example of Jesus, saying He “kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously.” [NASB]
Entrusting myself to God is something I can do in any situation. And believe me, I do.
But often I find that difficult times can pull me away from God. Rather than entrusting myself to Him, I can turn inward and struggle along by myself. I can throw myself into getting things done so I don’t have time to experience whatever I’m going through. Or I can lash out in anger or frustration, unintentionally “sharing” my pain with anyone close at hand. None of these are helpful strategies to deal with times of trouble.
Just as bad, if not worse, is the thinking that inevitably comes when I leave my mind to its own devices in those times. Feelings of uselessness. Worthlessness. A sense of being very far from God. The idea that it’s all without purpose. That it will never change. That I’m stuck.
Thing is, these are lies.
God works His purposes in, even when I’m going through difficulty. In fact, He uses hard times in my life to help me recognize my need of Him. The lies don’t bring me close to Him. They don’t direct me toward healing or restoration. They don’t build up; they tear down. In those moments, it is important for me to review what is true. Here are a few things to which believers can cling:
- God is near (Psalm 34:18)
- God is faithful (Philippians 1:6)
- His love is unending (Lamentations 3:22-23)
- His forgiveness is complete (Ephesians 1:7, Colossians 1:14)
- God will make good of it, whatever “it” is (Romans 8:28)
It is often easier to believe the lies, to cling to the false accusations, than it is to own the truth. But the path to healing begins with the truth. Lies enslave us. Truth sets us free. Darkness is fruitless. Light glorifies God. It’s no accident that the word “devil” in the Bible comes from a Greek word meaning “accuser”. We can buy into the accusation very easily. But remember the truth, here from Romans 8:33:
“Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies” [NASB]
And later, in verses 37-39:
“But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” [NASB]
Even in troubled times, we are victorious. What lies are you believing? What truth do you need to own?