This is a tender time for all of us in the world. Everywhere we turn, we come face to face with suffering. People are dying. People are losing their jobs. People are losing their savings an investment. Families are being torn apart. Perhaps you are reading this blog and this is real to you: either you know some loved ones who are going through some really difficult season or you are the one experiencing this. The level of challenges I see and hear about are the type that seem to have the capacity to break many people’s resolve.
I don’t want to make light of the suffering and the hurt, but sometimes it is wiser to not ask the Lord to take you out of the oven. It is far wiser to trust the sovereignty of the Lord and to simply ask Him to give you strength to endure. I want to turn everyone’s eyes towards the only place where anyone can find strength to go on: turn to Jesus! Instead of allowing the current situation to rule over your life, focus your energy on the work the Lord has done in your life and what future He has in store for you.
In this passage below, Paul does an excellent job helping everyone to look at difficult times through the lens of the sovereignty of God. As you read this and as you go through the difficult period, remember two things: 1) the Lord is going through it with you and 2) The Lord did not send this trial time to destroy you.
Here's one of the most useful texts to help everyone draw up a plan to endure and persevere through difficult times.
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
The purpose of this blog is not to expound on the above text, but to give everyone some practical tools to help them endure and persevere.
Trust in the Lord
Remember, we are not the first people to have gone through difficult times and we certainly will not be the last. As callous as this first point may appear to be, it is true. The Lord Jesus warned us that we would encounter times such as these.
"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."
While the statement contains a high level of certainty in it, one must remember that the level of TROUBLE is relative to the individual. Consequently, people don’t all respond to difficult times in the same way. Take a look at how King David responded: he poured out his heart to the Lord during what evidently was a tumultuous time in his life. From the description of his difficult time, one can infer that David felt that it was persisting forever.
How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? 2 How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me? 3 Consider and answer me, O Lord my God; light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death, 4 lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,” lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken. 5 But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. 6 I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me.
David showed a great deal of “humanity” in this prayer. He showed that the trial time was in fact eating away at him and he was ready to have the Lord put an end to it. David put his trust in the Lord! Turn to the Lord and trust His promises. Hold fast to promises such as the ones in the following two verses:
"So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."
"Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight."
But to know God’s promises, we must be well acquainted with His Word, so the next practical thing one should do is to
Stay in the Word of God
When you read and meditate on the word, you are arming yourself to win the battle! This battle may have been caused by your doing, but by His grace, the Lord can grant you victory. The word of God is an effective way to repel the attack or the darts the enemy will throw at you. The word of God is your sword; it is your only offensive weapon! If you are not arming yourself with the word, then brace yourself, it is going to be a long and bloody fight. Every blow will have greater impact on you. And the fight may take a lot longer.
Here’s the bottom line:
The waiting period can be a dark time in anyone’s life. It is a time of opportunity for the enemy. The enemy loves that troubled time in your life because he thinks he can come in and redefine reality for you. He will whisper lies to you! He will want you to know that this is only happening to you! He will want you to know it I not fair that this is happening to you! He will try to make you believe that this time, this is the end of the line for you! He will try to make you believe that there is no way out of this one! The devil may even offer you a way out, but remember, it will come at a very steep and painful price! Stay the course! Keep up the fight! Persevere! One of the most effective way to protect yourself and to give yourself a better chance to overcome the wiles of the evil one is to keep your eyes in the word!
The Psalmist tells us why this is important, he writes,
Your word is a lamp to guide me and a light for my path (Psalm 119:105)
God’s word has the wisdom to guide you out of this mess! God’s word is the light that can pierce through the darkness you are facing! God’s word is the only weapon you can you, as our Lord Jesus did, to chase the devil…that old serpent away from you! Use the word of God to resist the devil and he will flee from you! (James 4:7) Submit yourself to God then, my friends!
The next point is also very important in your ability to fight and persevere. While you wait for the Lord to bring you through, choose to
Worship the Lord
When you and I make the decision to worship the Lord instead of allowing our circumstances to swallow us or to consume us, we are letting the Lord know that that we believe Him for who He says He is! We change our focus from the circumstances to the God who is Mightier than any circumstance you and I could ever face! Worshipping in time of distress is also a way of reminding ourselves that we are children of the Most High God. When we make the decision to worship the Lord during the waiting time, it is one way to let the enemy know that he cannot shake our confidence in the Lord!
So, worship the Lord during your waiting time! Don’t allow the circumstances to swallow you, focus on your Great Big God. It is His will you and I want, in His timing! We all need to grow to the position where we are ok with waiting for our God to move in His timing! Someone says, "in times when we can’t seem to perceive God amidst our pain, and the clouds of anxiety and fear close in on us, the way forward is to remind ourselves of what we know to be true and dependable—the unchanging grace of God".
Look back at Psalm 13 and look at how David concluded his plea to the Lord:
I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me.
David redirected himself to a time of worship, a time of praise, by making himself remember and focus on his personal experiences with the Lord! This is another reason it is important for that the child of God keep account of what the Lord has done for us, what the Lord has done through us, and how the Lord has dealt with us! This leads us to the next tool: be grateful even while we wait on the Lord to change our bitter sorrowful situation!
Adopt a Posture of Gratefulness
Here’s why this is important. Sometimes we are the reason we find ourselves waiting in the midst of tough circumstances! There are times we do things that take us outside of the boundaries of God. But then we expect God to quickly take us out of the fire we brought upon ourselves. Being grateful even while we wait for the Lord to move will often lead us to thank the Lord for His Goodness, for His love and kindness. This may even be an opportune time to deal with our baggage!
The child of God ought to be grateful at all times anyway. The Apostle Paul said it this way:
“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). This means the child of God must give thanks to the Lord in the good times and in the bad. It is the will of God for His child at that specific time! And not only is it God’s will for you, but the Lord is using your time of difficulty to cause some very awesome things to be birthed in your life.
Look back at Romans 5:3-5, Paul says “Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, [because we know] that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
During your waiting time, the Lord is working character into His children! So don’t you be afraid. Don’t you dare think about giving up now, the Lord is going to get you through this.
The next tool may be difficult to do while experiencing a difficult time, but it is important. While you wait on the Lord, continue being faithful to
Serve the Lord
Here is a practical way to do this: remember the last thing or things the Lord asked you to do and continue to serve Him in those things. Never ever allow your circumstance to keep you from serving the Lord! Remember, serving the Lord means being faithful to the call the Lord placed on your life. It also means to be faithful to the Lord’s commands and statute. Don’t let difficult times keep you from obeying the Lord! Some of you may not want to hear this, but you don’t get to choose when you feel like serving the Lord! You cannot choose to serve the Lord only when life is peachy and rosy! If you are a child of God, you belong to Him and must serve Him at all times!
Here are two reasons to justify this:
1) Go back to our passage in Romans 5:1-2:
[Because] we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
Jesus gave Himself for us as sacrifice during the time when we were still rebelling against Him, He [chose] to die for us. As the word of God says, “the just for the unjust”.
The response of the child of God to trying time must be similar to the way Job responded to what undoubtedly was the darkest period of his life. Job exclaimed, “Though he slays me, I will hope in him” (Job 13:15)
2) When the Lord bought you through His blood from the law of sin and death, you became a slave to Him! Yep, that’s right, I did say slave! Look at Romans 6:16-18:
Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. 18 You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.
To strengthen yourself and to be able to endure through the tough times,
Stay on Your Knees
Take this piece of advice from Job in Job 13:15,
He said, “God might kill me, but I have no other hope. I am going to argue my case with him.” Job said “I am going straight to the source! I am going straight to my Father and I am going to ask Him ‘why these things are happening to me’?” I’m going straight to my daddy! It is not helpful to take a defeated or discouraged posture, or to become so angry that you find it difficult to pray. Don’t give the enemy a foothold in your life during a trying time of your life. Take the Psalm 121 approach:
I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.
2 My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.
3 He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber.
4 Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The Lord is thy keeper: the Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand.
6 The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night.
7 The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul.
8 The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.
Difficult times will come. Difficult times will run their courses. Remember that God is faithful, He will go through them with you. Focus on the Deliverer!