Tough times will happen. We all face times of rejection, pain, suffering and sickness and often it does not align with our expectation of blessing. Some believers will even face persecution and death threats. Life can also involve mental illness, anxiety, depression, PTSD and so on.
Tough times will happen
The heroes of scripture faced all sorts of trials and persecution. In fact Jesus said we would have trouble in the world. (John 16:33). The challenge is to navigate through these times and some of us must learn to live with ongoing difficulties in life. Every one of us will experience ups and downs in life, but having Jesus in your life will make a massive difference.
What are your expectations?
Unrealistic expectations can set us up for disappointment. God loves us beyond measure and always wants the best for us but as long as we live in this world, life will not be fair and we will be disappointed if we expect it to be. What are your expectations? Our ultimate focus in life should be our eternity which will be a wonder beyond this life and beyond our comprehension. 1 Corinthians 2:9
If you were told that becoming a Christian would make your life wonderful and easy, then you may have unrealistic expectations about life as a believer. A “nice life” in this life is not a reason to be saved but rather we are saved to have an eternal relationship with the Lord and escape His judgment for our wrongdoing.
We know Jesus has won the victory on the cross over sin and death but we still await the day when He will return to establish His rule and then life on earth will be radically changed. Revelation 21. In the meantime while we will experience trouble in this world, Jesus will always be with us in good and bad times and in Him we can have peace. (John 16:33; Psalm 23:4; Romans 8:38-39)
Source of tough times
- The world – it is a fallen world impacted by sin and we are part of it. We will get rejected, hurt, sick, injured and lose loved ones.
- Personal failure and sin – we all fail at times. The most important thing is to get up and move forward, in whatever way you can. Do not stop at failure.
- The devil – Satan is working against the Lord and those that are His. We need to remember that Jesus in us is greater. 1 John 4:4
- God’s loving discipline – God disciplines for our own good. We all need discipline even though it can be painful at the time, but it brings blessing into our lives and the outcome is a greater joy. We often need tough times to learn to rely more on Him. Hebrews 12:5-13
Some steps to help:
Getting through these times can be tough and we need to be realistic about how long that will take. In some circumstances, it is not a matter of getting through, but of adapting to living with a change in life. In either case, there are some actions you can take to help the process.
- Remind yourself of the blessings you do have in your life. It will give you a better perspective. Psalm 103:2
- Pray and seek God. Sometimes it takes suffering to get us on our knees in prayer and sometimes we hold back on this.
- Get support from friends, family and other believers wherever possible including professional help where appropriate. It is better not to suffer alone. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12. Just telling a friend can help.
- Know the scriptures and that they do not say you won’t suffer beyond what you can handle. We can sometimes be disillusioned by things we think are in scripture but are not. (The actual text says He will provide a way of escape when we are tempted. 1 Cor 10:13). The scriptures do tell us that God understands and will walk with us in our circumstances.
- Work through any issues you have. Is there something that God would want you to learn or change through the experience? This may include forgiveness, false beliefs and trust issues etc. Resolve these with the help of other believers.
- Learn about Job in the Bible who suffered immensely and said no matter what happens, even if it appears that God has failed me, “I will still trust in Him”. Job 13:15.
- Be practical and do what you can to cope until you get through. Go for a walk, find a place in nature and link up with friends or professional help.
- Remind yourself of your eternal hope and that one day Jesus will bring all pain and suffering to an end. 2 Corinthians 4:17-18
- Consider that God is always good and your experience of God does not determine his goodness. Luke 18: 19. Check out GotQuestions.
- Jesus understands suffering. He experienced a level of suffering on the cross we will never comprehend. Tell Him about your circumstance and ask for His presence and strength.
Tough times develop hope
James points out that trials bring perseverance and maturity
2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
Paul points out in Romans that suffering produces hope
3we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope.
God will work things out for good
God may not take away your tough times but God can work things out for good, including your mistakes.
28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a] have been called according to his purpose.
God may work it out so that when you have worked through the issue, you can give hope to someone else.
Totally commit your problems to God asking that He will help you persevere. As a believer, you can always have hope so be courageous.
Sometimes the best action you can do “today” is to pray, read a psalm, find a friend, and go for a walk. What action from the list above, will you do tomorrow?
You might also find it helpful to see and hear the stories of other people who have been through tough times and find out how they were able to walk through them. Watch some of the many inspiring stories on Life TV
You also might find the following video helpful by Jon Jorgenson: Why Suffering for righteousness sake is a good thing