Getting through difficulties
God is an amazing source of comfort,
strength and hope - come what may
I’ve heard it said that there can’t be a God, because why would God make Christians go through bad times?
The trouble is that this logic is flawed; plus, the Bible has a different perspective.
If there is a God (and I know there is!) then surely he loves all his children, favouring none over others? And the Bible never suggests that Christians escape suffering—in fact, the experience of the early Church was one of persecution, which still continues in many parts of the world.
In Revelation (NT), it says when describing the future: "The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ…" Christians accept that we live in an imperfect world—the ‘kingdom of the world’, damaged by sin and evil, and subject to all that can go wrong, personally and globally.
However, Jesus came to establish the kingdom of heaven; in the future, this will be finally fulfilled; for now we inhabit a difficult ‘in-between’ time. This understanding doesn’t fix everything, but it helps to make sense of our world.
So if Christians accept that suffering is part of all of our lives, what’s the point in being a Christian? Because for today there is comfort, and there is purpose; for tomorrow, there is hope. And the extraordinary mystery of God’s goodness is that even through the worst times he brings good to those who love him. And because if you have ever allowed yourself to encounter God, how could you not believe?
We draw closest to God in times of difficulty. This is partly because difficulties test and refine us, partly because we realise what’s important, and partly because we turn to God when we realise there is little we can achieve under our own strength. And he really responds—providing an amazing comfort and help even in the darkest hours. But if we’re determined instead to try resolving our own difficulties, and be in control of our own precarious situations, how can we leave room for God to manoeuvre? We’d be fighting him every step of the way.
The greatest release comes when we hand over control of our lives to God before things go wrong. You know then that you are totally in his hands, come what may: “See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands,” he says.
God wants you to turn to him. Whether things work out right for us in a worldly sense (remember, God’s point of view may differ!), Jesus says in John (NT), "In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” He goes on to say, "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.” James, in his book (NT), says, “Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray.”
After a 10-year period in my own life when adversity never seemed to end, I prayed from the book of Joel (OT) that God would restore the years that the 'locusts' (symbolising evil) had eaten from my life. I moved into much happier times.
Pray: Saving God, when times are hard, please help me to turn towards you, not away from you. I long for the kind of comfort and peace that only you can bring. Thank you for grieving with me, and that whatever happens in this life, I can always have hope for the next. Amen.
Watch a video clip from Lost and take comfort from the 23rd Psalm
Watch the video clip If You’ve Never Failed, You’ve Never Lived
Watch the music video of Van Morrison’s Whenever God Shines His Light (read lyric)
Watch the music video to the Newsboys’ Million Pieces
Read about the experiences of a family whose daughter was in a coma after a car crash
Watch a video clip of a Christian father speaking after his daughter was killed in the Columbine school massacre
Read the Antidote to Anxiety
Read the book Life Is Tough But God Is Faithful: How to See God's Love in Difficult Times by Sheila Walsh
Read the book God's Answers to Life's Difficult Questions by Rick Warren
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