Jesus promised His followers two things: trouble – and peace. “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) So trouble should not be a surprise for any of us. Yet many believers struggle to keep your faith when things are bad.
People often struggle with believing God doesn’t care because He doesn’t fix their problems. “God, help me!” is a normal response to trouble. David prayed it all the time! (Just read the Psalms.) If the Bible is any indication, that’s the right prayer to pray.
But that’s not the only prayer to pray. There’s more to the story. Since God is so much bigger than a heavenly vending machine doling out blessings, it’s vital to look for the rest of the story.
I get emotional just like you. There are times I struggle with worry, sadness, fatigue, or overwhelm. Sometimes I have to beat back feeling as though my work is pointless.
But I’ve learned not to live there! I’ve learned to own the feelings, but to not let them determine what I do next. Here are some of the specific ways I hold onto faith when things are bad.
What’s Going On Here?
Our perspective is limited. The normal human response to pain is to turn inward. A friend once told me, “Pain is the loneliest place in the world.”
So I desperately need God’s perspective to bring any degree of clarity. That simple prayer, “God, what’s going on here?” helps you get there. And then get quiet enough and stick around in His presence long enough to hear an answer.
Am I simply experiencing some of the natural results of living in this sinful world? Have I done something that made me vulnerable to this trouble? Are You needing me to grow up (mature) in some way? Is this a demonstration of specific pushback from the kingdom of darkness? Am I receiving crossfire because I’m doing exactly what You’ve asked me to do?
Sometimes there’s one key element I need to focus in on. I’m feeling upset and overwhelmed because I haven’t gotten appropriate rest. Something in my business is unhealthy because I’ve neglected a necessary difficult conversation. Or, this struggle is directly from the enemy and requires specific spiritual warfare.
And sometimes it’s more like “all of the above.” With time in prayer, truly listening, I’ve discovered a sense of strength and peace once I have a little clarity about what’s going on here.
What do I Know for Sure?
There are a billion things I don’t know for sure, such as the future, what someone else will do, or all the inner workings of God and His ways.
But there are some things I DO know for sure. And in the worst of times, those become indispensable lifelines. Those are such things as;
- God is good!
- There is an enemy, a kingdom of darkness, who is violent, furious, and relentless.
- God has brought me through overwhelming troubles in the past.
- God has given me a purpose, and He has prepared me to fulfill that purpose.
- This world is not all there is.
In my case, “what I know for sure” includes knowing that the enemy has tried his best with me, and he has lost. I say that with great humility; only God knows the future. But there’s a priceless sense of knowing that comes from going through great battles and finding yourself still standing.
What do I Need to Learn or Understand?
However long my life is on this earth, there is more to learn, more things to understand, more maturity to develop. I don’t want to waste any of my sorrows! What seemed overwhelming at some point in the past now seems small. What do I need to learn in this circumstance that will make similar circumstances in the future seem small?
An elite athlete intentionally stretches his/her mind and body to the limits – on purpose. Our government puts its elite soldiers through the most grueling training imaginable – so they can fulfill a vital role. How can I cooperate with God in going through this experience so that it becomes a training ground, preparing me for something greater?
Keep the End in Mind
Jesus had to keep the end in mind in order to make it when He was here on earth. “Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2)
Why should you and I expect any less? Hebrews continues, “Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.” (Hebrews 12:3-4)
I know that I know that I know it will be worth it. “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison,” (2 Corinthians 4:17) What seems too difficult to bear right now will then seem “light” and “momentary.” I’m keeping the end in mind, and I’m not going to quit until I get there!
When you’re facing trouble, I hope these aspects can bring you wisdom and strength as well.
Your Turn: Have you been able to keep your faith when things are bad? What do you know for sure? Are you still learning? How can keeping the end in mind keep you going? Leave a comment below.
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- How can you keep your faith when things are bad? Seek God’s perspective, focus on what you know for sure, and keep the end in mind. Tweet that.
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