There is nothing like a difficult circumstance to test our resolve to trust in God. Yet, some of the most perplexing circumstances we face are often orchestrated by God for this very purpose.
Being faced with the unknown often tests our faith and drives us into a deeper trust in Him. I can vividly recall many nights when, before my head hit the pillow, I would wonder what the Lord was up to in my life.
It takes only the first delayed answer to a prayer for us to realize that God’s plans and purposes are sometimes quite different than our own.
I can’t help but think of what Jesus’ family and disciples must have experienced as they witnessed His death on the cross.
For the disciples, Jesus’ death on the cross must have sent shockwaves through their hearts.
Recall that they had committed two-and-a-half to three years of their lives following Jesus and proclaiming Him as Israel’s long awaited Messiah.
How, then, could their Messiah be so shamefully defeated by His enemies and vanquished on a cruel Roman cross, forever marked as one accursed by God? Even worse, did His death mean that He had really been a false prophet?
For Mary, Jesus’ mother, the cross must have been nothing less than an emotional earthquake, fraught with turmoil and upheaval of a devastating magnitude.
Recalling His childhood, Mary knew that Jesus had honored the God of Israel and His parents, and He had grown in wisdom and favor with God and people. His confrontations with the Pharisees notwithstanding, Jesus had always sought to bring hope and healing to those He ministered to.
Witnessing what to her must have seemed like an untimely end to His Life, the cross tested her faith.
But it is these tests of faith which enable us to grow in our relationship with God and experience real growth in our character.
The Bible teaches in James 1:3 to “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance” (NIV).
We are then told that we must persevere so that we may be mature and complete, “not lacking anything” (vs. 4).
It has been well said by others whose faith is much stronger than my own, that we live on promises – the promises of God. Considering the times we live in, there are likely to be a number of people around us who are experiencing a difficult circumstance. Not being immune to tough times myself, I have found the following biblical truths help greatly.
First, choose to take more of a divine perspective on your situation.
James 1 (quoted above) reminds us that trials are actually opportunities in disguise to test and expose those areas of our hearts where we can trust God just a little bit more. It is when we are forced to make a choice that we actually have the opportunity to make a decision to trust in God to resolve that situation. Be reminded, also, trials come in many varieties. Indeed, one day we may experience nothing more than the inconvenience of a flat tire. On another day, however, it may be the unwelcome News from our family doctor that changes the course of our lives thereafter.
Second, saturate your mind and heart with the written Word of God.
The Psalmist wrote that by constantly looking at God’s laws and decrees he was able to gain wisdom and encouragement during the perplexing times he experienced. I have found that I am able to face the unknown when I am constantly reminded that He who knows all is already in control of the unknown. The Bible teaches that God is all-powerful and all-loving toward us.
Reminding myself of these truths by reading the Bible gives me genuine, God-centered peace, because I know that He is in control, and He is able!
Third, be in constant prayer.
The Apostle Paul wrote to the Thessalonian believers that they should, “Rejoice, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:16–18a).
By maintaining a consistent attitude of prayer, we are reminded throughout the day that it is God’s will we are seeking and not our own in whatever we face. Moreover, prayer is the means by which we seek God’s strength to face what is before us.
Finally, seek the encouragement and fellowship of other strong believers. Hebrews 10 exhorts us to maintain consistent fellowship with others who follow Christ. Encouraging others who are going through what you have gone through and receiving encouragement from those who have experienced what you are experiencing, gives us first-hand evidence that God is at work in our lives.
The experience of difficult circumstances need not derail us in our faith in Christ if we will but trust in the Lord through those times. Always remember that He is at work even when we do not realize it. His love and attention to every detail in our lives will encourage us to trust Him daily.