Encouragement in the Hard Times

“Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.” 1 Peter 4:12-13

 

 

Do you ever think that it is never going to end? That somehow the Lord must have turned His back and walked away from you? That one more trial will be the very last thing that you can stand?

You’re not alone.

I’ve been there. And to be quite honest, I’ve been there many times. Like last night. Or today.

It seems like every time I turn around something else is happening, some new tragedy has struck and life is out of whack again. People tell me I have the worst luck of anyone they’ve ever known, and I think that often they are telling the absolute truth with no exaggeration in there. But I know I am not alone in this situation, and neither are you.

I hear people ask all the time, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” In fact, I even took a course in college where that was one of the main questions our class was to study and debate. In the end of it, there was no real agreement. I didn’t really feel like we came to an answer, and, over the years, I’ve still wondered that same question from time to time myself.

The thing is, I’ve also come to realize that even though it feels like I’m being punished for some bad deed I’ve done when bad things happen, I’m really not. But even more important, even though I wonder where God is and why He’s left me, He hasn’t.

You see, we’re often told as Christians that if we have faith and pray that the Lord will take care of it all. It will be all good. He will reward us for the good we do, and He’ll protect us and keep us from harm. We’re told if we pray harder and trust more that our depression will end, that our health problems will stop. That if we just have enough faith, our problems will be over.

The problem is: the people who tell us those things are wrong.

That’s right.

They’re wrong.

Yes, we need to have faith. Yes, we need to pray. Yes, God does protect us and can heal us. And, yes, one day we will find the ultimate reward of Heaven.

But that doesn’t mean that we won’t face tragedy, that we won’t face sickness, death, and misery. No matter how hard we pray or how much faith we have, it will not save us from life.  In his book Storm Warning, Billy Graham states: “When any Bible teacher oversells either the material of the spiritual benefits of the Christian life, I believe he or she is in danger of deception that leads others astray.” I think he is exactly right.

You see, Christ came here and lived as we do. He lowered Himself to be like us so that He could be both fully man and fully God. In that life, He suffered. He was born into a regular old family, not one of privilege. He faced puberty and young adulthood, as well as all the decisions that come with those. He faced mobs of people who loved Him and those who hated Him. He was mocked, abused, and crucified, even though He led a sinless life. So, no matter how good He was… no matter how close He was to the Lord (His very own Son!)… no matter how much faith He had… He still suffered.

Think about that: He still suffered.

So, if Christ faced what we call life, with all its hardships and ups and downs, why should we be any different?

Nowhere in the Bible does it promise an easy life for Christians. Nowhere. It doesn’t say that we’re going to suddenly have a clean bill of health or a big, fat income just because we believe. It doesn’t claim that accepting Christ as your Savior suddenly makes the whole world rosy and that nothing will ever make us cry again.

What it does tell us is this: God will never leave us. He will never forsake us. And nothing—absolutely nothing—can pluck us out of His hands once we accept Him as our Savior.

That means that no illness, no bankruptcy, no car wreck, no breakup, no hideously, horrible day can keep us from being sheltered and loved and cared about by Jesus.

So, even though we have to face tragedy and hardship, our faith strengthens us. It refines us. It forges hearts that trust and love the Lord and know that He is King. And as hard as it may be to feel that way when we’re walking through it, it is true nevertheless.

If we accept Christ as our Savior, He is with us, no matter how big the storm rages. He will not leave us. He will not forsake us. And, yes, nothing—nothing at all—can pluck us from His hands. Take strength in that and know that you are not alone with Christ as your Savior. This storm is part of the sea of life, and no matter where the Lord leads or how He sees you through it, He is right there with you. Hold on to Him. He won’t let you down.

 

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