When The Way Gets Tough
Bad news. Unexpected news. You know. The “I wasn’t prepared for this, didn’t see it coming, can’t believe this is happening to me, world shaking, life shattering” news. It’s the phone call in the middle of the night. It’s the police officer at the front door. It’s the pause in the doctor’s voice right before he tells you the test results. It’s the news clip from a foreign battle field. It’s the bleeding early in the pregnancy. It’s the secret email that you accidentally discover on your spouse’s laptop. It’s the teenager whose bed is still empty the next morning. It’s the elderly parent who doesn’t answer your repeated phone calls. It’s the news that your company is downsizing. It’s disappointment. It’s despair. It’s distress. It’s disaster. It’s destruction. It’s disease. It’s death. There’s just no other way to look at it. No glossing it over or getting around it. It’s bad news. Really bad news.
If you have walked the road of life for any length of time, you have encountered your share of bad news, dark days, and tough places in the road. All of us have had to deal with pain at some point (some more than others). The sun doesn’t always shine. The flowers don’t always bloom. The harvest is not always plentiful. Night comes. Winter comes. Seasons of famine come. To all of us. Much like our God, pain and adversity are no respecter of persons. Young or old. Rich or poor. Male or female. Black or white. We will all encounter those tough places in the journey of life. In fact, the Bible tells us it to us like this in 1 Peter, “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you.” On this side of eternity we will experience trials, testings and temptations. We shouldn’t be surprised when our turn comes. But that doesn’t mean we can’t make it through the tough places and the difficult times. Today, I want to share 3 brief thoughts that will hopefully encourage us all along the way.
- Tough times do not minimize the reality of God. Rather, they magnify our need of Him. When the tough times come don’t make the mistake of turning away from God. Don’t turn inward. Don’t allow the adversity to turn you against Him. Rather, turn to Him. He is our refuge when the storm winds blow. He is our strength when the bad news has knocked us down. He is a very present help in our times of trouble.
- Tough times need not be a reason for fear. Even the most tremendous upheavals are still subject to His sovereignty. Read the beginning of Psalm 46. The mountains shake and slip into the sea. The oceans roar and foam. This is not some minor incident. These are life-altering events. And in the midst of all this chaos and confusion God declares, “Do not be afraid. I am your place of safety. I will help you. In Me you will find joy. In Me you will find peace. My purposes and plans for Your life cannot be frustrated.” The world is being turned upside-down but God is still on the throne. When the journey gets tough we need not fear because our God is still in control.
- Tough times give way to greater glory. Read the rest of Psalm 46. Look at the closing verses in particular. Two things stand out to me. A greater personal revelation of God. And a greater worldwide recognition of God. I will know that He is God. The nations will see Him exalted. I know. That doesn’t necessarily make the pain of the moment any easier to bear. But I find tremendous comfort in knowing that my suffering has purpose, that there is a redemptive value in my pain. In the tough times God opens my eyes and heart to see and know Him better. Through the tough times God displays His glory to those around me. In the present moment I might know difficulty but in the end it will all be for my good and His glory!!!
For years I have made the following statement, “Life is hard. But God is good.” But just because something is cliché doesn’t mean it’s not true. Life is hard. Pain comes to us all. Adversity and trials are par for the course. Each of us will encounter those places in the journey when it becomes extremely tough. We will be tempted to quit. To give in to the despair and give up. To cast aside our faith as something meaningless and ineffectual. But during those times we need to remember the second part of the phrase. Yes, life is hard. But God is good. All the time. Hold fast to your faith. More importantly, hold fast to Him. The clouds may have grown dark in your life. The wind may be blowing and the rain is pouring down. But I promise you that He will not fail you. More importantly, He promises you that He will not fail you. He is a very present help in your time of trouble.