TRUSTING GOD IN HARD TIMES
1. HARD TIMES ARE PART OF LIFE
– Just as the good, happy, and joyous times of life are part of life, so are the difficult, hard, and dark times.
– The life of Jesus is an example of this. He had a remarkable season of ministry, and many people were healed and restored. BUT the true value of His coming to earth is found in the difficult and hard times He faced, the false accusations, the cruel punishment, and the death that He endured, give us the hope and faith we have.
– The truth of that matter is that no one is exempt from troubles and challenges during the course of life.
– Although when we are facing hard times, it may appear as if everyone else is doing just fine, this is not the case.
– The Bible speaks about ‘when trouble comes’ not ‘if trouble comes’.
– Nahum 1:7 ‘The LORD is good, a strong refuge when trouble comes. He is close to those who trust in Him.’
– The wonderful thing that we can know during hard times is that the Lord is with us. He has not abandoned us and He offers us Himself as a refuge, and He undertakes to be close to us as we trust Him while passing through the valley.
2. HARD TIMES DON’T ALWAYS MEAN WE HAVE DONE SOMETHING WRONG
– Sometimes we can mistakenly attribute the hardship we are facing to something we may have done wrong.
– Although wrong-doing has its own consequences, seasons of difficulty are not necessarily the result.
– As Christians we may believe that we have moved out of darkness and into light, and this is true. The darkness of sin has been lifted, but the process of life is still something we face.
– It is possible to do all the right things and know the favour and blessing of God on our lives, and still go through hard times, through no fault of our own, but due to the nature of life itself.
– I am reminded of Jesus’ own disciples. He sent them by boat across the sea and on route to their destination, they faced a storm of note. They were actually in the perfect will of God, and yet faced this major challenge.
– Isaiah 50:10 ‘Who among you fears the LORD and obeys his servant? If you are walking in darkness, without a ray of light, trust in the LORD and rely on your God.’
– You may be a child of God and yet you find yourself walking in darkness, without a ray of hope.
– In these seasons of our lives, we need to believe in His goodness, and trust in, and rely on Him, like never before.
3. HARD TIMES WILL PASS
– When we go through hard times, it can feel like trouble is all we have known our entire lives.
– It may even feel like it will never end.
– I remember when my late wife was diagnosed with cancer. The shock and horror that befell us as a family was inconceivable and unimaginable. She was sick for a period of twenty months, before the Lord called her home. Those twenty months felt like an eternity. Even within those ‘never-ending’ months, there were moments of joy and delight with some precious memories. I remember, shortly before she died, she said to me that something had to turn soon. She told me that either the Lord would heal her shortly, or He would come and fetch her soon. Moments after her passing, as I stood around her bed with my daughters, my one daughter spoke up and said: ‘Dad, its over! The battle with cancer is finished!’ I looked up into her eyes and realised that it was. In one moment, what felt like an eternal battle, ended. It did not end in the way we had hoped, but it had ended and a new season had begun. In that new season we would find new joy, new hope, and new faith.
– Psalm 50:15 ‘Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honour Me.’
– Every hardship, every trial, every battle, has its own expiry date.
4. THE JOURNEY THROUGH HARD TIMES
– One of the things that many good people hope for is what I would like to call ‘instant relief’.
– After all, the Bible tells us to call on the Lord and He will deliver us.
– I have discovered that moving from the valley to the mountain top, is not instantaneous, but it is a journey.
– We must not camp, or set up house, in the valley of hard times, but we must move through it.
– Isaiah 43:2 ‘When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.’
– Look at the words in this verse: ‘go through deep waters’, ‘go through rivers of difficulty’, and ‘walk through the fire’.
– I suppose we would all like an escape route. A quick exit and a short cut, but the value lies in the journey.
– As a young man I did a bit of hiking. I enjoyed these moments with some good friends. One day we hiked the Fish River Canyon in Namibia. It was a gruelling five-day hike through some very tough terrain. Once you were dropped off at the start, and had descended into the canyon, there was no way back. At the start of day two there was one escape route. It was a monumental task to make your way out that way, but it could be done and then you would find yourself in the middle of a desert, but you could walk the 80km’s back on the isolated road. But the purpose of the hike was not to escape, but to make the journey. As we walked, we faced huge boulders, fine sand, extreme heat, cold nights, little water, and blisters. I asked myself over and over again why I was doing this voluntarily. But at the end of day five, we arrived back, triumphant, happy and with lots to talk about and many stories to tell our friends and family. The hard time had been a journey, by somehow, we were better off for it!
5. WHAT THE LORD PROMISES US WHILE WE ARE FACING HARD TIMES
– When we are facing hard times, we can even begin to think and feel that God has abandoned us.
– Nothing could be further from the truth.
– Years ago I read a poem called ‘Footprints’.
– FOOTPRINTS IN THE SAND
One night a man had a dream. He dreamed he was walking on the beach with the Lord. Across the sky flashed scenes from his life, For each scene he noticed two sets of footprints in the sand: one belonging to him, and the other to the Lord.
When the last scene of his life flashed before him, he looked back at the footprints in the sand. He noticed that many times along the path of life there was only one set of footprints. He noticed that it happened at the very lowest and saddest times in his life.
This really bothered him and he questioned the LORD about it: ‘Lord, you said that once I decided to follow You, You’d walk with me all the way. But I noticed that during the most troublesome times in my life, there is only one set of footprints. I don’t understand why when I needed you most you would leave me.’
The Lord Replied: ‘My son, my precious child, I love you and I would never leave you. During your times of trial and suffering, when you see only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you.’ Author: Carolyn Joyce Carty
– Psalm 27:5 ‘For in the day of trouble He will keep me safe in His dwelling; He will hide me in the shelter of His sacred tent and set me high upon a rock.’
– This is what the Lord promises to do for us when we are facing hard times: He will keep you safe, He will hide you, He will be close to you, and ultimately, He will turn the situation around and help you stand, sure and secure.
6. BREAKTHROUGH IS OUR DESTINATION
– Years ago I heard someone say: ‘Tough times don’t last but tough people do!’
– This statement may not be Biblical, but it does remind us that tough times do have an expiry date.
– Perhaps we could say: ‘Tough/hard/dark times don’t last, but our God is eternal and He will turn things around!’
– Isaiah 35:4 Say to those with anxious hearts: ‘Be strong, do not fear! Behold, your God will come with vengeance. With divine retribution He will come to save you.’
– There comes a time when God steps in and changes things.
– Remember how the people of Israel were in slavery and bondage in Egypt. This dark period lasted for about 400 years. But the day came when God intervened and they were brought out of bondage and slavery. When they crossed the parted sea, they could rejoice and sing. This is the song they sang: ‘I will sing to the LORD, for He has triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider He has thrown into the sea.’
– I promise you that you will sing again, your heart will beat again, once again you will rejoice and celebrate, when you see the breakthrough that God will bring for you.
7. KEYS TO TRUSTING GOD DURING THE HARD TIMES
– 1. Prayer has proved to be a lifeline in my life, especially when going through difficult times. Prayer has the power of shifting our focus off our situation and onto our God. Our God is mighty, powerful, able, and faithful. I have found prayer especially beneficial when I started praying for others. When I shift my focus off myself and my situation, and begin to pray for others, in their distress, it brings perspective and shifts my attention onto others and their needs.
– 2. Do the possible and leave the impossible to God. Sometimes we think that we are responsible to do the impossible. Let me just release you of that weight. God is responsible for the impossible and we are asked to do what is within our ability to do.
– 3. Releasing the weight of things to the Lord. Let go of things. Hundreds of years ago, Martin Luther wrote a great hymn: A Mighty Fortress Is Our God. In the last verse he wrote these words: ‘Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also; the body they may kill, God truth abideth still, His Kingdom is forever.’
The message of these words is that we should not hold too tightly to our possessions, our family, our friends, or to life itself – we should hold tightly to God and the eternal dimension.
– 4. Find someone, a trusted friend, who you can talk too, or pray with.
– 5. Keep putting one foot in front of the other.
Isaiah 50:10 ‘If you are walking in darkness, without a ray of light, trust in the LORD and rely on your God.’
Sometimes when we face darkness or hard times, we may think it is better to wait it out, or ‘sit tight’ until things change – NO, we must keep walking, even when there is no ray of hope. My wife used to sing a little line when things were going rough in our lives or in the lives of our children: ‘Just keep swimming, just keep swimming…’
– 6. Choose belief over fear. “Do it afraid!” Believe…
– 7. Remember, You are not alone.
Jeremiah 16:19 ‘LORD, you are my strength and fortress, my refuge in the day of trouble!’
– NOTE: ‘To trust God in the light is nothing, but to trust Him in the dark – that is faith.’ – C.H. Spurgeon
By Pastor Andrew Roebert
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