PUSHING THROUGH THE HARD TIMES WITH FAITH, GRACE & WISDOM.
PUSHING THROUGH THE HARD TIMES WITH FAITH, GRACE & WISDOM.
Whether it be an exam, a difficult family situation, job circumstance or a testing financial experience, difficult times can really challenge our faith, motivation, and sense of joy. It can be hard to know which step to take (emotionally and physically) as the feeling of overwhelm and worry become real threats to our inner peace and stability.
More often than not, I have found myself grumbling during challenging and difficult times and feeling sorry for myself. Let’s face it, who likes to be in an experience or season of discomfort and complete uncertainty? I can distinctly remember the times that I struggled to push through seemingly difficult moments because it felt as though they would last forever.
Ever felt that way? During hard times, I have felt as though the call to perseverance and endurance was incredibly difficult, and such a call was better suited to someone other than myself who had the muscle, faith, wisdom and earthly years to go through a tough trial. I would convince myself that because I was young, I had the right to turn, quit and run away from a hard challenge rather than pushing through by faith- even if I didn’t fully understand.
Endurance, patience, perseverance—these traits were just not for me!
One of the many difficult experiences I went through, was when my step father took his own life. I suddenly found myself sucked into a vacuum of confusion, anger and disbelief. In my self centered approach, struggled to see and understand why God would permit me to go through such a hard experience. How was I to respond? What was I to say and do? It was very naive of me to be of the mind that life could never hand me a hard experience or that harsh winds would never come my way.
In our “want it now, have it now society”, we can be misled to believe that everything is about “the good life” – making a lot of money, working as few hours as possible, being liked and celebrated by all, everything falling into place at just the right time, and being very comfortable as we transition from season to season.
But if life were that undemanding of us how would we grow spiritually? Without the rain, how could we grow and appreciate the glorious warmth of the sun? How would we recognise that we need to develop spiritual muscles in certain areas, and how would we see the faithfulness of God if we never went through a situation where we had nothing else to do but to lean, trust and hold onto Jesus?
Over time, the Lord provided clarity in my situation and He began to teach me invaluable lessons that I hold dear to my heart until this day. As a result of this experience, I grew in wisdom, and particular scriptures really came to life for me.
According to the Word (Romans 5:3-4), God’s desire is for us to develop and mature in character, and often times, that development is only birthed from testing and trying times.
I don’t know about you, but I have often wanted to default to looking for the easy and pleasurable routes through life. However, in order to develop into the mature women that God wants us to be, we need to ask Him to help us exchange the attitudes that cause us to shrink back or run away from adversity for bold tenacious faith that does not look at the size of the circumstance, but rather at the size, wisdom and faithfulness of God.
It is only the grace and strength of the Lord that can turn a cowering fearful woman into a woman who is captivated and led by faith, wisdom, grace and the promises of God. Such a woman I desire to be each day! The requirement is not for us to deal with situations from a position of head knowledge, but rather from a position of surrender- seeking to know the Lord’s wisdom and will for our lives in a particular situation.
Stories such as that of Ruth (Ruth 1-4) and Job (1-42) come to mind because both individuals went through such tragic experiences. However, their attitude toward God was so beautiful. They didn’t allow their difficult circumstances to drive them into bitterness and anger. Rather, they leaned and surrendered to God (even in the moments of frustration). Because they leaned into Him, He carried them through with such grace, and both of their redemption stories will bring tears to your eyes.
We needn’t fear that we have to acquire such bold characteristics in our own effort because scripture teaches us that God wants to build this within us, so we don’t run away from every obstacle that life throws at us.
In order to reflect more of the image of Christ, it is important that we develop into women who endure and persevere in the Lord through life’s hard moments and not in ourselves.
The call is to “run with endurance…looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who…endured the cross…” (Heb. 12:1-2). This will include the hard seasons of life.
Notice again that the focus is not on things or people around us, but on Jesus.
The length and proportion at which we can run our race is directly related to our proximity and focus on Jesus.
In the tough times, our lives then, even in the smallest of ways, can reflect the constancy, humility, and the faithfulness that marked the life of Christ. We cannot endure without first looking at Him and the example He set during His difficult times. As we continue to look unto Jesus no matter how difficult it feels, He works His character within us, comforts us, teaches us, and helps us to mature.
This is something I must remember when going through my own difficult times.
Growth sometimes requires going through hard lessons.
Often, we pray for certain things such as wisdom, and we yearn passionately to be more like Jesus without realising that to develop wisdom, we must know what folly is- and even experience it in some cases. To become more like Jesus, we must be able to identify with a lot of the hardship that He had to endure, albeit in our own context.
To know what patience, peace and true love are, we must first know what they are not, and this sometimes means going through a painful experience. So, you see, if we do not push through trying moments with the Lord, we cannot arrive on the other side having become much stronger.
I remember praying for wisdom and going through a season witnessing so many unwise decisions being made. I didn’t understand it until the Lord reminded me that I had prayed for wisdom, and so He was showing me what it was not.
So be encouraged to adjust your perspective to look at the character trait that God is building within you through the experience/s that you are currently going through. Big experiences and small experiences ultimately are all one in the same if we see what God is working within us. The small experiences increase our capacity to tackle bigger ones with greater spiritual strength. Big experiences make us aware of just how inadequate we are, and how we in need of God’s strength.
Here are some scriptures to encourage you.
I am learning that to endure and persevere through the tough times does not mean that we resign all efforts to a situation at hand, hang on and let whatever happens to us happen.
To endure means that I boldly face whatever is before me with the knowledge that any suffering or trial is used by God to refine my character so that I can look more like Him. That can be a real struggle for me at times, but God in His grace gets me to be where I need to be! For some of us, it may be enduring in the area of patience, financial and other physical lack or even enduring ourselves and taking the time to allow the Lord to work through our emotional knots.
We often think of endurance as a fitting attribute for an athlete, but it is an even more of a necessary attribute for the Christian woman! When we rely on Christ’s strength to bring us through, God’s Word says we will be “strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy…” (Col. 1:11). So something that we once felt weak in, we will now grow to become strong in- what a picture of such grace.
There is only one way to mature spiritually, and that is to not shrink back at the things that are seemingly big and frightening. The woman who desires to flourish understands that in order to do so, she must accept discipline, stretching and correction in the Lord.
God’s desire to shape us into women who can endure difficult seasons reveals His deep love for us, and His commitment to see us grow. Though it sometimes doesn’t feel like it, this refining work is designed to bring us great hope so that no matter what is thrown at us, we can say with confidence: It is well with my soul…
For I know that my Redeemer lives, And He shall stand at last on the earth (Job 19:25).