Life is flat-out hard sometimes. Stuff happens when we least expect it, and it can send us into a tailspin or drive us to our knees.
Sometimes that stuff lingers much longer than we’d like. We tie a knot and hang on for dear life, but fear threatens to slip our grip.
I’ve experienced “stuff”—like when our daughter was born with hydrocephalus and had to undergo nearly a dozen surgeries within her first two years. And when my dad died when I was overseas and I couldn’t return for his funeral. And when we’ve faced financial stress as missionaries depending on others’ donations to keep us in ministry. And when I lost my mobility for three months. And when I purged my house last year and moved into a boat and a culture much different than anything familiar.
I could tell many stories about the tough stuff I’ve experienced. I suspect that, if everyone reading this blog pooled their stories, we could fill a book. Or two. Or more.
So what’s the key to surviving these seasons when they come? Here are three things to remember:
• God is with us.
Joseph was betrayed by his brothers, sold into slavery, falsely accused of sexual assault, and forgotten in prison. Talk about having to deal with hard stuff! I wonder if he sometimes felt like God had turned His back on him. Nonetheless, Scripture says that God was with him (Genesis 39:2,3,21,23).
The enemy will try to convince you that God has abandoned you, but don’t fall for the lie. God has not changed. His faithfulness remains the same, therefore, rest assured that He is with you as you deal with difficulty. He will never leave you or forsake you.
• Our trials are temporary.
Joseph’s hardships lasted about 14 years. Some of you might think that’s a long time, but others might think, If only mine were so short-lived. No matter the length of time our difficulties stay, it’s easy to lose sight of the truth when we’re in the middle of the mess. The truth is – our trials will not last forever (2 Corinthians 4:17).
Joseph’s hardships lasted until “the time came for [the LORD] to fulfill his word (Psalm 105:19). Ours, too, will end at just the right time. So, again—be encouraged. This too shall pass. We might not know when they’ll end or what the process will look like enroute, but they will not last forever.
• Our trials are part of a picture that’s bigger than the one we see at this time.
Joseph’s hardships were divinely designed. Psalm 105:17,18 say, “Then he [God] sent someone to Egypt ahead of them—Joseph, who was sold as a slave. There in prison, they bruised his feet with fetters and put his neck in an iron collar. Until the time came to fulfill his word, the LORD tested Joseph’s character.”
Why did God deem it necessary to test Joseph using these means? Because He purposed for Joseph to become second-in-command in Egypt. God wanted to prepare him for the task, and this was the best way to do so.
God has purposes yet unseen for our lives, too. Every one of the hardships we experience are part of the pruning and honing necessary to prepare us. They’re also designed to make us more like Jesus no matter what our destiny is (Romans 8:28,29).
“Father God, we don’t understand why certain hardships come our way. Truth be told, we would never choose them ourselves. But we belong to You, and we want Your highest purpose to be fulfilled in and through us. So when those hardships come, help us to remember that You’re with us, they’re temporary, and they’re part of a bigger picture than the one we see at this time. Help us to trust You with our pain and to allow You to accomplish Your good work. In Jesus’s name, amen.”
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