Sometimes life is difficult. We all face hurt in some form or another over the course of our lives. Be it bereavement, be it health problems, or be it a plethora of other options. We all face difficult times at one point or another in our lives. The question is what does God’s Word say about this?
This is what we’re going to look at in today’s article. This is a very real issue for people, so my aim as I write this is to unpack this issue both Biblically and sensitively.
I am no stranger to this, I have lost several family members over the years, most recently my grandmother who passed away in March, this is something I’m still struggling with almost four months later. This week as well has seen us have to put down our dog Beth, who we’ve had for almost 16 years. And I haven’t mentioned the other bereavements we’ve faced as a family over the years. That’s just bereavement, I haven’t raised the other hurt that I’ve faced in life, including the 12 years of bullying I faced during my primary and secondary school years. So, life hasn’t exactly been easy for me, however, I have learnt in my walk with the Lord that He is a strong fortress. One in whom we can trust and gain strength from when we need it the most.
So let’s take a look at what the Bible has to say on this subject.
God With Us
You may remember the Christmas story. Mary and Joseph are engaged, they’re due to be married, then one day an angel appears to Mary (and later Joseph) telling her she is going to give birth to a son. That son is to be named Emmanuel, meaning God with us.
This is not a new statement, Isaiah prophesied long before this event ever took place that a virgin would give birth to a son and he would be named Emmanuel (Isaiah 7:14). However, later in the book of Isaiah, we read this statement which sheds some light on what we’re discussing today:
“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” ~ Isaiah 41:10 (ESV)
This verse is telling us that we don’t have to be afraid, for God is with us. We don’t have to be distressed or concerned because God will both help and strengthen us. This verse also tells us that God will uphold us with His righteous right hand, this is a picture of God propping us up when we can’t stand in our own strength. This is an amazing promise. God is with us, and He will give us the strength we need to face each and every day.
It reminds me of the words of the song Because He Lives (written in 1971). Where the chorus states this:
Because He lives, I can face tomorrow.
Because He lives, all fear is gone.
Because I know He holds the future.
And life is worth the living, just because He lives.
Growing a Genuine Faith That Glorifies God
We often hear the question of what is genuine faith? There are many answers we could give to explain this, but at its very heart is a devotion to God that is firm like that of the wise man who built his house upon the rock. In that illustration the rock is Jesus. This genuine faith is a faith that does not waver when things get a bit stormy, it stands firm when life is hard.
“In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” ~ 1 Peter 1:6-7 (ESV)
This genuine faith is designed to bring God glory. After all, we are to seek God first, and all of our needs will be met (Matthew 6:33). But notice what the verses in 1 Peter 1 say, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith may be found to result in praise and glory of Jesus Christ. This is a key statement, we will go through these trials, these hardships to allow us to give God all the glory. It’s suggesting that we will go through these to grow a learnt reliance and love for God.
What Should Our Response Be?
As we close, let’s ask ourselves a very important question. What should our response be? We’ve only skimmed the surface of why we go through the trials that we go through. But in terms of how we use these situations to bring glory to God, how do we do that exactly? Here’s an idea:
“The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.” ~ Psalm 28:7 (ESV)
This verse once again highlights that the Lord is our strength and our shield, a familiar theme in the Psalms. However, this verse includes a little bit of give and take, or more appropriately an act and response, with God doing the acting and us doing the responding.
It starts with God acting as our strength and then moves on to us trusting in Him. God then helps us, and we then exalt Him (give Him glory) and then sing to Him, giving thanks along the way. So what does this teach us about how we are to operate in hard times?
I think it is simply this, we need to trust in God, and we need to do so actively, that means it’s a choice. Trusting in God during the tough times may not be the easy thing to do. But we are to do it just the same. We are also to give thanks to Him, meaning that even if we don’t get what’s going on, we need to sing His praises and thank God for whatever He is up to. Remembering all the while that God works for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28).