Hardships come in different forms and levels of intensity. For many, such times raise questions that refuse to go away or be ignored. Depending upon the severity, minds scream and run wild with unanswered questions of … Why is this happening? Who caused this? And why me?
Hardships have no limits. They come regardless of who you are – Christian or non-Christian. Jesus taught in Matthew 5:45 that God “sends rain on the just and unjust alike.” There are things we can and should do to prevent certain types of hardships, but the truth of life is that we all will experience them, writes Ron Wagley, author of Finding Strength in Tough Times.
There may be times in the midst of a crisis when God appears to be distant. However, Scripture assures us that He is ever-present and responds to our searching and coming to Him.
Psalm 46:1 reminds us, “God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble.” When everything around us appears to be crashing, that may be the very time for stillness, solitude and a seeking heart all of which enable God, through his word, to speak and assure us of his presence and promises.
As Christians, how we view and respond to adversity ought to be different from the world’s response. A large part of that difference is our faith that should be based solely upon Biblical truth. Our faithful endurance brings honor to God and may be used as a witness to others about God’s sufficient provision.
We may be tempted during hardships to complain and react like the world. However, we are assured in I Corinthians 10:12-13, “And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, He will show you a way out so that you can endure.”
No doubt, there are times when God provides deliverance, but we should not miss seeing each difficult situation as a means to grow our endurance. The Apostle Paul emphasizes the joy that comes from endurance: “For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 13:9-10) Such a statement only makes sense when understanding the benefits of a strong and growing faith in God’s provision for enduring.
God is purposeful and wastes no experience. This doesn’t necessarily mean that He causes or orchestrates each and every crisis. In His omniscience, He is never surprised and knows precisely every detail of our lives, but to say He is then responsible for all the bad in the world is simply untrue. The question then arises: Where does this stuff come from? What are the sources of hardship?
And, how might God use adversity and tough times for His good in our lives? As offered throughout the Bible, there are seven possible sources of hardships. 1. Life’s troubles in this fallen world; 2. Suffering for Christ; 3. Discipline of God; 4. Training in godliness; 5. The cost of discipleship and following Christ; 6. The consequences of bad or foolish decisions and actions; and 7. The judgment of God
We should be aware of each of these possibilities so that we may more easily discern what is or isn’t God’s activity. Times of hardship should prompt us to examine our lives and to be sensitive to what God may be trying to teach us. Regardless, God will use the results to accomplish His good and His purpose.
God often mistakenly is blamed for a variety of negative events under the pretext that everything that happens is His will. As Ron Wagley explains in his Finding Strength in Tough Times, this is understandable and comes from acknowledging God’s sovereignty and power to mean that every event in the world, good or bad, is His desire or will.
Obviously in God’s omniscience there are no surprises. He knows well what is happening now and what will happen in the future. In addition, His omnipotence certainly enables Him to control or to intervene as He chooses.
However, such foreknowledge and power does not give us license to blame or accuse God for every negative catastrophe or hardship and simply conclude that all are His will. It is true that God has, can and may send adversity and various trials, but hardships and suffering may find their source in a number of different causes.
It’s important to be reminded that God did not create puppets, but instead gave humans the ability to choose. Therefore, if God were to eliminate all that is “bad” then either our ability to choose must be limited or taken away, or the results of sinning must be removed.
Since God isn’t going to take away our right to make our own choices, wouldn’t it be great if all our decisions were good, pleasing and perfect in God’s eyes? The Bible tells us that if we allow God to transform us and change the way we think, then we can begin to make choices that Scripture describes as good, pleasing, and perfect. What a wonderful goal for all Christians particularly during trying times.
God is at work within us to accomplish His purposes. But many of life’s hardships are brought about by our own foolish or bad choices.
The life-long process of transformation and growing as a follower of Christ should be a priority. Positive growth results in changing the way we think so that we are able to make godly decisions. How? Ask Him to help you. He will.
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