Tondu, it’s interesting that you asked me to write to you about life in the hard times. I read through Psalm 63 this morning in my devotions and it is about exactly that. Life when things get hard. In fact, it seems a lot of the psalms I’ve read are about that. Life seems to give us more hard times than we ever hope for.
Jesus’s brother, James, writes his book to people who are scattered – to people who are facing hard times. I think the first thing he tells us is that:
- We should orient our heart toward joy when life gets hard: Why? James says in 1:3-4 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters (that includes you and me), whenever you face trials (or testing or challenges) of many kinds, because you know (this is a certainty) that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. (He says there’s a purpose for what we’re going through – it’s not that we’re being punished or abandoned or ignored). Our faith muscle is being exercised to make it stronger. He continues “Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” He says God is helping you to grow up into maturity. To realize that even though your circumstances seem out of control that God is still fully in control, still as good as he ever was in the good times, and still loving on you.
- We should orient our heart toward hope when life gets hard: Why? Paul says in Romans 5:1-5 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith (we’ve been made right with God in what really matters), we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, (he’s already done everything necessary to secure our relationship with God and it isn’t our performance or goodness that keeps us in relationship with God), “through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. (there it is). “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance (sound familiar?); perseverance, character; (oh, so there’s more to this hard life) “and character, hope.” (That’s what we want when it gets hard: hope! There’s a process to get to hope so we hang on and trust God to get us there.
- We should orient our heart toward purity when life gets hard: Why? Peter says in I Peter 4:1-6 “Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude (if he suffered and you claim to be his follower why expect something different?). “because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin. (when you see what sin does you don’t want any part of it- you want life without regrets and that can be hard to get to). “As a result, they do not live the rest of their earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God. For you have spend enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do – living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry. (maybe you haven’t got this kind of a sin list in your past but whatever is on your list – you don’t want anymore consequences from that.) “They are surprised that you do not join them in their reckless, wild living, and they heap abuse on you. (can you identify with any of this?) But they will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. (That’s why we choose purity – we have to give an account to God for what we’ve done in this body he gave us as a gift.) “For this reason the gospel was preached even to those who are now dead, so that they might be judged according to human standards in regard to the body, but live according to God in regard to the spirit.”
The enemy will tempt you in all three areas. He wants you to give up your joy, your hope and your purity. When you fall or fail then reorient your heart toward joy, hope and purity again and let the hard times have their way in molding you into maturity and faith. I could also say, orient your heart toward peace, toward faith, toward life, toward goodness. There are so many verses to support these things as well.
That’s a good start for now.
– Pastor Jack