There is a huge movement in Christian circles that focuses on prosperity and ease in the Christian life. The prosperity message soothes people’s minds with the message that God wants them to have a life of ease. The prosperity message teaches that people can create a life of good health, money and material possessions with just belief and by claiming certain scriptures.
Sure, it is tempting to chase after that kind of life when there are hardships in our lives. No one likes to experience physical and/or emotional pain. Whether it’s a child gone astray or struggling, financial hardships, a troubled marriage or other relationship, who wouldn’t want their problems to disappear and everything to go smoothly? Who wouldn’t want good health, lots of money and nice houses and cars?
That desire has been put in each of us because that is actually us longing for heaven. We are citizens of another country and when we get to heaven all the trouble will be gone! This life here on earth isn’t meant to be that way, however. If we are going to survive the hard times, we need to understand this fact.
Peppered throughout scripture are examples of how difficult life will be. Some of those scriptures, the story of Job for example, even show us that God allows the painful, hard and difficult things into our lives. To strive for the easy here on earth, then, is pointless. The question then is this: “How do we survive the hard times?”
Make no mistake. Nothing happens without a purpose. God is absolutely sovereign and in control. The Bible actually has some advice for surviving the difficult times. In Isaiah, we read that God is a stronghold to the poor and the needy in distress. We see the picture of our trials being compared to heat. The Lord is called our shelter like a cloud that offers relief from the hot sun.
For you have been a stronghold to the poor, a stronghold to the needy in his distress, a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat; for the breath of the ruthless is like a storm against a wall, like heat in a dry place. You subdue the noise of the foreigners; as heat by the shade of a cloud, so the song of the ruthless is put down.
A little further on in chapter 25, Isaiah gives a glimpse into how the people made it through the hard times. He tells us that they waited on the Lord.
It will be said on that day, “Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us. This is the LORD; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.”
-Isaiah 25: 9
We won’t escape the hard things in life. In fact, Peter tells us in 1 Peter that we will for sure have struggles and it is because of our faith. That is the exact opposite of what our culture preaches today. In fact, 1 Peter 2: 20-21 tells us that Christ’s life is an example for us so that we know how to struggle. We need to stop chasing after the life that the prosperity message tempts us with and start leaning into the hard times. The hard times are actually more in line with scripture and our calling as Christians.
For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.
1 Peter 2:21
Yes, we are called to walk the hard road. The hard road will grow us in our faith, change us to be more like Christ, and bring unbelievers to a saving faith in the Lord. Isaiah tells us that the key to surviving the hard times in life is waiting on the Lord.
Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength.
Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted;
but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint.
The word wait in Hebrew that is used in these passages means to look for, hope, and expect. In other words, through the trials and difficulties, we need to keep our eyes on Jesus. We need to fully trust His plan for our lives through both the good and in the hard times. Our bodies and hearts were made for heaven and that desire has been placed in our hearts. Instead of striving to make heaven here on earth, we need to keep the perspective that God will safely get us there one day. In the meantime, we need to focus on what He has for us to do here on earth while we are journeying home to Heaven.
Our work is in the hard times. The blessings are actually in the hard things. So keep on keeping on. Embrace the hard and keep your eyes on Jesus. God will one day right all the wrongs and banish pain and tears forever. We are right to long for that time and expectantly wait for that day. That waiting will give us strength and provide the right perspective for our day-to-day especially through the hard times in our lives.
So how do we survive the hard times? We wait on the Lord and trust His plan. We seek to do His will and focus on living out the purpose for which we have been created and called.
Next time we will unpack how to renew our mind and what that means, but for now, here’s to renewed strength today!