In this life, there will always be stress, sorrow, trials and adversity. What I’ve learnt recently, is no matter how happy someone looks on social media (which is really their highlight reel), everyone has problems, big or small.
In John 16:33, Jesus says “In this world you will have trouble”. Some translations have it as “Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows.” Sometimes, these episodes are brief, but sometimes they drag on, interminably.
Recently, it dawned on me that the best way to cope, is actually to look beyond my own problems, and focus on God instead.
The things that plague me, are nothing unexpected in this fallen world. It is too easy to wallow in them, fixate on them and thus get further discouraged and cascade downwards into a negative depressive spiral.
But what I need to do is to get up, dust myself off, and keep moving through adversity, all the while focusing on my Lord Jesus Christ, and seeking to fulfill His kingdom purposes.
He did not promise that He will always remove all our problems with a wave of some wand, but He gave us these words of succour. Isaiah 41:10 says:
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.
When things seem too hard to bear, perhaps what we need to do, is to try our best to face the trials and sorrows, after seeking His direction through prayer, and the wise counsel of fellow saints. And then, perhaps just leave the rest in His sovereign hands.
Will we choose today to see our adversity as something that will eventually make us stronger and more equipped to help others? A word of encouragement is always more effective when others know that we have walked through the exact same situation before.
Trials and sorrows can be positive and we need not keep wondering ‘why me?’ or ‘why are all these things happening at the same time?’
At the same time, we should be firm in self-care, and make sure that we are anchored well enough in our faith and in our own health, before we expend ourselves in tackling difficult problems or giving of ourselves to those who need us.
It was this rainbow, clear and stretching end-to-end, after a particularly heavy-hearted day that really lifted my spirits. It reminded me that God knows, God sees, and God cares deeply, more deeply than I can imagine.
After all, since He has given us everything we need by the gift of His Son for our salvation, we should not doubt His providential love for his children.
I was comforted, and recalled the story of Footprints – although it may sound overly sentimental, it does paint a vivid picture of the deep mercy and compassion of our Lord Jesus. At the toughest times, He doesn’t abandon us. He carries us. And thus we can carry on, for His Glory, because our Lord fortifies us.
So perhaps the purpose of a long draggy season of personal trial is to train us up to be able to stand up under it. To testify of God’s goodness. To help us strengthen other saints, so that we may stand as a royal priesthood, a chosen people, shining for Him, eager to do what is good. And for us to yearn more deeply for the Eternal Rest, where we will meet Him face to face, where there is everlasting joy.