Updated: Oct 1, 2020
“We must accept finite disappointment, but we must never lose infinite hope” Martin Luther King Jr.
The bible promises us tough times. See John 16:33, Ephesians 6:12, 2 Corinthians 4:8.
Tough times differ from person to person.
I’ve heard tough times defined in three categories:
· Self-imposed, where our actions caused the tough times. You did something that off set the tough times; you cheated on your spouse, you misused funds or took money, you gambled away your family finances, you made bad financial decisions, you hang with the wrong crowd etc.
· Other imposed: e.g. You spouse was unfaithful, your child is an addict, your boss is unbalanced etc.
· Life imposed: Because we live in a fallen world: You have been diagnosed with cancer, you are fired due to downsizing, .
Philippians 4:6-7 provides 6 steps to navigate tough times.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. NIV
When you are going through
1. Do not be anxious: The first thing the Bible advises is not what you should do but what you should not do. DO NOT BE ANXIOUS. Why? The Lord knows that the most natural response for us is to fear, worry and be anxious. See Isaiah 41:10
How do you not be anxious?
i. Sing hymns, psalms and spiritual songs. Make music to the Lord. (Ephesians 5:9)
ii. Keep doing the normal activities. Brush your teeth, you’re your face, check in with friends, go to a party when invited, go to church. Do not grow weary of doing good. (Galatians 6:9)
iii. Affirm yourself: I will not be anxious, God is on my side, God is working this out, nothing is impossible with God. I will say of the lord…, you are my refuge… (Psalm 91:2).
a) Luke 22:31-32. Pray that your faith will not fail.
When Jesus was about to be crucified, He told Peter, the enemy has asked to sift you, But I HAVE PRAYED FOR YOU that your faith will not fail. Peter was about to enter the toughest time in his life and walk with the Lord. What did Jesus say? I have prayed for you.
In tough times learn to pray for yourself. That your faith will not fail, that you will not be overwhelmed, that you will be strong in the Lord
b) Mathew 26:41: Pray that you will not fall into temptation. Jesus was telling the disciples, something difficult, tough, unbearable is about to happen. Pray that you will not fall into temptation.
Even Jesus utilized prayer in his tough times, you can employ prayer to take you through.
3. Ask God what you need:
Petition and supplication are critical. What do you want God to do in this situation? What results would you prefer?
Sometimes we go to God and cry. He loves us so he comforts us but in order to do something you have to ask for something. During tough times, you need to ask God what you want him to do with this situation.
Lord I need you to heal my body, mend my broken heart, provide a job for me, convict my spouse of sin etc.
What do you need God to do? Ask him and He will do it.
Now someone may say but you said we pray; now you are saying we ask.
Yes, you were praying for your faith and a guarding of your spirit.
But you petition and supplicate for your physical need.
Petition for a tangible reality that you want out of this situation.
4. Give thanks:
It so easy to get caught up in what’s going wrong that you forget that
Why do we give thanks in tough times?
a. Even with what’s going on, you are alive, you have food, a roof over your head. God has continued to provide his presence with you
b. It could be worse: Someone out there would like to have your trial. It’s not as bad as it could be.
c. No matter what happens; God is working out everything for your good.
5. Embrace God’s peace. As you go through, God will send you a sermon, a phone call, a friend to encourage you, a comforting read. All these if you would embrace them will give you peace of mind. You have to find Gods rest. Your mind cannot be filled with what’s not going well but what God is working in the situation. See to it that you keep at peace (See Isaiah 26:3). You have to stay your mind on God, his love, his presence, his power. If you don’t. You will go crazy. If you are battling with cancer, every visit solicits a different report. This can eat up on your peace, looking for a job, taking interviews, hearing back and they say “not this time” can take away your peace. You are in the middle of a divorce you don’t want, your partner calls to say they have moved out and taken all their things, can eat away your peace.
6. Guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus:
The biggest targets for tough times are our hearts and our minds. Think of a guard Dog, what does a guard dog do: It secures precious property.
In the same way: you have to secure your heart and your mind jealously.
a. The peace of God is one way.
b. The company you keep: See yourself as a patient. There are toxic people that will not feed your soul. Avoid nay Sayers, gossipers, whisperers, connivers, those that do not wish you well. Stay away. They will only serve to damage your heart.
c. The places you go: Keep away from some places; if you battling addiction avoid bars, drug supply corners, prostitute alleys, some meetings and ceremonies. If the whole family is going to be asking you about your addicted son, avoid it or give them a heads up I am not ready for the conversation. Etc.
These are the ways that scripture provides for us to navigate tough times. Utilize them and try them. They always work. I am looking forward to hearing how God is used them to keep you sane even as you are going through..