Hold on. Stay steady. Don’t quit. God is for you.

What to Do in Difficult and Trying Times

by Selenia Vera
1/16/20 Christian Living

Some of the most impactful spiritual lessons I have ever learned when I’ve faced challenging and difficult times is when I have continually and consistently applied, these five simple truths listed here. I have found that these truth lessons about who Jesus is really do win the argument in the negative situations I may be facing. I have also found that most, if not all, challenges I face have an underlying goal—to skew my perception of God’s righteousness, faithfulness, and love. But when I practice what I have learned, I find strength and renewed hope. And I believe it is this power that will carry me to the end.

We all have been told that reading the Scriptures and applying due diligence to the study and application of God’s Word in our everyday lives will move us into joy and fulfillment. I bet if I asked you if you could be like the Apostle Paul as he described himself in his letter to Timothy, you would agree that yes, that would be amazing. We all would. What did he write? Glad you asked. He wrote,

I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher. That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet this is no cause for shame, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day. (2 Timothy 1:11–12 NIV)

When we love and serve God, it is natural to desire to be anointed and appointed to herald His message—the message of a God who causes us to triumph over all. But then, at the first sign of trouble, for most of us, our faith often trembles, our focus gets diverted, and the issues we face start to overtake us. We try but typically fail at heralding triumph. I confess that I have been quick to forget who I am in Christ, what He says about Himself, His faithfulness, and His power to rescue me. Yes, failed (and miserably) at that. But as I grow in my spiritual walk, I find a go-to remedy—a balm of truths to remember when I face trials and difficulty. And it has made all the difference.

These five simple truth-filled lessons have changed my perspective of the problems I may be facing, aided me in how to pray when my faith is challenged, shaped my faith, and solidified my walk during hard and difficult seasons. I have come to know in whom I have believed in a new and powerful way. And yes, I am learning to say as Paul said, convincingly, that God “is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him.”

Before you glance down and assume you have read all this before, before you tap the delete button or, as in some social media cases, swipe left to remove this blog from your screen, I urge you take a moment to read and ponder. Allow the Holy Spirit to breathe life upon what you might otherwise consider “just another blog full of insipid platitudes.” I promise this is in no way a trite A-B-C or 1-2-3 method or solution. I realize that some of you who are reading this may be struggling with extremely difficult or painful situations. And this is in no way intending to minimize sorrow or pain. These suggestions or lessons listed here may not solve your problems or make them disappear; they will, if allowed, anchor you to the God of hope. And hope does not disappoint (Romans 5:5).

Lesson 1
You Are Never Alone

Have you ever wondered why the Lord says, “I will never leave you or forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5) but does also say, “You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13)? I have.

If He will never leave me, why must I seek Him—especially in a difficult and trying time when I need Him most? Scriptures say He is a very present help in time of trouble (Psalm 46:1). I have asked what does “present help” look like. Here is what I have learned and applied in my prayer life and has made the difference: He promises to be near to the brokenhearted and the one crushed in spirit. God completely understands our prayers of desperation, our cries for relief. He hears, and He feels compassion towards us—”for we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses” (Hebrews 4:15).

However, I’d like to suggest that in our trials and difficult seasons perhaps there is an opportunity for us to seek Him and ask: “Lord, how are You revealing Yourself to me in this situation I’m facing? How are You being glorified in this trial?” I’d like to also suggest considering Jeremiah 29:13 in context, with the before and after scriptures. Verse 11 says, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” He has thoughts about each and every one of us, our situations, our future. And they are good, full of peace, and intended to give us hope. When we cannot see during our difficult challenges is when we most need God to share His purposes with us. Verses 12–14 continue, “Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.  And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. And I will be found by you, says the Lord.” We have this promise of “finding Him” right in those moments when we can’t see how He could possibly be glorified in what we are facing.

Many would say, “But I am seeking Him; I am praying for a miracle, for deliverance, for provision, for healing, etc.” I say to continue to do so but in addition to try these aforementioned questions. You will find Him in a way that will encourage, strengthen, and empower you to move forward.

Lesson 2
Remember What You Know

Psalm 77 portrays precisely the conflict of the psalmist’s heart as he faced trial and tribulation. When his circumstances threaten to convince him that God has forgotten him, the psalmist articulates exactly what each one of us does in our propensity to forget God’s goodness and miracles. It’s as though the Psalm conveys that the real battle is to obliterate God’s righteous goodness from our memory forever.

But wait! There’s more. The Psalmist makes a choice in verse 11: “I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember Your miracles of long ago” (NIV). And by the time he finishes writing, not only has he encouraged himself through remembrance of the Lord’s great goodness but he is now exalting the magnificent power of our God!

Another example of this is found in the book of Exodus chapters 14–16. In just a few chapters, we see the Israelites delivered from slavery, brought through the Red Sea, and before you know it, they are grumbling about not having food to eat! The Israelites used to build altars of memorial. We write it down. Yes, the best way of remembering God’s faithfulness is to record it, write it down, refer to it, and share it with others.

Let us not forget. May we be people who fight against every difficulty with the God-given gift of remembering.

My friend, we have to figuratively park in the camp of past memorials where the goodness of God was manifested on our behalf—how He healed, provided for, kept, and sustained us. In trying and testing times it can be easy for our attention and focus to be removed off of God and unto the problem we face. We can be overcome by the distractions of the issues. I’ll admit I am likely first in line when it comes to being completely centered on Jesus but in challenging times. However, I hold on to this truth. I force myself, strain if need be, to see that my mind and heart remember Him. And it works!

Lesson 3
Choose Gratitude

It has been said (tweeted and posted) that to be thankful is to be grateful, and to be grateful is to be happy. But I submit to you that the Scriptures foretold this truth long ago. Because it is just that. Truth. “All the days of the afflicted are bad, but a cheerful heart has a continual feast” is what we read in Proverbs 15:15 (NASB). Consider the value of this scripture. It plainly lays out the difference between a miserable life and a wonderful life. We can choose the negative, bad feelings and live afflicted by them, or we can consider that a continual feast is an option, one that is within the reach of every believer.

When the Scriptures say in Psalm 23:5, “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies,” I believe it talks about God imparting to us the thankful, grateful, and cheerful attributes of His own nature. You see, when we choose gratefulness and express it in our worship, the happiness and kindness of our happy God are measured to us and become our portion. We can have as many helpings as we desire.

And this joyful feast satisfies us and sustains us in hardship. It is served right before the eyes of our enemy, and he can do nothing about it—except hate it and retreat far away for it renders him useless and of no effect in our lives.

Lesson 4
Pray for Others

There is an excellent example in Scriptures of what we often call “intercessory prayer”—praying for someone other than ourselves. We find this example in the life of Job when the Lord restores the fortunes of Job after he prays for his friends (see Job 42:7–10 RSV).

One thing we see in that passage is the example of a man interceding on behalf of his friends and God taking it very seriously. But the most significant of all is that Job was not yet healed nor restored when he prayed. This passage is helpful in understanding the power of intercession for others and is setting an example for us to take during our own hardships.

I have experienced times when I have been under tremendous pressure, depressed, overwhelmed, exhausted and someone prayed for me. This steadied me, strengthened me, upheld me, and enabled me. Likewise, there have been times when I have been privileged to pray for others who were in need. And when I have done this, I have found it to be like a medicine for my own soul, because praying for others has been an effectual tool that has kept me from being focused on myself.

What could transpire if we all took the same posture as Job? Job’s actions of praying for his friends in this story are remarkable—to not only be able to take his focus off of himself but to do it in humility, willingly, and obediently is a tried and true lesson for all of us indeed.

Lesson 5
Proclaim It on the Rooftops

I don’t know much, but one thing I do know: I was blind and now I see (John 9:25, paraphrased). In other words, I don’t care what you think, I don’t care what you believe, this is the irrefutable truth: I was blind and now I see, and Jesus Christ the Son of God is responsible for it! This man was facing the rage of the leaders of that day. He knew not what would ensue, yet he was sure of one thing: the way the miracle-working power of God had affected his life.

Talk about the Lord’s goodness with others. Share His Word, His promises, His miracles; the ones He has done for you, the ones you read about, the ones He has done for others, and the ones you are believing Him for! Talk about them, write about them, sing about them, shout them aloud—but whatever you do, make them known (Deuteronomy 11:18–20, paraphrased).

And lastly, because we overcome “by the blood of the Lamb and the word of [our] testimony” (Revelation 12:11), I believe the greatest battle we face in difficult and trying times is trying to avoid accusing God and living offended. Accusation and offense draw us away from Him. Perhaps practicing these simple steps in prayer and conversation might help us find our safe place hidden in God, under the shadow of His wings.

Hold on. Stay steady. Don’t quit. God is for you. May you find His grace to help in your time of trouble (Hebrews 4:16). May you experience God granting you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in your inner man (Ephesians 3:16).

 What are you currently experiencing that could use one of these five lessons?
The latest book from author Daniel Hoogteijling can be used to help you walk through life’s tougher moments knowing you’re loved by God and that He has hope and an answer for the challenges you face. 

Selenia Vera


    Selenia Vera resides in Kansas City and has been on staff with the International House of Prayer for more than a decade. She currently serves as the buyer/purchaser for the Forerunner Bookstore. You can visit her blog at seleniascribbles.blogspot.com.


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