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We will all have to endure a hardship at some point in our lives. It may be small or great; long or short; life-altering or temporary. They are as varied from one another as there are people in this world. One commonality between them is that they are all hard! Nobody likes them! Would that we could go through life carefree and never have to deal with struggles, but that is not the way of the world. So we must learn to persevere, and even learn from the trials and tribulations of life. I have found six ways that help me endure a hardship with grace and come out on the other side a better person.
1. Feast on the Word
So that we can remember the promises of God. In the midst of the battle, it is easy to forget God’s goodness. We get caught up in our struggles and our unmet needs and desires. We get lost in the darkness of depression and forget the light of God. When we read the Scriptures, we see men and women who had similar struggles as us and God’s faithfulness to them. David, who was in hiding for years from a man who sought to kill him. Hannah, who struggled with infertility. Gideon, a man who was used by God despite his weak faith.
So we can trust God and not our feelings. Our feelings can lie to us. When things aren’t going our way, and we feel rotten inside, it’s easy to think the whole world is against us. We become paranoid and make big issues out of tiny things. We are tossed and turned with the rolling tide. But God is stable. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He is our Rock.
We need the Word to rightly fight temptation. Jesus was tempted by the devil in Matthew chapter four. He was in the wilderness for 40 days; during that time he ate nothing. He was hungry. He was tired. It would have been easy for his mind to play tricks on him. Three times the devil tempted him. Each time Jesus combated the temptation with scripture. Ephesians 6:17 calls the Bible our Sword; we need our Sword to rightly combat temptation, but if you don’t read it you can’t use it.
God speaks to us through His Word. In the Old Testament, God spoke to His people through visions and dreams. They didn’t have the scriptures yet. We now have a complete bible. It is God’s Word to us. And it is the primary way He chooses to speak to us.
2. Pray through the Psalms
The Psalms were written by men just like us. They had very real problems and very real joys. They trusted the Lord through the desert-times of their life and saw very real victories. When my heart is so full of distraught that I can’t pray aright, I go to the Psalms and let them lead my heart. One of my favorites that I come back to time and time again is Psalm 46. In verses 1-2 the Psalmist writes, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change and though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains quake at its swelling pride.” Then in verse 10, “Cease striving and know that I am God.” It is such an encouragement to me to know that God has it all under control! Psalm 56, 57, 61, 62, 63 are good ones to start with. Sometimes we need a little perspective, and reading the Psalms gives us that.
3. Pray for Others
When we are in the midst of a trial we tend to get pretty selfish in our prayers, asking the Lord to help us through our present situation. As a matter of fact, we tend to become pretty self-centered all around as our primary focus is on our problems and our worries. As far as we are concerned we have it worse than anyone else and no one else has problems like us.
However, when we take a step back and look at the world as a whole and not just our tiny part we see that this is entirely untrue. When we focus our prayer time on other people and their needs then we are able to be more realistic about how our problems relate to the bigger picture. We get pulled out of our self-centered focus and remember the rest of God’s children.
Once a month I go a women’s prayer meeting and bible study, and I always leave with a fresh perspective of the issues I am dealing with. Not because we prayed for them as a group (which we did) but because of everyone else we prayed for! I’m reminded that I’m not the only person who is dealing with hard things; just because another person’s trial looks different than mine doesn’t mean it’s not just as hard! The word of God tells us to pray for others, don’t rob yourself of the blessings of obedience.
4. Seek to Minister to the Needs of
We have been reminded that we are not the only ones with problems and needs, and while praying for them is a great start, we should not stop there. God intends for the Church to help one another. We are to: bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2), regard one another as more important than ourselves (Philippians 2:3), encourage and build up one another (1 Thessalonians 5:11), and fervently love one another from the heart (1 Peter 1:22) among other things.
Matthew 6:33 says to “seek first the kingdom of God and all these things (food, clothing, basic needs) will be added to you.” That has been a life-verse for me. When I focus on those things God has called me to do and the people He has asked me to help then I can trust He is going to take care of me.
5. Remember God’s Blessings in your Life — Right Now!
In other words, be thankful. Give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Not just when things are going right; not just when we feel like it. Always. I am thankful for the hard situations I have gone through, not because I enjoyed them, but rather because they have made me the person I am today. God has used all the things in my life, good and bad, to carve out the yuck and ugliness that was part of my character and make me more like Him.
6. Remember, there is hope!
You may feel as if you are in the bottom of the deepest valley and see no end in sight; no way out. It’s at these times we have to be diligent to remind ourselves that this is not the end; God has not left us here to die. It is during these times that I am reminded of verses that speak of God’s ever presence in my life. Some of these are:
For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:6)
I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you. (Hebrews 13:5)
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and staff comfort me. (Psalm 23:4)
Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God. Psalm 42:11
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