Bad circumstances, bad people and bad news make me want it. The more I survey the landscape of the sinfulness and brokenness we are all a part of, I look forward to our eternal heavenly home that Jesus is preparing for us so we can be with Him forever. A place where there will be no more sorrow, suffering or sin. A place where bad things will be eliminated, good things will be perfected and the best things will be unveiled. Our citizenship is in heaven, and God has put a longing in us for our homeland. When it’s hard here, let’s take heart and remember: He is preparing a place for us, and preparing us for a place.
God is at work… Through every trial and trouble. Through every problem and perplexity. Through every heartache and hardship. What is God doing during these times? He’s teaching you to look to Jesus, and transforming you to look like Him. When you face adversity, don’t give up hope, because God hasn’t given up on you. You may feel like everything is falling apart, but He’s actually putting you back together again so you can feel, think, speak and act like the person you were born to be. When you look back, you’ll find this to be true: your circumstances may not have changed, but you certainly have.
Like a thousand-piece puzzle, your life often looks like a jumble of disjointed and disconnected fragments that don’t seem to fit together very well. But God is putting everything into place exactly where He wants it so you can be who you were made to be and do what you were made to do. He has a good reason for and a good result from everything He allows to come into your life. Someday all will make sense, all will be made right, and all will be made new when He completes the good work He has started in you. Take heart! When the last puzzle piece is put into place, you will see what God has been seeing all along.
Christians should count the various trials in our lives as joy. Not as defeat. Not as pleasant. Not as punishment. Not as meaningless. Not as insignificant. Not as a reason to complain. Not as a lack of God’s care. Trials can be many things, but they cannot be joy-stealers unless we let them. While it may feel like trials are breaking you today, you can be sure that God is building you up through them in ways that are going to be amazingly good in the days to come. Your faith muscle becoming stronger. Your deliverance becoming sooner. Your witness becoming louder. Your homecoming becoming sweeter.
Darkness isn’t just the time between dusk and dawn; it’s also any time you are facing the unknown. This is especially true of those seasons of suffering when the light at the end of your tunnel is nowhere to be seen. It is during those times that you must not give up hope. For even on those dark days when you can’t see what is up next, what step to take next or how anything good will come next, hope remains. Jesus is still there and Jesus still cares! Ask Him to give you the faith and inner strength that is needed to endure. And though the outer darkness may yet linger, the Son will rise and shine His light in your heart.
Let’s be honest about something: oftentimes our lives are a mess. Busted. Bruised. Broken. Things don’t work out like we hoped they would no matter how hard we work at things. In times like these, let us not lose heart! This is our hope in Jesus: the best is yet to come. Let us believe it, expect it, anticipate it and await it to come true because Jesus said it’s true. Let us watch for the daily doses of His grace to appear when we need them. And let us regard the eternal pleasure of heaven with Him as something wonderful on the calendar that is certain to come at the appointed time. Because it is. Because it will.
Others need us to point them to where they can go for help in hardships. Others need to believe us because they see us going there ourselves. The people in our lives need to see us suffer well, handling hardships with hope because we have Jesus in our lives. They need to see and hear our joy-filled, hope-filled, peace-filled confidence in this: He will get us through every test, trial and tribulation until He gets us home. As we walk through seasons of suffering, let us testify to the faithfulness of Jesus in walking with us so others can know, that because grace is available, they never have to walk alone either.
Do you know what your failure is for? It has a purpose, and that purpose is to help you succeed. Not just so you’ll try harder next time. Not just so you’ll be wiser next time. Not just so you’ll do better next time. But rather so you will rely more fully on Jesus next time. His strength. His guidance. His way. His plan. His timing. His help. The right response to failure is faith, for every person who turns to and trusts in Jesus will win in the end. Remember this when you find yourself coming up short: Futility and frustration are intended to move you away from self-reliance to Savior-reliance. And that move is always for the better.
Jesus is not only a doer of good to you, He is also an un-doer of bad done to you by people. They hurt your heart; He heals it. They distance themselves; He draws near. They sting you with their words; He soothes you with His. They overlook you; He pays attention. They cheat you; He blesses you. They intend you harm; He works it out for good. They judge your sins; He dies for them. We all do each other wrong, but Jesus begins to make things right in us when we turn to Him, and He will someday make things right in all of creation. Until then, let us seek His grace when others wrong us and when we wrong others.
There is often a tension between belief and doubt when things become difficult. It would be plausible to lose hope and lose heart when facing things that are too much for us to handle if we were forced to handle them alone. But Jesus has promised to never leave us alone, always supplying the grace we need for the needs we face. The more we trust in Him, the more we will rely on Him during the unexpected, uncertain and unpleasant difficulties of this broken world. He will work it out for good as we work out His purposes for us. With faith all things are not made easy. With faith all things are made possible.
Remember this as you follow Jesus in faith: it’s not what happens to us that is of greatest importance, but rather the end result of what happens. Things often won’t go as we plan, things often won’t work out like we hope, and things often won’t be as simple or easy or comfy as we would like. But in the hands and plans of God, our struggles are not setbacks. They are stepping stones to the good result He has in mind. So… Don’t stop believing. Don’t stop proceeding. Something good is coming even if you don’t yet see it. Take heart! Things would look much better if we could see them not as they are, but as they will be.