Eight Things to Remember During Tough Times
June 14, 2023
Eight Things to Remember During Tough Times
Life often brings all of us sudden, unforeseen challenges.
Proverbs 4:23 (NLT)
Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.
I have learned that if we respond the right way, the challenge can make us better, not bitter.
The whole world is undergoing never before seen change right now. From politics to economics to family values to global war, we are in a web of challenges.
Life in the future may be a shadow of what the past looked like!
Here are 8 things we all need to be reminded of as we together believe God and stand until this passes.
1. We are not immune from hardship.
There are two kinds of suffering that Jesus endured:
Circumstantial and Substitutional.
There are two kinds of suffering mentioned in the New Testament. First there is the substitutionary suffering of Jesus on Calvary as He became our sin and sickness and defeated Satan for us. Because Jesus took our place, we need not remain in sin or sickness, for Jesus bore them both for us. We are freed from the penalty of sin, and healing is made available to us by faith in Jesus’ sacrifice. And we have been freed from this kind of suffering.
Jesus’ substitutional sufferings have immunized us from the effects of sin and sickness.
1 Peter 2:24 (Passion Translation)
He Himself carried our sins in His body on the cross so that we would be dead to sin and live for righteousness. Our instant healing flowed from His wounding.
Jesus became our sin and sickness so that we could be free from them!
The second kind of suffering is circumstantial suffering. Though Jesus went through tough circumstances, we are not immune from suffering for the cause of Christ. This kind of suffering stems from the persecution that we endure for our godly stand and lifestyle.
Jesus also endured circumstantial suffering, but we are not immune from tough times!
Matthew 5:10-12 (NLT)
God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right,
for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs. 11 “God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers. 12 Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way.
Paul told the young minister Timothy:
2 Timothy 3:12
Yes, and all who desire to live godly in ChristJesus will suffer persecution.
Again, he is not referring here to suffering with sickness, disease, accidents, and poverty, but with persecution from others because of a relentless, unwavering stand for Jesus.
In Philippians 3:10 Paul mentions the fellowship of His sufferings (circumstantial sufferings) in the context of having personal intimacy with Jesus.
Philippians 3:10 (NKJV)
That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death,
Acts 5:41 (NKJV)
So they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name.
1 Peter 4:15-16 (NKJV)
But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people’s matters. 16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter.
Are you willing to be persecuted?
Are you willing to put your reputation on the line for what you believe? In our post-christian culture, christians are being marginalized more and more. Is Jesus important enough for you and me that we are glad to suffer being mocked, ridiculed, and criticized for what we believe?
2. Our journey through life is often filled with hard places.
Hardship, tests, difficulties are part of living on earth.
John 16:33 (NLT)
I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.
John 16:33 (NKJV)
These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.
Greek 2347. θλίψις thlipsis; from 2346; pressure (literally or figuratively): — afflicted(-tion), anguish, burdened, persecution, tribulation, trouble.
Psalms 34:19 (NLT)
The righteous person faces many troubles, but the Lord comes to the rescue each time.
Psalms 34:19 (TPT)
Even when bad things happen to the good and godly ones, the Lord will save them and not let them be defeated by what they face.
It is what you do with the hard places that determines what life does to you.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (NLT)
All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. 4 He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.
2 Corinthians 1:8-9 (NLT)
We think you ought to know, dear brothers and sisters, about the trouble we went through in the province of Asia. We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. 9 In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead.
2 Corinthians 6:3-13 (NLT)
We live in such a way that no one will stumble because of us, and no one will find fault with our ministry. 4 In everything we do, we show that we are true ministers of God. We patiently endure troubles and hardships and calamities of every kind. 5 We have been beaten, been put in prison, faced angry mobs, worked to exhaustion, endured sleepless nights, and gone without food. 6 We prove ourselves by our purity, our understanding, our patience, our kindness, by the Holy Spirit within us, and by our sincere love. 7 We faithfully preach the truth. God’s power is working in us. We use the weapons of righteousness in the right hand for attack and the left hand for defense. 8 We serve God whether people honor us or despise us, whether they slander us or praise us. We are honest, but they call us impostors. 9 We are ignored, even though we are well known. We live close to death, but we are still alive. We have been beaten, but we have not been killed. 10 Our hearts ache, but we always have joy. We are poor, but we give spiritual riches to others. We own nothing, and yet we have everything. 11 Oh, dear Corinthian friends! We have spoken honestly with you, and our hearts are open to you. 12 There is no lack of love on our part, but you have withheld your love from us. 13 I am asking you to respond as if you were my own children. Open your hearts to us!
2 Corinthians 11:23-33 (NLT)
Are they servants of Christ? I know I sound like a madman, but I have served him far more! I have worked harder, been put in prison more often, been whipped times without number, and faced death again and again. 24 Five different times the Jewish leaders gave me thirty-nine lashes. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea. 26 I have traveled on many long journeys. I have faced danger from rivers and from robbers. I have faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles. I have faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on the seas. And I have faced danger from men who claim to be believers but are not. 27 I have worked hard and long, enduring many sleepless nights. I have been hungry and thirsty and have often gone without food. I have shivered in the cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm. 28 Then, besides all this, I have the daily burden of my concern for all the churches. 29 Who is weak without my feeling that weakness? Who is led astray, and I do not burn with anger? 30 If I must boast, I would rather boast about the things that show how weak I am. 31 God, the Father of our Lord Jesus, who is worthy of eternal praise, knows I am not lying. 32 When I was in Damascus, the governor under King Aretas kept guards at the city gates to catch me. 33 I had to be lowered in a basket through a window in the city wall to escape from him.
Hebrews 12:5-11 (NLT)
And have you forgotten the encouraging words God spoke to you as his children? He said,
“My child, don’t make light of the LORD’s discipline, and don’t give up when he corrects you. 6 For the LORD disciplines those he loves, and he punishes each one he accepts as his child.”
7 As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as his own children. Who ever heard of a child who is never disciplined by its father? 8 If God doesn’t discipline you as he does all of his children, it means that you are illegitimate and are not really his children at all. 9 Since we respected our earthly fathers who disciplined us, shouldn’t we submit even more to the discipline of the Father of our spirits, and live forever? 10 For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in his holiness. 11 No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.
1 Peter 1:6-7 (NLT)
So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. 7 These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.
1 Peter 4:1-2 (NLT)
So then, since Christ suffered physical pain, you must arm yourselves with the same attitude he had, and be ready to suffer, too. For if you have suffered physically for Christ, you have finished with sin. 2 You won’t spend the rest of your lives chasing your own desires, but you will be anxious to do the will of God.
1 Peter 4:12-19 (NLT)
Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. 13 Instead, be very glad—for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world. 14 If you are insulted because you bear the name of Christ, you will be blessed, for the glorious Spirit of God rests upon you. 15 If you suffer, however, it must not be for murder, stealing, making trouble, or prying into other people’s affairs. 16 But it is no shame to suffer for being a Christian. Praise God for the privilege of being called by his name! 17 For the time has come for judgment, and it must begin with God’s household. And if judgment begins with us, what terrible fate awaits those who have never obeyed God’s Good News? 18 And also, “If the righteous are barely saved, what will happen to godless sinners?”
19 So if you are suffering in a manner that pleases God, keep on doing what is right, and trust your lives to the God who created you, for he will never fail you.
3. Sometimes God allows us to go through a hard place!
Someone said that what life finds in you determines what life does to you.
God will sometimes allow your comfortable nest to be stirred.
You have seen what I did to the Egyptians and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Myself.
As an eagle stirs up its nest, hovers over its young, spreading out its wings, taking them up, carrying them on its wings, so the LORD alone led him, and there was no foreign god with him.
God took me out of my comfortable nest when I was 30 years old in 1988, and the lessons I have learned there I have carried through life…
Ministry was an idol…
I was a workaholic …I got personal self-worth only out of accomplishment.
It was a day when I came to the end of myself…
Pride was a deep issue…painting…
Whatever you need, God has just the place to help you overcome.
Jeus was led into a hard place.
Matthew 4:1 (NLT)
Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted there by the devil.
Matthew 4:1 (TPT)
Afterward, the Holy Spirit led Jesus into the lonely wilderness in order to reveal His strength against the accuser by going through the ordeal of testing.
Luke 4:1-2 (NLT)
Then Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan River. He was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, 2 where He was tempted by the devil for forty days. Jesus ate nothing all that time and became very hungry.
Luke 4:1-2 (TPT)
From the moment of His baptism, Jesus was overflowing with the Holy Spirit. He was taken by the Spirit from the Jordan into the lonely wilderness of Judea to experience the ordeal of testing by the accuser for forty days. He ate no food during this time and ended His forty-day fast very hungry.
Jesus was led on purpose by the Holy Spirit into a hard place.
God will sometimes lead us directly into a hard place, to give us opportunity to grow.
Great faith comes from great tests!
Faith comes by hearing the Word, but it must be developed in the circumstances of life.
***Hard places are God’s method of taking us to a deeper place of fellowship with Him.
Take advantage of the hard places!
**33 years ago, during one of the most challenging times I’ve ever had, I came to the point that I said, God, just to know you means more to me than anything else in life. I had put ministry in front of my fellowship with God…
The hard place took me deeper.
During this challenging time, ask yourself, am I seeking first the kingdom of God, or are my priorities out of place…
4. Our response determines what the tough times produce in us!
Don’t despise the hard places in life.
Hardening the heart when times are tough keeps God from doing what He wants to do.
Opportunity to change..
James 1:2 (Phillips)
When all kinds of trials and temptations crowd into your lives, my brothers, don’t resent them as intruders, but welcome them as friends! Realize that they come to test your faith and to produce in you quality of endurance. But let the process go on until that endurance is fully developed, and you will find you have become men of mature character, men of integrity with no weak spots.
Philippians 4:11 (A.S.Way)
I have learned in whatever condition I am, to be independent of circumstances. I am schooled to bear the depths of poverty, I am schooled to bear abundance. In life as a whole and all its circumstances, I have mastered the secret of living – How to be the same amidst repletion and starvation, amidst abundance and privation. I am equal to every lot through the help of Him who gives me inward strength.
God wants to teach us to be independent of our feelings and circumstances, and dependent on Him!
In tough times, we learn to look past what is happening now, and focus on what God has to say…
But He knows the way that I take; When He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold.
For You, O God, have tested us; You have refined us as silver is refined.
Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.
Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.
1 Peter 1:6-7
In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ,
1 Peter 4:12-13 (AMPC)
Beloved, do not be amazed and bewildered at the fiery ordeal which is taking place to test your quality, as though something strange (unusual and alien to you and your position) were befalling you. 13 But insofar as you are sharing Christ’s sufferings, rejoice, so that when His glory [full of radiance and splendor] is revealed, you may also rejoice with triumph [exultantly].
Then it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, “Lest perhaps the people change their minds when they see war, and return to Egypt.” 18 So God led the people around by way of the wilderness of the Red Sea. And the children of Israel went up in orderly ranks out of the land of Egypt.
Pressure reveals flaws…let the Father repair them!
Tests are opportunities to become spiritually strong.
5. God will help you overcome when the test is on!
Years ago God dealt with me about taking daily time to wait in His Presence and talk to Him about my struggles.
I had a huge pressure time when I was 30 or so, when I pioneered a church in a small SC town.
I wanted to give up. That would have been the easy way out, and God would not let me take the easy way.
He spoke very sternly to me one day as I was thinking about all my problems and seeing no way out.
He told me to GET UP! I took my Bible and went to my backyard, and as I walked under the 10 or so oak trees there, God gave me the following scriptures that really gave me hope and kept me from quitting.
We all need hope that things will improve when life is hard!
If all you see is the problems, you’re looking at the wrong things!
Psalm 27:5 (God’s Word)
He hides me in his shelter when there is trouble. He keeps me hidden in his tent. He sets me high on a rock.
Many are the afflictions of the righteous, But the LORD delivers him out of them all.
But the salvation of the righteous is from the LORD; He is their strength in the time of trouble. 40 And the LORD shall help them and deliver them; He shall deliver them from the wicked, And save them, Because they trust in Him.
Psalms 37:39-40 (TPT)
But the Lord will be the Savior of all who love him. Even in their time of trouble God will live in them as strength. 40 Because of their faith in him, their daily portion will be a Father’s help and deliverance from evil. This is true for all who turn to hide themselves in him!
Psalm 46:1 (AMPC)
God is our refuge and strength [mighty and impenetrable to temptation], a very present and well-proved help in trouble.
Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me.
In the day of my trouble I will call upon You, For You will answer me.
Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him on high, because he has known My name. 15 He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him. 16 With long life I will satisfy him, And show him My salvation.
Romans 8:37 (AMPC)
Yet amid all these things we are more than conquerors and gain a surpassing victory through Him Who loved us.
Because Jesus is the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world (Revelation 13:8), that means that God had the answer before the problem ever came!
Ask for the deliverance, and then stand in faith!
These scriptures moved me away from my thoughts to God’s thoughts about my rough place. They let me know He was watching, and was ready to help me, and that He would be with me and would help me until the storm, the hard place, ended.
6. God wants us to take advantage of hard times to allow Him to develop our character!
Romans 5:3-5 (TPT)
But that’s not all! Even in times of trouble we have a joyful confidence, knowing that our pressures will develop in us patient endurance. 4 And patient endurance will refine our character, and proven character leads us back to hope. 5 And this hope is not a disappointing fantasy, because we can now experience the endless love of God cascading into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who lives in us!
Romans 5:3-5 (MSG)
There’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, 4 and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. 5 In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!
Romans 5:3-4 (AMPC)
Moreover [let us also be full of joy now!] let us exult and triumph in our troubles and rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that pressure and affliction and hardship produce patient and unswerving endurance. 4 And endurance (fortitude) develops maturity of character (approved faith and tried integrity). And character [of this sort] produces [the habit of]joyful and confident hope of eternal salvation.
Romans 8:28 (AMPC)
We are assured and know that [God being a partner in their labor] all things work together and are [fitting into a plan] for good to and for those who love God and are called according to [His] design and purpose.
Romans 8:28 (MSG)
That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.
Romans 8:28 (TPT)
So we are convinced that every detail of our lives is continually woven together to fit into God’s perfect plan of bringing good into our lives, for we are his lovers who have been called to fulfill his designed purpose.
Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later.
Romans 8:18-19 (TPT)
I am convinced that any suffering we endure is less than nothing compared to the magnitude of glory that is about to be unveiled within us. 19 The entire universe is standing on tiptoe, yearning to see the unveiling of God’s glorious sons and daughters!
Romans 8:18-21 (MSG)
That’s why I don’t think there’s any comparison between the present hard times and the coming good times. The created world itself can hardly wait for what’s coming next. Everything in creation is being more or less held back. God reins it in until both creation and all the creatures are ready and can be released at the same moment into the glorious times ahead. Meanwhile, the joyful anticipation deepens.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (NLT)
That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. 17 For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! 18 So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (MSG)
So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.
7. In the tough place, it’s important to pour out your heart to God!
God does not want us to hold things inside. It’s unhealthy in every way.
God wants us to expose our personal pain to Him.
Heat brings impurities to the top with precious metals.
What you think about yourself. Personal stuff.
How people treat you.
Circumstances. Job. Business. Money.
God has helped me with perfectionism, workaholic tendencies, a deep-seated fear of rejection, all during times of great challenge.
Pour out your heart!
Psalms 61:1-5 (NKJV)
Hear my cry, O God; attend to my prayer. 2 From the end of the earth I will cry to You, when my heart is overwhelmed; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. 3 For You have been a shelter for me, a strong tower from the enemy. 4 I will abide in Your tabernacle forever; I will trust in the shelter of Your wings. 5 For You, O God, have heard my vows;
You have given me the heritage of those who fear Your name.
Allow God into the inner recesses of your life.
Hebrews 4:13 (NLT)
Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable.
**Psalms 34:17-19 (NLT)
The Lord hears his people when they call to him for help. He rescues them from all their troubles. 18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; He rescues those whose spirits are crushed. 19 The righteous person faces many troubles, but the Lord comes to the rescue each time.
**Psalms 34:4-10 (NLT)
I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me. He freed me from all my fears. 5 Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces. 6 In my desperation I prayed, and the Lord listened; He saved me from all my troubles. 7 For the angel of the Lord is a guard; He surrounds and defends all who fear him. 8 Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him! 9 Fear the Lord, you his godly people, for those who fear him will have all they need. 10 Even strong young lions sometimes go hungry, but those who trust in the Lord will lack no good thing.
I have learned to pour my heart out to God and mention my stress to Him in detail.
We get so busy that we don’t do this as we should!
**Isaiah 40:28-31 (NLT)
Have you never heard? Have you never understood? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding. 29 He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. 30 Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. 31 But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.
8. Learn to Encourage Yourself!
1 Samuel 30:6 (AMPC)
David was greatly distressed, for the men spoke of stoning him because the souls of them all were bitterly grieved, each man for his sons and daughters. But David encouraged and strengthened himself in the Lord his God.
Psalm 103:1-2 (NLT)
Let all that I am praise the Lord; with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name.
(2) Let all that I am praise the Lord; may I never forget the good things he does for me.
Oh, give thanks to the Lord! Call upon His name; Make known His deeds among the peoples! 2 Sing to Him, sing psalms to Him; Talk of all His wondrous works! 3 Glory in His holy name; Let the hearts of those rejoice who seek the Lord! 4 Seek the Lord and His strength; Seek His face evermore! 5 Remember His marvelous works which He has done, His wonders, and the judgments of His mouth,
- Take some time to pour your heart out to God. He wants us to share everything with Him. As we do, stress decreases, peace increases, and we learn to live by faith and not feelings.
- Whatever you’re facing, don’t give up on yourself or on God. There is a bigger picture to see than the present!
- Life does to us what life finds in us!