"David encouraged himself in the Lord his God."
- 1 Samuel 30:6 KJV
If you have been a follower of Christ for very long, then you know that even as a devoted Christian, you are not exempt from trouble. Jesus told His closest disciples: “Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows; but cheer up, for I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 TLB) Notice that the Lord didn't say, “Now that you belong to Me, you will never again have to face hardship or suffering.” No, Jesus wanted us to know the hard truth, so that when trouble did come our way, we would remember that He warned us about it. Every time I see this verse, I try to focus on the part where the Savior says, “Cheer up!” It tells me that there are things I can do to encourage myself in hard times, and that I don't have to give in to negative emotions or fits of despair. Instead of focusing on my circumstances, I can shift my focus to dwell on some powerful truths from Scripture.
First, God's ways and thoughts are higher than ours. “‘My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,’ says the Lord. ‘And My ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so My ways are higher than your ways and My thoughts higher than your thoughts.’” (Isaiah 55:8-9 NLT) This is a nice way of saying that our puny little minds could never comprehend the ways and purposes of the Creator of the universe. Some people are intimidated by this, but I find it very reassuring, because it means that even my worst trials and troubles are no match for God. Years ago, I heard a godly man say, “Who wants a God they can understand? I certainly don’t! He wouldn't be much help to me when I was in a tight spot.” Since we simply can't comprehend God's purposes for allowing us to experience hurt and heartache, we must make a quality decision to trust Him, and to seek His direction. That’s why the Bible says: “Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding. In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6 AMP) Remember this--a lack of trust in God will always rob us of His best.
Another truth that we must remind ourselves of in hard times is that the Lord is good. This sounds too simplistic, but it's a truth that many of us forget when we're facing situations that appear to us to be hopeless. Scripture says, “The goodness of God endures continually.” (Psalm 52:1 NKJV) This means that no matter how our circumstances look, and no matter how much we're hurting, God's love for us remains, and will sustain us if we let it. A promise from God that never ceases to encourage me is one that is quoted so often that we take its meaning for granted. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16 NASB) You don't have to be a parent to recognize the incredible depth of love that someone must have to sacrifice their child for someone else. But the Lord doesn't stop there. His Word says: “He who did not withhold or spare [even] His own Son but gave Him up for us all, will He not also with Him freely and graciously give us all [other] things?” (Romans 8:32 AMP) When we walk in close fellowship with the Lord on a moment-by-moment basis, He provides us with everything we need to gain the victory in every situation we'll ever face.
Thirdly, we must remind ourselves often that God causes every situation and circumstance to benefit us somehow. Romans 8:28 (NASB) says: “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” If you love the Lord with all your heart, and if it's your desire to fulfill His purposes for you, then you can claim this promise with confidence, no matter what comes your way. I like to encourage myself in times of trial by declaring with conviction, “God is good, and He'll work this out for my good!” Are you looking for the positives in your negative situations this day?
Prayer: Lord, in times of trouble and trial, help me not to spend precious time or energy trying to figure out You or Your ways. Instead, give me a trusting heart that believes that You love me, and that Your plans for me are great and good. Thank You that as I live my life for You, You will sustain me with Your unshakable peace and unspeakable joy in the hardest of times!
- J. M. Farro