Romans 8:22-24 (NIV)
22 We know that the WHOLE CREATION has been GROANING as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but WE OURSELVES, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, GROAN inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies.
Have you noticed that EVERYWHERE YOU LOOK, there’s trouble? Every day, people are experiencing trial, after trial, after trial in this evil world…even trial, on top of trial, on top trial! You know that the enemy, Satan, wants to remind us that he is the prince of this world (see John 12:31, John 14:30, Ephesians 2:2, 2 Corinthians 4:4) and he is here to kill, steal, and destroy (John 10:10, 1 Peter 5:8)!
Have you been wondering, why is all this happening?
So many people are hurting and experiencing disappointments, devastation, and loss. As Christians, it makes us eagerly await the second coming of Jesus so that we can finally go to our heavenly home, where there will be no more crying, no more dying, no more pain. After all, this world is NOT our home. And that time MUST be drawing near, because the last book of the Bible gives a clear warning, “Therefore rejoice, you heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short.” Revelations 12:12 The word WOE means BEWARE OF or LOOK OUT for “grievous distress, affliction, or trouble!” It’s NOT a pretty picture.
So, what do we do in the meantime?
Ephesians 6:13 says, “Therefore put on the FULL armor of God, so that WHEN the day of EVIL comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” (Read the entire chapter of Ephesians 6 to learn about each component of the armor of God. Trust me, you need it ALL!)
SEVEN STEPS TO STRENGTH
1. HOLD ON!
… Even if “by a thread”…HOLD ON! Even if you are “at the end of your rope,” HOLD ON! Hold on to God’s unchanging hand… and when the going gets tough, hold on even tighter!
Don’t give up! Don’t give in! Remember that “God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also MAKE A WAY TO ESCAPE, that ye may be able to bear it.” 1 Cor. 10:13 So, look for it! Keep asking God to reveal it to you and keep looking for it! God will lead you to the help and answers that you need for today’s challenges. So, keep your eye out for the answers. Listen closely for God’s voice. Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” Is. 30:21 (More on “the ways of escape” in a moment…)
2. FOCUS ON *ONE* DAY AT A TIME…THAT’S TODAY
Focusing on yesterday will only leave you disappointed and depressed. Focusing on tomorrow will often leave you worried and anxious! Instead, take one DAY at a time…one STEP at a time…one MOMENT at a time, knowing that God WILL bring you through.
But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:33,34
3. KNOW WHERE TO LOOK FOR HELP
Look UP…look toward the hills…cry out to God…stay in constant communion with Him! Ask Him for wisdom, ask Him for guidance, ask Him for strength, and ask Him for help. We can’t make it in this world without HIM. Ask and ye shall receive. (Luke 11:9-10)
I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. MY HELP cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth. Ps. 121:1,2
How does God help us? What are ways that he gives us to escape? Sometimes, God changes the circumstances and sometimes he changes us. What do I mean by that? Well, sometimes the negative situations turn around and other times God sustains us by giving us the strength and hope we need to endure and to get through it. Sometimes he give us peace that passeth all understanding….peace that just doesn’t make sense, so that we won’t become too anxious and lose our minds! Jesus is the ONLY way that we can make it!
4. JUST PUT ONE FOOT IN FRONT OF THE OTHER
Ask God for direction and instructions… then DO IT. Focus ONLY on what you can do TODAY. FORWARD PROGRESS is the phrase to remember, NOT perfection or completion. Slow progress is STILL progress! As long as you keep your hand in God’s hand, please know that you’re gonna make it! Remember, trouble won’t last always and this TOO will pass!
5. FIND THE LESSONS
There’s a familiar quote that says, “What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.” While that may not be true for everyone, there are lessons that we can learn from EVERY trial. Make note of them as you recognize them. Today’s TEST will be tomorrow’s TESTIMONY. Because of your experience, you will be able to encourage and help others who will face a similar experience in the future. There is purpose in your pain!
6. COUNT THE BLESSINGS
When everything seems negative and hopeless, turn your attention to seeking out the positives. This takes intentional effort when you are going through a very hard time. However, this is VERY important for your mental health and ability to survive. So, turn your focus to what is still good. Focus on recognizing what you still have. Count your blessings…name them ONE BY ONE.
If you receive an answer to prayer or a random act of kindness today, recognize that God is extending his love to you and showing you that he has not forgotten you. This attitude of gratitude is another way that God gives us STRENGTH for the day.
7. CLING TO SCRIPTURES OF HOPE
Look for the scriptures that speak hope and life over you and your situation right now.
Write those scriptures down. Carry them with you to read often or commit them to memory.
The Word of God gives us strength for today and hope for tomorrow.
Always remember that you are not the first one or the only one that’s going through. There are others who have survived to tell their story. So, you have examples of victory to hold on to. Thank God that we also have the story of Job to see that there truly is “light at the end of the tunnel.”
When Satan decided to target Job, because of his love for God, Job lost EVERYTHING…his livestock, his wealth, his children, and his wife’s support! Even so, he refused to do as she said, which was to “Curse God and die!” Job 2:9,10 Can you imagine?
But GOD…BUT GOD!! Because of Job’s faithfulness, God restored EVERYTHING to Job. He was blessed double for his trouble!
If you feel as if you are having a JOB experience right now, DON’T GIVE UP!
What ever you do… hold on to God, hold on to hope…They’ll be “a better day afterwhile!”
All the heartaches of this evil world should make us long for heaven all the more. Thank God, Jesus is coming soon!