From the July/August 2022 issue of Discern Magazine

When Life Gets Tough

Difficult times come in many shapes and sizes. They can disorient, discourage and debilitate us. How can we keep moving forward on our Christian journey?

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My tough times may not be the same as your tough times, but we all have them. They can stop us in our tracks in our Christian journey, and they can even make us feel cut off from God.

How can we break free from the paralysis and move forward? How can we turn a trial into a catalyst for growth? How can we tap into the spiritual strength we need to not just endure, but conquer?

We can turn to the Bible for answers.

“Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me”

Jesus was willing to undergo some of the most difficult times imaginable, yet He was able to tell us:

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).

God does care for us, and He wants to hear from us. You can turn your worries over to Him and “by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6).

When we are burdened by troubles that weigh us down, Jesus offers to lighten our load and give us rest. There is so much we can learn from Him about how to endure and conquer our trials. (Explore Christ’s wonderful promise in more detail in our article “‘My Yoke Is Easy’: Is Being a Christian Easy or Hard?”)

What can we learn from how Jesus Christ prepared for the great trials of His life?

What did Jesus do?

Before facing Satan’s temptations, Jesus was filled with the Holy Spirit and He fasted (Luke 4:1-2). Humbling ourselves with fasting and focusing on God can help us draw close to God. (Learn more in our online article “How to Fast as a Christian.”)

Before facing His crucifixion, Jesus prayed fervently three times, submitting to God’s will, and God strengthened Him (Luke 22:41-44).

Draw near to God

James wrote, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you . . . Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up” (James 4:8, 10).

Peter added, “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:6-7).

The power of prayer

God does care for us, and He wants to hear from us. You can turn your worries over to Him and “by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6).

James also noted, “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5:16). (Learn more in our online article “Fervent Prayer.”)

“Never let a good crisis go to waste”

Winston Churchill was no stranger to crises. He is known for rallying the British people and the world to defeat the seemingly unstoppable forces of Hitler during World War II. He is also noted for pithy sayings, like “never let a good crisis go to waste.”

Of course, no crisis seems good. But trials, difficulties and even correction can produce good results in the end (James 1:2-4; Hebrews 12:11).

If we can recognize the opportunities for spiritual growth in our crises, we can endeavor not to waste them.

Jesus said that the servants He is looking for are the ones He will “find so doing” to the end—faithfully and wisely doing the jobs He has given them (Matthew 24:45-47).

What should we be “so doing”?

What does God call on us to be diligently doing, in both good times and difficult times?

  • Repenting and changing (2 Corinthians 7:11).
  • Studying the Bible (2 Timothy 2:15; 3:16-17).
  • Bearing the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).
  • Doing good (6:9-10).
  • Helping to accomplish God’s work (John 4:34; Matthew 9:35-38; 24:14; 28:19-20).

Focusing on such things will help us bring our thoughts and actions into alignment with our Elder Brother, Jesus Christ, so we can walk as He walked. All that we go through in this life can help us become pure, beloved children of God who are like Him (1 John 3:1-3).

Advice from toughened travelers

I asked battle-scarred veterans on this spiritual journey how they remained diligent in their tough times. Here are a few of their answers:

Colleen said, “Prayer has gotten me through some major hard times in my life. Meditation also helps me sort things out in my head.”

Seth said he looks back “at past difficult times that I prayed through and God got me through.” He also talks “with loved ones about what is going on.”

Flavia said, “Keep putting one foot in front of the other no matter how slowly.”

Andrew said, “The scripture reminds me that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13). My path and supply isn’t dependent on the world or the things going on in the world, but I depend on God who goes before me to prepare the way, and He faithfully supplies all my need. So I press forward.”

Tommie advises, “Don’t allow anything to crowd out conversations (daily, diligent Bible study and continual prayer) with your Heavenly Father, especially during times of stress, when drawing close to Him should be of paramount importance.”

Tim said, “Diligence requires focus and effort. If one is truly diligent, their focus will consume their vision to the point where the difficulty is not so much of a distraction as it otherwise would be.”

And Sherrie offered this moving advice: “Days after losing our son, when I could not think, eat, or even process, someone told me something that I have never forgotten. They said, when you are able, begin to focus on others. Sometimes when you are in the depths of the most difficult times, focusing on others serves a purpose like no other. It gives your mind a chance to take a break from your own issues. It gives you a chance to connect with someone else. It offers you the opportunity to be useful when you feel as if you are losing ground. It gives the chance to just do something normal when normal is gone. And, in the process, you are still living this way of life that you have chosen to be dedicated to living.”

For deeper study, see our November/December 2020 cover article, “Seven Keys to Coping With the Trials and Tribulations of Life.”

About the Author

Mike Bennett

Mike Bennett

Mike Bennett is editorial content manager for the Church of God, a Worldwide Association, in the Dallas, Texas, area. He coordinates the Life, Hope & Truth website, Discern magazine, the Daily Bible Verse Blog and the Life, Hope & Truth Weekly Newsletter (including World Watch Weekly). He is also part of the Personal Correspondence team of ministers who have the privilege of answering questions sent to Life, Hope & Truth.

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