GOD DURING HARD TIMES
How we engage with God through 'hope', during life's
difficult times, and receive his support there.
the majority of us, I believe, a life lived in faith with trust in God
will generally deliver the contentment that is expected of it. But please
bear in mind, as I have often advised in this website, this does not mean that bad stuff will never happen to us,
or our loved ones. I speak from my own experience here. This article then refers to times where that bad stuff is happening and you believe circumstances probably won’t change for the better.
fully realise that some readers will come to this particular article
their own difficult times: suffering from illness and pain, having lost loved ones through death or relationship
breakdown/ divorce, facing cruel harassment or bullying at the hands of others, unable
to end self destructive addictions and bad habits etc. If so, please
When life’s turns leaves you there
in that place ... even then ... there are ways to recognise God loving you all the more; ready to reveal himself to you as
he assists. And as difficult as the circumstances may be, his presence can be quite pronounced there.
That Christian concept of ‘hope’ (e.g. Romans
is closely related to both ‘trust’ and ‘faith’.
May the God of hope fill you with all
joy and peace as you trust in him,
so that you may overflow with hope
by the power of the Holy Spirit.
2. HOW HOPE WORKS FOR US
And it is available to us if, or more
likely when, we find ourselves in one of those inevitable holes; or
potential abysses in life. Of course, it is not the place in life where we would want to go to find evidence of God’s
presence in our life; to assist us with building evidence-based belief
in him. But, I am confident that he can be recognised, at times quite
clearly, there in a positive sense within those times.
as far as Christianity is concerned, doesn’t relate to our everyday use
of the word, i.e. ‘wishing’ something will happen without knowing whether
it actually will or not. Christian hope when applied, by comparison, relates to our confidence that the God who
loves us will enable us, through his grace,
to traverse that ‘hole’ and
go beyond it. All we need do is to hope (trust through our faith) that
he will enable us to overcome. We simply place our situation completely in his
hands with utter trust. No matter what our difficult circumstances in
be, God will assist us to get through them if we rely on him in this
way! Just do not doubt the depth of love he holds for each and everyone of us.
I waited patiently for the Lord;
he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.
3. DO WE NEED ASK GOD FOR HELP?
Now if the difficult position you are in is not of your making, i.e. random life circumstances have placed you there, and you are already a committed and faithful Christian, then
the Lord will often just assist you out of his love for you. That is,
there may be no need even to ask! The faith and trust, that equals
hope, is already yours. And he often responds to that alone. I have
experienced that myself, and witnessed it occurring to other faithful Christians, many
times over. That is very solid examples of it!
If it just does not seem to be happening for you though, and physical or emotional pain continues, then start to
deliberately sit with him opening yourself and the issue to him. Concentrate on his loving presence during the whole process.
Allow the trust and love to flow between you and the Lord as you
faithfully hand the issue to him. Don’t worry about finding the right words, he will help you through it.
In the same way the Spirit helps in our weakness.
We do not know what we ought pray for,
but the Spirit himself intercedes for us
with groans that words cannot express.
If you are not a committed and faithful Christian, but are ready to commit yourself to the
Lord, and you
find yourself there in one of those positions of extreme difficulty,
hope just ask for his help through prayer, again as above. Then it
should come too. The importance of faith, and its application in all these situations, is explained under the next heading.
If the ‘hole’ that you are in is
of your own making, maybe from poor choices in life, e.g. addictions or
bad habits, and you know you do want to change your ways, then pray.
And pray with hope. And pray often.
He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
I can do everything through him
who gives me strength.
4. JUST HOW WILL GOD ASSIST US?
am not saying
that the whole issue, in all the above mentioned circumstances, will be swept
aside in all
this. I just mean that he will help by enabling you to pass through your
ordeal. And if you are in a really bad place initially, then his
empowering you through it, should be dramatic enough to be recognised by
and the way I knew God assists us through its
use, with a Christian friend. She is an ordained clergy woman. Agreeing
with my understanding, she jogged my memory as to a specific tool that
the Lord can use there. Not surprisingly, you might think, it is ‘people’.
I highlighted in another article, how God uses people to pass on advice to us when we need
some important guidance in life (see Heading 4 in that
article). Well, in this area of hope, God can if need be ... empower ... individuals to assist other individuals ‘doing it tough’.
And when I look back through my own memories, I do know that the
right people, with the appropriate knowledge, skills and attitude, often seem to
turn up at the exact time when they are most needed by us faithful believers. In the examples
that spring to my mind, the timing of arrival and personal skills on
hand, were ‘ballistic’ at times. I knew that God had to have orchestrated the instances; had to be behind them. The odd example was related to my own life, but I have also witnessed many more
examples with Christians during my lay ministry in a hospital
we already have our faith, or we are trying to gain it – through the means
highlighted in other articles on the website: attending church, reading the Bible and following its guidance in life – it is much
easier to utilise the power of hope. If we do so, i.e. use this mix of faith
and trust, then hope is a tool that definitely will pass the test of time. In
effect God will shine through, evident there, lifting us through our
ordeal. We just faithfully trust him, as he rests his love on us!
We wait in hope for the Lord;
he is our help and our shield.
In him our hearts rejoice,
for we trust in his holy name.
May your unfailing love rest
upon us, O Lord,
even as we put our hope in you.
one looks back over the time in question, whether it has ended yet or
not, the very ability to persevere with or readily stand up to the circumstances
will make his loving presence clear to you. You will know that you
could not have endured it, as well as you did, without him. This fact
will stand out. Of course, until you are there to see it for yourself, you can’t fully know what I mean. But be prepared to catch sight of hope in action. I am pretty sure you’ll get the chance, if you haven’t as yet.
Trust in the Lord forever,
for the Lord, the Lord,
is the Rock eternal.
please read the article, “Suffering and Evil” for a bit more
information on the subject. A good example of ‘hope’ in action is included there. I also recommend that you read “The
as presented in the Bible’s New Testament [Matthew 5:1-11].
Even Jesus’ disciples suffered on their paths after his death on the
cross, and Jesus prepared them for it – offering them ‘hope’.