One advantage of passing through trying times is that we are drawn closer to Jesus, our Savior and friend. We seek safety and security in His arms, and we find that and more. He loves us with a love that is everlasting and never-changing. He has so much to give us, and He desires to help us in so many ways. He wants to spend time with us, and He longs to have us close to Him, always by His side, to teach us, and to make us more like Himself.
Unfortunately it’s just part of human nature that when everything goes right, we don’t feel a pressing need for God and His help and strength in our lives. When everything is going our way, we often get the very wrong idea that we’re strong and sufficient in ourselves, that we don’t need Him. We’re living happy, successful lives, so we don’t need any help—or interference.
We don’t see what we’re missing, but He does. He knows that we truly do need Him, and He knows how much more He has to offer if we depend on Him. He wants to teach us to lean on Him and avail ourselves of His strength, which is infinitely greater than ours.—But how can He if we ignore Him or shut Him out of our lives?
If we didn’t have troubles and tribulations, we wouldn’t feel the need for or find refuge in His arms, and we wouldn’t learn to find strength and comfort in communion with Him and study of His Word.
This may not sound like good news to you, but it is: God not only allows hardships, but He often sends them.
He fashions them specifically for us, and He does so for the express purpose of bringing us closer to Him. He puts the squeeze on so we will call out to Him for help. He does this not to hurt or punish us, but to strengthen us. He knows that in depending on Him, our spiritual strength and resilience to life’s difficulties will grow, and that as we draw closer to Him and become more like Him, we will be much happier and more fulfilled in the long run. If we will turn to Jesus in our times of trouble, He will prove to us in those trying moments how much He loves us. The problem may not go away instantly, but He will give us “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding,”1 and help us appreciate the good that He is working in our lives. As someone once said, “If there were no night, we couldn’t see the stars.”
When we are humbled and quiet and we confess our need for Him, He is able to step in and help us. When we’re empty, He is able to fill us. When we admit we are incapable, He is able to unleash His power to work through us to accomplish things we couldn’t possibly do in our own strength.
Difficult times deepen us. They help us move from the shallow plane of daily routines and the mad rush called modern living into the deeper realm of the spirit. And as we experience God’s power to pull us through the difficult times, it gives us faith and hope that He will take care of us through whatever storms may yet come our way. “Tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope.”2
Life is born of struggle. To enter this world, a baby must leave the comfort and security of the womb and make a difficult and perilous passage through the narrow birth canal. Before an eagle can soar to the heavens, it must push and peck its way out of the egg. Before a butterfly can delight us with its colors and grace, it must escape from its cocoon.
A diamond cannot be polished without friction, without the jeweler’s chipping, grinding, polishing and buffing. Likewise a life cannot be brought to its full potential without undergoing some hardship.
Pressed out of measure and pressed to all length;
Pressed so intensely it seems beyond strength;
Pressed in the body and pressed in the soul;
Pressed in the mind till the dark surges roll;
Pressure by foes, and pressure by friends;
Pressure on pressure, till life nearly ends;
Pressed into loving the staff and the rod;
Pressed into knowing no helper but God;
Pressed into liberty where nothing clings;
Pressed into faith for impossible things;
Pressed into living a life in the Lord;
Pressed into living a Christ-life outpoured!
—Walter B. Knight
If you ever feel like the tests, trials and battles are more than you can bear and you just can’t make it, remember, the Lord is greater than they are. Take them to Him!—D.B.B.
Once a little boy was trying very hard to lift a heavy piece of furniture. His father came into the room, and noting his son’s struggle, asked him, “Are you using all your strength?” “Yes, of course I am!” the boy impatiently exclaimed. “Oh no, you’re not,” the father answered. “You haven’t asked me to help you!”
Give me a task too big,
Too hard for human hands;
Then shall I come at length
To lean on You,
And leaning find my strength.
We shouldn’t run from troubles, or cower when they loom ahead. We should ask God to lift us above them on the wings of prayer.