One of the challenging aspects of Christian life is the fact that becoming a follower of Jesus does not make us immune to life’s trials and tribulations. We know that God is love,1 yet even those who have faith in Him still suffer disease, injury, financial hardships, worry, fear, and death just like everyone else. Jesus didn’t sugarcoat the truth, but He did offer hope when He said, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”2
Some months ago while visiting Keith and Caryn1 in San Antonio, Texas, they invited me to accompany them on a visit to their friend Phoebe. Phoebe, just 22 years old, had been diagnosed with leukemia and was undergoing treatment.
During our dinner together, Phoebe told me that she had just found out two days earlier that the cancer was found to no longer be in remission and that it was very aggressive. She probably had no more than four months to live.
As much as we would like it, life is not always as wonderful as we’d wish, and we sometimes find ourselves having to brave the tumult of experiences that are hard to bear. Sometimes, when our patience and faith are tried, when all our attempts to do the right thing end up caked in the mud of problems and troubles, it seems impossible to find a sense of value in what we’re doing.
There are cycles in life—times in which everything seems to go well, and times when things seem to go badly. I want you to learn to hold on to Me through each phase of the cycle.
Are you worried about your future and that of your loved ones? Does it feel like your world recently came crashing down around you? Do you feel helpless, depressed, isolated, or lonely?
Life is full of challenges of many kinds. For some, the most monumental ones present themselves a good ways down the road. In my case, life’s main challenge made itself known shortly after I was born and remains with me to this day. I am blind.
Doctors were never able to determine the exact cause for my blindness, and could do nothing to remedy it, but the impact of this disability was especially painful during childhood. One occasion stands out. I was seven. My family would read to me from the Bible, and I was accustomed to sometimes holding the book in my hands. Then my parents ordered a Braille Bible. Rather than a single volume, my fingers now touched a pile of 18 huge volumes. What’s more, each page had line after line of dots across it. I couldn’t comprehend how these seemingly meaningless dots could in any way be associated with the verses I listened to as my parents read to me from their Bible.
Christians aren’t immune to difficulty—family problems, fears, uncertainty, too much to do, financial pressures, and so much more. Having faith doesn’t keep us from difficulties, but we who know the Lord can avail ourselves of His promises, which can get us through those difficulties.
I want to share a few of the things that help me to keep going when things are rough. These are part of my personal survival list.
None of her friends or family understands why she has done it, and most of them would like to shake her out of her foolishness. Their objections make sense. After all, May is in her mid-forties and has been living alone ever since her daughter moved out. May is also in debt. And yet, here she is, raising her ex-husband’s child by another woman.
May married early and was divorced by her early twenties, but even before that, she had been raising her first child alone, as her ex-husband had a drug addiction and spent as much time in prison as out.
Sometimes, at the most unexpected times, we get little revelations that clarify perspective, give insight, and recharge our faith. I got one of those the other day.
It had been a long few months financially speaking, and now our vehicle was in the repair shop. As I waited for my husband to call me with the cost estimate, I asked God why this was happening to us now, of all times. “We’re already struggling,” I pleaded. “How can we afford an expensive repair on our vehicle?”
I can give you peace that defies understanding,1 that calms storms, and that overcomes stress and worry. The storms may come and the waves may rise, you may be buffeted and besieged on all sides, but you will not sink, because I am the Master of the sea and everything is within My control.
I will continue to be with you always—through hills, across rivers, over mountains, through plains and meadows, through rain, sun, and wind, through heat and through cold. Through it all, I will love you, hold you, and help you. And you will learn and grow and experience new things, profound things, transformative things. You will come to know Me in a truly deep and personal way, and you will come to know and appreciate the gifts that I have for you—how bountiful, how perfect, and enduring they are.