So, have you ever been through a tough time?
I thought so.
As the saying goes, you have either been through a tough time, going through a tough time, or preparing to go through a tough time. So wherever you are now, here are ten steps to help you walk through any tough time with God.
One caution before we start: these steps are only for those who have been adopted by God as His children through acknowledging Jesus Christ as the Lord of the universe and the Lord of their lives. God does not care if you are a “good person” or “believe in the right thing” or “been baptized” or “pray & go to church” or “wouldn’t have made it this far without Him” or even “deacon for forty years”—none of those things matter one bit to God unless He has already adopted you into His family.
1. Yes, You Can Ask God “Why?”
Now as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from birth. And His disciples asked Him, saying, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him. (John 9:1-3 NKJV)
Joseph said to his brothers, “…You meant evil against me; but God meant it for good”. (Genesis 50:19-20 NKJV)
This passage from John clearly states that it is ok to ask God why you are going through a trial. God wants us to tell Him all that is within our heart. Sometimes, like the disciples questioning Jesus, we will get an immediate answer. Sometimes, like Joseph, we will get an answer, but only years later when we look back with hindsight. Sometimes, like Job, our only answer is that God is God, and we are not. Regardless, we can ask any question of our loving heavenly Father.
Ultimately, we must keep our heart focused on what the Westminster catechism teaches: What is the chief purpose of man? To glorify God and enjoy him forever. And so, we must realize that everything in our lives, including our trials, is “for God’s glory and our good.”
2. Go Ahead and Grieve
Now as Jesus drew near, He saw the city Jerusalem and wept over it, (knowing it would be sacked by Rome in 35 years for its unbelief) (Luke 19:41).
So often we feel it is more spiritual to put on our “happy face,” to say that since God is good that the bad things that happen don’t matter. Well, baloney, life still sucks sometimes! I have people almost every day breaking down in my exam rooms and crying and almost always apologizing for crying. They have the mistaken notion that weeping over a dead parent or a failed marriage or a wayward child is some lack of moral strength. I remind them that Jesus was a “man of sorrows, and well acquainted with grief.” Grief is not sinful. Go ahead and grieve.
3. Acknowledge God as Sovereign Lord
Jesus prayed, saying, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” (Luke 22:42).
God is the ruler of this universe and we must submit to His rule over our lives. It’s not wrong to pray that God restore a marriage or heal a loved one or mend a broken heart, but we must pray for something deeper as well: that God be God, and that He be glorified and that His will be done whatever the outcome. Acknowledging that God’s glory is more important than our comfort is the only path to peace in our lives.
4. Trust God’s Love for His Children
For You are my hope, O Lord GOD; You are my trust from my youth. (Psalm 71:5)
Once we cry out to God, grieve, and acknowledge His rule over all, only then can we be in a position to trust His love. Trust is sometimes so hard when the storm winds are furiosly blowing around you, but, then, that’s why they call it TRUST.
Sometime my little heart can’t understand
What’s in Your will, what’s in Your plan
So many times I’m tempted to ask You “Why?”
But I can never forget it for long
Lord what You do could not be wrong
So I believe You even when I must cry
Do I trust You, Lord, does the river flow?
Do I trust You, Lord, does the north wind blow?
You can read my heart, You can know my mind
And You’ve got to know I would rather die
Then to lose my faith in the One I love.
Do I trust You?
I will trust You, Lord, when I don’t know why
I will trust You, Lord, till the day I die
I will trust You, Lord, when I’m blind with pain
You were God before, and You’ll never change
I will trust You, Lord.
5. Ask God for Wisdom
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. (James 1:5).
God earnestly desires to help us in our trial; He promises to give us the wisdom we need. Often we need to take some type of action in the midst of a trial, but we don’t know what to do. God is not some mean-spirited deity who is watching to see if we take the wrong step; He is our loving Father who wants to guide us. Ask Him for wisdom.
6. Be Patient with God’s Timetable
knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. (James 1:3).
God specifically chooses not to solve all our problems immediately. He wants us to learn trust & patience through that magical thing called WAITING. If we try to get ahead of God’s timetable, we will pay the penalty.
Moses wanted justice for His people, but he did not wait for God. He ended up taking matters into his own hands & killed an Egyptian, and had to wait on the sidelines for forty years. Jesus had to wait until he was thirty years old before he started His ministry. The Bible is filled with people who tried to hurry up God’s timetable with disastrous results, and of people who waited patiently for God to move and were blessed.
7. Praise God
And Job said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked shall I return there. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; Blessed be the name of the LORD.” (job 1:21).
Here is Job, a man who had lost everything, and what does He do? He praises God, after everything is lost, after He is confused, in pain, and totally abandoned. To bless the name of the LORD, to praise Him, even when we don’t feel like it, is both a commandment and a comfort.
8. Give thanks even for the trial
In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1thessalonians 5:18)
How can we give thanks? By knowing & trusting our loving Father, by ackowledging His rule, by living in all of the previous seven steps.
9. Rejoice in All Things
In this(knowing you have an inheritance in heaven) you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials. (1 Peter 1:6).
We can rejoice in adversity, looking to our certain future with God. There are many stories in the early church of Christians laughing, singing, rejoicing while being burned alive and tortured, knowing that although their body could be killed, that nothing could separate them from the love of God. Hidden in Christ, we too can rejoice in all things.
10. Remember God’s wonderful works in your life
Praise the LORD!
I will praise the LORD with my whole heart,
In the assembly of the upright and in the congregation.
The works of the LORD are great,
Studied by all who have pleasure in them.
His work is honorable and glorious,
And His righteousness endures forever.
He has made His wonderful works to be remembered;
The LORD is gracious and full of compassion.
He has given food to those who fear Him;
He will ever be mindful of His covenant. (psalms 111:1-5).
Look for God to work, and when He does, remember it. Write it down, talk about it, share it, pray it back to God, make it part of your life. As we remember how God has been mighty to save us in the past, it strengthens and enables us to do all the other steps, to trust, to pray, to rejoice, to acknowledge, to live a life well-pleasing to God as we walk with Him though the trials of this life.