The same sun melts butter and hardens clay. Some Christians develop a robust faith by enduring the challenges of life, while another’s faith suffers significant attrition.
Some make adversity an opportunity to draw closer to God, while another reacts in anger, bitterness and jealousy.
Death, sickness, financial hardship, or a suffering child—any of these could send us spiraling wildly in a cycle of questions, doubts, disillusionment, and despondency. But trials can also lift us upwards in faith, hope, and the peace that passes understanding.
How will we respond when suffering comes our way? And let’s face it, we are all, right now, in a trial, coming out of a trial, or about to enter a trial. What can we do to mitigate the negative effects of adversity.
- Stay focused on Jesus
We have a Savior who experienced everything that we experience. Jesus knows what it is to be rejected. He knows what it is to be hungry. He knows what it is to be lonely. Jesus was betrayed by those closest to him. He knows what it’s like to pray that something would not happen, only to ultimately be required to submit to his worst fears. Jesus experienced poverty. Jesus can comfort us in what we go through, because the Father comforted Him in what He went through. At this very moment Jesus is at the right hand of the Father advocating on your behalf. He explains to the Father how it feels, and the Father responds to the requests of His Son.
- Accept That Heaven Comes Later
Suffering reminds us that we are still living in a world full of evil and sin. To expect no suffering, is to expect heaven. As long as we are here, we will experience pain, evil, and suffering. Jesus told His disciples to expect to suffer – especially if we represent Him. Pain is only temporary, and infirmity will cease to exist.
- Advance In Faith
Only God can see the big picture. Adversity is like being stuck in traffic. From the ground, the view is limited and seems hopeless. But from the air, the path to freedom is as clear as day. We don’t always understand why these things are happening to us. But when we lift our eyes to God in faith, He can lead us to victory. Trust in God despite how hopeless things seem around you. You only see a very small part of the picture, God sees everything – your only hope is to stay connected to Him.
- Access The Church
There is no such thing as Lone-Ranger-Christianity. When we go through a trial, isolation from fellow believers and family members only magnifies our deficiencies and loneliness. The temptation to withdraw from fellowship because of the pain is strong. But people understand us, and the safest place to be is in their love, not on our own. There is power in the group which does not exist in solitude. The church is God’s caring, sharing community.
- Facilitate Praise
Praise changes your perspective. It is an event that brings us into a sense of wonder and awe at the power and character of God. It provides context for any problem. When you praise God for having the power to make the universe, or having enough grace to send His Son to the cross, suddenly your problem seems manageable – don’t misunderstand, the issue is still there, but it is now in context. It has been juxtaposed against the size and power of your God and appears less intimidating. Ironically, the more time you spend focused on your problem, the bigger your problem seems.
- Invest In Prayer
In prayer we acknowledge that God alone is able to bring about the change we need. Even if the answer seems to be delayed, keep praying; it is the right door to knock on for help. Jesus instructs us to keep on persevering in prayer, and reminds us that God will respond to our petitions. How long do you pray? Until you get an answer.
- Remember Your Past
This assumes you have a past with God to recall. David, when faced with Goliath, recounted the many dangers he overcame because God intervened on his behalf. If God was able to deliver the twelve-year-old shepherd boy from a wild and hungry lion, God would surely deliver him from the mighty warrior from Gath. Think about all the things God has saved you from, and to, and through. Let your past be a source of stability in your trial.
- Know Your Bible
Let the narratives of the great men and women of God in the Bible inspire you with faith and courage. Remember how most of them came from the extremely humble and unlikely backgrounds. Remember the promises found in the Bible. Peter was not afraid when facing death threats made by the Sanhedrin because he remembered that Jesus promised him old age in John 21:18: “Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to gird yourself and walk wherever you wished; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will gird you, and bring you where you do not wish to go.” Peter knew and remembered the Word of God.
- Remember You Are Not Alone
The Holy Spirit is another comforter – a better translation is one who empowers. And He is one who is exactly like Jesus. He is present with us. He never leaves us. He is leading us and reminding us. Remember you are never alone, no matter how dark the situation may seem.
Every Christian desires to overcome when faced with a trial – we want to walk with dignity and peace rather than as one who falls apart at the seams. This does not happen by luck. It is not like catching lightening in a bottle. It is a choice. We can choose to be victimized by our circumstance, responding in anger, disappointment, and depression. Or we can choose to prepare ourselves for the battle, forging a path of faith, trust, peace, and joy.