We all get our turn, though none of us wants it.
At times it seems we’d give anything, do anything, to escape it. But our turn is certain, unavoidable.
We all spend time in the crucible of life, suffering through unwanted circumstances we are powerless to escape. We lose jobs, feel depression, grieve departed loved ones, bear the weight of unfairness.
One day, even the stuff that only happens to other people happens to us.
So now what?
Christian friends, let me gently suggest that we’ve fallen for some of the deceptive pop psychology of our day, and it’s steering many of us in the wrong direction.
The silly notion that you simply need to “believe in yourself” or “think positive thoughts” has led many Christians into despondency. An abiding sense of being overwhelmed and defeated ought not to be our default setting, not even in times of suffering.
The God who loves us also desires so much more for us. The things we need most during our time in the crucible – strength, patience, courage, hope – are found through faith in God, not faith in ourselves.
Israel’s King David put this truth to song: “The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my savior; my God is my rock, in whom I find protection. He is my shield, the power that saves me, and my place of safety.” (Psalm 18:2 – NLT)
Hardship is an opportunity to remember and trust in God’s providence, his love for us and his promise of ultimate deliverance.
Few things are more reassuring than God’s providence – the fact that he controls all things. We can rest in the certainty that nothing occurring in our lives takes place unless God allows it.
Here is a sobering truth: There are no random happenings. Even the tough stuff in life has been orchestrated by God, or allowed by him, for his own purposes.
No, God does not delight in our hardship, but he certainly allows it to form and refine what can only be accomplished in the crucible.
The Apostle Paul penned some of the most encouraging words about God’s providence: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28 – NIV).
Clearly all things are not good. But God can and will bring about good from even the worst of circumstances. God never wastes our suffering, but instead uses it to strengthen our faith, and to show himself faithful.
Paul’s words are a sort of preamble to one of the most joyful descriptions of God’s love in all of Scripture.
“Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity …?” Paul asks. “… I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love” (Romans 8:35, 38 – NLT).
Of course, our hope ultimately is not tied to release from hardship in this life. We’re often blessed with a respite, but it certainly is not promised to us. What is promised is so much better.
It’s no wonder God reminds us in his word to focus our hope on heaven – our final and eternal home, a place untouched by sin and sickness and struggle.
“… and we have a priceless inheritance – an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. And through your faith, God is protecting you by his power until you receive this salvation” (1 Peter 1:4-5 – NLT).
Are you in life’s crucible? Are you tired of looking inside yourself for help?
Keep your faith in God’s providence, his immense love for you, and his promise of heaven.