January 10, 2023
God is our refuge and strength [mighty and impenetrable], a very present and well-proved help in trouble.—Psalm 46:1
As Christians, we aren’t exempt from the difficulties of this life, even if some think we should be. If we have the expectation that our faith should shield us from problems, struggles, and suffering, this can lead to somewhat of a martyr complex when things go wrong, until we start to wonder, How could anyone possibly have it more difficult than I do?
If you feel like that, it might help to look around at what others, believers and nonbelievers alike, have to endure. You may find some who seem better off physically than you at the moment, but a lot of people are also so much worse off in ways that are very important, such as lacking the bare necessities of life.
Even though Christians face similar physical struggles to others and have lots of problems, we can usually understand from God’s Word that there’s a good reason for them, a divine purpose at work behind it all. Even when we can’t see any immediate good coming from our trials, they have the potential to teach us lessons and make us stronger. Knowing that makes them easier to bear.
Some people struggle for years with afflictions, or under a difficult employer, or at a job they hate. Others, both Christian and non-Christian, are ridiculed and bullied and criticized and rejected by others, or even openly persecuted for what they stand for. As Christians, we can often understand the ways that even our hardships serve to help us, but nonbelievers don’t have the comfort of a Savior who can help them make sense of what they suffer through. We may have a lot of difficulties, but our lives would probably seem comparatively easy to so many who face life without the sense of purpose that our faith provides.
We learn and grow from our troubles. Our struggles teach us how to have more patience, how to hold on, how to cling to God’s promises and “endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ!” (2 Timothy 2:3)—not just for one day or one week or one month, but perhaps for many months or years at a time.
The Bible tells us, “God blesses those who patiently endure testing” (James 1:12). “Patient endurance is what you need now [when troubles are surrounding you], so that you can continue to do God’s will” (Hebrews 10:36).
Paul went so far as to tell us to “glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope” (Romans 5:3–4).
We may sometimes have extended periods when we’re not able to rely on our feelings at all because things are going badly and we’re feeling pretty rotten, but that’s when we have to cling to the facts of God’s Word, that He still loves and cares, no matter what we feel like. Even when absolutely everything seems to have turned against us or be going wrong, we can trust that good will triumph in the end, and Jesus will be victorious.—Maria Fontaine
It’s possible that, as you read this, you have conflict and chaos happening in your life right now. Perhaps you’ve just lost a job, or a significant relationship in your life seems to be falling apart, or you’re dealing with a loss or health crisis you didn’t see coming.
Here’s the good news … God wants to bless you when you’re broken!
The Bible says in Ecclesiastes 3:1,4: “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: … a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.” In other words, life is a series of opposites. The Bible says that sometimes weeping is appropriate. Sometimes mourning is appropriate. Sometimes grieving is appropriate. …
Psalm 34:18 says, “The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” God is close to the brokenhearted. He’s paying attention. He’s not distant. He’s right there with you, and he never leaves or forsakes his people…
The Bible tells us that God weeps. In other words, God is a suffering God, and God is a sympathetic God. He’s not indifferent, he’s not apathetic. He’s not standing on the sidelines. He suffers with us…
There’s a purpose in your pain, which makes it redemptive. … The Bible teaches us in 2 Corinthians 1:4, “He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.”
Your greatest ministry will come out of your deepest hurt. We think the world is impressed by how we handle prosperity. But the world is actually impressed by how we handle adversity. We think that it is our success that gives us credibility to be a witness. But God says it is our suffering that gives us credibility.—Rick Warren1
God has a plan for each of us. Not only that, but He wants to direct our path and work with us to bring His plan to pass.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5–6). That doesn’t mean, though, that everything will be easy or happen just as we would like. In fact, it may sometimes seem like everything God brings your way is difficult, and that trying to follow His plan only makes things more so. Does God ever ask too much of us? Sometimes it can seem that way.
God wants what’s best for us, but often the means to that end involves taking us through both triumphs and trials, joy and pain. From our perspective, a particular situation or event may not seem good, but God can work whatever circumstances we face for our good and to further His plan. He sees farther than we do, and His plans are better and more complete than ours. (See Isaiah 55:8–9.)
In the prophet Jeremiah’s time, the Israelites were defeated militarily, scattered, and in exile. They probably wondered what had happened to God’s promised plan for them as a people. God explained that they would remain in exile for 70 years, as a punishment for their waywardness. That couldn’t have seemed like good news, but He reassured them that His plan for them would be fulfilled. “I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11).
So if you find yourself in a similar situation, lost and wondering what became of God’s plan for your life, don’t despair. God’s plan is never defeated, and He never gives up working on our behalf to complete the good work He began in us.—Alex Peterson
I am a very present and well-proved help in trouble. My Presence is always with you, but I am very present in times of distress. Because you are a member of My royal family—a citizen of My heavenly kingdom—I am committed to caring for you. During stressful times, your heart may race and your adrenalin level may soar. These physiological changes can block your awareness of My Presence. So it’s vital at such times to remind yourself: “Jesus is here with me; in fact, He is very present with me in this hard situation.” Then, take some slow, deep breaths so you can relax enough to connect with Me and draw strength from Me.
Biblical history has many examples of My faithfulness during times of trouble. World history—including current events—also contains proof of My powerful Presence. You won’t hear of this in secular news reports, but I continue to do miracles in your world. Moreover, as you look back over the years of your own life, you will see many instances of My meeting your needs in hard times. Since I am such a well-proved Help, you can trust Me to help you now!—Jesus2
Published on Anchor January 2023. Read by Reuben Ruchevsky. Music by John Listen.
2 Sarah Young, Jesus Today (Thomas Nelson, 2012).
Copyright © 2023 The Family International