Difficult times are a part of life. While they are not an easy or desirable part of life, they are often an integral part. None of us would choose hardship but neither can we choose a life without trials. Life and trouble just go together. Job’s friend Eliphaz was right when he said man is born to trouble, as the sparks fly upward (Job 5:7). Just as surely as sparks from a fire fly into the night sky, you will have trouble in your life!
Our first response to difficulty is often to avoid it at all cost, however, the issue for the Christian is not how to avoid trouble but how to use it in our lives in a spiritually constructive way. Whenever you face difficult times there are several areas that you need to examine. The first area is your response. How you respond to difficulty says a lot about you as a person and as a Christian. Certain responses are antithetical to the Christian life. These would include sinful anger (Psalm 4:4, Ephesians 4:26), resentment (James 1:2) and a lack of trust (Proverbs 3:5-6). Other responses indicate that the trials have not been lost on you. These would include peace, joy, trust and faith.
There’s another area that you need to examine when you are faced with difficult times. This one is best formulated as a question: What can I learn? During college I worked for a remarkable man. He would often leave his office and find me out in the factory just to impart some priceless bit of wisdom. As he returned to his office he would say a day when you didn’t learn something is a wasted day. I got the point. The same is true of difficult times. Trouble is often the best teacher and to go through difficult times without learning is a wasted opportunity. The Apostle Paul reminds us that trouble teaches patience and patience godly character and godly character teaches hope in God (Romans 5:3-4). There’s a point to trials – don’t miss it.
A third area that you need to examine during those difficult times, and again a question works here, is: What do I need to change? Did you ever think that God may be using trials in your life to change you? Romans 5:3-4 and James 1:2-4 both teach that God uses trouble in our lives to conform us to the image of Christ. That is after all the goal. For the Christian the point of life, and all that is involved in life, is to change us from who we are to who God wants us to be, a spiritually mature man or woman (James 1:4). Sometimes God can only change us through the difficulties of life. That may say more about us and our stubborn nature than it does about God.
Would it be great to go through life and never have a problem? Sure it would! But then think of how much you would miss in life. Don’t be anxious to avoid all of life’s difficult moments. They are what will make you the godly man or woman that you will become.
Stay in the Word