Some of you are in a difficult season right now. Maybe it’s in your finances. Maybe your marriage. Maybe your health. Or maybe your job.
I’ve heard it said that you’re every person on the planet is in one of three places:
- In the middle of a difficult season
- Coming out of a difficult season
- Getting ready to enter a difficult season
Hopefully you haven’t yet taken your shoes off.
What you need right now isn’t an immediate change. That may be what you want, but it’s not what is going to happen. You know that. God doesn’t just remove all things difficult when we ask Him to.
I don’t always do that for my kids. “Dad, I’m tired of cleaning my room!” doesn’t find me giving in to my kids’ request to stop. It’s good to push through what you think your capacity is. It builds character when frustration isn’t immediately resolved, and we’re required to dig deeper, hang on longer, and trust with more certainty. Paul the apostle says it like this:
Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. – Romans 5:4-6
Suffering –> Endurance –> Character –> Hope
So how do you hold on to hope?
Go with friends.
Don’t try to navigate on your own. There are no healthy followers of Jesus that are lone rangers. Going alone, you will be broken. Going with others, you can grow and prosper. The wisest man to ever live, Solomon, said this:
“And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” – Ecclesiastes 4:12
Hope isn’t found simply through relief. It’s found when others walk through hopelessness with you. It’s found in community. Paul urges us:
“Bear one another’s burdens.” – Galatians 6:2
Actively trust in the Lord.
This means we don’t simply wait lazily on our couches until God opens up the heavens. There’s this concept in Crossfit that we talk about called “active recovery.” It means that on your “off” days, do something that’s still active. You don’t get better by sitting on the couch. Actively trust in the Lord by doing and going, not just sitting and waiting. Be careful with your “open door theology.” Hope is an action verb.
You can’t receive help if you’re not honest. You can’t be truly loved if you’re not honest. When you hide behind your beautiful mask, you’re not doing yourself any good. Hope starts when we are honest with ourselves and others.
Know it’ll get better. Relief is coming!
It may not come when you want it to. It sure didn’t for the Israelites. They had to wait 40 years at one point. Then 70 years at another point! But relief is coming. Hold on to hope because God’s got a plan to pull you through.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” – Isaiah 55:8-9
Know it won’t get better.
“Wait, wait, wait,” you say. “You just told me that relief is coming!” And I did. But the larger reality is that we live in a fallen world where sin abounds. There is a thief that comes to steal, kill and destroy. Which means we should come to expect that this life will be fraught with pain and frustration. So instead of making an idol of an easy life, grow in the reality that things will never be fully “right” on this earth, but they will be in heaven. (This isn’t an invitation to fatalism, though: Jesus prayed that God’s perfect will would be done on earth as it is in heaven [Matthew 6:10]).
Know this will make you more like Jesus.
God’s not taking you through this pain because he’s sadistic. His plan is that through all things, you’d begin to look more like Jesus. We love Romans 8:28: “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” But it’s verse 29 where we find what the answer is for our situation: “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.” The “good” that God wants for you is that you’d grow to look more and more like Jesus! Hold on to that hope!
This can be your ministry.
Check this out:“For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer.” – 2 Corinthians 1:5-6
So God comforts us in our days of hopelessness so that we can extend that same love, mercy, grace and hope to others who have no idea where to turn. In other words, God creates the most impactful ministry for you out of your deepest pain. Don’t hope simply for relief. Hope for a more lasting, eternal impact.
This article originally appeared here.