How to Handle Hard Times

This week I spoke to our youth students and their parents about how to handle the pain of losing someone you love.   Tragedies are never easy and always hard.  We recently lost one of our church’s finest youth leaders and young men.  Alex grew up at BCA and was a friend to all.  His tragic loss in a swimming accident has been both heartbreaking and overwhelming.  We have all felt the deep pain of loss.  And our hearts grieve for his family, whose life has been shattered.  It has been a hard time.

Scripture gives guidance on how to handle the challenges of life.  Maybe you are going through a hard time right now.  Many people are.  There are 3 things we need to know when going through trials.  And 3 things we must do.  First, let’s look at the 3 things we must know and remember.

3 Things We Must Know:  Read Psalm 46

 God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.  Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.  There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells.  God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day.  Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts.  The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Come and see what the Lord has done, the desolations he has brought on the earth.  He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth. He breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the shields with fire.  He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”  The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.

  1. We will face trouble in this life.

Jesus said that in this world we will have trouble (John 16:33).  As we study the men and women of the Bible, including Jesus, we find that almost all of them experienced incredible trials and difficulty.  Some people have allowed themselves to believe that Christians are shielded from problems.  We know that is not the case nor is it the teaching of Scripture.  In Heaven, life will be perfect.  But we are not there yet.  In this life, there will be sorrow and sickness and sadness and pain.

  1. Some things in life don’t make sense.

There are times when life does not make sense.  But Jesus cares and understands.  He tells us to “cast all our cares” on Him (I Peter 5:7).  He wants to help us with the hard times.  I have found that even though there are many “why” questions in life—why did this happen or why did that happen—many “why?” questions cannot truly be answered.  We just don’t know and must leave it with the Lord.  A question that I have personally found to be more helpful is the question “who?”—who will I turn to, who will I place my trust in—and that is a question I can answer.  I will place my broken heart and pain in the hands of my loving Savior Jesus Christ.  I trust Him.  I trust His wisdom and compassion.  He knows.  He cares.  He understands.  The “who” question is certain.  The “why” question is uncertain many times.

  1. We are never alone–God is ALWAYS with us.

Psalm 46 reminds me that “God is my refuge and strength.”  I don’t need to fear.  And I can know for certain that “He will always be with me” (vs 11).  He will “never leave me or forsake me” (Deut 31:6-8).  As I pass through the valley of death or pain or sadness or suffering, I do not go it alone.  My God is with me.  And He will be with you.  It is His promise to you.  Believe it.  Rely on it.

3 Things We Must Do:  Read I Peter 1:3-9

 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trial. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.  Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

God’s promise to you is Heaven.  But between now and then “we may have to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.”  What does that mean?  There may be some sadness.  There may be some loss.  There may be some challenges.  There may be some illnesses.  There may be some heartache…or broken hearts.  Because this is not Heaven.  In Heaven, life is perfect.  But not here.

So we need to do three things.  Especially as we go through hard times.

  1. Hold on tight to God.

Sometimes people turn from God or even blame God for the pain and adversities in their life.  Rather than turn from God, we need to turn to God.  In fact, we need to hold onto God.  When the waves and winds of adversity and pain blow hard against us, we need to remember that God will help us in this life and He has prepared Heaven for us in the life to come.  There is a bigger picture in play.  We must choose to trust in His wisdom and sovereignty.  He proved His love for us on the Cross.  Take a moment and re-read Psalm 23.  Allow His Spirit to quiet your soul and remind you that He loves you more than you will ever know.  He is a Good Shepherd and He takes good care of His sheep.  The problems we currently face will one day fade in comparison to the riches of His glory and grace (2 Cor 4:17, 18).  Hold on tight to God.  He loves you.

  1. Hold on tight to God’s people.

We need each other.  The beauty of the church is the community it provides.  We love and care for each other (I Cor 13).  We carry one another’s burdens (Gal. 6:2) which means we are there for each other to help anyway we can.  We mourn with those who mourn (Rom 12:15).  We weep together.  We hold each other up.  We comfort one another.  Why?  Because that is what true life in Christ is all about.  We do life together.  We are there for each other.  Stay close to God’s people.  Let the life of Jesus Christ flow through them to build you up.  The Bible says in I Thess 5:11, “Therefore, encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”  That is one of over 50 “one another” statements in the New Testament.  As members together of God’s family, we are Jesus’ hands and heart extended to each other.  Don’t run away from others as some are inclined to do from time to time.  Run toward your brothers and sisters in Christ.  The Lord will minister through them to you and give you strength.  Let them help you carry the load.

  1. Hold on tight to God’s Word.

The Bible is filled with the promises of God.  Hold on tightly to God’s promises.  Read them often.  Pray them.  Memorize them.  Thank God for the truth they teach.  God’s promises will give you strength, overcome fear, and drive out despair.  Here are a few.

  • John 14:27—Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
  • Is 41:10—So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
  • Matt 11:28-30—Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.
  • Psalm 18:2—The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
  • Ps 147:3—He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.
  • Romans 8:37-39—No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
  • Ps 91:1-4—He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “he is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”  Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence.  He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
  • Ps 23.