The troubles of this world are ubiquitous. They are everywhere. At work, we are faced with downsizing, cutbacks, and layoffs. At home, we are faced with kids that are struggling with adolescence and spouses with depression. We go to the doctor, and she says that more tests need to be run, something doesn’t look right. It seems that everywhere we turn we are faced with distressing news and disappointing circumstances.
Discouragement has been called the universal disease. Everybody gets it at one time or another. So, if you are discouraged, remember these encouraging words:
- God has given us the hope of eternal life.
Generally, when we use the word hope, we mean a wish or a desire. We say, “I hope it doesn’t rain,” meaning “I wish it wouldn’t rain.” Biblically, hope refers to a certainty or reality. In other words, because of what Jesus Christ did on the cross and our corresponding trust in his work, eternal life is assured, guaranteed.
Because of our guaranteed hope of eternal life, it makes the battle pains a little easier to deal with. It has been said, if you can hope, you can cope. If you know the future is going to be better, the present is better already. Someone has said, “He who has no hope in the future has no hold on today.” The hope of eternal life gives perspective to daily life. Let’s say you had to walk three blocks to collect a million dollars left to you in a will. Suppose you stubbed your toe during the first block. Would you conclude the trip was too long and hard because you still had two blocks to go and could stub your toe again? Of course not. Your primary focus would be on the end of the journey, not on the journey itself.
2. God wants us to know that the battles are for a short time.
While our trials seem long, in comparison to eternity they are just for a while. How we look at our battles all depends, again, on our perspective. The proper basis for comparison is to compare the length of your trials to the glory of eternity.
Discouraging battles may from time to time seem intense. But one day the difficulties of life in this world will be forgotten, because we will be caught up in the ecstasy of the moment when we enter into the presence of God for all eternity. Compare your battles to that great event. Not only do we win. But we win in style. It will be glorious.
3. God uses trials to prove our faith.
The New Testament word prove means residue. It describes what is left over after we have gone through the experience of suffering. Just as a chemical reaction leaves a residue after an experiment, so there exists a residue of our faith—our attitude—that is left over after the experience of suffering.
Often our focus on testing is wrong. We tend to think of testing as punishment, when we need to look at it as making us strong. It’s like a student who has studied and prepared and knows all the answers and goes into the examination room confident. That student does not dread the test, but welcomes the test. She says, “Go ahead, ask me whatever you want. I know the answer.” Like the student, the Christians says, “Go ahead give me your best shot. I can take it. My faith is strong. My convictions secure.” The battles of life prove that our faith is genuine, pure, and strong.
4. God has chosen you to be a part of his family.
Your salvation is no accident. God chose you long before you chose him. He knew all about you and chose you. He took the initiative.
God’s choosing of us is based on his mercy not on our performance. God’s mercy says, “I want you in my family.” It blows my mind that the Creator of the Universe says, “I want you in my family.”
It is encouraging to know that we have been chosen. Whether it is for a basketball team or for God’s family. We need not forget that. Don’t look at the trials that languish you, focus on the God who loves you. Don’t look at the world that assaults you, gaze at the Christ that accepts you. Don’t look at the pressures that consume you, see the Savior that chooses you.
My book, Defining Moments: How God Shapes Our Character Through Crisis, takes a fresh look at the hard times that God uses to shape our character. This book offers hope that God can be found in crisis and shows how He turns our struggles into defining moments—opportunities to dramatically transform His people. Click here to claim your copy.