Summary: How do we make it through difficulties? Not just troubles, but even tragedies? Jesus told us we would have trouble, but He also promised peace. This message discusses how that is possible.
(This message was preached during a recent week where our family experienced the death of a close friend, and the death of a family members’ baby.)
Any time tragedies and turmoils come to us, such as we have experienced this week, it sends us searching for answers. We begin to think, to contemplate, to meditate, trying to find solutions to some of the most difficult questions in life. And there are no simple, nor sweet, solutions to these sensitive areas.
"What sense can be made of these things?" we ask the Lord. But maybe more importantly, we ask, "How do we get through this? How do we make it beyond these times of devastation?" As I have learned to do, I turned to God’s unfailing Word, and there I found not only help, but hope.
I discovered that there are two types of life the Bible discusses: 1. ETERNAL LIFE - This is that blessed hope for all believers. A time when pain, heartache, and disappointment will cease. There will be no tears, no sorrow, and no death. But there’s also another kind of life. 2. EVERYDAY (Or EARTHLY) LIFE - I like to call it "everyday life." That’s what I want to discuss with you. Because THAT’S the life we need help with! We need God to help us through everyday life, especially in times of great difficulty.
Among countless other scriptures that deal with this subject, Jesus is here telling His disciples, and us, that there will be difficult days ahead. There will be hard times in life. Jesus said, "I have told you so you can have peace in me." So His purpose was not to "scare" us, but to "prepare" us for those times. And regardless of how devastating the days become, Jesus can minister healing, hope, and peace to our souls.
We all have, or are, or will face hard times in our lives. And the Word of God has much to say that can help us prepare. *Now let me say now: I am not at all suggesting that we live in dread of problems, nor that we step back and wait for them to come, but that when they do come - and they will - that we already have a "bedrock of beliefs" that will help us survive those times.
So, how can we "Brace For The Bad Times?" Let me mention four (4) things we can do. (And this doesn’t mean that they will all be easy, nor automatic.)
1. REALIZE WHAT WE’RE TOLD -
The Bible speaks of difficulties coming in different forms, levels, and degrees. The Bible does not deny bad times. Even Jesus spoke very candidly about the bad things that would be a part of our earthly lives. "In the world you shall have trouble," He said. That sounds to me like He’s trying to prepare us for the possibility of pain. He does not say that things will not hurt us, wound us, nor injure us. He doesn’t promise that our lives will be perfect and painless.
Yet, for some reason, we never expect bad things to happen. Not that we’re to live in dread, but we’re not to live in deception either! Don’t deceive yourself into thinking that you won’t have trouble in this life! It will come to all of us. The first part of "message" is "mess." And the first part of "testimony" is "test."
Ecclesiastes 3 says that, "To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven." That chapter goes on to reveal that life consists of both negatives and positives. Both pleasant and unpleasant events will occur. It lets us know that the currents in the stream of life will shift - from calm to contrary, and back again! Life is like a revolving door - keep walking and you will be in and out of pain and peace, sorrow and celebration.
Trouble will come. It’s a fact. But we must also....
2. RECOGNIZE A GREAT TRUTH -
Ecclesiastes 3:4 says, "A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance." Just as there are times of trouble, there are times of triumph. When we’re in painful circumstances, we think we will always be there. We think the pain will never end, and never be over.
Now understand, there’s nothing wrong with weeping. There’s nothing wrong with mourning. The Bible says that "there’s a time for it." All of us go through things that set us back, deflate us, and discourage us. There’s nothing wrong with those reactions. The problem is, we can "drag it out." Those are natural reactions, but they do have a proper time. And in the proper time frame, they can actually help us.