3 We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. Romans 5:3 (NLT)
I have not one, not two, but several major trials going on in my life simultaneously. They have been going on for long periods of time and I’ve been a bit overwhelmed by them at times. I do not say this in order to have a pity party for myself or to try to evoke your sympathy; it’s just the fact of my current circumstances. While I am quite familiar with the above verse, I have never rejoiced at the onset of a trial, or in the middle of one. I rejoice when they’re done. Anybody with me on that?
This past weekend, I thought the opportunity would arise for a big turning point for the better in two of the trials that I face, so I cued up some trustworthy friends to be praying for that specifically throughout the weekend. However, by the end of the weekend it was clear that these trials aren’t changing any time soon, much less going away. I ended up baring my heart through tears to the Lord, letting Him know how much it hurt but asking Him for His perspective. He finally asked me a question: Will you believe I’m at work in these situations even when you don’t see any evidence of it?
His question coalesced with the other work He’s been doing in me. Through various means, the Lord has recently been prompting me to examine the state of my faith. I thought my faith was pretty strong; faith is actually one of my spiritual gifts. However, the Lord pointed out to me that although I KNOW the truth of His word (I have it memorized), I don’t always BELIEVE His word (apply it to my own life).
Ouch! He was right. He showed me that while I have no problem believing that His word is true for other people, I have not believed that it’s true for me also. I haven’t dared to hope that it could be true for me and that He would work in miraculous ways in my life as well as in the lives of those around me.
So here I was, at a crossroads. I was faced with choosing to continue in my unbelief or to change paths and start to believe that His word is true for me as well as for you. It felt like a big risk to believe that I could have the hope of all of His promises for myself. However, the decision was an easy one – I chose to believe Him. I repented for my unbelief and chose hope instead. This was equivalent to a tectonic plate shifting in my heart. Wow!
My first request of the Lord was for Him to give me joy in spite of my circumstances. I cannot manufacture joy in my life even when things are going well, and I certainly couldn’t do it in the face of the trials. It had to come from Him or not come at all.
It didn’t come immediately. I had to push through a lot of garbage and lies from the enemy by continually affirming that I trusted Jesus and Jesus alone and affirming that His word is true for me. I reminded the Lord of His promise to give us joy and of His Romans 5:3 promise that we can rejoice in the middle of trials. It felt like re-programming my 54 year old heart to believe differently. Soon, the joy came.
There is still no end in sight to my trials. They might rage on for several more days, weeks, months or even years for all I know. What I know is that my heart would not have been changed without the simultaneous onslaught of these trials. I have learned not just to praise God IN my storms but to actually praise Him FOR the storms. What a blessing!
Friends, if you find yourself facing problems and trials today, here are some things that will be crucial to navigating them with a soft heart towards God:
- Get people praying for you and with you in the middle of it. Don’t just say, “I’m going through a hard time,” but let yourself be known! I cannot overemphasize how important this is. Doing life in community MATTERS. Prayer MATTERS.
- BELIEVE God. The word “believe” is a verb; it denotes action. Put your trust in Jesus and Jesus alone. Don’t tough it out and grit your teeth until you get through it – trust that He will bring you through and also that He has your very best in mind.
- Praise God. Praising Him for Who He is takes your eyes off yourself and puts them squarely on Him, where they belong. Ask Him to help you praise Him FOR the storm – He will do it!
- Ask God for everything that you need. No, I don’t mean that you need your problem or trial to end. I mean, do you need more joy while you’re in the storm? More endurance? More strength? More wisdom? Ask Him – He is eager to answer.
Let me know if I can be praying for you too. Comment below or send me a private message if you prefer. We can be on this journey together. 🙂