Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. James 4:7-8a
Life can be hard. There’s no other way to say it.
Even if you’re a Christian who stays prayed up and is in the church every Sunday and sometimes even during the week! Life can be hard.
Not all the time and not every day.
But often enough that you can begin to question whether or not it’s all worth it. What’s the use, you think, of being a believer and still going through some of the hard times that God allows you to go through?
After all, shouldn’t being a Christian allow you some form of protection against the enemy? Shouldn’t being a believer give you more insight and more wisdom with which to attack your problems?
Shouldn’t being a believer mean that all your needs are met, your bills are paid and all your relationships run smoothly?
Shouldn’t being a believer mean that life is somehow better or happier than what non-believers experience?
For the most part, the answers to those questions are no – life is not easier, does not run more smoothly and more is not necessarily given to you as a believer. And, yes, there is value in being a Christian despite all these obstacles.
First of all, we know that God allows us to go through tribulations in order to form and shape us. We know that we learn through these experiences to be more patient, wiser, learn to suffer more, endure longer and become more real and honest as God strips away our artifices and the things we hide behind.
So, yes, we will always go through trials and tribulations. There is no way to become more patient other than going through situations that cause you to become more patient. There is no way to become wise (other than by Divine decree, as God granted Solomon) other than encountering situations in which you are forced to develop your wisdom and knowledge. There is no way to learn how to be content other than facing situations beyond your control and belief system which require you develop contentment even in the face of adversity (and if you know of another way, please tell me as I’m dying to know an easier path!).
There simply is no way to develop into the man or woman of God that God wants you to be other than by experiencing some of the negative facets of life.
There are no shortcuts. There are no special allowances.
And we’re all treated the same way, no matter how long we’ve been in the faith.
If you don’t believe me, watch a child as he or she learns to walk. You will notice how often that child falls, skins his or her knees and how wobbly and uncertain they are as they engage unused muscles. Tell me there’s another way to walk that doesn’t involve falling or being hurt as skills and competence increase.
Watch a person receive their first job and notice how long it takes them to actually learn that new job. No matter how smart or skilled they were before getting into that profession, they stumble and engage unused muscles as they learn skills, jargon or tricks they’d never considered before.
Watch a new Christian as they grow in the love and grace of God. Watch them bite their tongues instead of telling people off because they know that is not behavior becoming of a Christian to speak disrespectfully to others. And watch them as they agonize, learn and grow into a person who would never think of speaking that way to another person.
There is no way to grow without some spiritual, emotional, mental and sometimes even physical pain.
There’s just no way around it.
So how do you survive the hard times?
Well, there is one significant benefit to being a part of God.
He walks with you through all the hard times. He holds your hand as you grow, stumble and agonize over your decisions and your behavior. His Holy Spirit comforts you in times of troubles. He leads you into understanding as you grow and learn His gospel.
He is with you every step of the way.
That’s the difference between being a believer and a non-believer. As a believer, you have Someone who is with you all the way. You never have to be alone. You never have to be afraid. You never even have to worry if you’ve learned to turn your cares over to God.
But you will still have to go and grow through the hard times.
Just know that you’re not alone. As the scripture says, draw near to God and He will draw near to you. And as you resist the enemy, he will flee the very presence and nature of the God that is in you.
Your only protection is God. Your only sustenance is Him.
And – with Him – that is how you get through the hard times!