Having faith in God during difficult times can be incredibly hard. Excruciating. Even physically painful.
But I want to testify that trusting God in difficult times (even finding joy through trials!) is possible for any of us.
I know because my husband and I have had to trust God through hard times on several occasions:
- chronic illness in marriage,
- scary health issues with our kids,
- intense parenting battles,
- miscarriage, and so many more.
And today, I want to teach you the practical insights I've learned so that you can stay strong during this trial and trust God despite the difficulties!
I want to show you that yes, it is possible to have HOPE and JOY when you're trusting God through a difficult time.
In case you think it's easy for me to share about this topic because our family is no longer walking through those trials, I want you to know that we're currently battling unemployment.
And we have been unemployed for over 17 months now.
Yes, seventeen very long months of no income. It hasn't been easy (and what we learned a long time ago when we paid off 100K in debt is really coming in handy).
But we're being blessed with many priceless spiritual treasures as we're learning about trusting God during difficult times.
Unspeakably amazing gifts of God that we would not have received any other way than to walk through this trial.
I want to share with you what we've learned about having faith in God through difficult times. Because, truly, God does have a wonderful purpose for these challenging situations.
How to Trust God During Difficult Times
If you're going through an intense trial, I'm not here to give you simple Christian platitudes or to promise that you can avoid the pain of a trial.
But, oh, how I want to help you to discover supernatural joy, contentment–even peace!–while you're caught in the storm.
That ability to thrive (and not just survive) a trial is founded on three principles that we've discovered as we've learned about trusting God through difficult times.
Principle #1: We must take responsibility for what we choose to savor.
To explain this principle, I want to share a simple scene from my life.
Tonight I watched the sunset. I watched the sun dip lower and lower behind a silhouetted mountain crest and then—just like that!—it disappeared.
I can’t remember the last time I did that. And yet, the sun does it every day.
As I sat there savoring the last glimmers of sunlight, I asked myself:
What have I been stopping to savor in place of moments like these?
And the answer was clear: I’ve stopped too many times to savor the wrong things.
Like the fears of the future. Like the utter agony of being broken–again and again–by this trial.
How about you? Are you guilty of this too from time to time?
Let me tell you–if we allow our thoughts to habitually linger on the “what ifs,” we will cripple our ability to trust God during hard times.
I mean, it's understandable that we struggle with this! Friends, we get lost in the sorrow. We wander in the future without God (a place we were never intended to go) because it's really difficult to trust God through a trial!
We play those damaging “what if” thoughts over and over. Not because they are good, but, honestly, because sometimes it feels good to feel sorry for ourselves. And maybe we somehow feel that meditating on the “what ifs” brings a bit more control to the chaos.
But the problem is that the longer we hang out here the more familiar the thoughts become.
When we allow these thoughts to dominate we create a stagnant, spiritual “soil” in our minds that make it difficult to really have faith in God during hard times.
What are you choosing to savor today, and how is that affecting your ability to trust God through this trial?
Principle #2: We must quiet our lives so that we can discover (and savor) the quiet undercurrents of joy.
Why don’t we spend more time savoring the good? Well, the pain is easier to discover, especially when we overcrowd our hectic lives with activity.
These tiny treasures aren’t loud and obnoxious, and maybe that’s why we so easily miss them. They speak softly—so softly that its easy to wonder if they’re even there.
They get crowded out in the mad jumble of a hurried life.
That’s why it is in the quiet and stillness that we can see them appear—like rabbits that suddenly materialize on a grassy field at twilight. We see them when we slow down enough to notice their presence.
When I'm enduring a trial I have to regularly quiet my heart: to let out the surge of emotion that's building; and to allow God to replenish my soul with reminders of the beauty that is happening in my little world.
I write them down (usually in a pretty journal like this one) and savor the lovely little treasures of goodness that are present:
- The way my husband and I always hold hands in bed before going to sleep;
- How my nine-year-old lights up when I ask if she’d like a cup of tea;
- My five-year-old’s adorable furrowed brow when he’s confused about something;
- The way all six of us snuggle in bed as we read a bedtime story;
- The always-happy-to-see-me greeting from my two faithful Labradors;
- My twelve-year-old’s dedicated work ethic (which reminds me of his father);
- The “mystery” card left on my pillow that said, “I love you mom. Thank you for giving up your life to teach me.”
- That moment in the car last weekend when I got to remind my son (who had tears of repentance on his cheeks while we looked up Bible verses together) that yes, he was absolutely forgiven.
I choose to savor these moments, like I’d savor a fine piece of cheese or an exquisitely-flavored chocolate truffle.
These are priceless gifts from God—rich and decadent treasures that are not meant to be gobbled up but to be remembered over and over. These are nourishment and hope during the most difficult times.
What would your list look like? What good things can you savor instead of the bad?
Principle #3: Release your fears to God and choose to savor His replenishing promises.
There's a well-known Bible verse that many Christians quote during a trial:
“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)
This is a beautiful verse, but I believe many miss the true power of this verse because they stop at verse 7. They pray to God, telling him about their needs and releasing their fears as outlined above (verses 6-7).
But then the fear creeps in. Suddenly God's peace feels far away because they've forgotten to habitually replenish ourselves with God's promises.
Check out the admonition in the subsequent verses (Philippians 4:8-9):
“And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.”
I've bolded those sections because I believe they are the final missing piece to how we discover joy in trials.
First, we must acknowledge and release our fears. Then, once we have this clean slate, we must regularly “fix our thoughts” (which sounds a whole lot like “savoring,” don't you think?) on those things that are true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and worthy of praise.
I've found that when I take this seriously–meaning, when I really do regularly choose to savor these gifts and promises from God–it is so much easier for me to discover joy in a trial.
Our family is enduring a huge trial right now and honestly, I have my list of these things in Evernote so that I can access them regularly from my phone and tablet. Whenever I'm tempted to let my thoughts wander into the dark places, I confess my fears again to God and meditate on these truths:
- It's true that God is working out all these difficulties into a beautiful future for me.
- He's given me an honorable husband who cherishes me and longs to provide for our family.
- It's right that we have so many friends and family who are praying for us daily.
- I get to spend my days around little children with pure hearts who see the world innocent and full of promise.
And the list goes on.
What can you choose to “fix your thoughts” on during a trial so that you can maintain a spirit of joy?
God Will Provide As You Trust Him Through the Hard Times
One truth we've seen proven over and over as we trust God through hard times: God is faithful. 100 percent.
He has provided and will continue to provide for us (and for you as you trust God in your difficult time).
It may sound cliche, but really, one of God's best gifts to us through this trial is that we're learning what it really means to count it all joy.
And a personal relationship with Christ is the only way to have that kind of unshakeable joy through all circumstances (you can read more about that here).
Want to Stay Strong Through This Trial? Here's Your Next Step
Speaking of a personal relationship with God, the BEST way to stay strong during a difficult trial is to spend time each day growing closer to God.
Practically speaking, what does that look like?
It means reading God's word and applying it to your life. As you read the Bible (and truly allow it to become part of who you are) the Holy Spirit opens your heart to godly wisdom and brings comfort and healing.
That's why I want to give you a SIMPLE, EASY way to grow closer to God through daily Bible study.
I've developed an easy Bible study method that teaches you a simple process for reading, understanding and applying Bible verses to your life. It's called the Spiritual Growth Rhythm, and you can learn more about it here in this video.And I've written an amazing Bible study that uses the Spiritual Growth Rhythm™ to help you discover God's love for you in a brand new way!
(I'm guessing that you could use a hefty dose of God's love right now?) 🙂
“I am Loved” 4-Week Bible Study Course
Experience confident joy as God's love renews your mind
Find peace as god's love helps you let go of worry and fear
Rediscover hope as God's love offers a new perspective on trials
“How have you learned what love is and how to receive love?”
“How can understanding God’s love for you give you a new filter for looking at your circumstances?”
Listen, knowing that you are loved changes everything when we're walking through a trial.
You may believe on a surface level that you are loved by God, but let me tell you, going through a hard time is usually the time when we begin to question God's love.
We wonder, “How in the world can He love me and let this happen to me?”
If you're asking these kinds of questions, I highly encourage you to check out this amazing “I am Loved” Bible Study!
If you're questioning God's love (or wonder if He's abandoned you during this awful time), this Bible study is exactly what you need!
Get the Tools You Need to Stay Strong During This Trial
I know you didn't just come here for a list of feel-good phrases and a few Bible verses, right?
You want change. You want God to show you how to stay strong during this difficult time.
Although I don't know the unique situation you're in, I know for a fact that God is MORE THAN ABLE to help you through this.
But you have to do your part. You have to make a commitment to stay close to Him.
You have to choose to spend time with Him, allowing Him to teach you about His unshakeable joy and peace.
You need to lean fully on Him so that He can give you the strength to endure.
You can't just read the words in this post and click away and hope things change.
You have to take action. You have to bring these truths into your life.
That's why today I highly encourage you to get the “I am Loved” Bible Study Course.
This amazing Bible study is exactly what you need right now to stay strong through this difficult trial.
You need to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you are fully and completely loved by God (and the “I am Loved” Bible Study Course will help you discover that truth like never before).
Listen, friend, I've walked these same difficult roads and I know how AWFUL it can be to deal with tragedy and heartbreak.
You need God's healing touch in your life to not only give you the strength to keep going but to bring clarity, purpose and growth through this time.
Make the Choice to Turn This Broken Season Into One of Spiritual Blessing
Some of my greatest moments of spiritual growth have come during my toughest trials!
But that growth only came because I chose to spend time studying the Bible each day, trusting that God would give me the insight I needed.
Bible study–a time of deep connection with God–is exactly what you need right now.
And, day-by-day, this love Bible study is designed to teach you how to grow closer to God.
It will show you exactly what to study each day, slowly allowing God's life-changing wisdom to change you from the insight out (and give you the strength and stamina you need for trusting God through this difficult time).
Won't you take that step today? Why not pick up one or both of these journals right now?
You've got nothing to lose! Let this Bible study on love transform this difficult time into a season of beautiful spiritual growth!