We live in a dark world where Satan has sway over circumstances in our lives. I have said often to people that Psalm 23:4 tells us that as we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we are to fear no evil for God is with us, His rod and staff comfort us. I say that in the valleys the flowers grow and the rivers flow. The most fertile places are valleys, even in cold Alaska.
My experience as a healthcare chaplain has taught me that life is mostly valleys, it just is. That is not a negative view of life; it is truth. Therefore it is incumbent upon us to “Choose this day whom you will serve…but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15-16). Joshua, who had been thrown into leadership after Moses death in the wilderness, was just that. He was lost and afraid. But God came to him and admonished him, “Be strong and courageous, because you will lead the people to inherit the land…Do not be terrified, do not be discouraged, for the Lord your god will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:6,9).
This is the situation that many of us face in life, valleys, and challenges seemingly way beyond us and the enemies growing around us. When Life is hard is the title of a dramatic teaching by James MacDonald concerning facing your giants. Ever since the first book of the Bible was written in Job, we have been up against insurmountable odds. In my life when these challenges came, I ran. I headed for greener pastures or self-medicated with a number of fleshly options. We cannot face the challenges of life by ourselves; we need the Lord. As He told Joshua and the writer of Hebrews, “I will never leave you or forsake you.”
In the great trials of life James tells us to consider it joy. Why” Because God is making us mature and complete, lacking nothing. But He also suggests that we lack wisdom, so ask Him for it and He will give it generously without finding fault.
We are fearful people. We run or hide from storms or trials. Our fear can escalate to wanting to quit or give in or even check out in despair. God wants us to submit or obey in the trial. God will use the pain for our good and His glory. It seems that it will never end, but all trials are temporary and are allowed by God. They may be training grounds, or even consequences to our own behavior that was outside God’s will. Satan wants to use the pain in trials to cause us to quit, but God uses it to bring us forth as gold. Satan’s goal is torment; God’s is molding us in His image.
I used all the following tools when in despair and deep depression a couple of years ago. I could not see past the darkness until God healed me totally for submitting and obeying until the trial was over.
So what do we do in the storm?
· Strengthen our prayer life
· Count your blessings, because the deeper the valley, the higher the blessing, be thankful
· Increase your time in God’s Word
· Increase your time in God’s Word
· Tell other godly and trusted people to enter into it with you in prayer and counsel
· Get godly counseling
· Keep your eye on the prize, eternal, not short term gain
· Embrace, submit and rest in the trial because His power is being made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).
· Be content for we can do all things through God who strengthens us
· Be patient as His ways and time is not ours
· Don’t grumble for God hates it
· Surrender and be assured you are not going under because God is faithful
· Keep walking in faith “As you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him” (Colossians 2:6).
So these are a few suggestions for when the trials heat up and you are feeling overwhelmed. The Serenity Prayer reminds us that hardship is the pathway to peace and that supreme happiness is never met in this life, but joy is.