When life goes our way, it’s always so much easier to be in a better place in our faith. But what about when things start to get difficult, and we are stuck, afraid, or beaten down? Loving God when life is painful can be a challenge.
Surely these questions have crossed your mind. Why is there so much pain in life? Why does life hurt so much? Why is there so much pain and suffering in the world? Why is life so painful and hard? It’s difficult to accept that God is willingly watching over us and is still hearing our prayers!
There are many whose hearts have grown cold because they have experienced too many heartaches, too many trials, and too many disappointments. They don’t want to believe in a God who put them or those whom they love through such unspeakable pain or despair. It’s not fair, nor is it right.
Life isn’t fair, that much is true. If it were, we would always get what we prayed for – there would be no point to winning games (because all teams would win by default), nothing to work toward or accomplish, even selfish prayers would be honored regardless of what it would do to someone else’s life, and God wouldn’t have had to sacrifice His Son to save us at all! Talk about a hollow, self-filled life with even LESS hope!
One might argue that that isn’t true – if all petitions were answered, no one would ever get sick or die, and that would be a good thing, right? But would we then have a reason to even follow God if we didn’t have to rely on Him daily? That’s a question every Christian must face.
No one willingly volunteers to be subjected to torture, and yet we already do that by falling into the same pitfalls and bad habits we can’t seem to shake, whether we have a relationship with Jesus or not. Everyone struggles anyway.
But add Jesus into the equation, and you get something else entirely: you can’t help but see His holiness and how far from that mark we are. It gives each of us a more intimate look at our hearts.
If changed by what Jesus did for us on the cross, we desperately seek to ask for forgiveness and to grow closer to Him. If we still refuse Him, then we continue doing what we want, as many in this world do.
Christians aren’t perfect, even after giving one’s life to Jesus. But it can make us humble and repentant, not arrogant or selfish, seeking to best everyone else – at least, it shouldn’t. Sadly, there are some Christians who do this and make unbelievers wary of what faith is all about, and they don’t want to have any part of such hypocrisy.
Why face and how to handle persecution and hardship in life?
Trials are painful, no doubt about it. They can leave us shaken, depressed, and alone. But even in the worst of our emotions, stop and think about how God felt in giving His Son up for dead. Or what about how Jesus felt when He was facing death? Yet, it happened.
But Jesus overcame the grave! And because He did, He wants us to know that there is nothing in this lifetime that can separate us from His love – really! He doesn’t promise to keep us from pain, but that when we face it, we aren’t alone, even if we don’t see the results of our faith or trust while we are still on this Earth, we benefit by seeing its full result when He returns and takes us to Heaven to reside among all those whose lives we touched in some way. What a blessing that will be to witness!
Adverse situations are not meant to punish us, but to give us the opportunity to take our eyes off of ourselves and depend on Jesus more. When walking alongside Jesus, He will lead us to how to be His eyes, ears, mouth, hands, and feet. As we serve Him by the lives we reach, it will fill us with meaningful moments, and serve to inspire others to give glory to God.
So when you are in despair, don’t give up: LOOK up! Let Jesus fill you will hope, comfort, peace, and love. You may not get full answers, but you can further develop your relationship with the Lord, which is what this life is all about – not having a prosperous life. There is nothing we are entitled to, nor promised just for being followers of Christ. Instead, we are told to:
- Take up our cross daily and follow Him (Luke 9:23). Amidst the struggles and the pains of their lives, the disciples followed Jesus – regardless of the cost. We should too.
- Keep His commandments (Matthew 19:16-17). It wasn’t enough for the disciples to say they were followers, but they were expected to live like it, too. They had to treat others as they wanted to be treated, reflecting how they loved God in how they acted in their words and actions, same as is asked of us today.
- Do what is good (Titus 3:14). Not Jesus’ words, but still given to His followers – because the early church were called to provide for the urgent needs of others and not to live unproductive lives. The modern church, then, should be no different, as we all have specific jobs to do with our time on behalf of others in need.
Our discomfort is nothing compared to what Jesus endured; because of this, He gives us the ability to overcome. It may end in a miraculous answer to prayer, for who knows if the Lord may relent? (See Jonah 3:10). Or it could very well mean our death. But either way, we win and the victory in Jesus is ours (1 Corinthians 15:57 and 1 John 5:4).
While you wait on Jesus, don’t forget to…
- Spend time getting to know Him and others. Building your relationship with God and the people around you will help you look at your problems less frequently.
- Look for the blessings you have. Even if it’s just thanking God for the beauty of a sunrise, having a warm place to sleep, or spending time with your family, the point is that by shifting your negative thoughts to positive ones, you will be in a better frame of mind.
- Serve with willingness. Staying focused on goals will help you look ahead, not stuck in the past or present woes. It’s too easy otherwise to do nothing, and as a result, grow stagnant, indignant, and useless to others, yourself, and most of all, God.
How to love the unlovable person
Loving those who are our exact opposite, whose beliefs and values may be in direct conflict with ours, can be challenging at best. But even people who are like-minded can have troubles getting along. Enemies form when one or both sides are committed to NOT liking the other.
With that in mind, then, how do we make the best of a situation so that we can love others, even when they are difficult to interact with, dangerous, or are unyielding in their behaviour?
Consider what Jesus has to say in Luke 6:32. If we only love people who love us, it doesn’t do much good because even sinners love those who love them. Indeed, Jesus made it a point to reach out to the outcasts of His society and stirred high priests to anger with His contrary ways.
He made lots of enemies on a regular basis! But not only was He not in the least concerned about what they thought of Him, He was also looking past the temporary and had His eyes fixed on the eternal.
He knew that the enemies He made were not individual enemies per se, but were affected by the father of lies, that troublemaker Lucifer, also known as Satan. The one He beats in the end of all days!
When we start to shape our own lives around that idea of eternity, any conflict we face on Earth doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things. What does matter, however, is how we did our part to live for Christ so that others will glorify His name.
The longstanding bet the Lord has had with Satan has been that hearts would not be swayed for Christ, and accordingly, he has tried in vain to prove that throughout time. When we push back the devil to claim the victory in Jesus, he must retreat and go to others who are more willing to listen to his lies.
We can get through the worst of conflicts by resorting to the power given to us in Christ Jesus! And the only way to obtain that power is first by prayer – which the devil hates. Here’s why.
A note about contrary people and loving them: sometimes distance is best. No one says we have to force ourselves to remain in their company repeatedly if all it does is tempt us to disobey the Lord, or if we are in danger of physical harm.
In such extreme situations, prayer is the one weapon we can use so that we are doing our part to still live in peace (Hebrews 12:14). Under such circumstances, no one is held in fault and is in no way a failure if it means removing ourselves from the problem completely. That separation from physical or mental anguish will provide the ability to heal, regroup, and reconnect with God and give Him the glory!
By Natasha Polak
Mind On Jesus