Struggling with Difficult Situations
Joshua Lowe reminds us that we may face different struggles or struggle differently in similar situations, but we can all turn to God and one another in dealing with our struggles.
Recently my wife and I have been brewing different flavours of kombucha. Every week we seem to brew up a new batch of fruity flavours. To me, every batch has a similar sour acidic tea taste, but if you talk with my wife, she would disagree. She knows that each bottle is prepared differently and as a result each has its own unique essence.
Sometimes I tend to think of difficult situations, struggles and suffering in the same way. It’s very easy to think that all struggles are the same and that since everyone experiences low periods in their life, our experiences are the same. Besides the variety and combination of possible circumstances, it is easy to forget that everyone is uniquely different and struggles differently even in the same struggles.
Since COVID has been dominating the headlines recently, it is easy to assume that the only thing people have been struggling with is COVID related, like that’s the only flavour of suffering. While most of us during this time probably have been wrestling with the implications of COVID, our situations and struggles are all unique. Besides COVID, it is easy to lose sight of other forms of struggles people might be struggling with such as mental health issues, death of a family member, broken relationships, financial difficulties, struggles with sin and temptations or a generally dry relationship with God.
What to do when struggling?
Whatever you may be struggling with, it’s important to know that: even though every difficult situation is different, the good news is that God knows you and your situation more than even you know yourself and He offers us practical steps in dealing with these situations. As the psalmist says in Psalm 139:1–4,
You have searched me, LORD,
and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
you, LORD, know it completely.
Even though our situations and experiences are all different, the steps we are called to take to grow in the Lord during low periods in life are similar. God’s Word shows us how to suffer well under tough circumstances.
Bring your concerns to God
Give ear to my prayer, O God,
and hide not yourself from my plea for mercy!
Hear me and answer me. (Ps 55:1-2a)
Cast your burden on the LORD,
and he will sustain you;
he will never permit
the righteous to be moved. (Ps 55:22)
One thing we can learn from Job, Psalms and the Prophets is that it’s okay to bring your concerns to God. What did our forerunners do when they were faced with suffering and are downcast? They turned to the Lord for strength. When they saw the world not as God designed it to be, they brought these things to God and asked Him to intercede.
A godly approach to suffering is to bring your problems to God rather than turn away from Him. He actually wants us to pray to Him and earnestly desires this from us (see Luke 18:1–8: The Parable of the Persistent Widow).
Preach the gospel to yourself
We hear this phrase a lot in GBC, but why is this so important in the midst of suffering? Romans 8 tells us that the gospel is important in the midst of suffering because it gives us hope knowing that the struggles in this world are temporary even though they may not feel like it (Rom 8:18)! The gospel reminds us that though we live in a fallen world now, through Christ’s work on the cross and faith in Him, we will be able to share in future glory that cannot be taken away from us because nothing can separate us from God’s love found in Christ Jesus (Rom 8:38-39).
Preaching the gospel to ourselves come in many different forms. Often when we’re struggling, we rarely want to open our Bible to read. While that is still very important to try and do, there are other ways to absorb gospel truths. When I lack motivation to read God’s Word, I find that listening to gospel-centered songs or hymns are another helpful way to meditate on the gospel.
Reach out to the community
The church community is also another essential way to hear gospel truths outside of personal Bible reading. When you struggle in your walk with God and find it difficult to read your Bible, it’s always helpful to have a brother or sister come alongside you to read the Word with you. Others who can speak into your life with biblical eyes often are used by God to help you see truths that you might be missing. Next time you’re struggling with anything, reach out to a fellow church member.
What to do when you’re not struggling?
Not everyone struggles at the same time, the Christian life is also made up of many joyous moments! For those who are currently doing well in their Christian journey, here are a few things to do when you’re not struggling in life:
- Give praise and thank God for His provision and protection during this good season of your life.
- Reach out to those whom you know are currently struggling and seek to encourage and strengthen them.
- Be a part of our Member Care Ministry. If you don’t know anyone who is struggling and who may need help during this time, contact Ngo Thian Chye (9182 9933) or Hewlett Chew (8133 7877) and they can let you know ways you can serve struggling church members.
For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. (1 Cor 12:12)
If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. (1 Cor 12:26)