What is a Jesus Follower to do when faced with disappointment, disaster, and despair? We know from Scripture “that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8:28). Yet when we encounter difficulties and tragedy we often ask “Why?” The truth is we may never understand why something bad happens. Sin and free will are not caused by God, but the results of sin and free will can still be used by God for good.
As we choose to trust God and accept the grace He gives us in these situations, the Holy Spirit will work in us and we will gain Hope. Here are ways you can endure tragedy and trials through God’s grace:
- Give thanks. Being thankful in a difficult situation is sometimes the most difficult thing you can do. Scripture is very clear about this, though: “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (I Thess. 5:18). To be thankful rather than to complain takes a conscious act of the will, but it opens the door for God to directly act in your life.
- Rejoice! We are instructed to rejoice in all things: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (Phil. 4:4). Rejoicing is a response of the spirit. You cannot escape the pain of a difficult situation, but you must not let it overwhelm you. Even in times of intense sadness and despair, we will find peace if we can learn to rejoice in God.
- Believe and act on the Word of God. Jesus, when tested in the wilderness, responded to each temptation by quoting Scripture. You can follow His example and successfully engage in spiritual warfare by proclaiming truth in the face of tests and temptations. Ephesians 6:17 describes the Word of God as “the sword of the Spirit”—the only offensive weapon in our spiritual armor. Use it!
- Cry out to God. God desires to work powerfully through your life; therefore, you must learn to depend on Him. He alone must become your source of strength, provision, protection, and direction. Psalm 50:15 says, “Call on me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me.”
- Overcome evil with good. Jesus gave His disciples instructions about responding to those who made their lives miserable (Matt. 5:44). These directions are completely opposite to our natural reaction. Jesus says you must: Love your enemies, Bless those who curse you, Do good to those who hate you, and Pray for those who use you and persecute you. These responses reflect the heart of God: “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:21).
When you respond to every difficult situation in these five ways, God will faithfully pour out His grace upon you in the midst of your trial, giving you a sense of Hope and Peace that will see you through. You can endure hardships and overcome the enemy in God’s strength!