Some people seem to get through life without many troubles, while some seem to go from one demanding situation to another. I recall a lovely lady in her 80’s whose life had been blessed. When she heard others talk of their troubles she couldn’t believe them.
On one of her first hospital stays, late in life, she reported to me how she felt like a Queen, with meals provided, a tea lady bringing refreshments and a button she could press to get attention.
I think of her as the exception to the rule. Most of the rest of us know what it is to feel swamped at times by trials and tribulations.
Christ has promised us peace, and the kind of peace you can have when it doesn’t make sense to feel so at ease.
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6,7
Trials and difficult times require us to find inner strength to press through. If we are lazy and self-indulged, or spoiled by having others solve our problems for us, we can lack internal stamina to press through.
I have been impressed at times with people who have had difficult lives who have developed strong internal fortitude to keep going, cross the next hurdle and meet each challenge successfully.
I am not an expert on how to get to that point but I think there are some obvious pointers that might help.
Attitude is a serious issue. If we tend toward self-pity or some sense of personal right to be unbothered by issues, we will not dig deep into ourselves and develop personal strength. That’s why it is valuable for parents, grandparents, mentors, coaches and others who assist children to not pander to their wish for an easy life. We are meant to find stamina within us, resolve and the ability to stand our ground. So it’s harmful to pander to children’s wish for things to be made easy. Sadly many parents and grandparents pander to the child’s weakness, possibly disabling that child for life.
A reality in life is that trials will come. Jesus explained that in His parable about the sower. Of the four places the seed landed only one was without trials. Seed on the hardened pathway had no hope of taking root so was eaten by birds. Seed on stoney ground could not get a deep root system and was scorched by the sun. Other seed fell among thorns that choked the plant. (see Matthew 13:3-8)
Similarly, Jesus’ parable about building on a rock or sand reveals that our lives will be battered by wind and rain no matter what our foundation is. (see Matthew 7:24-27)
We need to accept that life will challenge us, and so develop attitude and habits that enable us to face each one without fear and without self-defeating ideas, such as self-pity.
We use the term ‘grit’ to describe that inner strength that holds a ‘can do’ attitude and tackles problems as things to be conquered and opportunities to grow and move forward.
As Christians we will also face trials that are specifically designed to test our heart and reveal our faith.
“Greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honour, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” 1Peter 1:6,7
The most wonderful state is that of one who can navigate life’s obstacles with that peace that passes understanding. So how do we find peace while facing trials?
One thing is to remember that the Lord is with us in each trial. The Good Shepherd which King David revealed in Psalm 23 was in the valley of the shadow of death with the sheep. He had not abandoned them to face dangers on their own.
“Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil, for you are with me. Your rod and your staff comfort me.” Psalm 23:4
We can then cast our fears and anxieties onto the Lord who knows exactly what is going on inside us.
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, bring your requests to God. And the peace of God, which passes understanding, will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6,7
“Cast all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” 1Peter 5:7
Our greatest source of peace, from my experience, is to come to the place of being sure God has everything under control. God has made us wonderful promises, but in our trials we can feel as if things are out of control and we could suffer great loss or pain. Reminding ourselves that God is God and He knew about the trial long before it came to us, and He has a way through it, enables us to settle our trust in Him.
When we trust God to protect us and guide us, even if it’s only one small step at a time, we can rest in our confidence in Him. Resting is a place of peace.
When you find yourself wound up and anxious, remember that you are to cast those cares and fears onto the Lord. Encourage your heart to trust God. Rest in His care and love for you. And ask God for stamina to face the challenges and find Peace in Tribulation.