“So amid the conflict, whether great or small, do not be discouraged God is over all…”
It’s a conflict, storm, nightmare, or maybe just a small flareup. To anyone else, it might be nothing, but to you it is serious business. Anything could happen, and you want to be very careful and to handle this well. See if any of this helps….
Someone came up to me Tuesday evening at the conclusion of my fifth and final Christmas dinner/banquet where I had tried to draw everyone present and deliver a message on living by faith.
“You have no idea how appropriate your message was for us tonight. It was sent from God.”
That’s what keeps preachers going. It’s better than any tonic.
How does that line go? Everyone is either just coming out of a battle, in the middle of a battle, or about to go into one.
Here are some random suggestions on “What to do when you find yourself in the battle of your life” (or something a little less dire but still ruining your day)….
1) Thank God He counted you worthy. Only the best are tested.
2) Do nothing in the flesh. Wait on Him. “The arm of flesh will fail you; you dare not trust your own.”
3) Stay in Scripture. The Psalms are great. Listen for His voice to come through in His word.
I suggest a pattern of reading a few verses, then thanking God in prayer for what they say, then sitting quietly doing nothing but waiting, and then repeating a few times.
4) Sing. Even when you don’t feel like singing, sing anyway. Make yourself rejoice by faith. See Acts 16:25 for the gold standard on this subject. (My wife says, “Every pastor ought to keep a hymnal nearby. It’s better than any devotional book.”)
5) Give thanks in advance for the way God is going to use this. He hates to waste suffering, you know.
6) Resist the urge to complain and say “Why me, Lord?” Suffering is one of the great mysteries of life, and can actually be the finest thing God ever allows in the lives of His children, although we usually have to get beyond it to see. Somewhere in the Psalms, the songwriter said, “It is good that I was afflicted, that I might learn to trust the Lord.”
Anyway, a better question might be, “Why not me, Lord?”
7) Network with friends of faith. They can help you keep your balance and restore your perspective. You find out what some of them are going through and your problems shrink to nothing.
I thought my cancer of the mouth was the worst news ever until I learned of the repeated stem cell transplants a friend was having to undergo for his cancer. It ended up being the cause of his death, but in the middle of his suffering he gave a ringing testimony for Jesus Christ. I was ashamed of my self-pitying.
8) Don’t do anything stupid like resign your job, quit your church, sell your house, move to another city, or divorce your spouse. Do not strike out in anger at anyone or make promises you have no intention of keeping. If you’re uncertain what to do, ask your network of buddies.
You will get through this, and will be so glad you were faithful.
9) Show the world how Christians behave in the midst of pain, persecution, heartache, darkness, and despair. Hope shines through like a heavenly beam, transforming everything around it, whether you see it yourself or not.
10) Do not try to be your own judge and assess how you are doing, what the Lord is doing with you, or even whether He’s doing anything at all. Some things you are too close to see, so just trust Him and try to get through this day.
11) That’s the next point: Try to get through this day. That’s your number one goal. Keep it in the road.
12) Never forget that the outside world is watching how you are handling your conflict. If you show them something of God, they will never forget it.
This last one can be burdensome if you blow it up all out of proportion. That’s why we put it last. When you’re hurting, it’s next to impossible to pray the Lord will use this to bless someone else. You just want the pain to go away. However, from time to time, when the pain is not so bad, you will be pleased (and more than a little amazed) to learn that someone is seeing Jesus in the way you are handling this business.
Give Him all the glory for every day you live, whether painfree or joy-filled.
One of these days, when the storm is over and the sun is shining and birds are doing what birds do, you will feel so wonderful that you passed this test. Aced it, even.
“Be thou faithful until death and I will give thee a crown of life.” Jesus said that and He keeps His promises.