God is fitting us for the battles of life. Sorrow, frustration, and pain are often the tools He uses to shape and mold our lives so that we become reflections of God’s mercy and grace to others. While He is not the author of heartache and tragedy, He certainly knows exactly how to use them for our benefit and His glory.
Setting Your Focus on Christ
One of the hardest lessons we will ever learn is how to take a negative situation and turn it into a ositive experience. In Psalm 23, King David reminds us that all of life is a matter of faith and perspective. He writes, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for you are with me” (v. 4).
David’s words are stepping-stones to a great faith. If we practice the principles that he lived by, God will develop a conquering faith within our lives. David lived with adversity and, from time to time, we will too. No one escapes difficulty; it is inescapable in a fallen world. The key is in what we do with our feelings of defeat, discouragement, and criticism.
You may be thinking, “But you don’t know my circumstances. There is no way for you to understand the pressure I feel or the discouragement that plagues my heart.”While we can’t truly know or understand the hurt another person may be experiencing, we do know that there is one person who understands perfectly, and that is Jesus Christ.
He was rejected, betrayed, criticized, and crucified. If you are looking for someone to identify with the pain that you are feeling, do what David did — look up and realize that there is someone who is walking through the valley with you. No matter how dark life becomes, Christ will lead you to victory.
Paul was another person who faced constant opposition. He was criticized for his work and ministry. Sadly, the criticism did not come from the Roman government or from enemy forces; it came from men and women who were from the same heritage as the apostle. It also came from within the Church.
Never Lose Heart
Each time he entered a city, Paul immediately went up to the synagogue to preach God’s message of saving grace to the Jews. Then he would turn his attention to the Gentiles. Many times, there was no welcome mat for the visiting apostle.
At Iconium, Paul was met with great criticism. Because of the threats made against him, he fled to Lystra where, after hearing him preach the gospel, many came to know Christ as their Savior (see Acts 14). However, Paul was stoned by the Jews, thrown out of the city, and left for dead. Even this could not break Paul’s spirit, desire, or his will to tell others about God’s eternal love and forgiveness.
In Acts 14, we read that “after the disciples had gathered around him, [Paul] got up and went back into the city” (v.20). Paul did not lose heart. His faith never wavered, his love for the Lord never flagged, and he never turned away from what God had called him to do.
Are you facing a difficult situation? Is your ability to cope fading? God will provide the strength, wisdom, and courage that you need to continue. Every heartache, every frustration, every disappointment, and every failure is used by God to draw us closer to Himself. We may not understand why we have to face opposition at home, at our jobs, or even in our service to Christ, but God knows and understands, and this is all that counts.
Here’s how to turn an oppressive situation into an opportunity for God:
Realize that God is with you at all times. God never leaves you alone to face the frustrations of this world. If it seems that you cannot hear His voice, be patient, be still, and be committed to trusting Him before you make a single move. Faithfulness, obedience, and willingness to wait on the Lord’s timing speak volumes to God.
Recognize the hand of God in your circumstances. Andrew Murray wrote that the storms of life are the advent of God’s coming — “the evidence of His presence” surrounding us. We are His beloved children and when we hurt, He hurts with us. When we face heartache, He comes to our aid. When we are mistreated, He is grieved and goes to work on our behalf.
React with selfless love. If anyone had an impressive resume, it was the Apostle Paul. He was educated at the best schools, held some of the highest social positions, and achieved tremendous knowledge and status, but none of this was important to him. Paul was not angry with his persecutors and he did not waste time seeking vengeance or retribution. Instead, he blessed those who sought to hurt him. In Philippians he writes, “Whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things” (Philippians 3:7-8).
When we feel like the worst of life is upon us, we need to remember that Christ has gone before us (see Deuteronomy 31:8), He is with us, and He works for the good of those who love Him (see Romans 8:28).