7 Steps to Keep Your Faith in Hard Times
Finding Faith in Difficult Times
We all face adverse events and situations in life. You might be going through a season of hardships in your life at this time. This could be job loss, finances, sickness, loss of a loved one, relationship with a troubled child, or even divorce. But whatever the challenge is, you can have the determination to see things through as you find your strength in God.
As the song in the video below says, your life might be hard but God is good. In fact, you can move from feeling like a victim of your circumstances to find purpose through your faith. I have found the Apostle Paul's words in Romans 8: 35, 37 to be very encouraging in times of adversity:
"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? ... No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us."
Allow these verses to resonate in your heart, and know that no matter how bad the situation you are facing is, you can experience God's love, and nothing can separate you from it. You have reason to shout even in your dark place, for you have the love of God, and his Word that all things are possible with him.
Consider too, that you do not have to limp through this difficult time, but you can have the attitude of a victor. In fact, the Apostle Paul says you are "more than conqueror" Why is this so? Because Jesus Christ won the victory already on your behalf, and all you need to do now is to accept it by faith.
Take this journey and allow the Lord to speak to your heart, and change you, through these seven steps in the form of seven short devotions.
Life Is Hard, But God Is Good!
Step 1: Examine Your Heart
Focus Verse: "Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it (Proverbs 4:23, NIV)."
When you are experiencing difficulties, the first place to start to deal with the issues, is with yourself. Your attitude in challenging times could determine the outcome. While you might not be able to change your circumstances, you can certainly cooperate with God to change you.
The place to start in this journey of self-examination and growth is your heart. The wise King Solomon instructs, "Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it" (Proverbs 4:23). The verse implies that everything starts with your heart, and as such you need to pay careful attention to what is in it.
Your life will go in the direction that you heart is set. You might need to ask yourself these questions. Am I carrying offense and resentment in my heart? Is my heart truly set on the things of God more than that of the world?
After a time of careful reflections, confess areas of your life where you are off tract, tell God you want him to guide your life from today. You want to move forward with a heart that is open to change, and responsive to God's Word and the Holy Spirit
Focus Question: Is your heart truly set to set for God's purpose come to pass in your life?
Prayer: "Father God, your Word says that you require truth in the inward parts. I open my heart for you to show me any hidden agenda I might have that is not in line with your perfect will for my life. I ask you to wash me with the blood of Jesus Christ, and I move forward committed to your purpose for my life. Amen."
Step 2: Meditate on God's Word
Focus Verse: "Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful (Joshua 1:8, NIV).
The context of the verse indicates that Moses was dead and his assistant Joshua was facing the enormous task of assuming leadership to take the children of Israel into the Promised Land. Joshua knew it was a difficult undertaking from Moses' experiences with the Israelites. But Joshua was not alone, he had God's assurance that he would be with him and would direct his path.
Importantly, God gave Joshua strict instructions, and simply outlined, Joshua was supposed to:
- Consistently meditate on God's Word, that is, know his Word and keep his heart on them.
- Carefully obey the instructions of the Word of God, and not just be a hearer of the Word but a doer.
In your own situation, God is giving you the same instructions. Take time to meditate on his Word, and especially his promises regarding your circumstances. Find God's promises that speak to your situation and say then back to yourself day and night.
This is not mere parroting Scriptures, but allowing God's Word to change you. You can only reap the full benefits of his Words as you apply them to your life. Then there will be a change in your focus, and you will become more sensitive to what God's Word is saying about the circumstances you are facing.
Jesus promised, "If you remain in me and my word remain in you, ask whatever you wish and it shall be given to you" (John 15:7). So meditate on God’s Word, and allow Jesus’ word to become a reality in your life.
Focus Question: Are you satisfied that you spend enough time reading and meditating on God's Word?
Prayer: ”Father God, thank you that I have your Word to meditate on instead of focusing on my difficult situation. Give me a deep yearning for your Word that it will change me. In Jesus' Name I pray. Amen.
Facing Challenging Situtions
What is the most challenging situation you are presently facing?
Step 3: Pray with Faith
Focus Verse: "Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours" (Mark 11:24, NIV)
Prayer, first of all, is communication with God, where you fellowship and build relationship with him. In the course of this relationship, God encourages us to ask for the things we need. Andrew Murray, nineteenth century pastor, defines prayer as a way of drawing God's blessings on us and the people around us.
In the face of adversity, spend time in prayer, and ask God to supply specific needs as he promises in his Word (Philippians 4:19) But there are principles for effective prayer. The late Kenneth Hagin, outlines the following steps to praying with results.
- Ask the Father in Jesus' Name (John 16:23).
- Pray in faith (Mark 11: 24). Believe that what you ask your Father for, based on the promises in his Word, you have received.
- Forgive others (Mark 11:25). Unforgiveness can hinder your faith and block you from receiving what God has for you.
- Pray in the Spirit (Romans 8:26). The Holy Spirit helps you in prayer. He is the Helper, so depend on him to enable you as you pray effectively.
When you ask God in faith to meet specific needs in your situation, there is no need to keep asking for the same thing. But move to thanking God that he heard and answered your prayer.
Focus Activity: Take some time to read, and prayerfully meditate on the Scriptures related to the steps to effective prayer.
Prayer: "Father God, thank you that you invite me to ask you and I will receive. You are the God who answers prayer. Today, I bring this difficult situation that I am facing --------- (be specific) to you. I ask that you work in this situation -------- (make specific requests). Thank you for the changes that have already started. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen."
Step 4: Renew Your Mind
Focus Verse: "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will" (Romans 12:2, NIV)
Psychologists tell us that our thinking influences how we feel and behave. In line with this idea, the verse instructs you to renew your mind. Your mindset could cause your life to be out of line with God's perfect will for you.
As you face challenging circumstances, you could find that you become very focused on them. Then these frustrating set of events could begin your shape your thinking. The result might be thought patterns that are not congruent with God's Word.
Then as the cycle continues, negatives feelings like sadness, resentment, and anger, could result in poor decisions and actions. So instead of allowing the world to cast you into its mold, consciously make an effort to focus on what God's Word says about you and your situation.
As you continue to keep your focus on God's Word, more and more, you will get God's perspective on the situation you are facing. Then you will find that things are not hopeless for God is in the situation changing you and ultimately your circumstances.
With your new perspective, you could see God using what was meant for evil to be a blessing in your life and the lives others. (Read the story of Joseph in Genesis chapters 37 and 39-50). With this perspective, you can be still and know that God is at work. Norman E. Rosenthal, MD, in his book, The Gift of Adversity, advises, "it is sometimes wise to remain silent even in the face of injustice."
Focus Question: Are you more focused and responsive to the adverse situation in your life than what God's Word says?
Prayer: “Father God, I thank you that my mind is renewed through your Word, so I don't have to be controlled by the dictates in any situation. Thank you for changing my mind through your Word and giving a fresh perspective on the situations I am facing. In Jesus' Name I pray. Amen.”
Step 5: Build Up Your Faith in God
Focus Verse: “‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes” (Mark 9:23, NIV).
The context of the verse suggests that the issue was not whether Jesus wanted to heal the boy, for he did. The greater issue was whether the father could believe to receive the healing.
What about you and the situation you face? You might have prayed and make specific requests regarding the situation. Maybe you are not seeing any change, and you feel that God is not willing to answer your prayer and bring you the relief you need.
Can you believe that God wants to intervene? Then take the decision to believe that God's promise is true, for "everything is possible for one who believes." Then reflect on the following verse:
"What is faith? It is the confident assurance that something we want is going to happen. It is the certainty that what we hope for is waiting for us, even though we cannot see it up ahead" (Hebrews 11: 1, TLB).
Express the confidence of faith by boldly declaring specific promises related to your situation. As you do, you will find that you have a peace and quiet rest that God is at work in the situation, even though you might not see any outward change yet.
Focus Question. What steps will you take to continue to stand in faith until you see answers to your prayers?
Prayer: “Father God, thank you that you answer prayers. Help me to stand in faith on your promises until I see changes in my situation, and you will get the glory! In Jesus' Name I pray. Amen.”
Coping with Hard Times
When you face hard times, what is your most effective way of coping during those times?
Step 6: Offer Praise and Thanksgiving
Focus Verse: "Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus" (1 Thessalonians 5:18, NIV).
God wants you to thank and praise him, not just in good times, but also when things get difficult. After all, he never changes, and his blessings are available in every situation you face. When you praise him, you recognize his goodness in all seasons.
Andrew Wommack outlines three benefits when we praise and give thanks in adverse circumstances. Praise is beneficial because you:
- Encourage yourself. You move from the difficulty of the situation, to see God's love, power and faithfulness. You no longer see a hopeless situation, but that the power of God is that is able to change you and the situation. As you praise, you can be like David, who in hard times encouraged himself in the Lord (1 Samuel 30:6). Then you see, El Shaddai, the God Almighty of blessings, who nourishes, satisfies and sustains.
- Drive out the enemy. The devil is behind much of the adverse situations that you experience. He is the thief who comes to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10). He wants to hinder God's plan for your life. As you give your praise to God, where it belongs, this drives off the enemy.
- Please God. It delights God's heart to see his child praising him even in difficult circumstances for this is showing your abiding trust and reliance on him. Praising God in difficult situations demonstrates your faith in God for "without faith it is impossible to please God" (Hebrews 11:6).
- Receive Jesus' gift of peace. Jesus gave his disciples this assurance just before he was crucified, "My peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you ... Don't let you heart be fearful. neither let it be afraid" (John 14:27). This promise is for you today. So receive his gift of peace and give him praise for it. Then Jesus' peace will surround you and the fear you are experiencing will disappear.
Spend some time and take an inventory of God's goodness in your life. Call to remembrance specific things he has done in your life, and start thanking him. Think of who he is; his divine qualities and start praising him. Let praise and thanksgiving flow from your heart, for God is good! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!
Focus Question: What steps will you take to cultivate an attitude of thanksgiving and praise in your life?
Prayer: "Father God, I thank you for your goodness in my life. You are faithful to me and I give thanks and praise. Give me a thankful heart in every situation I face. In Jesus’ Name I pray. Amen."
Step 7: Nurture Your Spirit, Soul and Body
Focus Verse: "May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Thessalonians 5:23, NIV)
As you pass through adverse circumstances, especially for prolonged periods, your spirit, soul, and body can be affected. Your spirit is the core of your being, and so the previous six devotions focused on building you spiritually. But there other important aspects of your life that you must pay attention to as you pass through hard times.
When you pursue life balance, you nurture all aspects of your life, including the spiritual, social, emotional, and physical domains. They are all inter-related. So take steps to take care of your physical health including good nutrition, and getting adequate rest and exercise.
Socially, building strong connections is essential. Promote healthy, nurturing relationships with your family and in your church. Why not join a small group ministry in your church? Here, you can connect, grow in your faith, and experience a sense of belonging. You also get opportunities to reach out to others.
Nurture your emotional well-being through reducing your stress levels. An important way to start is to respond to your Father’s invitation to cast all your anxieties and worries upon him, for he cares for you (1 Peter 5:7). Change your self-talk (internal conversations) to positive, self-enhancing ones that are in line with God's promises in his Word.
With your faith at the center of your pursuit of life balance, you are more flexible to adapt to challenging situations. You will experience God's peace and spiritual and personal growth, as you pass through tough times. This leads to balance in the aspects of your life in differing seasons.
Focus Questions: What steps will you take to bring balance in your life as you pass through adverse situations?
Prayer: “Father God, thank you that I can experience balance in my life because it is committed to you. I recommit myself to you and open my heart for you to work in my life: spirit, soul and body. In Jesus' Name I pray. Amen.”
Bible Quotes to Encourage You in Tough Times
- "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? ... No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us" (Romans 8: 35, 37, NIV).
- Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it (Proverbs 4:23, NIV).
- "Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful (Joshua 1:8, NIV).
- "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go." (Joshua 1:9, NIV).
- "Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours" (Mark 11:24, NIV).
- "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will" (Romans 12:2, NIV).
- “‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes” (Mark 9:23, NIV).
- "Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus" (1 Thessalonians 5:18, NIV).
- "May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Thessalonians 5:23, NIV).
Enjoy the Seasons of Life
Divine Resilience: Bouncing Back from Challenging Times
As you take the seven steps, affirm that your faith can take you through hard times. Recognize that you have already started your journey of personal and spiritual growth and renewal, then enlarge your horizons on what God is doing in your life.
You can be like Joseph was, in his slavery and prison experiences, he got better instead of bitter. You too can gain a new perspective and grasp divine opportunities even in hard places. Then you can say, like Joseph, what was meant for evil, God used it for good. He said to his brothers:
"You plotted evil against me, but God turned it into good, in order to preserve the lives of many people who are alive today because of what happened" (Genesis 50: 20, GNB).
In the end, you can bounce back from adversity because your faith in God took you through. Your testimony will encourage others because they will see how God brought you through hard times into a good place.
© 2014 Yvette Stupart