Below is a blog post that I originally wrote almost five years ago. I wrote it at a time when it seemed like a lot of people were going through "a hard time" and I found myself struggling with what to say and how to guide them. Below is what I came up with.
I feel that we might be in another one of those seasons now - where many are going through difficult times and struggling with questions like "what do I do now?" and "where do I go from here?"
Because of that, I am reposting my three-step strategy of what to do when there's nothing you can do... and where to go when you've got nowhere to go.
If you are going through a hard time, or you know someone else who is, below is my advice to you as to how you should approach this season of trial. And if you think that you don't need to hear/read this right now because everything is fine for you, I'll just say this: don't get too comfortable. While of course I don't wish any tribulation or adversity upon anyone, the reality is that trials are part of this life - as our teacher St. Peter reminds us:
"Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you" (1 Peter 4:12)
So with all of that said, here is my advice...
Doesn’t it stink when you do everything right and it seems like everything goes wrong? And worse, it seems like God Himself is the one putting you in those tough situations – or at least, He doesn’t seem to be in a rush to get me out.
Going along with the continued theme of “Getting Out of the Pit”, I was reading earlier this week about the time when the Lord Jesus Himself found Himself in a sort of “pit” of His own. The story appears in Luke 4:1-13 – the story of when Jesus was tempted by Satan in the wilderness. That story touches me so much because it shows that Jesus really did go through everything we go through as well.
Think about it – He was doing everything right. He was 100% obedient to His Father. He agreed to come down from heaven and live on this horrible sin-infested planet called Earth. He agreed to be born in a filthy manger in the middle of smelly animals and their disgustingly unsanitary environment. When we had our first child, we paid $400 out of pocket to ensure that we wouldn’t have to share a room with another person. Imagine sharing it with the cast from Old MacDonald’s farm!
Jesus did everything right. He fasted. He prayed. He obeyed His parents. He loved everyone. He did everything right!!! So why does God put Him in this situation – “being tempted for forty days by the devil”?
I don’t have an answer for you. The Bible doesn’t tell us WHY, but it does tell us WHAT. It tells us WHAT we should do in that situation when we feel that way. Three things:
1. Don’t look at YOUR NEED; look at HIS SUPPLY.
Jesus had every right to complain about what is happening and to look for a shortcut out. But instead, He focused His thoughts on what God had given Him. “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God” (Luke 4:4). In other words, I know I am lacking food, but I have something even better – the Word of God.
2. Don’t seek ANSWERS; seek GOD.
Again, the easy thing to do would be to complain about the situation at hand. But Jesus didn’t. He turned His complaint to worship. “You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve” (Luke 4:8). In other words, I know that my life isn’t perfect right now, but that was my never my goal. My goal is to worship God and serve Him – not live a happy, comfortable life.
3. Don’t take that step until GOD TELLS YOU.
When times are tough, it’s easy to convince yourself that God wants you to get out. Quit…leave…save yourself. That’s the easy way out. Jesus could have done that. Satan told Him to throw Himself down and God will catch you. But Jesus knew better. “You shall not tempt the LORD your God” (Luke 4:12). Of course God will take care of us, but He expects us to trust Him enough NOT to jump – sometimes that takes more trust than jumping.
Jesus had a three tiered approach of how to respond when times are tough and we find ourselves in the pit: Word of God, worship/prayer, and trust. And that's our formula for success as well.