In this lesson we shall see how to survive trouble. We will notice seven methods by which we can endure trials and tribulations. In each of these methods we draw on the help that God provides.
"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble"(Psalms 46:1).
"Let us draw near with confidence to the throne of Grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need"(Hebrews 4:16).
1 Accept the Forgiveness of Sins
In times of trouble, we are beset by many negative feelings, fear, disappointment, bewilderment, grief, a sense of failure, rejection and guilt. Guilt is one of the worst. We cannot cope with our troubles when burdened with guilt.
Jesus provides us with blessed relief from guilt. No matter how terrible our sins have been, Jesus is able to carry them all away.
Through him we can have "our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience"(Hebrews 10:22).
"He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness, by whose wounds you were healed"(1Peter 2:24).
"Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool"(Jeremiah 31:34).
"There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus... through him we are more than conquerors"(Romans 8:1,37).
Forgiveness is a blessing to all who will "repent and be baptized"(Acts 2:38), and thereafter "repent and pray"(Acts 8:22).
"If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1John 1:7,9).
It is vital that we rid ourselves of guilt by seeking God's forgiveness and accepting it so that we may also forgive ourselves.
2 Read the Scriptures
A crisis is no time to neglect the Bible. When we are in trouble, we need God's word more than ever, and we will see things in the Bible that we did not notice when the living was easy.
"Through the patience and comfort of the scriptures we have hope"(Romans 15:4).
"Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path... I am afflicted very much; keep me alive O Lord, according to your word"(Psalms 119:105,107).
"I commend you to God and to the word of his grace which is able to build you up..."(Acts 20:32).
Certain passages of scripture are especially comforting in times of trouble. For example, Psalms 23,Romans 8:18-39,Matthew 6:25-34,Hebrews 12:11-13,Job 2:7-10.
A crisis is no time to neglect prayer. We need prayer more than ever when we are in trouble.
As Jesus faced the prospect of crucifixion, "He prayed fervently"(Luke 22:44).
When Paul and Silas were beaten and thrown into prison, they "were praying and singing hymns to God"(Acts 16:25).
We too need to pray in times of trouble. "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication, let your requests be made known to God..."(Philippians 4:4-6).
Sometimes, in trouble, we just don't know how to pray as we should. Words seem unable to express our feelings and fears. God understands, and provides the intercession of the Holy Spirit to help us in our weakness (Romans 8:26-28).
4 Be Strengthened by the Holy Spirit
Not only does the Holy Spirit intercede for us (as just mentioned) but he dwells in us to strengthen us
"God will strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being"(Ephesians 3:16).
Even though death itself comes upon us, we have the promise that "if the Spirit of him who raised Christ Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who indwells you"(Romans 8:11).
5 Shift the Mind's Focus
Obviously we cannot help thinking about our troubles, however they should not be the constant focus. Even in times of trouble we should focus our minds on those high and noble things in which our hope is based.
"Whatever is true... noble... right... pure... lovely... admirable... excellent... praiseworthy... think on these things"(Philippians 4:8).
"The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control..."(Galatians 5:22).
"In your faith supply virtue... knowledge... self-control... perseverance... godliness... brotherly kindness... love..."(2Peter 1:3-8).
If we will focus our mind on these at least as much as we focus on our tribulations, then we will help our minds to cope with our troubles and assist us in dealing with them.
6 Take Advantage of Christian Fellowship
Fellow Christians can be a source of strength and relief in time of need.
The very first Christians "were together and had all things common... as anyone had need"(Acts 2:44-45).
Genuine Christianity involves helping people in distress (James 1:27).
Christians "weep with those who weep"(Romans 12:9-15).
Christians "bear one another's burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ"(Galatians 6:2).
Christians "help the weak, and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that he himself said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive'"(Acts 20:35).
Christians are brothers and sisters in Christ. They pray together, and help each other through life. Do not be ashamed to take advantage of this when you have genuine need. If you have been willing to assume the duties of a Christian, why not also be willing to partake of the blessings that you need?
Christian fellowship is much more than social get-togethers. Being at a party or a picnic is the last thing you feel like doing if you have great worries and your life is in turmoil. But when someone reaches through the shallowness that often passes for fellowship, and links hands with you in some considerate and caring way, then you have had true fellowship that helps you to survive another day.
7 Practise the Pilgrim Principle
A great many people live this life as though it were the be-all and end-all. However this world is not our true home. Heaven is our home, and eternal life is our true life.
Peter speaks of Christians as "sojourners and pilgrims"(1Peter 2:11-12), whose life in this present world is a well-conducted journey along a difficult road.
The men and women of old such as Abraham and Sarah "confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on earth" who "desire a better land, that is a heavenly one" and God "has prepared a city for them"(Hebrews 1:13-16).
Jesus promises us, "I go to prepare a place for you, and... I will come again to take you to myself that where I am there you may be also"(John 14:1-3).
There's no one quite like Jesus.
I could have no better Friend.
He's always there to help me,
And he'll be there to the end.
Well I know he cares about me,
And I'm sure he understands
The hurting in my heart
And the trembling in my hands.
There's no one quite like Jesus,
I could serve no better Friend.
He gave his own life for me,
And I'll love him to the end.
Well I've done a lot of crying
And I've had my share of loss,
But my troubles seem like nothing
When I see him on the cross.
There's no one quite like Jesus.
Why not have him for your Friend?
He loves you and he'll help you.
You can trust him to the end.
Preached at Ochanomizu Church of Christ (English room) Tokyo Sep 2008