What does the Bible say about difficult seasons?
“Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you” (1 Peter 4:12).
One of the things the Word of God teaches us about difficult seasons is that we aren’t supposed to be surprised by them. I have to admit, however, at times I have been caught off guard when I find myself in the middle of a difficult season in life though.
I wasn’t expecting to miscarry our baby. I was at a loss when my in-laws divorced after 37 years of marriage. I was totally caught off guard when my son was diagnosed with autism. I was swirling in confusion when what I felt God called us to didn’t come to fruition.
I know it’s all relative.
But just like we can’t compare the highlight reels of other people’s lives to our own, we cannot compare our struggles either. Some people’s struggles are harder than others. That doesn’t negate or invalidate the difficult season you are experiencing though.
What do we do when we find ourselves in a difficult season?
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:2-4).
Do we give up? Or do we stay in it and let God do what only God can do? James 1 tells us to count it all joy and to persevere. Perseverance is staying power. When difficult seasons come, our first reaction is usually to run and try everything in our power to get out of them, but the Bible tells us to stay in them for as long as God allows because He is working something IN and OUT of us.
What are some practical steps to take when I find myself in a difficult season?
- Learn the difference between hope and expectations. The Word says that “hope does not disappoint” (Romans 5:5, NASB). Hope is rooted in God and His character. Expectations are tied to us and others around us. God’s character can be trusted regardless of what our outward circumstances tell us. That hope gives us the ability to keep on putting one foot in front of the other and to live full lives even in the midst of difficult situations.
- Pray that you would KNOW (experientially know) His comfort. He knows you intimately. He knows just the right way to comfort you in a way that you receive it. Not everyone is comforted in the same way. Be open to ways He brings you comfort. It could be an unexpected phone call from a loved one. It could be flowers delivered to you by a friend. It could be the body of Christ surrounding you with prayer. Keep looking for His comfort; it’s there! “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4, NIV).
- Ask Him to show you others who need comfort, also. The above verse tells us that He comforts us so that we can comfort those with the comfort we’ve received. Maybe it’s someone experiencing something similar. Or it could be someone who just needs to be reminded of God’s character regardless if it’s the same thing you are experiencing. During some of the most difficult times in our lives, I’ve prayed, “Lord, please do not let this hard season we are in be in vain!”
In the end, none is exempt from troubles in this life. They are just part of this fallen world. It’s what we do with these troubles that matters. Don’t let your difficult season be in vain.