When the Going Gets Tough

We turn to our friends, we seek out our vices and coping mechanisms, we drown ourselves in work to stay afloat – these and more. Its an oft quipped reminder from sermons and Sunday School lessons that our first response should always be to turn to God. But when do we actually put that into practice?

Now I know that for most of the target audience of this article, you have gone through so much more in life than me. “What’s this kid got to say about going through a tough life?” I agree completely, in all honesty. Its that mindset which makes me wonder why people complain about hardships in their lives which I would count as relatively routine (to the youth, this is me sometimes when your singular prayer request is your upcoming exams). Yet we forget sometimes that when we were first going through those trials, we felt the same way. This reminds us that we all have our own tough periods in lives, and especially so in a church community, no one’s problems are less significant than another in the eyes of God (1 Peter 5:7, note “all”).

in a church community, no one’s problems are less significant than another in the eyes of God.

God allows trials and periods of sin in the lives of His people for many reasons. Looking at the OT alone: the Israelites wandered through the wilderness 40 years (Numbers 14), a drought was proclaimed on Israel by Elijah (1 Kings 18) for years, and all of these just to turn the Israelites back to God. Even more so in the NT, where Paul’s missionary journeys were riddled with opposition and near-death experiences (throughout Acts, e.g. 14:19-23), though we cannot doubt the encouragement that these testimonies brought to the early Church. Clearly, its not an easy road of navigating a life of trials while remaining faithful and obedient to God, as our Lord Himself proclaims in Matthew 7:13-14.

So I tried it. Beset with a string of failures, rejection and spiritual dryness, abandoned all faith in what the world had to offer me, learning many things along the way. It became a habit to turn to God first whenever I would feel a tinge of failure amidst the day, with quiet time and spending time with God becoming something to look forward to rather than a routine, a chore. Sermons and Bible studies spoke to me so much more as compared to when I had a mindset that there was something worldly to back up my failures. Above all, it taught me of God’s unending love and kindness when I realise that when there was nothing or no one else to turn to, here was always the unchanging God.

This is more of a reflection than an exhortation, in all honesty. As with many Bible characters, we fall, we sink back into our old ways, and I long to climb back to a spiritual stage of utter dependence on God. In God we have an eternal hope – one who will always be there no matter the time of night, or how annoyed your friends might be at your sulking. A song I’ve been listening to sums this up perfectly: “Come find what this world cannot offer, Come and find your joy here complete.” Successes in life are good, for sure, but its only through the trials that we remember that this world cannot provide the joy of the Lord.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 reminds us that in God’s timing, both the ‘good’ and the ‘bad’ can happen. I pray that I, and all of us, can develop a faith that allows us to rejoice in both