Dear Dr. B,

Have you ever gone through a time where you just hit one bad break after another, and you get to the point you just don’t know if you can take anymore? I’m at the point I don’t know what else to do and it feels like no one understands. How do you handle those hard times?

Hurting in the Hard Times

Dear Hurting,

I wish I could invite you into my family room, fix you a cup of tea, and just sit with you a few moments so you don’t feel alone. Hard times have a way of making us feel alone, don’t they?

I’ve been where you are, several times and even recently, in fact. Those times when it feels like you’re being pulled out to sea by the undertow, unable to catch a solid breath before the next wave hits. Those times when you’ve been taken out to sea, yet everyone else is enjoying the tranquility of the beach.

But Dear One, don’t be deceived by the lies of our enemy. You aren’t the only one. And while many of those around you might not understand, we have a God who is WELL-acquainted with our sorrows. A God who promises to catch each of our tears.

When patients come to me in the midst of their difficult seasons, the most frequent question I hear is, “Why?” “Why would God allow this to happen?” “Why now?”

I’ve never seen the answer to “Why?” heal the pain. Knowing why a spouse committed adultery does not mend the broken heart. Answering why a child died before their parent never satisfies the longing to have them back. Recognizing why financial ruin came along does nothing to ease the concern about how one will get back on their feet.

None of us is immune to trials, or to the work of the enemy. The Bible warns us that we will experience difficult times. “Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you” (1 Peter 4:12 NLT).

Still, in my experience, it seems that most difficult seasons fall into one of three categories:

Sometimes we experience hardship to test us. Will we remain faithful to His call, despite the cost? Will we remain true to His commands when we don’t understand His purposes? Will we show we learned our lesson from the last trial that tested us in the same area?

Sometimes hardship serves to strengthen us. Will we draw closer to Him, as our rock and our redeemer? Will we take Him at His word and see that “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.…” (James 1:2-4).

Still other times, trials serve to distract us. The enemy loves to steer our attention off from God and onto our difficulties. Too often we get lulled into dwelling on our problems rather than focusing on the Solver of all our problems. In the valley of adversity, the enemy will feed us lies that have us questioning God’s presence, His love, and His provision. “Is God there? Does He care? Has He left me all alone?”

In reality, however, we may never fully know the reason for certain seasons of suffering. In all honesty, I don’t think the why is as important as your original question, which was “How?” How do you handle the hard times?

Well-intentioned people like to say God won’t give you more than you can handle, yet I would disagree. The Lord frequently allows us to go through seasons that in our own strength are much more than we can handle alone. It is then that we are often most willing to turn to Him and rely on His strength.

We should always be seeking after God and His ways. But in the valley, when we feel alone, that’s when the temptation becomes great to believe the lies of the enemy: “Things will never get better; Nobody understands; Bad things always happen to me” etc. Those lies are a slippery slope down into self-pity and despair, and they distract us from the power of God’s truth.

To keep our feet on the solid foundation of His truth, and keep our head in the fight, we must examine the lies we believed, and replace them with truth.

The truth as it was written in Isaiah 43:2 reminds us, “When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.”

So when you are going through difficult times, you don’t need to worry that you aren’t strong enough to handle the situation. Instead, know that you don’t go through those times alone. It is He who walks this journey with you who will strengthen you through it.

During the hardest trials, the ones where each hardship pulled me under, allowing only a moment to catch my breath before the next wave pulled me deeper, I found great wisdom from Psalm 23:

“The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil,
for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

David encourages in our times of trial and difficulty to pursue God and what He has for us, for there we will see His provision and faithfulness. Often, that which we find so difficult and disheartening, is the very thing that brings us closer to Him.

In drawing close to Him during the hard times, He promises to provide for us so that we lack nothing. He promises us rest and restoration for our soul. As we seek Him, He promises to guide us through the trials, and as a result we have no reason to fear, for He also promises His comfort. He also promises that He will provide for our needs from the food we eat to the defense from our enemies. His love is ultimately what will see us through, IF, we are willing to surrender to His will and His ways.

How can you trust Him with the difficult trials you are facing?

Because of Him, Hope Prevails,
Dr. B

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