We all go through difficult times. Going through them “well” is the challenge. Scripture has much to say about how we are to respond to the difficulties and trials of this life. Whether our difficulty is physical, spiritual, relational, occupational, or material/financial in nature, God wants us to turn to Him. But how exactly should we come to Him? The apostle Peter gives us a couple of guidelines for turning to God in the midst of life’s difficulties ().
The first thing that Peter tells us to do is to humble ourselves. The reason for humbling ourselves is found in the preceding verse where we are told that “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble”. To humble ourselves means to see ourselves correctly in comparison to God. We are the creature, and He is the creator. We have all the questions, and He has all of the answers. In order to receive the grace that God makes available to me in times of difficulty, I have to acknowledge my need for it and acknowledge that He is the ultimate source/solution of my help.
What I am humbling myself under is God’s kind and loving providence. tells us of our great value in God’s sight. Not one sparrow (of minimal worth) dies out of God’s will, and we are worth significantly more. In fact, we are worth so much to God that he has numbered the hairs on our heads (and I assume continues to keep an accurate count of them over our lifespan). The trial or difficulty you are experiencing comes from “God’s mighty hand” (v.6). He is in complete control of all that is happening to you.
You are also told in v.7 that you can “cast all your anxiety on Him because he cares for you.” God loves you deeply. He takes great delight in you (). If God loves and cares for me, and he has brought/allowed this trial in my life, then I can know for sure that He is working in me and through me to get through it. It is the truth of knowing that a God who loves me beyond what I can imagine, who is working all things for my good (), and who is in control of all my circumstances, that allows me to humble myself before him and to cast my anxieties onto him.
While these guidelines are crucial for going through difficult times, they tell only part of the story. We find in numerous other places in Scripture (; ; ) that God intends for us to go through difficult times in community. The stress and, at times, embarrassment of trials lead us to isolate. During such times we really need the support and encouragement of others. “Humbling ourselves” enough to allow others to care for us and to speak into our lives is part of God’s plan to sustain and comfort us.
As you struggle with difficulties in your relationships, your health, your job, or your material world, let the truth of these verses be an encouragement to you. I pray they will give you the strength to do what God calls you to do in these circumstances. And in due time, he will lift you up.
Dr. Tom Barbian, LPC
6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, 7 casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. (ESV)
28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. 30 But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. (ESV)
17 The Lord your God is in your midst,
a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness;
he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing. (ESV)
28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (ESV)
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5 For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. 6 If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. 7 Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.
8 For we do not want you to be ignorant, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. 9 Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. 10 He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. 11 You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many. (ESV)
13 Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. (ESV)
2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. (ESV)