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 (1 Peter 5:6-7).
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. Matthew 10:28-31 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 (Zeph. 3:17). 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 (Rom. 8:28), 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 (2 Cor. 1:3-11; James 5:13-16; Galatians 6:2) 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
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