Painful and troubling times
These are very painful and troubling times for our country. Violence in many forms is on the rise. America is as divided now as it was during the civil war. Churches in the US are being assaulted like never before. In other countries, the persecution of Christians is real, life-threatening, and increasing. As believers, we are instructed to praise God in all circumstances (Psalm 34:1, Hebrews 13:15), but what mentioned here is praiseworthy? How can Christians honestly praise God when evil abounds? Consider these three things.
1. God’s promise to be with us through times of trouble
The spiritual answer to the question is to ask God for help (Psalm 121). He promises to be our help in times of trouble (Psalm 46:1). The book of Psalms gives a window into the trouble King David endured. God did not remove all of David’s troubles, but God was with David during them. Unfortunately, God, as with David, still does not promise to remove all the trouble in our lives. At times, He does intercede for us and fights our battles for us, but on His terms and timing. However, what He does promise is to always be with us during those times of trouble (Hebrews 13:5, Deuteronomy 31:8).
2. Confirmation of God’s ultimate plans
God’s end plans are spelled out in the book of Revelation. Just two of the many are that Christ will rule for one thousand years (Revelation 20:1–7) and, after that, God will create a new earth (Revelation 21-22). This new earth will not be broken as our world of today and every tear will be wiped away (Revelation 21:4). We just don’t know when (Mark 13:31-32) God’s plans are to happen. The Bible is also very clear about the painful and troublesome events that will happen prior to this time (Matthew 24:3-31). Each of us will experience different amounts of trouble and persecution because of our belief in God and peoples’ rejection of that same God. This trouble and persecution are what must happen before Jesus comes again. When we see these things happening, it’s a sign and confirmation that His plans for mankind are surely coming.
3. One day closer to their goal
Consider substance abuse treatment facility “Cypress Lakes Lodge” in Woodville, Texas. They state on their website “every single day is a struggle, but is one more day closer to living substance-free”. Rather than just focusing on and gutting through the daily struggle, the residents view each day that goes by as one day closer to their goal of living substance-free. Each day is no longer something to just get through or feel like was a failure. Each day is now something to be celebrated as one day closer to their goal. We can adopt the same viewpoint to our days when we are experiencing troubled times. Each day that goes by is one day closer to God’s glorious end goal for you, for our country, and the world.
Assurance of God’s future goal
The marriage of these three things is key to being able to praise God during troublesome times in our life. First, God promises to be our help in times of trouble and will never leave or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5, Deuteronomy 31:8). Secondly, troubling times are an indicator that God’s glorious plans are coming. Thirdly, we can view each day as one day closer to God’s glorious future for us. How great it is that troubled times can give us such assurance of God’s future plans for us. Praise God!
One day at a time
Fortunately, and unfortunately, we cannot see what the future holds between now and God’s end goal for each of us. Would Cypress Lake Lodge residents be so quick to count every day closer to the end goal if they knew of the extent of the many tough, hand-wringing days they were going to encounter as they reached for their goal of living substance-free? Possibly not. Similarly, would we be able to hold up under whatever pain and turmoil we are experiencing if we could see it all at once? Probably not either. But maybe we can deal with one day…today…and celebrate it as a step in a series of steps toward God’s end plan. Tomorrow is another day and we can deal with that tomorrow (Matthew 6:34).
As we lie down at night, we can honestly praise God for getting us through today. Equally so, we can praise and thank Him that we are now one day closer to His glorious end plan.