You often hear that people don’t watch the news because there is too much negativity.
Every day the media and social media tell us about misfortunes and tragedies from all over the world. In addition to personal problems, we need to deal with global ones. How do we get through hard times and continue to trust God and believe in His unconditional love? Read opinions.
Bill Crowder, a Bible teacher at Bible Radio Mission, is an author who has carried on pastoral ministry for more than 20 years:
Numerous accounts of human suffering in the pages of the Bible are echoed in the headlines of today’s newspapers. What happens to people is so horrific that it defies rational comprehension. And yet, against all odds, there is a promise: God will solve the problem of suffering. The price of turning sorrow into something good and beautiful cannot be paid by any of us. We have subscribed to our own powerlessness by turning away from God. The prophet Isaiah foretold the coming of a Deliverer who will save us from suffering in a fallen world. He will accomplish salvation in an unexpected and unfathomable way – by suffering in our place.
As the theologian, John Stott wrote: “I would never have believed in God if it had not been for the cross. The God I believe in is the same God whom Nietzsche derided as “God on the cross. In a world where there is so much pain, how can one worship a God who has not experienced it?”
Jesus Christ experienced pain to the fullest, so He can take care of us in our suffering. On the cross, He bore the burden of all the consequences of the decision made in the ancient garden-the suffering we experience and the judgment by which we were condemned.
Jesus did not come to examine our depravity. He came to take it upon Himself. He came to be with us and to suffer for us. By His suffering, He atoned for our suffering, both present and eternal.
Suffering, an unwelcome and inevitable companion of life in the present world, will find no place in the world to come. This is one of the results of the death of Jesus Christ. The cross offers the hope that helps us to hold on when the long shadows of suffering stretch over us. The cross promises that a time will come when the curves will straighten and suffering will come to an end.
Kim Butts, the co-founder of Harvest Prayer Ministries, offered some guidelines for prayer in dark, difficult times:
Pray for the process. Don’t just ask for the result you want to achieve. Trust God. Even if you can’t see it, He is still working in you, through you, and around you. Know that He can overcome all and deliver you from all that you are going through.
Pray for or pray with those who are going through trials like you. God can use your circumstances to encourage or strengthen someone else.
Ask God to give you spiritual eyes to see His kingdom in your situation.
Rejoice before God and thank Him in the midst of your difficulties, knowing that He has a purpose and He will have all the glory.
Pray for greater faith to know that God’s hand is developing endurance, strong character, and the hope of salvation in you.
Ask God to help you be content in the midst of all circumstances and situations.
Finally, when you don’t know what to do or how to pray, ask the Holy Spirit to share with the Father whatever fills your heart.
Anthony Pakanich, Metropolitan of Borispol and Brovarsky, Administrator of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church:
Paradoxically, it was the difficult times of persecution that the holy fathers called the most graceful for the Church. Once the elder John (Krestyankin) was asked what time of his life he considered the happiest. He replied: when he was in the camps for the faith because it was especially felt that the Lord was near. In difficult circumstances, we must remember that God will never abandon His Church. Our task is to unite in adversity and preach the Gospel without fear so that by our own example we can show the power and beauty of the Christian life.
The only answer to slander and hatred the Lord Himself points out to us is to forgive the wrongdoers, to pray for them, and to ask God for peace for our crippled souls. Only one power can resist evil – it is the power of Gospel love. We are invincible as long as the lamp of Christ’s love is burning in our hearts. In the words of St. Gregory the Theologian, if someone were to ask Christians what they honor and worship, their answer would be: We honor Love.
Love is the foundation of the Christian life. Without it, the Christian feat and all virtues are meaningless: “If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries, and have all knowledge and all faith so that I can move mountains and have no love, I am nothing. And if I give away all my possessions and give my body to be burned, and I have no love, I have no profit in it” (1 Corinthians 13: 2-3).
Paul also identifies the main characteristics of Christian love: “Love is patient, merciful, love does not envy, love does not boast, is not proud, is not violent, does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not think evil, does not rejoice in iniquity but rejoices in the truth, covers everything, believes everything, hopes for everything, endures everything” (1 Corinthians 13: 4-7). If we have this kind of love in our hearts, all our trials will seem like a drop in the ocean.
Denis Podrozhny, Pastor, Religious Studies:
Adversity or problems can come into our lives and for such times there is a prescription in the Bible for us – we need to meditate. We need to keep our minds in the direction of the right things. I would like to give some hints on how to do this.
Don’t be afraid.
Whenever God’s people find themselves in trouble, the first thing God said was the command, “Do not be afraid.” God calls his children to reveal their desires before them, not their fears. Fears are what we don’t want. Desires are what we want. There is an essential difference. When fear or panic attacks the mind, you can find so many places in Scripture that speak of God’s power and might. If He already knows the exact number of hairs on our heads and not one hair falls without His will, He is all the more in control of whatever situation we find ourselves in. The Bible commands us 366 times, “Do not be afraid.
Trust in the Lord.
David prayed and said, “When I am in fear, in You I trust…” (Psalm 55:4). This is how you should test your heart – when you are in fear, do you have trust in God? The safest place on earth is under the shelter of the Highest. It is written that the eyes of the Lord look over the whole earth to sustain those whose heart is fully committed to Him.
Do not rebel.
“Fear, my son, the LORD and the king; do not associate with rebels, for suddenly destruction will come from them, and trouble from both of them who will foresee?” (Proverbs 24:21-22).
In times of trouble, it is important not to look for someone to blame, so that we have someone to vent our anger on. The spirit of rebellion or revolt is prevalent throughout the earth. Its root is discontent and ingratitude. People show so much discontent. This discontent pours out in torrents from TV screens, through the radio, through the Internet, through the printed media, in ordinary conversation. And in the midst of all this, it is very easy to become a person of discontent. But as Christians, we must not only watch our hearts, but it is also very important to pay attention to our surroundings. However, it is just as important to be able to create the right atmosphere for others ourselves. We should not be a “dough” that sours from everything that goes into it. We need to be a sourdough that is itself capable of souring whatever environment it finds itself in.
Hold on to the vision.
When we go through a period of confusion that tries to attack our minds, it is very important not to lose sight of our purpose. When one forgets all of one’s aspirations, goals, and plans and begins to live only in the current situation, it means that one is trapped. Situations can change every day, and the course of one’s calling must be kept no matter what. God’s people should not be led by circumstances, but by the Holy Spirit who leads us through life to do the will of God – our calling. The hardest blow you can get in the days of adversity is the loss of purpose.
Think of others.
“Blessed is he who thinks of the poor! In the day of trouble, the Lord will deliver him. The Lord will preserve him and save his life; blessed will he be on earth. And You will not deliver him to the will of his enemies” (Psalm 40:2-3).
Fear has only one vector-it is directed at itself. Love has a different vector-it thinks of others. Even if we ourselves are in difficult circumstances, but think not only of ourselves, we will cease to be afraid.
In times of widespread terror, local wars, and natural disasters, the church must accept the challenge of not standing on the same ground of panic and fear as the rest of the world. The church is called to be an oasis of peace and stability.
Hard times are a time for God’s Glory because the Light shines brighter in the darkness, it can be seen from a distance, its focus is more directional.
And another truth about hard times is that they are not forever; they end one day, being replaced by times of joy.