Everyone goes through hard times, at different times and for different reasons. Jesus even told us we would have troubles in this life (John 16:33). Maybe for you, something happened that you weren’t expecting. Maybe you’re confused as to what God is doing in your life. Maybe for whatever reason, things are just plain hard.
From the hard times in my own life, there are a couple key things I’ve learned that have brought me encouragement. Not the light, fleeting, Pinterest-quote, coffee-mug type encouragement—but real, deep, true encouragement that brought me peace and hope even if circumstances didn’t change. If you’re walking through a hard time, whatever the details of your situation may be, my deepest hope and prayer is that these truths would do the same for you.
Unfortunately when something bad happens, all too often, well-meaning people will try to tell you why it happened: Maybe God is trying to teach you (fill in the blank). Maybe if you had handled this situation differently, you wouldn’t find yourself in the situation you currently do.
Sound familiar? It makes sense. As humans, we’re story tellers—and it’s only natural to seek an explanation when something bad happens. The problem is, oftentimes we’re operating on a faulty assumption: if something bad happened, something bad must have been done to cause it.
This simply isn’t true.
In John 15, Jesus tells us that every branch in Him that does not bear fruit, He takes away. Yet every branch that does bear fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. According to Jesus, pruning doesn’t mean we’re doing something wrong—it could actually mean we’re doing something right. It could be an indication you are bearing fruit, and that God intends for you to bear even more fruit.
This principle is illustrated all throughout the Bible, but a prime example that comes to mind is the story of Joseph. God had a glorious plan for Joseph’s life to use him save many lives from a famine in Egypt. When Joseph was only a teenager, God gave Him glimpses of the future He had for him through dreams. Yet before Joseph could ever get to that glorious point in the story, He had to go through things that were anything but. He was sold into slavery by his own brothers, thrown in prison because he was falsely accused by Potiphar’s wife, he was forgotten by the cupbearer he helped, and he endured injustice upon injustice for 13 years.
Yet this entire journey—all these horrible things that happened to Joseph—they were positioning him to be in the right place at the right time to be used by God in this incredible way. Not only did the difficult things position him, they also prepared him. They made him dependent on God, humbled him before God, and gave him the skills he needed to fulfill the purpose God had for him.
Purpose is often birthed from pain, and all throughout Scripture this pattern persists: God humbles before He exalts.
Job is one of the most turned-to books in the Bible when it comes to suffering. If you’re familiar with Job’s story, you’ll know he was a righteous man who God had blessed tremendously. Then without warning, he lost everything—his children, his wealth, his health.
Job’s heart was pure before God, yet his friends had all sorts of speculations as to why he was experiencing the suffering he was. Namely, they believed he must have unconfessed sin. They accused Job of being prideful for believing he could know his heart was blameless before God. The irony, however, is that they were doing the very thing they were accusing Job of doing: they were assuming to know that which God had made unknowable. Unbeknownst to them was the scene in heaven, where Satan had approached God asking His permission to strike Job.
All throughout the story Job wrestles with God, trying to understand why the things happened to him that did. By the end of the story though, Job is brought to a place of utter humility where he still doesn’t have the answers to his questions but essentially says, “I trust you God, even though I don’t understand.”
At this point God restores Job, and blesses him with twice as much as he had before. Yet Job never learns of that secret scene in heaven which brought about all the devastating events on earth. That information is never given to Him.
God’s ways are higher than ours, and His thoughts are not our thoughts. We don’t always get to know the reasons why He allows certain things to happen. But we do have the promise that He will bring us through it, and He will bring good from it.
I pray these promises from God’s Word speak deep encouragement into your heart.
P.S. If you want to hear me dig more into each of these truths and the biblical stories they’re rooted out, watch this YouTube video below.
Photos in this post courtesy of the talented Marisa Ruth Photography.
Hello I’m Kaci!
I love encouraging and discipling others in the Word of God, and I really love the One it all points to: Jesus.
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