What Does it Look Like to Glorify God in the Midst of Our Struggles?
I grew up attending Vacation Bible School at my local church. Every day of VBS we would have worship. And every year, for as long as I can remember we sang “Trading My Sorrows”. I can still remember the dance moves to this day, but of even more substance, I still remember the lyrics that have stuck like glue in my mind.
I am pressed but not crushed persecuted not abandoned. Struck down but not destroyed. I am blessed beyond the curse for His promise will endure. That His joys gonna be my strength. I think of these lyrics often when I find myself struggling. Pressed, but not crushed. Persecuted, but NEVER ABANDONED.
It wasn’t even all that long ago that I sat in my own counseling session and simply stated. “I don’t want to have to keep struggling!” I had been experiencing a large number of family stressors, church struggles, personal lies, and insecurity. And in a moment of setting my eyes on myself, was over it. I was ready to run as far away from my problems as possible. To put it simply, I was tired of being expected to fight. I wanted someone to validate what I was feeling and then fix it all for me. I had set my eyes on myself and my problems, rather than on Heavenly things.
I needed to shift my focus from being on myself to being on the Lord and those that He has laced around me. My counselor suggested I find ways to serve others! (She and I have a running joke that if you need something to do to serve others, bake someone a cake)! Pray for someone that has been on your heart lately, if you are still living at home, clean the house for Mom or Dad! That tangible of serving others has been so helpful in getting my focus shifted from myself to those Heavenly things and helps set me on a path of glorifying God in the midst of my struggle.
It’s a lot easier to set your eyes on things above when there isn’t much to look at on earth. When things are going well, and you feel secure. But what about when everything feels like its crumbling around you? What about when your friend group falls apart, or you don’t get into the college you had been banking on? What about when your kids are walking away from the Lord , or your marriage is struggling? Makes it a heck of a lot harder to set your eyes on things above. You are pressed. Maybe even persecuted.
You see we aren’t called to a life free of struggles. John 16:33 makes it clear that in this world we WILL have trouble. However, the verse then goes on to tell us to take heart, for God has overcome the world.
Ok, so we can look to scripture and acknowledge that we are going to have struggles, we can even acknowledge why we have struggles. We can take it a few steps further and say that we know we should still have peace because God has overcome the world, and He works all things for good, and He is NEAR! We can EVEN be intentional about placing our eyes off of ourselves and onto the Lord and those around us. And yet, we can still feel like a tire in the mud, struggling and not getting anywhere.
When your tire is stuck in the mud, you can’t just will the mud away. But you can deal with the mud in a way that Is effective and helpful. You can call a tow truck to pull you out or find something to put under your tire to give it some traction. You see the goal in our struggle isn’t to get rid of the difficulty altogether, that is simply not our job. Rather, the goal is to endure our difficulties in a way that is trusting of the Lord, glorifying to the Lord, and fruitful for the Lord.
Trusting of the Lord
When we find ourselves in the midst of our struggles, it can be so easy to fall into the temptation to try and control our circumstances. “If I can just secure this one really good job, I won’t be stressed about money. If I can just get into this one college, I will be on the path to success. If I can just “fix” this one relationship my anxiety and depression would significantly improve.” The difficulty in all of that is that we are replacing a trust in the Lord with a trust in our own ability. Now, let it not be misunderstood. It is not wrong by any means to have goals or things that you are striving toward! Goals are good and equip us for growth in all areas of our lives. But when we tell ourselves the narrative that accomplishing those goals will result in the end of a problem? That is when we can fall off base.
Scripture tells us that the Lord will supply His children with every need. (Phil. 4:19, Matt. 7:11, Matt. 6: 31-32). Speaking these truths into our heart and mind will help strengthen our ability to surrender control in our trials.
Glorifying to the Lord
So, what do we do with ourselves during our trials? I can speak from experience that it is awfully tempting to sit in our difficultly. When we are facing hardship often all we want to do is crawl into bed for a day, or two, or three! But what does scripture tell us about suffering? If we look to the life of Peter, we see the story of a man that glorified God in his suffering, even from a jail cell! If we read Acts 16: 25-40 we see Paul and Silas being faithful to glorify God by singing hymns to God while in prison! Wow! Not only did they glorify God in the midst of their suffering, but people were saved and experienced the goodness of God as a result of it! My encouragement for you is this, find one way, every single day that you can intentionally bring glory to God. This can be something as little as showing kindness and grace to someone that cuts you off in traffic or something as big as sharing the gospel during your most trying state. But finding one thing every day will help you to continue to cast your eyes on heavenly things rather than earthly trials.
Fruitful for the Lord
“Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matt. 28: 19-20).
Jesus commands us to share the good news of Christ with others. When we step outside of ourselves and share the hope of Christ with those around us we are not only taking a practical step in casting our eyes on heavenly things but we are being fruitful kingdom builders! This doesn’t have to be anything crazy; I think it can be easy to fall into the trap of comparison. Sharing the gospel can look like many different things. Maybe, in your season of difficulty, it just means letting a struggling friend who doesn’t know Christ that you are praying for them. Maybe it just means that you share an encouraging bible verse on your Instagram story!
Regardless of what it looks like for you, being intentionally fruitful for the Lord while in your trials can help us learn what it looks like to serve God well in the midst of difficulty. Let me wrap up with some very practical encouragement for you if you find yourself in a season of difficulty, regardless of what that difficulty may be. You do not have to meet a certain bar of struggle to be somehow “worthy” of the love, care, and support of Jesus and those He has placed around you. I have had several people say to me that they don’t feel like their struggles are worth the help because “it could always be worse.” If you find yourself in that spot, for whatever reason, please reach out for support. Text a friend or a family member that you trust. Or reach out to one of our trusted counselors here at So That We, we would love to walk alongside you. You may be pressed, but God will fight for you. You will not be crushed. You may be persecuted. But dear friend, YOU are never abandoned.