Seasons of Hardship

“Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.” – James 1:12 (NASB)

“I just want this to be over!”

I am sure we have all expressed this sentiment during tough times. Unemployment, grief, illness, heartbreak, and other seasons of hardship are uncomfortable and painful. We would love for them to be over with the snap of a finger. The reality is that the only way out of hardship is to go through it.

God’s timing is not our own, so we cannot place a time limit on a season of hardship. The end of one week, month, or even year does not guarantee the start of a new and better season of life. We may very well remain in the same season or enter a more difficult one. 

Being a Christian does not exempt us from life’s hardships. In fact, God intentionally uses hardship to discipline us. This form of discipline is not meant for harm. Rather, God uses it to reveal His character and build ours. 

You will no longer anticipate the end of a season of hardship when you embrace God’s purpose for it in your life. How can you accomplish this? Ask yourself these four questions: 

Am I exercising my faith?

Hardship is an opportunity to boldly exercise your faith. When you are down to your last dollar, declare God as Jehovah Jireh, The Lord Will Provide. In the midst of illness, acknowledge Jehovah Rapha, The Lord Who Heals. Run to Jehovah Ra’ah, The Lord Is My Shepherd, when you do not know which direction to take. God is everything we need wrapped in one being. He has a unique and supernatural way of meeting our needs when we choose to stand firm in His promises. 

“The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower. I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies.” – Psalm 18:2-3 (KJV)

“But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:19 (KJV)

Have I obeyed God?

God has given you an assignment to complete this season. Maybe your assignment is to save money, share the gospel of Christ, start a business, or simply rest. When God tells us to do something, we must do it – even in the face of adversity! This season is the appointed time God has given you to complete the assignment. The grace you have to work today will not be available in the next season. Diligently obey God and get to work! 

“Samuel replied, ‘Has the Lord as much pleasure in your burnt offerings and sacrifices as in your obedience? Obedience is far better than sacrifice. He is much more interested in your listening to Him than in your offering the fat of rams to Him.’” – 2 Samuel 15:22 (TLB)

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:” – Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NIV)

What is God teaching me?

Every season of life is accompanied by a lesson. These lessons are intended to mature you spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and sometimes even physically. God presents us with the lesson, but it is our responsibility to actually learn it. Over the past two years, many of us can attest to learning about the true character of people, the need to be prepared and take precautions, as well as the sovereignty of God. If you don’t know what you should be learning, ask the Holy Spirit to teach you. God wants you to master the lesson. If you fail to learn the lesson, do not be surprised if it reappears in another season. 

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” – James 1:2-4 (NIV)

“There’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!” – Romans 5:3-5 (MSG)

Am I close to God? 

We often use the stress of hardship as an excuse to indulge in our flesh. Sin only distances us from Jesus. It’s easy to indulge in the flesh, but it takes discipline to obey the Lord. During any season, we intentionally have to draw close to God. Being close to God allows us to experience His steady blessings such as unconditional love, safety, and direction! Draw near to Him through prayer, worship, and reading the Word of God. 

“Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” – James 4:7-8 (NIV)

“He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” – Psalm 91:1 (NKJV)

Join me in prayer: Lord, I praise You for having a plan and purpose for my life. You are faithful! Although I endure hardship, I know that You are with me every step of the way. Father, please help me to embrace the fullness of this season. May I emerge from it disciplined, refined as silver, and tested as gold. In Jesus name, I pray. Amen.

Seasons of hardship do not last forever. While you’re in them, allow God to use these seasons to mold you into a strong and mighty woman in Jesus Christ. May God’s work be made complete in you!

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