In light of recent events in our world, many people are writing and speaking on the subject of fear. When I think about living like Jesus, I think about how Jesus never conveyed a sense of fear as He went about His earthly ministry. In fact, He often challenged His followers not to be afraid, but to rest in Him. Jesus’ encouragement to the people He encountered during His earthly ministry certainly still applies to us today. We can also look to the example of other people we read about in Scripture to understand how we can live with hope in the midst of difficult times. We can choose to live in such a way that we experience a sense of hope and peace and convey that to others in the midst of confusing and uncertain times. Our perspective depends on our focus. We can gain encouragement by considering some truths from God’s Word.
Having a hopeful perspective is based on understanding that God is in control of everything. Nothing is outside the realm of His sovereignty, and nothing surprises Him. We see this sovereign control demonstrated by Jesus during a time when His disciples were extremely fearful. As they were crossing a lake in a boat, a windstorm came down on the lake, and the boat began filling with water. Jesus had actually fallen asleep, and when the disciples went to wake Him up, they said, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” (Luke 8:24). They actually thought they were going to die – this was not a minor feeling of fear! Jesus awoke and demonstrated both calm and control. He “rebuked the wind and the raging waves, and they ceased, and there was calm.” In Mark’s account of this experience, the disciples were astonished at Jesus’ power and asked the question, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”
(Mark 4:41). The point is that they witnessed God’s power over the wind and the waves. After calming the storm, Jesus’ question to the disciples was, “Where is your faith?” (Luke 8:25). He was challenging them to trust Him. His question could easily be directed to us today as well.
Where is our faith? God is in control. He is not surprised like we are. He knows everything that will happen, and He is working in the midst of it all. When we read the account of Jacob’s son Joseph in the book of Genesis, we see a great example of how God is working even in the midst of seemingly bad circumstances. Despite the fact that Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery, and he faced repeated unfair circumstances, in the end, Joseph said to his brothers, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today” (Genesis 50:20). Joseph was able to see that God was sovereignly working in the midst of terrible situations so that the people of Israel would be spared from starvation. He was not bitter toward his brothers or angry at God, rather, he saw how God was working through everything to accomplish His purpose.
If we can learn to look for God’s purposes in the midst of hardship, we might begin to gain a different perspective. It might seem easy for me to ramble on about trusting God as a great biblical concept, but I have seen God work His purposes through several hard times in my own life. One such time was when my husband was deployed unexpectedly with the Army National Guard after the tragedies of September 11, 2001. I was left at home with 6-month-old twin boys, uncertain if my husband would ever return. His orders indicated that he could be gone on the deployment for up to two years. I was a new mom with two babies and an absent husband. I was just beginning to understand how to be a mom, and now I was on my own. I was also 12 hours away from both sets of our boys’ grandparents. All of the sudden I felt isolated. Even though I had friends nearby, without any extended family to call on, I felt alone.
I had to wrestle with how I would respond. I could have been angry at God. I could have broken down in frustration or depression. I could have had a giant pity party for myself. Instead, I prayed and sought God’s peace. I determined to spend time reading God’s Word daily and seek to be the best mom I could be with God’s guidance. Was it easy? Definitely not. Were there times I cried, times I reached out to friends for help, and times I felt defeated? Yes, but even in those times, God was faithful. He taught me that I could rely on Him no matter how unexpected or difficult the circumstances might be in which I found myself. He taught me that He is sufficient – for whatever need I have. Throughout the year that my husband was away from home, I saw God provide in countless ways to meet my needs. My faith grew tremendously during that difficult time, and today I am grateful for the lessons I learned because of it.
There have been other times in my life when I experienced tragedies or trials of various kinds, but I have learned in over 40 years of being a Christ-follower, that God is faithful. Period. He is working. He is in control. He is good. He is love. My encouragement to you is to trust Him in these times. Seek Him in His Word and through prayer. Know that He is all-powerful, all-knowing, and always present. Be intentional to thank God for the blessings you have in the midst of uncertainty and look ahead with hopeful expectancy to see how God will bring about His purposes through these difficult days.