In my life, I've lived through several economic recessions, personal upheavals and family challenges in the last 35 years of marriage and ministry. These experiences have taught me several key lessons about living through hard times.
Lesson #1 – Always Wait on God
When calamity strikes, the temptation is to do something. Governments have to have action plans and we're always ready to make something happen when there is a crisis. But I've learned that the best "first response" to a hard time is to practice waiting for God's lead.
This doesn't mean we don't do anything. It simply means that when we do have to act, it is in response to and guided by God's lead and not our own.
Lesson #2 – The Lord Always Provides
The great fear in hard times is that we won't have enough. Enough money, enough strength, enough time, wisdom – whatever! This fear pushes us to do many foolish and even sinful things at times. Thankfully, God reminds us over and over again in His Word that He will always provide whatever we need – in good times or bad. Looking back over the last three decades of ministry and family life I cannot think of a single instance where God failed to provide for the church or myself in every circumstance. I don't see why it should be any different today.
Lesson #3 – It's Always About Faith
People look for reasons to explain the economic collapse so they can avoid similar chaos in the future. This, of course, is the best that unbelievers can do when facing crisis – learn from it so it doesn't happen again. But the child of God gains more than financial wisdom from such events. He sees God working in his life to develop a stronger faith and trust in Christ.
The Christian realizes that even if the world is in turmoil, because of faith he is at peace and nothing, not even this world wide recession that poses a financial threat to his well being, can take away his hope for eternal life that rests in Jesus.
Things change, the scope and nature of the hard times that worry us are different from year to year, but these lessons remain the same for every generation until Jesus returns.
- Describe a "hard time" that you have experienced in your life and how you came through it.
- In your opinion, why does God allow believers to suffer for long periods of time before answering their prayers for relief?
- What purpose did Jesus' suffering before He died serve? Could He not have been executed quickly and accomplished the same things with His death?
- Describe a person you know who has inspired you with how they suffered through hard times.
- What is your greatest fear concerning suffering and death? Why so? How can God help you with this?