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Get equipped to face difficulties and overcome tragedy with God’s wisdom and perspective.
How have hard times changed you? Have the difficult circumstances that you’ve faced made you stronger or have they shaken your faith?
When you’re in a crisis — whether it’s personal, whether it’s in your community, or whether it’s global — there are two possible outcomes:
There is great possibility for tragedy but also great opportunity for transformation.
Some believers walk through struggles and emerge transformed, strengthened, and matured. Others question God’s sovereignty and goodness when the fallen world disappoints.
It is God’s plan that you would be strengthened by life’s difficulties.
There is a way to face crises in a way that will result in maturity and transformation, but it requires some training. Let’s explore those elements here and learn how we can choose to adopt a mindset and faith that will turn us into overcomers, even in our hardest times. To jump right to those elements, use the links below.
LESSONS FROM THE BOOK OF JAMES
The book of James was written during a time, not unlike the one we’re in right now, where believers were unsettled and even scattered. Trying times were not unfamiliar to the early church, which can especially be seen when you consider the disciples and how their lives on this earth ended. (All were martyred except John who was exiled to an island to write Revelation!)
As humans in a fallen world, we cannot escape tragedy. Good things happen to those who reject God and difficult things happen to those who love God. And yet the Scriptures make it clear that good will come for those who know Him:
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. (Romans 8:28-29)
The good referred to here isn’t the kind of “good” we typically think of, but a fulfillment of God’s plan and the comfort, hope, and security that comes with that belief. Also, this doesn’t mean we’ll see the “good” in our lifetime, but good will certainly be worked out of every circumstance.
What I’ve learned, from the truth of the Scriptures and from people I’ve encountered in my life, is that the outcomes of tragedy or opportunity have little to do with the severity or ease of the events, but other factors entirely.
Below, let’s explore three of these factors that will build up our faith and prepare us to receive and encounter difficult times with the expectation of growth and a deeper faith.
3 Factors to Faithfully Overcome Tragedy and Thrive in the Hardest Times
In our adversity, God’s will for us is JOYFUL ENDURANCE.
Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4)
God COMMANDS us to choose joy knowing that we’re surrounded by trials. There’s no getting around it — life is full of trials!
There are times in your life when external circumstances threaten to destroy, but you can choose to consider it all joy knowing the testing of your faith produces endurance. This isn’t the time to give up, but the time to choose — moment by moment — your attitude of joyful endurance so you can overcome tragedy and difficulties with faith in God’s outcome.
Did you know God actually COMMANDS us to choose joy, knowing we’re surrounded by trials? Difficult times are not the time to fall prey to discouragement and lies. Instead, choose -- moment by moment -- an attitude of joyful endurance. Click To Tweet
You might be under incredible stress in your job, church, ministry, and among your family. I am heavy-hearted for all the suffering I’ve seen, but I do know that He is faithful and just and able to provide what you need for this day.
Be encouraged: What Exactly Does Bible Say About Not Bearing Fruit?
Are you skeptical, discouraged, or doubtful? I believe many of you want to have joy and want to be used, but you’re stuck.
I appreciate your honesty, and I’d like to share more of God’s words with you. To get unstuck, you need a resource from God. He hasn’t sent us off into the world unequipped to endure. He has promised us a valuable resource — His SUPERNATURAL WISDOM.
But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. (James 1:5-8)
Here’s the catch — it’s our responsibility to ask for His wisdom and to ask in faith without doubting. It’s not a trick! He wants to generously give this gift and knows that your willingness to do what He asks is connected to your doubt.
A wise perspective of your circumstances doesn’t mean you can overcome tragedy and difficulties instantly, but it will “unstick” you from seeing the world through only your line of sight. In His infinite wisdom, God has a plan and a purpose.
Will you seek His wisdom and respond obediently?
God’s prescription for perseverance is a DIVINE PERSPECTIVE.
Just before we receive God’s highest and best, many of us throw in the towel. Why? Because discouragement is the #1 destroyer of God’s plans for our lives.
This is a matter of theology:
But the brother of humble circumstances is to glory in his high position; and the rich man is to glory in his humiliation, because like flowering grass he will pass away. For the sun rises with a scorching wind and withers the grass; and its flower falls off and the beauty of its appearance is destroyed; so too the rich man in the midst of his pursuits will fade away. 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 1:9-12)
Discouragement can be conquered if we get God’s perspective of our circumstances.
What are the areas in which you’re most prone to discouragement? Ask God to give you eyes of faith so you can assess your circumstances through His DIVINE perspective. Is your primary heart motivation to love Christ? That’s a path you can trust.
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The A.R.T. of Survival for Overcoming Tragedy and Hardships
These factors — attitude, resource, and theology — equip us to survive in a world that is guaranteed to disappoint us and hand us impossible circumstances.
Hard times will come but is your hope determined by the size of your problems or the certainty of
I hope you’ll study these verses and ask God to equip you with these survival tactics that will help you thrive and live joyfully.
Do you want to learn more about getting equipped to thrive? I’d like to invite you to my 10-day Daily Discipleship Challenge. Together, we’ll study James 1 and be transformed by God’s powerful survival instructions that are just as relevant to us as they were to the believers in the first church.
Explore God’s perspective of tragedy and crisis and learn practical ways to get unstuck from your pain in the sermon series entitled The A.R.T. of Survival.
Founder & Teaching Pastor, Living on the Edge
Chip Ingram is the CEO and teaching pastor of Living on the Edge, an international teaching and discipleship ministry. A pastor for over thirty years, Chip has a unique ability to communicate truth and challenge people to live out their faith. He is the author of many books, including The Real God, Culture Shock and The Real Heaven. Chip and his wife, Theresa, have four grown children and twelve grandchildren and live in California.More Articles by Chip