I must admit, I love the times of contentment. I love it when things are going well. During these times I have no problem trusting God. I understand His plan. I am willing to go along with whatever he says. I am confident in my faith and feel prepared for what is coming. When I am in a season of lie where things are smooth, it is easy to trust in the Father.
I wish I could say the same during the difficult times. It seems when times are hard our response is often to question God. We wonder how He could allow things we do not like to happen. We question His wisdom in our circumstances. If life isn't going our way, we tend to get discouraged.
However, just as autumn turns to winter, the seasons of our lives change as well. If our lives were simple and worked out well all the time, why would we need to trust in the Lord? I believe the difficult times come to increase our faith. Our harshest seasons are the times when God’s greatest work is occurring in us. It is hard to rejoice in the harsh seasons, but these are the times when we need to thank God for what He is doing in us.
God reminds us of this in James:
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)
The harsh seasons of life help us. They help us to stand tall and see that, through Christ, we can overcome.
These times provide us an opportunity to rely on the strength of Christ and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. When we cry out to God in these desperate hours, He hears and we must remember that the difficult times are part of the grand plan He has for our life. With each challenging season, we are moving toward maturity. God is working His progressive sanctification in us. We are changing, growing and maturing. Although it is not easy, we need to rejoice in these times because God uses our difficulties to draw us closer to Him.
How do we find the strength to rejoice in difficult seasons? We surrender. We give up control and trust God. We acknowledge that His ways are better --- even when we don’t understand. We delve into His Word and remind ourselves of His promises of faithfulness. Then we worship Him. We praise Him in the stormy seasons of life. This process is best outlined by Paul in Romans 12:1-2 (ESV):
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Surrender and sacrifice are the stepping stones to transformation. When we take time in the harsh seasons to worship, god changes us. Our mindset is different. We are changed. We see that god has a plan and we become willing to pursue it.
I encourage you, that if you are in a harsh season, remember that just as summer’s heat gives way to autumn’s refreshing coolness, your difficulties will pass as well. However, I also encourage you to praise the Lord in the stormy season. Let Him renew and change you. God has a plan. Let Him transform you so that you may see it more clearly.