Elisabeth Elliot once said, “The secret is Christ in me, not me in a different set of circumstances.” She was addressing the fact that our joy, strength, purpose, and hope don’t come about from life suddenly becoming easier for us because we escaped or were delivered form a hard situation. True contentment is not a result of living an easy life, but rather learning how to have joy in Christ in the midst of a hard one.
Sadly, this is a rare message in our day and age. Instead, what we commonly hear from well-meaning people in our lives is that our trials are just too much for us, we shouldn’t have to go through hard seasons, and life must feel really unfair right about now.
While people who say these things mean well, anytime we depart from God’s truth on any matter, it is harmful. Those well-meaning sentiments, because they are not ultimately built on God’s truth, can quickly become incredibly dangerous and detrimental. They robs us of the realization of where our true source of strength is found and how we can live in light of that strength even in the hardest of circumstances. Sentiments like the ones shared above are not helpful in the end, though they are meant as an encouraging sentiment in the present, because they can quickly drive us to wallowing in self-pity and despair over the trial we are facing.
As Elisabeth Elliot knew well, however, the Word of God offers us far greater hope and encouragement. Four passages in particular are incredibly helpful when facing life’s hard seasons:
- Ephesians 6:10 – Finally, be strengthened by the Lord and by his vast strength.
Verses 11-18 go on to tell us of all the pieces of the armor God has given us by which we can successfully fight against all enemy attack. What’s beautiful about this passage is that, rather than looking at the vastness of our problems, we are encouraged to look to the vastness of God’s strength. It doesn’t matter how big your problems are when the strength of the very God of the universe Himself is yours!
- Isaiah 40:29, 31 – He gives strength to the faint and strengthens the powerless…but those who trust in the Lord will renew their strength; they will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not become weary, they will walk and not faint.
How often, when faced with trial and hardship, do you wonder how on earth you could possibly survive another day? Those feelings are understandable, but those thoughts must be taken captive to the truth of this passage which promises that we will neither faint nor grow weary. Instead, we will soar, run, and walk with strength through the Lord Who will sustain and hold us up.
- Isaiah 41:10 – Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will hold on to you with my righteous right hand.
When the enemy is attacking, fear is threatening to press in on every side, and it seems like everyone is rejecting and leaving you, God promises to hold on to you and never let you go. Meditating on that truth can go so far towards equipping you with the strength, courage, and fortitude required to hold on even when all hope nearly seems lost.
- Philippians 4:12-13 – I know both how to make do with little, and I know how to make do with a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content—whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need. I am able to do all things through him who strengthens me.
This is the ultimate key to battling life’s problems – remembering the sufficiency of the Lord and HIs strength in our lives. We have been crucified with Christ, so that it is now all about Him in us. It is no longer about our insufficiency or inability to be strong or courageous. It is about His working His power in and through us. Nothing can ever truly overtake us, for we have constant access to infinite strength in Christ as promised in additional passages you might want to look up on your own – namely, 2 Corinthians 12:9, Romans 8, and Psalm 23.
Life is hard sometimes, yes. But it does not have to drive us to despair – not when we have the strength of the God of the universe on our side!