by Nxf. Ntsum Thaiv Vaaj
What a blessing it is to witness a new year with families and friends in the presence of God. As we say goodbye to 2018 and celebrate a fresh new start in 2019, let God go before us and lead us. Though we don't know what the future holds, and what trials we may face, God promises to be with us until the end of time.
The start of a new year fills us with endless possibilities and a fresh start. We make travel plans, implement better lifestyle choices, and set goals for ourselves. No matter what we've endured the past year, we have hope that we can take on the new year with confidence. But while the majority of us are going into 2019 with great optimism, many of us are unsure of what awaits us in the new year; it may be great happiness or adversity. We all want good things to come our way but what happens when tragedies strike? No one wants to face tragedy but have you ever wondered why bad things happen to us? And when they do arise, how can we overcome it?
It is never easy when we're faced with life's obstacles and challenges. Trusting God in the midst of such obstacles and challenges is a difficult task but we must continue to persevere and rely on Him. No one can escape life's challenges. Some of you may face an illness, a broken marriage, or a broken relationship. Your family may undergo a financial crisis without having the money to pay the mortgage or put food on the table. Worse yet, you may lose a loved one.
Whatever we will experience in the new year, let us put our trust in God. Our God is sovereign and He is in control of all things. Here are some of the things which I have learned through my time of difficulties and how I've overcame them.
Point A: "Remember God's promises"
God's promises are everlasting to those who have accepted His Son Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Our God is a faithful God. He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. He does not change nor breaks His promises.
When we're facing life's challenges we need to focus on God and His promises. It is easy to lose sight of God's promises for us because God is invisible. But even though we cannot see God, we must believe in our heart that God is with us and He will never forsake us. Thus, instead of focusing on our problems we must refocus on God's promises which was written for us. The battle starts in our mind. The Bible teaches us to renew our mind and fill it with God's words. Meditate on the word of God and memorize His word which are his promises for us during time of difficulties. As we meditate on God's words we must BELIEVE in his promises; that they are real and will come to pass. There are thousands of promises in the Bible.
One of the promises that brings me comfort is from Deuteronomy 38:8, “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged." During time of distress, memorizing this verse and reciting this verse over and over helps me to ease my stress and anxiety. Our God is faithful and He hears our heart.
Point B: "Dwell in God's word"
When I am drowning in worries or difficult situations, I am reminded to come back to God’s Word. God's word is like oxygen to our spiritual soul. Humans need oxygen to survive, function and grow, otherwise, the human body will be dead and lifeless. The Bible is our oxygen and guidebook to our life and from it we are reminded of God's grace and sovereign power. Psalms 119:105 tells us that, "God's word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.”
The book of Job is a good illustration of trial and tribulation of great proportion. Seeing how Job dealt with his trials and how he overcame them and how he remained faithful during the difficult times until the very end, made me realized that my problems were nothing compared to Job's. The things I endured were nothing compared to what Job endured. If God was able to help Job overcome his trials and restored the losses of his kids, servants, livestocks and even his own health, He can definitely help me as well. Job was a faithful servant of God, yet God allowed Job to be tempted by Satan. As I reflect on this, I am encouraged to continue to be a faithful servant daughter of God till the very end. And if we suffer, we suffer for His glory and not our own.
Point C: "Praise and Worship God in all circumstances'
The word of God reminds us that even in times of pain, sorrow, or disappointments, we must continue to praise God and worship God through songs and prayers because He is good and He deserves all our praises. In Psalms 146:2, the word of God says, “I will praise the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.”
I must admit that this is not an easy thing to do. Because when our heart, mind and body is not healthy, we're spiritually weak. Our souls are so drained and empty, leaving us spiritually dry without any sense of direction. It is normal to want to shut-down from the world and even from God. We may even be tempted to resort to negative sources, sinful activities and or seek ungodly counsel from others to fill our heart and emptiness. But the truth is that only God alone can fill our emptiness because He alone knows our needs. We may not be in the right spirit to praise and worship God because we are not physically healthy and our heart is not at peace, but the key to strengthening our inner soul, in times of suffering, is to praise and worship God, even when our body and mind are at their weakest point. Through our obedience and faithfulness, God will bless us and give us the strength to rejoice in Him always.
Every situation, whether good or bad, that comes our way is an opportunity to draw ourselves back to God and to learn from Him. Make time daily to pray and communicate with God especially, during times of hardship. When we pray we should not be double-minded but have faith that God will answer our prayers if they are according to His will. Share freely what’s in our heart and do not be embarrassed to cry out to God because He cares for us. He knows what's best for us and He wants to hear from us.
Aside from our daily prayers with God, we should ask other faithful Christians to pray for us and pray with us. We must take precaution during our most vulnerability moments not to fall into Satan's trap of lies. Satan wants to deceive us by telling us that we're not good enough for God or that it's our fault we're in the situation; we may feel shameful, prideful, guilty, fearful, alone, a failure, and or unloved-that no one loves and cares for us. Do not get distracted or defeated by these lies. We will be surprised that there are many caring Christian friends and families willing to pray for us. Remember that we are God's children and He loves us.
Point D: "Serve God faithfully"
It is easy to call it “quit” when things are not going our way but do not be discouraged! Continue walking with God and serve Him faithfully. Walking with God means to NOT be at a standstill but rather take every step with God and with the body of Christ (the church) enduring through the hardships. During the most fragile times, it is important to stay connected with the church because the church is the supporting family we all need to help us and hold us accountable. Continue serving and attending church regularly and participating in all the activities the church have. As we maneuver through life and try to balance our family, career, marriage, and ministry make God the centerpiece of our life and the foundation of every decision we make. When we are faced with catastrophes, God will help us to overcome it and the church family will be by our side. God bless you and keep you as you live out your life for Him! Praise be to God for His loving kindness.