Thursday, November 14, 2019

Three Things to Ask of God in Preparing for Hard Times, Part 2

Last month I was visiting my daughter in Germany who just had her second baby, another girl. The three year old liked it when I sang Sunday School choruses to her. As I racked my brain for all the choruses I could think of, I sang to her

Read your Bible
Pray every day
Pray every day
Pray every day
Read your Bible 
and Pray every day
and you'll grow, grow, grow!

This is my first and best preparation and response to trials and persecution. It sounds cliche, but it's true! The thing is, too often we wait until the trial comes and then begin praying like crazy for God to fix it or take it away. If we just flip open our Bibles you never know what verse we might hit, maybe my brother-in-law's favorite as a child: There was a man in the land of Uz...

So often I have found that the help and lesson God wants me to find is in my next reading in wherever I am in scripture. Hebrews 4:12 is true: The Word of God is living and active... I may have read the passage twenty times before, but I find it timely today. We need to read large chunks of the Word, have times of meditation in smaller portions, memorize scripture, and have verses in places where we will see them during the day--maybe a coffee mug or a bookmark.

And what should we pray? One thing is to pray through scripture, repeating it back to God in your own words, stating--out loud maybe--who God is, what He does, and what He has promised. Pray for ourselves that we would live as God would have us no matter what comes our way. 

My response: Joy
James says, "Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials" (1:2).  Paul wrote to the Romans "We also exult in our tribulation..." (5:1) And Peter said, "In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while if necessary you have been distressed by various trials..." (1 Pet. 1:6) We need to pray for the right response to trials: Joy! What's to be joyful about during hard times? God is giving us an opportunity to be refined more into the character of His Son.

My attitude: Teachable
We should also be praying that when trials come, we will have the right attitude--one of being teachable. Otherwise we won't be refined. While I was doing this study I came down with an ear infection. I get ear infections on a regular basis and even though I was thousands of miles from home, my doctor had supplied me with the antibiotic I needed. My basic thought was, "Got this covered. Minor inconvenience." The next morning as I continued to study, I realized I had not asked God what He wanted me to learn from this situation and to help me be willing to learn it.

My perspective: Eternal
Peter said, "For a little while". When we are going through a trial, it never seems like a little while, so we can be praying that we would have the right outlook: eternal. Paul talked about "this momentary light affliction" (2 Cor. 4:17) In the light of eternity it is a little while and momentary. I can think of two trials I have gone through that lasted years. My secondary infertility went on for two years. It seemed like forever, but now it was 29 years ago! A person very close to us who left the faith for ten years was a heartache, but now that I have four children and nine grandchildren and the person is seeking God I wonder at my hopelessness and despair, even as I rejoice. 

As I studied this topic, I came up with ten ways to pray to prepare for trials. I'm sure there are more, but these are the first three I found. Surely if Jesus told us we would have tribulation (John 16:33) He meant for us to be prepared. I cannot think of better ways to prepare than listening to God and talking to Him.

What have you told your children about tough times?
Tonight at dinner ask them what they think God would want them to pray about hard times.

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