Tribulation and Distress
Part 2 - Learning to Cope
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Introduction

The purpose of this two-part essay is to move you several yards closer to the goal of being better prepared to deal with life's sorrows and disappointments.

  • Part 1 dealt with human defenses against the problems, stresses, and sorrows that life sometimes sends your way.
  • You are now reading Part 2. Its main goal is to compile God's counsel for getting help and healing in the "bad times" of your life.

Index & Overview

For times of trouble and sorrow, the Bible's "advice" to you can be summarized as follows...

The following problems are discussed on this page...

  • If you are severely depressed
  • If you feel God has deserted you
  • If you feel hopeless

Know that you are not alone

Jesus clearly and distinctly warned that you WILL have tribulation in this world.

However,
God never intended that you should stand alone when facing tribulation.

If you are a believer on Christ Jesus, then God has promised to be with you ALWAYS, in good times and in bad.

KNOW then that you are not alone. God is with you. To comfort you. To guide you. To help you.
  (Jesus said...) In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world. John 16.33b

(Jesus said...) ...lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Amen. Mt 28.20b

(Jesus said...) I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter (the Holy Spirit), that He may abide with you forever. John 14.16

Have faith in God

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.
James 1.2-3

Faith is like a muscle...

  • Faith can grow stronger ONLY when you use it.
  • Tribulation tests and exercises your faith.
  • Have faith in God. He WILL see you through your sorrows and trials.

Hope in God

rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer Rom 12.12

My
God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Philipp 4.19

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who
comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 2 Cor 1.3-4

and
the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Philipp 4.7
 

For stress, fear, and sadness, the best therapy is a large dose of HOPE...

  • In this world you can hope only in "luck"and people. These are feeble hopes. Luck is a myth. People will often fail you.
  • But a Christian has a greater hope. That hope lies not in fragile and sinful people, but in the Almighty God.
  • God has promised that He will meet ALL your needs.
  • God has further promised that He will comfort you and give you peace in times of tribulation.

In times of trouble, put your hope in God.

Throw your worries on God

Make yourselves humble under God's powerful hand.
Then, at the right time, He will lift you up.
Throw all your worries onto God, because He cares for you.
1 Pet 5.6-7

When you are going through trials, it can be downright annoying if someone advises you to pray.

  • After all, you already HAVE prayed and prayed and prayed -- so much so that your throat is hoarse from crying out to God.
  • But the verse quoted above may cast a new light on HOW you should pray.
  • In effect, that verse tells you, "DUMP on God."

Okay, so you have prayed. But have you THROWN your worries onto God? Have you DUMPED the entire load on God? Read on!

The healing power of dumping

Anger and frustration are normal human reactions to trials and pain. We ask ourselves...

  • "Why is this happening to me?
  • How can people be so mean and stupid and uncaring?
  • Why is God sitting around and letting this happen?
  • Does God really love me? Is God really THERE?"

Anger and frustration are like an un-lanced boil on your backside.

Dumping your anger and frustration is "lancing the boil." Dumping lets the poison out of your system, and opens the way for healing.

The problem is -- WHO can you dump on?

  • Friends and family may be frightened or hurt or overwhelmed by your bitterness and sorrow.
  • You might worry that your loved ones will look upon you as a whimpering baby.
  • You might worry that fellow-Christians will think you are weak in spirit and faith.

So WHO is strong enough to take your load of anger and fear and frustration -- your WHOLE load -- and yet not look upon you as being weak?

God is!

Are you apprehensive about THROWING your worries on God?

If so, then consider the following real life examples from the Bible...

The Teacher

"Meaningless! Meaningless!" says the Teacher.
"Utterly meaningless!
Everything is meaningless."
Eccl 1.2

God put the entire book of Ecclesiates in His Bible to tell you, "It's okay to unload on Me when life seems empty and meaningless."

The Prophet Habakkuk

O Lord, how long shall I cry, and You will not hear?
Even cry out to You, "Violence!'' and You will not save.
Why do You show me iniquity, and cause me to see trouble?
Hab 1.2-3a

The prophet Habakkuk boldly complained to God, asking Him...

  • God, why aren't you listening?
  • God, why aren't you helping?
  • God, why do you allow sin and suffering?

God put these verses in His Bible to tell you, "It's okay to dump on Me about this."

The Prophet Jeremiah

You are always righteous, O LORD, when I bring a case before you.
Yet I would speak with you about your justice:
Why does the way of the wicked prosper?
Why do all the faithless live at ease?
Jer 12.1

Pull them out like sheep for the slaughter.
Prepare them for the day of slaughter.
Jer 12.3b

In prayer, Jeremiah asked (in so many words), "God, are you really being fair?"

Equally startling is the fact that Jeremiah openly asked God to slaughter the people who had "done him dirt."

"Oh my goodness, no!" someone protests. "Christians shouldn't hate people, much less admit such a sin to God."

  • Okay, so we are NOT supposed to feel this way. In fact, Jesus commanded us to love our enemies. (Mt 5.44)
  • But God isn't finished with us yet so we sometimes DO feel a savage fury toward the people and circumstances that hurt us.
  • In prayer, it is downright foolish to tell God what you think He wants to hear, instead of telling Him what you are REALLY feeling.

God put Jeremiah's complaints in the Bible to tell you, "It's okay to tell Me what you are really thinking."

King David

Save me, O God, for the waters have come up to my neck!
I sink in deep mire, where there is no standing.
I have come into deep waters, where the floods overflow me.
I am weary with my crying.
My throat is dry. My eyes fail while I wait for my God.
Ps 69.1-3

When David was in trial and sorrow, he DUMPED on God. Big time!

And then -- very tactfully -- David reminded God how long he had been waiting for God to DO something.

Remember now -- David was truly a man after God's own heart. (1 Sam 13.14, Acts 13.22)

God put these verses in His Bible to tell you, "
It's okay to cry on My neck. I am your Father. You are My child. Climb into My lap and let Daddy kiss the hurt away."

The Lord Jesus Christ

Jesus wept. John 11.35

And about the ninth hour
Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?'' that is, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?'' Mt 27.46

Be angry, and do not sin. Do not let the sun go down on your wrath. Eph 4.26

For we do not have a High Priest
(Jesus) who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Heb 4.15-16

Jesus wept. Jesus -- the almighty Creator of the universe -- WEPT!

Jesus Himself cried out, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?'' Based on our sinless Savior's example, it is okay for you to...

  • Tell God if you feel He has forsaken you.
  • Tell God if you feel He is far away when you need Him.

Based on Ephesians 4.26, it is also okay for you to tell God when you are angry -- do not let the sun go down on your wrath.

God became flesh, suffered, and died to tell you, "I KNOW how sad and frustrated and lonely you feel." (Heb 4.15-16)

God put these verses in His Bible to tell you, "Even My own Son wondered if I had forsaken Him. I did not forsake Him. Neither have I forsaken YOU!"

God's Command

Be anxious for nothing,
But in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving,
Let your requests be made known to God;
And the peace of God,
Which surpasses all understanding,
Will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Philipp 4.6-7

In Philippians 4.6 God commands, "Tell me everything. EVERYTHING!"

In Philippians 4.7 God promises you PEACE.

"Dumping" is telling God everything -- the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Peace is what comes when you do.

Listen to God

Some Christians pray to God, then complain that He doesn't answer their prayers. More often than not, God HAS answered but they just weren't listening!

God usually speaks through His word, the Bible.

  • It is essential that you have a daily Quiet Time that you spend with God and His Bible -- to hear what God has to say.
  • Quiet Time should be just you and God, at least 15 minutes per day.

God speaks through His pastors, and through your other brothers and sisters in Christ.

  • As with all human counsel, check out any advice you receive to ensure it is consistent with God's Bible.

God sometimes -- rarely -- speaks directly to a person.

  • If you are so blessed, remember -- God will never say ANYTHING that is contrary to His written word, the Bible.

Take time to listen to God. If you listen, you will hear.

  (God said...) Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy?

Listen diligently to Me, and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in abundance.

Incline your ear, and come to Me. Hear, and your soul shall live
Isa 55.2-3a

(Jesus said...) He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. Rev 2.7a

Take comfort in God's ultimate solution

And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.'' 2 Cor 12.7-9a

And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes;
there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying; and there shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away." Rev 21.3-4
  Even as happened to Paul, you may have to make much of life's journey with a thorn of sorrow in your flesh.

If this happens to you, take comfort in the fact that God has promised, "My grace is sufficient for you."

Take even greater comfort in God's ultimate solution to this sinful world of suffering and distress.

God WILL make all things new. And pain and sorrow and weeping shall be no more. Amen.

Go to final page of Part 2 of this essay

Bible-based advice about depression, hopelessness, and separation from God.

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