Everyone goes through difficult times. Some may be struggling with an exam season, others may be going through a painful breakup.
Certainly, all of us are going through the current COVID-19 pandemic.
Thankfully, we can always turn to God’s word for guidance whenever we go through such difficult periods.
The Bible has many great examples of individuals who journeyed through tough times with God by their side.
Here are five of these individuals, and some takeaways we can learn from them.
5 LESSONS FROM TOUGH TIMES AND PEOPLE IN THE BIBLE
When talking about Bible characters who suffered, Job would be one of the first few people Christians think of – and rightly so.
He had everything that anyone living in that time would want – a big family, good health and plentiful wealth.
Later, in the midst of Job’s suffering, his friends got into a debate with him. They accused Job of sinning, asserting that his suffering was God’s punishment.
Job protested his innocence to his friends, and eventually asked God to explain Himself.
God then spoke to Job in a storm. Instead of answering his question, God asked Job if he understood the workings of the complex universe like He does.
Humbled, Job thus saw that he did not possess a wide enough perspective to judge God. He then accepted that trusting God through it all was enough.
Here is a lesson we can learn from Job: we can trust in God’s wisdom even when we do not understand.
Job’s story reminds me of this testimony I heard about a Christian couple who lost their children in a traffic accident.
They shared about how they were able to trust in God and His Word even through their grief. As such, they were even able to forgive the driver responsible for the accident and had peace in their hearts.
Hearing this, I realised that even though we may never understand why bad things happen, trusting in God helps us to move forward in the best way possible.
Here’s another Bible character who God journeyed with through tough times.
Earlier on in his life, Moses ran to the wilderness to flee from Pharaoh who wanted to kill him. Later, Moses returned to Egypt to convince the new Pharaoh to free the Israelites, risking his life.
With God’s help, Moses successfully led the Israelites across the Red Sea and away from Pharaoh’s army. They were free at last!
But soon enough, problems occurred: three days had passed and they could not find drinkable water. If their situation did not change, they would all perish.
So what did Moses do? He cried out to God. “And the Lord showed him a piece of wood, He threw it in the water, and the water became fit to drink” (Exodus 15:25).
From Moses, we learn something simple yet often overlooked: we should remember to turn to God for help.
While it is easy to focus on earthly solutions during difficult moments, God is capable of helping us in ways we may never imagine.
For example, I faced a tough period in my life during the O-Level Mandarin Chinese exams. I had failed all the previous examinations and was not confident things could change.
We can trust in God’s wisdom even when we do not understand… we should remember to turn to God for help.
So I turned to God and prayed for help.
In the end, not only did I pass, I even attained a B3! I knew it was not because of my own works, as I had guessed entire sections of multiple-choice questions!
God had answered my desperate call for help.
We do not have to be in harsh environments like a desert to encounter difficult times. They can happen even when we are surrounded by comfort.
That was what happened to queen Esther. She was a new queen who lived comfortably with the love of the king.
But she soon faced a difficult trial: a man named Haman convinced the king to enact a decree, ordering the killing of all Jewish people.
While queen Esther was Jewish, she had been hiding her identity. Mordecai, Esther’s cousin, pleaded for her to talk to the King. But Esther replied:
“All the king’s officials and the people of the royal provinces know that for any man or woman who approaches the king in the inner court without being summoned the king has but one law: that they be put to death unless the king extends the gold sceptre to them and spares their lives. But thirty days have passed since I was called to go to the king.” (Esther 4:11)
She refused initially, as speaking up would mean risking the death penalty. However, Mordecai then noted to Esther that God may have made her queen for this very purpose – saving her people.
With those words, Esther was motivated to act. She even declared: “If I perish, I perish”.
Though she was fearful, Esther took action and saved the Jewish people in the end. We can all learn from her courage – to act despite our fears during times of trouble.
Of course, this is by no means an easy thing to do.
There was a time in secondary school when I revealed a huge secret of a friend to others by mistake. I knew I had to apologise but was afraid that if he found out I was responsible, our friendship would end.
Regardless, I pushed through the fear and apologised. My friend was angry, but we were able to make amends.
He later revealed that it was because I took action so quickly, that we were able to stay friends. Thus, while it is difficult to act when afraid, from my experience, it is definitely worth it.
King David is another member of royalty from the Bible who faced troubled periods. He was the hero who defeated Goliath, successful in war and had the love of the people.
However, David’s success and popularity caused King Saul to become jealous, and he eventually tried to kill David.
David ran into the wildness to escape and during this time, he had opportunities to kill Saul. Once when Saul slept in a cave where David was hiding, and another time when David snuck into Saul’s army camp at night.
If David had killed Saul in those moments, he would have ended his difficult life on the run. But he refused, believing it was not right to kill Saul, who had been anointed by God.
Even though David had the “solution” to his problems, he never strayed from his morals. This is something we can learn: to not compromise when faced with “solutions” which we know are wrong.
I myself know the consequences of compromising. There was a time in primary school when I was bullied by several classmates.
However, I noticed that if I participated in teasing others with them, they would befriend me. Even though I knew it was wrong, I compromised to save myself, and regret that decision to this day.
So while it may seem easier to take immoral solutions during times of trouble, doing so will only cause future regret – especially on the day we meet God.
Many of us struggle with the restrictions on our freedoms during this COVID-19 pandemic.
Someone from the Bible who faced similar difficulties is Paul, who lost his freedom and was imprisoned multiple times throughout his ministry.
In Philippi, Paul was accused of anti-Roman teachings and got thrown in prison. There, Paul sang to God in worship, until a violent earthquake occurred.
It broke all the chains and opened the doors of the prisoners! The jailer was about to take his own life, believing the prisoners had escaped, but Paul managed to stop him, assuring him that all the prisoners were present and accounted for.
The jailer then took Paul to his home to wash his wounds. Paul preached God’s word to the jailer and his family, and the whole household accepted Jesus.
In another incident, Paul was falsely accused of bringing Gentiles into the synagogue. While the governor did not believe Paul was guilty, he kept Paul in prison for two years, hoping someone would give him a bribe for Paul’s release.
Paul was then transferred to Rome and placed under house arrest for another two years. During this time, he actively preached the word of God to the people who visited him.
Even though it would have been safer to prioritise himself and stay quiet, Paul focused on bringing people to God even while imprisoned.
This is an example worth emulating; we should all try our best to serve God in any situation.
In fact, it may even be more effective to serve during periods of struggle!
Whenever I know my pastors are going through difficult times, seeing them continue to preach God’s word boldly encourages me that God can give us grace to go on.
It is never easy to make it through difficult phases of life.
But we can take comfort from the stories of these five Bible characters: with God, nothing is impossible to overcome.
From the dramatic, such as fleeing kings who want your life, to the more relatable, like losing one’s freedoms, family or livelihood – God is with us through it all.
So let us all trust in God and turn to Him. We can act without fear or compromise, serving Him through every moment in our lives.
- Who among these Bible characters is your favourite and why?
- What is the most difficult thing you’re facing right now in life?
- How might these stories and lessons from the Bible speak to your troubles?
- Lift these difficulties up to God in prayer. He is with you.