Onward, Christian!

Troubles are guaranteed in this life. But God’s charge is always the same: Keep going!

I can’t take any more. How much does God expect me to bear? Why doesn’t He help me?

Have you ever felt like this? Job pressures, family problems, church troubles, health issues, relational conflicts, and financial struggles—the list of overwhelming difficulties is endless. It’s hard to see a light at the end of a dark tunnel, let alone comprehend how you could possibly walk toward it victoriously. Where can you find the strength to keep going when you’re so weary?

Thankfully, God gives us an amazing promise: “Those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary” (Isa. 40:31). This verse isn’t just about physical weakness. Emotional exhaustion can be even more draining. When we’re worn out, a good night’s sleep will usually renew our strength, but emotional weariness can utterly deplete us. Then fears and doubts rush in: How will I ever deal with tomorrow? God, where are You?

That’s exactly how the Israelites felt when the Lord spoke through the prophet Isaiah: “Why do you say, O Jacob, and assert, O Israel, ‘My way is hidden from the Lord, and the justice due me escapes the notice of my God’?” (v. 27). Sometimes our circumstances make us feel that the Lord has forgotten all about us. If we’re His children, shouldn’t He rescue us from trouble and make our lives pleasant and easy? Not necessarily.

Sometimes our circumstances make us feel that the Lord has forgotten all about us.

This attitude indicates we’re forgetting that suffering and hardship are a part of life—even for believers. When Adam and Eve chose to follow Satan rather than God, the consequences of sin engulfed the entire world, and no one is exempt. Although the Lord is still sovereign over His creation, He now works out His perfect plans in the context of a fallen environment.

The key to victory in hardships is found in responding rightly to them, not trying to escape. Anyone can keep going when burdens are removed, but those who trust the Lord in the midst of difficulties will persevere. However, this kind of radical trust is possible only when we know God’s character and understand His purposes.

Know who God is

Isaiah described the Lord as the everlasting God and Creator, who never becomes weary and whose understanding is inscrutable (v. 28). So let’s consider how these divine attributes can increase your trust in Him as you walk through troubles. While you see only your immediate needs, God has an eternal perspective on your situation. Because He’s your Creator, He’s made plans for your life, and they are being carefully worked out through each circumstance that you encounter. Furthermore, He never loses track of you, because you’re always on His mind. And finally, He is omniscient, which means His reasons for allowing trials in your life may be beyond your comprehension, but they’re always right and meant for your benefit.

While you see only your immediate needs, God has an eternal perspective on your situation.

In the same chapter, Isaiah described the Lord as a shepherd who tends, gathers, and gently leads His sheep (v. 11). Here we see the greatness of God’s love and mercy. He cares and provides for our needs, carries us when we’re too weak to walk, and gently guides us when we don’t know where to go. All these qualities should motivate us to trust Him.

Understand what God is willing to do

If you’ve ever been tempted to give up or complain to the Lord, perhaps you don’t understand how much He wants to help you. “He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might He increases power” (v. 29). God never intends that we live out of our own strength. That’s why He will sometimes bring us into times of weakness—to show us we need to exchange our puny, earthly strength for His heavenly power. Whether you are in need of physical or emotional might, He can replenish you with His divine energy.

Wait for the Lord

Since God has all the power we could possibly need and desires to share it with us, we must understand how to harness it. Isaiah tells us that the key is to “wait for the Lord” (v. 31). That’s probably the last thing you want to hear when you’re burdened and overwhelmed. You want relief, not delays! However, waiting for the Lord is not the same as waiting for the end of a difficult season in life.

If you’ve ever been tempted to give up or complain to the Lord, perhaps you don’t understand how much He wants to help you.

The Hebrew word translated “wait” carries with it the idea of hope and expectation. Since we don’t automatically know what to expect from God or how He’s going to work in our life, we need to spend time with Him, share how we feel, and turn our focus toward the Scriptures to understand what He desires to accomplish in and through us. Then we should quietly listen in anticipation of His answer. As we rely on His promises, our anxiety will be replaced with His peace.

Perhaps the best example I’ve seen of someone who knew how to live in God’s strength was a woman named Bertha, with whom I served at a conference. Though she was 97 years old, this former missionary to China worked tirelessly during the week—praying for people, talking with them late into the night, and getting up early the next morning to do it all again. After one extremely long and exhausting day, I dragged myself back to the convention center and saw Bertha, still working. I asked her, “How do you keep at this all day every day?” She grinned and said, “I’m not using my energy. I’m going in the Lord’s strength.”

At the time, I didn’t really understand what she meant but knew it was something I needed to learn. In time, God showed me, but the lesson was learned the hard way—through failure. I had the idea that God and I could accomplish anything, and I poured myself into serving Him. What I didn’t realize was that I was running according to my plan and in my own power, not His. For a while it seemed to work, but eventually the Lord sidelined me. For three months, He basically put me in a “time out” to get my attention. And during that time, I learned that we can’t expect to plot our own course, thinking God will come alongside to help if we get in a mess. He gives strength for the burdens He allows, not for the ones we take upon ourselves apart from His will.

While out of action, I experienced the truth of Galatians 2:20, and it transformed my life: “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” The only way to keep going in hard times is to let Christ live through us. When we come to the end of ourselves and accept the truth—that He will sustain us no matter what—we can accomplish whatever we’re called to do.

The Lord never promises to shield us from challenges, but we can be confident that if we have to run, He’ll strengthen us as we go. And if the journey is long, He’ll help us walk through it without losing heart. When we wait upon Him, believing that He is able and willing to come to our aid, anything is possible.

Related Topics:  Growth of a Believer

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