Questions to Ask Yourself in Times of Difficulty

Life is hard, and despite what some false teachers say, God never promised the Christian life would be easy or without trials.  Difficulties come into the life of a believer all the time.  Today I preached on four good questions to ask yourself when these times come.

1. Is This Because of Sin?

Hebrews 12:6-7

6 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.
7 If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?

If God loves us as His children, He will chasten (discipline) us when we sin — and that chastening can be quite unpleasant:

Hebrews 12:11

Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.

Sometimes the unpleasant difficulties that come into our life come directly as a result of sins we have committed.  God is chastening us, using the difficulties to get our attention and teach us.  He does this because He loves us.

If your difficulty is chastisement, in most cases you will already know it.  God doesn’t chastise His people and leave us wondering why — His purpose is to bring us to repentance, after all.  But if you prayerfully ask this question, God is certain to lead you to the answer, by bringing to mind a Scripture or by bringing someone into your life who will say something that makes it clear.

So, if this is your situation, what do you do?

I John 1:9

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Repent, confess the sin, and move on.  Then, don’t let Satan beat you up on this.  It’s none of his business.  It was a matter between you and your Father.  He’s dealt with it, and you’ve been restored.

2. Is This Because I’ve Been Foolish?

Proverbs 11:29

He that troubleth his own house shall inherit the wind: and the fool shall be servant to the wise of heart.

Some people do foolish things, and have bad things happen to them as a result — and then, they blame God or wonder why it happens.  In general, if you behave foolishly, life is going to be harder.  There are many foolish things we do which are not necessarily sin, but they bring us a lot of trouble.

If you don’t check the oil on your car, that may not be sin, but it is pretty foolish, and you can’t blame God if the engine stops working.

Proverbs 26:10-12

10 The great God that formed all things both rewardeth the fool, and rewardeth transgressors.
11 As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly.
12 Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? there is more hope of a fool than of him.

If you behave foolishly, you’re likely to receive the reward of foolishness.  The second question is, “Have I been foolish?”

But if so, what do you do?  Whatever you do, don’t return to your folly like a dog returning to his vomit.  (Learn to check the oil on your car! 🙂 )  DON’T be wise in your own conceit.  Be humble enough to admit your folly and learn from your mistake.

Then, move on.  The Accuser of the brethren doesn’t care if you sinned or not, he’ll beat you up for this if he can.  Don’t let him.  You’ve learned your lesson.  It’s none of Satan’s business.

3. Is Some Refining Needed?

I Peter 1:6-7

6 Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations:
7 That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:

The answer to this question is always “yes” — our faith always needs further refining, more purifying, more strengthening.

Gold is precious, and it is refined by fire — but gold is not eternal, while our faith is an eternal treasure.  It also needs tried, refined.

Often there are things in our life that are not sin, but they aren’t really to “praise and honour and glory” either.  They need to go away.  Maybe we are spending our time on things that are “ok” but not all that profitable.  Or maybe we need to learn a little more humility, a little more kindness, a little more trust.

Take the refining lesson and make it wholly yours.

4. Am I Rejoicing and Trusting?

James 1:2-6

2 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;
3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.
4 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.
5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.
6 But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering….

Whether or not we can recognise sin or foolishness that has brought the difficulty into our lives, whatever refining may be going on, God’s commands to us are clear.  We are to recognise that this is part of His perfecting work in our lives, and rejoice in it.  We are to ask Him for wisdom in the situation, and trust Him to give that wisdom and to complete His work in us.

Four questions:

  1. Is This Because I’ve Sinned?
  2. Is This Because I’ve Been Foolish?
  3. Is Some Refining Needed?
  4. Am I Rejoicing and Trusting?

Honestly asking ourselves these questions won’t remove the difficulties in our lives.  But God intended these things to actually accomplish something in us, and these questions are a good place to start in moving towards His intended purposes.

About Jon Gleason

Former Pastor of Free Baptist Church of Glenrothes
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