Preparing for adulthood includes learning how to manage money, being responsible with technology, finding a right-fit career, considering what to look for in a future spouse, etc. But sometimes, what can be overlooked is planning for the trials of life.
Jen’s Keeping Room Tips:
It’s important to know what the Bible says about suffering, such as:
- Acceptance of the fallen state of the world leads to a realistic, healthy perspective. (Rom. 5:12-21; Eph. 6:12-13; 1 Pet. 4:12)
- Joy and fullness of life in Christ includes hardships and suffering. (Col. 1:24-29)
- Suffering is a prompt to pray. (James 5:13)
- There are great blessings in suffering. (1 Pet. 3:14)
- The Bible provides the strategies needed to endure suffering. (Ps. 40:11b)
- Suffering does not make God less than perfectly good. (Rom. 2:4)
- God is in control of suffering at the same time as feeling everything we feel. (Ps. 97:1; Mt. 25:42-45)
- He modeled how to do suffering. (Lk 23:46)
- Responding well to suffering brings God glory and takes Christians to glory. (1 Pet 4: 16; Rom. 8:17-18)
- You can achieve a special status in suffering, and can gain others’ attention for Christ through it. (Phil. 1:27-29)
- Going through trials lifts you out of earthly focus and back to an eternal view. (2 Tim. 1:8-12)
- Being well-prepared for suffering is not the same as being cynical, anxious, or dreading the future. (Prov. 31:25)
Having a personal relationship with Jesus is a game-changer when it comes to suffering.
- Seeing Him at work in tough times leads to a grateful spirit. (Ps. 34)
- Suffering is an opportunity to be comforted by the Divine Comforter. (2 Cor. 1:3-7)
- The Lord allows hard times to produce rewarding, personal character transformation. (Rom. 5:3-4)
- He uses physical woes to expose crucial spiritual needs. (Mt. 9:2)
- Suffering reveals the need for faith in God. (Is. 41:10)
- What Jesus did on the cross becomes more precious in the face of evil. (Heb. 2:9)
- He gives you precisely what you need to tolerate the suffering you’ve been given. (Heb 4:16)
- Hard times create a beneficial dependency on the Lord. (2 Cor. 11:16-12:10)
- Sharing in Christ’s suffering can make you more like Him. (Phil. 3:10-11)
- Suffering can bond you to Jesus Christ in a deep, sacred way. (Phil. 3:7-8)
Suffering is a time for community to rally around those who are hurting:
- Joining with others through suffering keeps you from feeling alone. (1 Pet. 5:9)
- There is no greater hero to look up to than someone who is suffering and clinging to Christ in faith. (James 5:10-11)
- Suffering is an opportunity to show and receive love and comfort from special people in your life. (2. Cor. 1:3-4)
- Your suffering can be united to Christ’s sufferings for your benefit and for the sake of the Body of Christ. (Col. 1:24)
- Prayers in times of suffering remind you how much you are loved, and Jesus is always found in prayer teams. (Mt. 18:20)
- Through hardship, relationships can become more authentic. (Ruth 2:11)
- Suffering often occurs in seasons. Sometimes you’re on the receiving end of support and sometimes you’re on the giving end. (1 Pet. 1:6; Eph. 4:2)
- Doing life in a Christian community gives you the opportunity to be held up by brothers and sisters in Christ when you struggle, to know deep satisfaction of pointing others to Christ when they suffer, and to grow in Christ together. (Jn. 13:35)
“We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed – always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.” (2 Cor. 4:8-10)
Whether you referred to it as a “mix-tape” or a playlist, at some point you’ve possibly compiled a list of songs that reflected a season of your life such as a painful break-up or a fantastic summer camp experience. In those situations, the songs can tend to be all sad or completely celebratory.
With a little purposeful planning, a more varied and specifically arranged list of songs can be assembled in order to productively process a painful journey from sorrow to joy. Here’s one sample, along with some explanations behind the choices:
You Raise Me Up by Josh Groban – From the first mellow notes to the very end, this prologue sets forth a two-part theme for this Christian woman’s playlist: sorrow and faith in God.
Rose from the Titanic Soundtrack (James Horner) – This instrumental represents the wounded party’s discovery of a changing identity…as she learns how to respond to her circumstances in the way she believes the Lord is asking of her.
This I Know by Crowder – The listener wants to take a little break from her first two sad songs with an anthem that reminds her of the early days when she got to know Jesus and He put life in her bones. She might need to feel sad a little longer, but she also longs to know vitality isn’t far away.
I Am Not Alone by Kari Jobe – Oftentimes, trials can be very isolating. People don’t always understand, and sometimes they say and do very unhelpful things. These lyrics that focus on the Lord, Who He is, and how He cares – will draw the hurting towards Him so her needs can be divinely met.
You Know Me by Bethel Music & Steffany Gretzinger – Hard times can cause insecurity, shame, and/or a desire to be understood. There is One who knows every detail about His daughter, and He would desire that such a melody be sung over her during times of self-doubt.
Nearness by Bethel Music & Jenn Johnson – The hurting listener struggles over what she doesn’t understand, but this ballad helps her to steady her heart on His comfort and goodness, and prepares her for a turning point in her healing.
Great Are You Lord by All Sons & Daughters – Eventually the victim has played the sad songs enough and she’s ready to spend more time praising and less time lamenting.
Make a Way by I am They – With a focus remaining on the Lord and what He can do, she recalls the ways He has always been there for her and how this time will be no different.
Roar by Katie Perry – There is an enemy who doesn’t want healing. This selection is fun to sing in his face as this process moves along.
One Thing Remains by Passion featuring Kristian Stanfill – This praise number is great for singing along in a loud voice, reminding her emotions to believe what really matters.
Made to Love by TobyMac – A fabulous, dance-inducing finale, TobyMac’s song announces that the time has come to move forward – with a renewed focus on her life’s purpose.
Jen’s Keeping Room Tips:
If you decide to use a music playlist as a tool to help you heal or recover from a trial:
- Put together a balanced list of songs so that you can experience a variety of emotions as you journey through the music. The key is not to have all sad or only upbeat songs, but to use a progression of songs to join up with you as you transition from emotional pain to stability.
- Turn the songs into your personal prayers and anthems, always including the Lord in this process for best results.
- Allow yourself to put certain songs “on repeat” to give yourself time to feel and face all your emotions before listening to selections that are more focused on moving forward.
- If you find yourself “sitting” in a certain area of the playlist for a long time without being able to advance through it, consider why you are stuck and determine if you need more outside support.
- Consider titling your playlist and even after you’re done, go back to it from time to time so that you can acknowledge the way the Lord brought you through a hard time.
I will sing and make music to the Lord. Psalm 27:6
You’re going through something hard. Really hard.
And you know there’s probably a better way to go through it, but you’re just not sure how.
Jen’s Keeping Room Tips:
1.Remind yourself that you are called to suffer. Why should this make you feel any better? Because it’s a sign that you matter. You’re worth having a calling. Your mission as a Christian, should you choose to accept it, is to follow in the steps of Christ who suffered for you (1 Pet. 2:21). And that means sometimes you will feel pain.
2.Take more responsibility for your behavior. While Jesus was walking through His suffering season, He did not sin. He left His Holy Spirit with you to empower you to have self-control for times like this. (Gal. 5:22-23; Eph. 1:19; 1 Pet. 2:22)
- Are you over-indulging in pleasures to ease your discomfort?
- Are you turning to everyone else before seeking the Lord to receive comfort?
- Are you valuing your opinions over the will of God?
- Are you so consumed by your problems that you’ve become completely self-absorbed?
3.Get your heart examined right away. The divinity of Jesus took care of what was going on in His human heart, so that only truth would exit His mouth. What comes out of you will be a direct result of how much time you are attending to your heart. (Lk. 6:45; 1 Pet. 2:22)
- Do you accept the varying emotions you are feeling right now?
- Do you have a healthy, godly plan for managing your emotions?
- Do you prevent yourself from taking your stress out on others?
- Do you catch yourself when you are complaining about your hardship?
- Do you give the Lord enough of your time and focus for Him to speak to your concerns, guide your decisions, cleanse you of your sins, and strengthen your body, will, mind, and soul?
- Do you blame others for your plight, or do you make sense of it through the lens of believing God is good? (1 Pet. 1:23)
4.Kick moralism, philosophy, New Ageism, and all other religions out of your Christian faith. When you become concerned with retaliation, revenge, and justification, you are essentially placing yourself on the throne of God. Jesus trusted His Father’s grand plan and suffered greatly for you to live righteously, be healed, and to be a follower – not a usurper of His reign. Let Him care for you and heal you His way, the right way; and you will know great freedom, peace, and joy. (1 Cor. 1:20; 1 Pet. 2:23-25)
The incidences are high of married couples whose marriages become strained or even end when they endure something tragic, such as the loss of a child. It really is not surprising that men and women grieve, process, and experience emotion very differently from one another, and hardship is certainly a time the differences are revealed. In addition, different personality types react to certain challenges in very distinctive ways. If you are walking through a hard season of life – joined by your spouse, family members, or close friends – and their gender or personality prevents them from responding in the same way you are, it is time to create an atmosphere for varied paces.
Keeping Room Tips:
“God is the God of ALL comfort…” Paul says “ALL comfort” to mean that God’s comfort covers every trouble possible and every style of responding possible. Go to Him. He is the perfect answer to the person in denial as much as to the person who feels despair. Whatever you are feeling during your time of trouble, He has the comfort to match it.
“(He) comforts us in all our troubles…” Things can go wrong when family members expect one another to provide the “right” comfort that they need. Each time your loved one frustrates you because they aren’t sensitive to how you are responding or they aren’t responding the same way you are, it is a sign for you to go to the Comforter so that you don’t put unrealistic expectations on others to do for you what is meant to be done by your Father.
“…We can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” You will begin to behave in very powerful ways when you have been comforted by God. You will no longer have a desperate need for others to meet all of your needs. You will no longer feel it necessary to fight for your style of enduring troubles, since your style will have been validated by God. You will even find yourself able to put aside your own emotions for a time so that you can comfort others with the comfort you’ve been given by God. If you and your spouse or loved ones are receiving comfort first from God – then when you come together – rather than draining one another, you will have the reserves needed to build one another up and grow closer to one another through the time of trouble.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. (2 Cor. 1:3-4)
Loss, death, grief, pain, and suffering – these difficulties aren’t part of your eternal future, but they are here now. Support, counseling, prayer, and time will help and lead you toward breakthroughs, but difficult circumstances remain. How can you pay attention to God’s promises of joy and peace when there is ongoing pain?
Keeping Room Tips:
- Feel your feelings. Confusion, anger, mourning, sadness, and hurt can try to push the Lord out of your day. Don’t let that happen. Jesus incarnate experienced the full range of human emotions (Heb.4:15) and the Heavenly Father watched His Son suffer and die (Mt. 26:39). The Lord gets it. Be willing to experience all of your emotions with Him.
- Speak the best language. The Bible provides a meaningful and sacred language to help you express your emotions. For example, “My soul is in anguish…I am worn out from groaning; all night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears. My eyes grow weak with sorrow” (Ps. 6:6). Join all the believers in conveying sorrow over this sinful world while faithfully anticipating the Kingdom to come.
- Concentrate on Him. His Love, His Word, His Power, His Plan, and His Answers are greater than anything this world can throw at you. Keep your eyes and thoughts fixed on Him so that your heart will trust Him with your needs (Prov. 4, Heb. 3, Phil. 4). He wants you to be still and look at Him so He can fill you with love, understanding and strength in all the hardest moments.
- Remember and think on Truth. God is good and His love is unfailing. He gathers…delivers…satisfies…fills…saves…breaks away chains…sends forth His Word…heals…rescues…works…quiets the storms…guides…and blesses (Ps. 107). His commands are trustworthy (Ps. 119:86) and His Word is flawless (Ps. 18:30). His way is perfect (Ps. 18:30) to receive your painful emotions, to redirect and quiet your thoughts, and to lead your soul to His promised joy and peace.