My last article about trusting Jesus didn’t answer the “Why is God making life hard for me?” question. When God puts you through hard times, you aren’t just struggling to trust God with your future. You wonder why He is causing those hard times to begin with.
To tell you the truth, I rarely ask why God puts me through hard times. I’ve always known life is painful, hard, and scary. I grew up with a single schizophrenic mother, I was in and out of foster homes throughout my childhood, and I didn’t meet my Jewish father until I went to Jerusalem when I was 27 years old. I was living on my own at 17, when I experienced an attempted rape during a home invasion. I didn’t get married until I was 35; my husband and I dealt with infertility and have accepted (and embraced!) a childless life.
Life brings hard times. God has always allowed His children to experience hard times, back from the beginning of humankind. Life is hard and often cruel, and God doesn’t always shelter believers from pain or suffering. So for me the question isn’t “Why is God making my life so hard?” I’d rather focus on what to do when God puts you through hard times.
If you think “God puts you through hard times” you’ll cope differently than if you believe “God allows you to experience hard times.” How you think about God, your life and the world changes everything — including your heart. And your heart affects how you deal with difficult seasons of life.
Which do you believe? Take a moment to decide if God is putting you through a hard time or if He is allowing you to experience a hard time. What difference does it make? Does it change how you feel about God, or how you see this season of your life?
When God Puts You Through Hard Times
Talk about hard times in life: God called Moses on an ordinary day in an extraordinary way. Exodus 3 tells us how the Lord spoke to Moses through the burning bush at Horeb, the mountain of God. This wasn’t the first hard time for Moses…and it definitely wasn’t the last.
This blog post is part of my She Blossoms Through the Bible project; I’m writing an article for every chapter in every book of Scripture. I started with Genesis — beginning with The Reason You Were Created – Genesis 1 and ended that series with How to Live Like You Really Are Forgiven and Free – Genesis 50. In this article I briefly explore Exodus 5 and what to do when God puts you through hard times.
1. Explore the reasons for hard times in life
“Why, Lord, why have you brought trouble on this people? Is this why you sent me?” Moses asked God in Exodus 5:22-23. “Ever since I went to Pharaoh to speak in Your name, he has brought trouble on this people, and You have not rescued Your people at all.” Hard times, to be sure! Moses asked Pharoah to let God’s people — the Hebrews — go. “Who is Yahweh that I should obey Him by letting Israel go?” asked the Pharoah. The Hebrew workers were given additional hard work in Egypt, a few extra beatings, and more pain and suffering than before. It really did seem like God was putting them through hard times…and it was all Moses’ fault. Or was it?
What caused the hard times you’re experiencing? Maybe God. Maybe you. Maybe your family, coworkers, an accident, freak natural occurrence, death, chronic pain, a constant battle with an emotional or mental health issue. Most likely, your hard times are caused by a combination of factors. My difficult childhood was caused by numerous unexpected events and choices made by my parents. The hard times I’ve experienced as an adult were intensified by my lack of belief that I matter to God. I never explored the reasons for most of the hard times in my own life, but I am learning why God’s people in the Bible face problems, pain and suffering. What about you — how are you wrestling with the “why is God putting me through hard times” question? If you’re wondering what to do when God puts you through hard times, start by looking at the root causes of your pain.
2. Look in the right direction
If Moses and the Israelites in Exodus 5 knew then what they know now, they’d have a whole different perspective on their lives. Their hard times would make sense, their experiences more meaningful, their understanding of God deeper, their faith stronger. The Hebrew people were caught in the hardest, most painful time of their lives — and they didn’t consider God. Exodus 5:15 tells us the Israelite foremen went to the Egyptian Pharoah and cried out for help. The Hebrews didn’t ask the Lord for help. They didn’t rely on Him for strength, hope, deliverance, or freedom. Instead of turning to God, the Israelites kept wrestling with the worldly, evil cause of their pain and suffering.
Who do you turn to when God puts you through hard times? You’re here on She Blossoms — and I’m glad! But is the internet the first place you turn to when you’re struggling with problems? Christian blogs can be helpful, but they aren’t the source of life. Articles about Jesus and faith can be encouraging, but they aren’t the answer. When God is putting you through hard times, the first and most important person you need to talk to is God Himself. Talk to Jesus with tears flowing down your cheek. Speak your heart to God, even when your heart is angry, cold, hard and hurt. Share your feelings with the Holy Spirit, even when you don’t know what to say. I talk to God every morning in my journal, and have even asked Him why He puts certain people through hard times. I don’t always get answers, but I know He hears me. And that changes everything.
3. Accept God’s reign over your life
Moses asked God good, honest, emotional questions. “Why, Lord, why have you brought trouble on this people? Is this why you sent me?” Moses asked God in Exodus 5:22-23. “Ever since I went to Pharaoh to speak in Your name, he has brought trouble on this people, and You have not rescued Your people at all.” Moses forgot what God already told him in Exodus 4:21. Moses forget what God almost did to his son in Exodus 4:24. Moses kept struggling with God’s power, decisions, and actions — and so did the Israelites. When God put them through hard times, they did everything but accept His reign over their lives.
What does it feel like to surrender to God’s reign in your life? To me, surrender feels like accepting all the bad and good things in my life. For example, I’m taking an Old Testament class at Regent College. The typical professor — an Old Testament scholar, author, and respected teacher — is on sabbatical this semester. So we have an older gentleman teaching the course. He’s a kind man, lovely and sincere. But his classroom instruction isn’t what I expected in an expensive Master’s level course at a private Bible college. In the past I would’ve been angry, bitter and critical…but now that I’m learning how to surrender to God in all aspects of my life, I’m at peace. This may not be the most dramatic example of “what to do when God puts you through hard times in life”, but it represents a massive change in my heart, spirit, and life.
Feel free to write in the comments section below about the hard times you’re going through. I don’t give advice, but I can pray for you. Even better, write to God! What do you want to ask or tell Him about what you’re experiencing? How does Jesus fit into this situation, or your life in general? Your comments — big and little — are welcome below.
With His love,
P.S. Are you struggling to make a decision or find the right path in your life? Read an Easy Way to Stop Overthinking God’s Will for Your Life.