Have you ever come up with a perfect comeback to a conversation…two hours later? I think that a big difference between real life and TV or movies (but not the only one, of course) is that actors have script-writers and multiple chances to deliver a line. So, when I don’t feel as witty or as clever, compared to fictional characters, I remember that not only are their lines carefully crafted, but the situations are set up exactly right for them.
In the same way, timing is important when we are going through the Christian walk. God is faithful to the end (literally), but our ability to remember His faithfulness can be foiled by opposing forces in different times of our life.
One of these challenges appears in the good times. When God is blessing us, it’s too easy to forget about Him. We enjoy life (not that we shouldn’t), but we forget to give credit to God for providing to our needs.
The other challenge, though, is to remember these same things when we’re going through the tough times. We ask ourselves questions like, “Where is God?” (even though He is still with us) or, “Why doesn’t God hear my prayers?” (even though He does, and is using His wisdom to answer them in the most appropriate manner).
As we go back and forth between good and bad times, though, if we can remember the constant – God’s presence – in both the highs and the lows, the evidence and reminders start to accumulate. This makes it even easier to remember that God is with us, when we enter each successive season of our lives.
Remember what David said in the well-known 23rd Psalm:
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
Psalms 23:4 NASB
David doesn’t expect to avoid this valley, but knows that God is with him when he goes through the valley. Why? Because God had remained with David in the past.
It’s one thing to remember that God took care of us after he’s gotten us out of a mess. When the dust settles and the smoke clears, we can often see how God made things work for good (after we thought that there was no way out). In fact, we might even notice that what He let us go through now allows us to help others going through the same sort of thing.
Our ability to tell others about what God has done for us is sometimes called a “testimony”. When a Christian “shares their testimony”, that usually just means that he or she is telling others about their story, and how God was a part of it. (In court, a testimony is the same kind of thing, where a witness tells about what they saw, heard, and experienced.) Here’s one way to tell mine: My Testimony.
God’s provision is also recorded in many great recollections of His presence: whether in the Bible, elsewhere in history, or in the modern era. We can read from these stories to add even more support to our faith.
So, if you’re in good times right now, or if God just helped you out of a low spot, I invite you to take a bit of time out of the excitement to do the following:
- Thank God for His help. See Luke 17:11-19 for a reminder.
- Jot down how God is blessing you (paper or electronic means are fine), and keep this in a place where you can look back at it when things aren’t going as well.
- Tell others about God’s impact on your life. Who knows how many of those around you might be going through tough times, and need to hear from you that there is hope. Those who are also feeling good about their lives can celebrate with you, and glorify God.
And, if you’re in some not-so-good times today, I encourage you to try the following:
- Take some time to study testimonies of others who watched God work (even in retrospect) during their challenging times. You can read about examples in the Bible, pick up some books from your Christian bookstore (whether local or online), find testimonies online, or talk to your friends (those who are mature enough to counsel you with wisdom – not those who are likely to just paper over your challenges with platitudes).
- Check with a trusted pastor or counselor, and ask if there is anyone else you can talk with who went through similar struggles. I’m confident that you’re not alone in what you are going through, and I can personally testify that sharing issues often brings out stories of others who endured (and got through) the same thing.
- Read the Psalms. These include not only testimonies of those who saw God at work, but the raw cries of those going through difficult times.
Why are you in despair, O my soul?
And why have you become disturbed within me?
Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him,
The help of my countenance and my God.
Psalms 42:11 NASB
Regardless of where you are today, God is nearby. He loves you, and wants the best for you, even if that requires you to go through a shadowy valley.