by dr. MJ du Plessis
The Bible teaches us a lot about suffering and hopelessness. Read more about it and why we can take courage because Jesus Christ died for our sins.
The Word of God teaches us to be patient during difficult times, because God is with us – every moment. He plans everything and oversees every moment and event in our lives. We can see his planning when we read the Bible: The Old Testament tells us about Jesus Christ’s life, death, and resurrection, and we read about its fulfilment in the New Testament. It is no coincidence when something good or bad happens to us, the Lord is in control of everything that happens. In each of our lives there are difficult times, but we can know that God is going through it with us. When we go through times of trouble, we must be patient and realise that the Lord also gives times of prosperity and joy. He gives us his protection every day. As a true believer, the Lord protects you in such a way that you will be welcomed into his Kingdom after this life.
These are just some of the things we can learn about taking courage from the Bible and the life of Jesus Christ:
1. Nothing can separate us from God
There is a refrain that runs through the Bible, that believers through the ages have heard: “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).
Where does evil come from then? From the devil. Just think about Job’s life. In this life the Lord still allows the devil to upset our lives and cause discomfort. But in the hereafter, it is no longer possible, because the Lord does not even allow the devil to be there.
In the Bible we learn that nothing happens by chance, but that we receive our due from God’s hand. We confess that we will put our full trust in God. Our trust will be so firm that no creature or anything else will be able to separate us from God’s love. “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).
2. There is a purpose to suffering
Elsewhere, the Bible teaches us that we should not become discouraged. Suffering has a specific purpose in our lives: “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day” (2 Corinthians 4:16).
The devil has built a lot of planning into human culture with which he wants to give man the impression that there are forces outside God that control his fate. But in the face of all these false beliefs, the Lord reveals Himself very clearly. He is God – from eternity, to eternity. All people who have a great dependence on the Lord will understand how weak and wrong a person can be. That is why the author of Psalm 38:18 says: “I confess my iniquity; I am troubled by my sin.” This is where our concern should be: Our sins should bother us so that we confess that we are not righteous.
3. Jesus Christ is why we can take courage
Always remember that the Lord Jesus Christ’s whole life, his suffering, death, and resurrection is proof of the steadfastness of God’s plan for our lives. The Lord Jesus was promised in providence. Then He came and fulfilled all the promises that the Lord had made about Him in the Old Testament. The promises were made and given so that we can have courage and trust in God.
We do not have to be ashamed when we become scared and discouraged. The Lord Jesus was also scared. He sweats blood from fear for what lies ahead of Him and still, in obedience to God, He surrenders to the hatred and hypocrisy of the people so that He can save them. This salvation also applies to us. That is why we cannot allow a feeling of hopelessness to stop us and let life pass us by. We are called to live life to the glory of God.
On the evening before his crucifixion Jesus awakens his disciples and encourages them not to get stuck to this life and all it entails. They must set their sights on the time beyond our history when the Lord has conquered the world. Jesus then says: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). It is these words that we can hold onto every day, so that we may live our lives to the glory of God, never mind what happens around us.
This article was translated and reworked from an Afrikaans sermon. The original sermon can be found as a PDF here.