Proverbs 31:18 "She tastes and sees that her gain from work [with and for God] is good. Her lamp goes not out but it burns on continually through the night [of trouble, privation, or sorrow, warning away fear, doubt and distrust]".

Matthew 12:20 "A smouldering wick He will not snuff out."

1 Thessalonians 5:19 "Do not quench [suppress or subdue] the Holy Spirit."

2 Timothy 1:6 "I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of hands."

All of us suffer times of trouble, difficulty and great sorrow. How we handle it and walk with God through it can make all the difference to the outcome. Sometimes we are in the middle of it before we realise that we are totally focusing on the problem and not on our relationship with God. Often the difficulty is not one of our own making and sometimes there is no actual problem; we have just grown "cold" towards God. (Revelation 3:15-22) If we choose to listen and obey God in the midst of such times, we shall come through them and even benefit from them. (Romans 8:28; Psalm 23) "We are able then to comfort others with the comfort we have received." (2 Corinthians 1:4)

When she is going though a bad time, the "joyful woman" does not focus on bad things in the past, where she felt a failure, or let down by others or even God. She encourages herself by looking back at the work that she has done and remembers the good things.

Similarly we can:

  • Encourage ourselves in the Lord; (Matthew 10:30,31)
  • Be encouraged by the Holy Spirit; (Acts 9:31; Psalm 10:17,18)
  • Be encouraged by the faith of others; (Romans 1:12; Acts 15:32)
  • Encourage one another daily. (Hebrews 3:13; Isaiah 1:17)

Prepare for bad times

There are different times and seasons in our own lives, just as there are in the natural world. Some we like and some we find much harder to cope with, but we can prepare for troubled times when things are going well. We need to learn discipline so that, when we are not under pressure, we still stick close to God, read His Word and spend time in close, intimate contact with Him.

When there is no pressure, it is so easy to let our walk with our Father slip. We can be weak and directed by how we feel, but the Holy Spirit is wanting to use this time to prepare us for the future and to warn us of things to come. (John 16:13) Then, when we come to a difficult time, we are not shocked, desperately firing off questions to God, with no direction or protection. Every season in our life is for our growth, personal development and for the encouragement of the whole body of Christ.

Have a look at Joseph’s life and how God warned Him about a famine that was to come. (Genesis 41:29) As a result, he was prepared and his preparations not only saved his own family, but a whole nation!

Plant for bad times

Check that your friendships are doing you good and encouraging your relationship with God. Are you spending time with people whose speech is positive, building you up rather than tearing you down?

  • Jesus is our number one friend. (John 15:13,14)
  • True friendship is born for adversity. (Proverbs 17:17)
  • We only need a few friends. (Proverbs 18:24)
  • A good friend is challenging. (Proverbs 27:17)
  • A good friend is beneficial. (Ecclesiastes 4:9,10)

It's important to be "planted" (established) in the right church. (Psalm 69:9) Being rooted in God’s house means that, when trouble comes, we have avenues for support and prayer because we have surrounded ourselves with those who believe God’s Word and are committed to seeing us come through bad times. (Psalm 92:12-15; Psalm 84:1-4)

We must love others with sincerity, especially in the body of Christ. This requires effort, time and money, not just a superficial interest, especially when they are going through a tough time.

Press into God

Hold your ground in bad times. Reading and speaking God's word in good times will help you in bad times, reminding you of spiritual truth.

"For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all." (2 Corinthians 4:13-18)
"My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness." (2 Corinthians 12:9)

Giving voice to the words of the Bible lends it power. "The word of God should not depart out of your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, that you may observe and do according to all that is written in it: for then you shall deal wisely and have good success." (Joshua 1:8)

Pray by just calling out to God in the words of Scripture: "Rescue me from the mire. Do not let me sink!" (Psalm 69:13-21) Share the problem with your Father but don’t stop there; remind yourself of God’s great love shown in Jesus even though you do not feel it. We need constantly to remember that spiritual things are not complicated or tricky! God is not up in heaven trying to catch us out. He is right with us where we are. We can learn to "flow in Him" - live our lives in and through Him. Intellectually, we may know that God is full of mercy, but we need to remind ourselves of it every day. As we thank Him in prayer for His mercy to us and love for us, we rekindle our hope and stir up our faith. (Isaiah 57:14-19)

Listen to me! You can pray for anything and, if you believe, you have it; it's yours! But, when you are praying, firstly forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive you your sins too.” (Mark 11:24,25)

Your heavenly Father will forgive you, if you forgive those who sin against you; but if you refuse to forgive them, He will not forgive you.” (Matthew 6:14)

Meditate on the above scriptures and you won't have a problem walking in forgiveness. When God forgives, He also forgets. (Jeremiah 31:31-34) The Bible teaches us that the Father refuses to remember what has been forgiven. He forgives and forgets when we did wrong and we should do the same. When Satan tries to bring ugliness back to our remembrance, we need to remind ourselves that God has wiped it out; it no longer exists. (2 Corinthians 10:5) This is where faith is tested. When we have been hurt badly, forgiveness does not come instantly. It starts as we put our faith in God and in the death of His son, Jesus, trusting that the shedding of His blood covers the pain and humiliation of all human sin. God has forgiven - and forgotten - all of our sin. We start again with a clean slate. But that includes the pain of things that others did to us as well. When we forgive someone, that person may never even be aware of it, but we have given the pain of it to Jesus. He takes it and sets us free from it. “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty [emancipation from bondage and freedom].” (1 Peter 1:8)

Praise in bad times

Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” (Hebrews 12:3)

Joy is a spiritual force. It is one of the spiritual fruits that come with the activity of the Holy Spirit. (Galatians 5:22-23) The Bible describes it like this:

  • Deep excitement from knowing and trusting God; (Isaiah 61:10)
  • That which keeps us steady while we trust God. (1 Peter 1:8)
  • The thing that defeats discouragement. (Psalm 126:2)
  • The thing that fulfils and completes us. (John 16:24)

Joy is an instant beauty treatment

  • Proverbs 15:13 "A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit."
  • Proverbs 15:30 "A cheerful look brings joy to the heart and good news gives health to the bones."
  • Proverbs 16:30,31 "He who winks with his eye is plotting perversity; he who purses his lips is bent on evil. Grey hair is a crown of splendour; it is attained by a righteous life."
  • Proverbs 17:22 "A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones."

Power for bad times

Know your authority and use it. (Ephesians 6:10; Revelation 12:11)

The heart of Christianity is Christ living in us. The whole Christian life is Jesus. It is the message of His resurrection – He is alive! We can now understand how to live in victory, because He’s alive and has given each of us His Holy Spirit. He didn’t come to give us teachings or principles or concepts of life; He came to give us Himself and He has paid the full price for us to have victory in every situation. Think about this!

There is no room for any demon activity in our lives, so we must not give the enemy any opportunity. We have been given weapons for our warfare which are mighty - through God - to bring down every stronghold. (Ephesians 6:11-18) Jesus wants to give us this wonderful, joyous freedom, this abundant life... now! He is standing at the door of our heart with an armful of gifts that He has died to be able to give us. (Revelation 3:19,20) They are for all of us to use. We just have to break down the walls that we have built up around our hearts; walls that protect us from hurt, pain and failure. Then we shall receive all He has for us. He doesn’t want us to be bound to any rules, principles, duties or regulations that supposedly help us to please God. He simply wants us to trust Him and to allow Him to be all that we need – our everything. It’s only because we now have His life living through us, that we have hope. (Colossians 1:27) Nothing else will do. There is no other way to be free.

Encouragement from Psalm 103

  • He forgives all my sin. (Psalm 103:3;12)
  • He heals all my diseases. (Psalm 103:3)
  • He delivers me from hell. (Psalm 103:4;19)
  • He surrounds me with loving kindness and tender mercies. (Psalm 103:4; Psalm 103:11; Psalm 103:17)
  • He fills my life with good things. (Psalm 103:5; Psalm 103:11; Psalm 103:13)
  • He gives justice when I am treated unfairly. (Psalm 103:6)
  • He reveals His will and nature to me. (Psalm 103:7)

This will increase your faith and make you more confident of God’s love. Don't just know about God’s blessings but be part of them.

Get stuck into His word and see these blessings come to you new every morning.

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