With the help of weather patterns and forecasts, we can foresee and expect storms with some accuracy. It’s similar in life when we see tension building or circumstances colliding. We can anticipate and prepare for hardship. Yet difficulties can also appear in our lives like turbulent waves at sea. Challenges and setbacks hit us without warning. It’s even harder when they come in succession with little chance to collect ourselves between the torrents. When life is hard, we can anchor ourselves in Scriptures of hope from God’s Word.
When we encounter hardship, it’s natural to want conditions to change. But sometimes, God calls us to endure difficulty as we set our eyes on Him. He is our provider and sustainer, and He can redeem our circumstances and utilize them for His great purposes. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 offers us eternal perspective in the face of trials. “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”
In this Scripture, we glimpse one of God’s purposes in hardship. Renewal takes place as we rest in Him. We read, “Our inner self is being renewed day by day.” The inward self refers to our soul — the deepest part of us. Looking at the Greek word used for “renewed,” it means to grow up, to make new, to find new strength, and to be changed into a new kind of life as opposed to the former corrupt state.
What a beautiful metamorphosis! Consider a caterpillar in its cocoon. Do you imagine that as it wraps itself up in a silky suit, it has any idea of what is coming? A caterpillar undergoes a transformation scientists don’t fully understand as it liquefies its body and changes into a new physical form: a butterfly.
Similarly, we don’t always understand the change God is bringing about in our lives. It can be frightening to step into the unknown. Yet even in the face of uncertainty, we can trust His designs and know He has great plans for us. We can patiently endure hardship with the certainty that He is daily renewing us.
Sometimes life’s torrents give us no warning. Like a squall at sea, these storms arrive suddenly, catching us off-guard. An accident, catastrophe, defeat, or sudden setback knocks us off our feet. And yet nothing is unexpected to our God who holds our lives in His hands. God is omniscient, meaning He knows all things. He is also unbound by time. Psalm 90:2 says, “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever You had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting You are God.” Because God exists outside of time’s constraints and since He is all-knowing, we can be sure He foresees what is coming in our lives.
There is a phenomenon that happens at sea called a “rogue wave.” This extreme and forceful wave appears to come out of nowhere. It’s the culmination of waves colliding, joining forces, and producing a large, unexpected, and dangerous force. These rogue waves sometimes crash over our lives — yet God sees them coming. At times He might rescue us from the force. In Mark 4:39, Jesus demonstrated this by rebuking the wind and settling a storm with His words when He spoke, “Peace! Be Still!” He has the same power over our storms.
He doesn’t always calm the storm, however. When we’re called to endure circumstances, He powerfully guards us. He intervenes in our lives and holds us up when we feel we cannot stand.
Psalm 18:2-3 reminds us that amid hardships, we have a firm foundation and refuge — a safe place to wait out the storm. “The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies.”
We can feel weak and vulnerable as we resurface after a difficult season. So what happens when hardships rise wave after wave and offer little reprieve in between? Where our strength ends, God’s continues. When we feel we cannot press on, He carries us.
Romans 5:3-5 says “We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”
Rejoicing might not be our natural response amid suffering. Yet the Greek word used for “rejoice” means glory. We’re not forcing ourselves to find joy when our lives spiral into confusion. Instead, we can take the opportunity to allow God’s glory to be reflected as we trust Him in our circumstances. When hard times feel relentless, we can turn our attention to our God, who is loving, powerful, and in control. As we trust Him, we reflect His glory and goodness to a lost and hurting world so that they, too, can find refuge and peace that does not disappoint.