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"Finding Hope: How to Stay Encouraged During Dark Seasons and Times of Trouble"

As the world turns into craziness and darkness, as lawlessness abounds and the love of many grows cold, many are struggling to find hope.  I have been consistently hearing the word hope whenever we go on our outreaches.  Many people are suffering, and they are in need of hope, but they also need direction on how to navigate through tough times.


What is the significance of the term “dark night of the soul?”  The concept may resonate with many of us. The statement refers to a period of especially difficult times and struggles that we all go through. The Bible tells us there’s a season to cry and a season to rejoice. However, our perspective makes everything we go through bearable or more difficult. So, how can we change our perspective during difficult times?


The Apostle Paul gave us some insight into what kind of perspective we should have.  He said, Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things [are] noble, whatever things [are] just, whatever things [are] pure, whatever things [are] lovely, whatever things [are] of good report, if [there is] any virtue and if [there is] anything praiseworthy--meditate on these things.     - Philippians 4:8 NKJV


As I journey on a rather difficult season, I find myself digging deeper into God’s word in hopes of being strengthened and encouraged as I go forward.  I find myself seeking solace and comfort in the only One I know is constant in my life, even when I am not. 


While I would not say that I am in a “dark night of the soul” season, but if I didn’t know God and His grace, I may perceive things differently.  I have been in many dark seasons, and at times it seems as if I may have been born into one.  However, over the years of walking with God, I have found that my perspective on challenging times is often that it could be worse.  Keeping this perspective keeps me from entering self-pity.


 

To gain a deeper understanding of the words Paul used in his letter to the Philippians, let us examine their Greek translation meanings.


  • When Paul speaks of what is true, the word is translated from a Greek word that means trustworthy or reliable.  It is also defined as constant or valid. 

  • The word just is translated from a Greek word that means to be in accordance with God’s standards.  It implies innocence and holiness.

  • The word pure is translated from a word that means innocence, but it signifies moral purity and sincerity.  Religious piety or reverence might be a good explanation.

  • Lovely can be defined as pleasing or acceptable.

  • The words good report mean worthy of praise, admirable, or appealing.  Something good to the senses but upholds an ethical code of morality.

  • The word virtue is interesting because it holds many meanings.  But if we look at this word in conjunction with all these others, the best definition would be good, excellent, and wonderful, yet manifests power.


 

Because Paul started with the word finally, we must read what he started with in the previous verses.


6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.  – Philippians 4:6-7


Paul’s theme is thankfulness and praise.  Whenever we are troubled, we tend to lean towards anxiousness or fear, but that will only make our troubles look bigger.  When we take the perspective of thanksgiving and praise while prayerfully casting our cares on the Lord Jesus Christ, with the knowledge that He cares for us, our problem shrinks.  It may not go away, but it loses its power, authority, and momentum in the face of a grateful heart.


Paul encourages the reader to do as he directed so that the peace of God can be manifested in times of trouble.  In summary, Paul’s could say something like this - instead of being anxious, worried, or concerned, put your thoughts in prayer to the One who can fix them.  Start with what you can thank God for, and then let your requests be known.  Tell Him that you know He is trustworthy, reliable, and constant and will not lead you to a situation that He has not provided a way out of.  Instead of looking at the darkness, look at all the things God has done for you in the past and thank Him.  Choose to look at the pure innocence of Christ and the goodness of God.


Talk to God about the excellent things you know about Him and the great things He has done for you.  Remind God that His peace that surpasses all understanding is given to you through His Son, Jesus Christ, and that you need it to guard your hearts in this season of your life.


If you choose this perspective, a kingdom one, instead of a fleshly perspective, you will see things change much faster than you could have imagined.


Let’s pray,

Heavenly Father, I confess that I am in a season of darkness, but You are still worthy of all praise and honor.  Thank You for every trial I have gone through because they have shaped me into an image bearer of glory.  I choose to thank You, worship You, and engage with all things good even while darkness creeps around me.  Thank You.  In Jesus name, Amen.




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