When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider this: God has made the one as well as the other. Therefore, no one can discover anything about their future. Ecclesiastes 7:14 NIV
When times are good, we tend to be focused on the immediate and what is seen. We are enjoying life and on ‘cruise control’ in our leadership. We make our plans and execute them with vigor. We testify that God is with us and point to our results as evidence of His blessing. Our prayer life is full of thanksgiving and praise for the good that we are experiencing.
But then something happens. Life and ministry turn difficult. We face unforeseen challenges and difficulties. Our well-proven plans don’t work the way they used to. We compare previous outcomes with our current ones and see a downward trend line. “Is there sin in the camp?” we ask. It must be something we are doing wrong. We must not be working hard enough. And so, we double our efforts and trust that we will turn the trend line towards the positive. But still nothing seems to change. How discouraging.
Why would God allow such a thing? Paul had times of great fruitfulness and times of difficulty in his ministry. Here’s his perspective in 2 Corinthians 1:7-11 (NIV) on why he faced the hard times. “And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort. We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.”
So, when the times are bad, the Lord is creating an opportunity for us to run to Him in prayer, trusting that He will deliver us from our current trial. With these turbulent days greatly impacting all of us, one question arises. “How’s your prayer life?”
So… How’s your prayer life?