It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way - in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison.
–Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
With this type of open, it’s really not terribly surprising that A Tale of Two Cities has sold over 200 million copies. Dickens opens his famous novel by telling us, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” Lately, as life has taken me and others through one small bump in the road to another much larger one, I’ve reflected often on these words and have come to the realization that during the worst of times, if we are truly anchored in God and His Word, they can be the best of times.
You may be asking yourselves, “What does she mean? There is nothing good about losing a loved one, a job, relationship, position, or money.” Not so fast though . . . in Ecclesiastes , Solomon explains, “For wisdom is defence, and money is a defence: but the excellency of knowledge is, that wisdom giveth life to them that have it.” Understanding the fragility and transience of life and acknowledging the omnipotence and majesty of God is key. We also must decide that our final authority for our lives must be the Word of God. This means that we obey the Word at all costs. Our confidence is in Him, not ourselves. The Lord God, our heavenly Father is the only One we should rely on totally. According to the Word, money and knowledge can be helpful, but they cannot save our lives from despair and hell. Regardless of what changes take place in life, we must trust in God, not our money, influence, intellect or anything else. God’s wisdom reigns supreme and gives us life.
How many times do we give God credit when trouble comes, but refuse to acknowledge Him in good times? Ecclesiastes says, “In the day of prosperity be joyful, but in the day of adversity consider: God also hath set the one over against the other, to the end that man should find nothing after him.” The only thing that will stand is the Word of God. God allows good times and bad times. In both, we need to thank Him and rely on Him without ceasing.
We have to accept what God allows, but refuse to be stuck. Don’t wait until the battle is over to allow the Lord to do a work in you, and don’t wait until your trial is over to allow the Lord to use you! Do what God has called you to do in this period of time.“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord” (I Corinthians 15:58). Trials and hardship will come to everyone, but believers are charged to be stable and fruitful in kingdom building—even and especially during tough times. It is so vital that we “endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ” (2 Timothy 2:3). “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we will reap, if we faint not” (Galatians 6:9). There is a reward for those of us who continue to uplift His name, loving and obeying His Word, especially when it’s difficult.
Trials are the worst of times because they are painful. Losing someone we love is a pain almost like no other. However, there’s not a pain that we can have that He hasn’t felt. He understands how it feels to have a loved one die. Decide to fill that loss with His Word, His goodness, and His good and perfect gifts. Losing a job, relationship, money or status can be devastating. An illness for you and/or for a loved one can be a frightening time. Still, He knows and He cares. His Word tells us that “weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning” (Psalm 30:5b). While we are hurting, He is right there, “an ever present help in the times of trouble.” He tells us to cast our cares on Him and trust Him with our whole heart, no matter what.
He will turn out sadness and grief into a joy that is constant and unchanging in the midst of any storm if we remain determined to abide in Him. His Word tells us that, “Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing: thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness” (Psalm 30:11).
The worst of times can be the best of times if we allow God to mature us in Him and His Word. The most painful times in my life have also been the best times of growth and maturation in Him. We must allow God to grow us up in Him. Don’t resist what God is trying to do in your present situation. Sincerely, if God has allowed that thing to happen in your life, He can get the glory out of it!
I’m praying for the best for you, whether it’s a season of lack or plenty. You know how we do, “God is good all of the time, and all the time, God is good!”
Praising Him for His Goodness with You,