Courage for life Blog

Navigating Life’s Difficulties with Faith in Jesus

February 14, 2024

Life is full of difficulties. But how can you navigate life’s difficulties with faith in Jesus?

The apostle Peter was inspired by God to write followers of Jesus who were experiencing difficulties, persecution, and suffering in their lives. Approximately thirty years after Jesus was crucified, buried, resurrected from the dead, and appeared to His disciples and many others, Peter wrote to encourage followers of Jesus to live their faith daily and to focus on the blessings of being in a relationship with God through faith in Jesus, instead of focusing on the difficulties they were facing.

Peter’s encouragement to them was that God is gracious and merciful to provide them (i.e., sinful humanity) with salvation and complete forgiveness of sins through faith in Jesus. Therefore, Peter exhorts them to stand firm in the hope that God has blessed them with “a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay” (1 Peter 1:4). These followers of Jesus seem to be discouraged by the temporary, earthly trails and difficulties associated with making known that they are Jesus followers in their current, unaccepting culture of Jesus.

In 1 Peter 4:1-10, the specifics of their difficulties could have been social, cultural, financial, religious, familial, or a combination. Still, Peter encourages them to think about what God has done on their behalf to bring them into the family of God, not the difficult life circumstances that existed after they placed their faith in Jesus.

That is why the Good News was preached to those who are now dead—so although they were destined to die like all people, they now live forever with God in the Spirit. The end of the world is coming soon. Therefore, be earnest and disciplined in your prayers. Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins. Cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal or a place to stay. God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. Do you have the gift of speaking? Then speak as though God himself were speaking through you. Do you have the gift of helping others? Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies. Then everything you do will bring glory to God through Jesus Christ. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen. 1 Peter 4:6-10

First, are you a follower of Jesus? Have you placed your faith in Jesus as the Son of God who died, was buried, and rose again on the third day to defeat sin and death for you? These instructions in 1 Peter 4:6-10 are given to followers of Jesus experiencing difficulties and trials.

Second, what are the first things you typically do when you face difficulties in your life or experience trials? Are the things described in 1 Peter 4:6-10 how you typically respond? Ask yourself a few questions about the passage to understand how followers of Jesus experiencing difficulties should live their faith in Jesus daily.

In 1 Peter 4:7-9, what are possible responses to life difficulties? Be earnest and disciplined in your prayers. Some translations use the terms “keep a stable mind” and “think rightly with a calm or sober spirit” so that you can be purposeful and consistent in prayers when you face difficulties. You are also challenged to “continue to show deep love for each other” because the love you demonstrate toward others brings forth forgiveness toward one another, which builds joy into your life so that you are motivated to share meals, time, and your life with others who have needs.

Having earnest and disciplined prayers in the face of difficulties keeps you focused on the love of God you have received and, in turn, can help you overflow with God’s love toward others. Peter is not prescribing the same teaching as the apostle Paul in Romans 12:13 when Paul tells the believers in Rome to host strangers (not-yet-believer in Jesus), those not a part of the family of God for the purpose of sharing the Good News of the gospel. In this passage, 1 Peter 4:7-9, Peter is teaching a genuine benevolence and sincere hospitality toward those in the family of God who have faith in Jesus but are experiencing difficulties.

This passage encourages followers of Jesus how to live their faith despite difficulties, so why does the next verse, 1 Peter 4:10, transition to divine endowment of spiritual gifts? This verse is a reminder of what you have received – salvation, forgiveness of sins, undeniable love, unending grace and mercy from God – but also spiritual gifts to be used in your daily living to express your faith in Jesus, despite life’s difficulties. See other Scripture passages: 1 Corinthians 12:1-31; Romans 12:1-8; Ephesians 4:1-16 for more teaching on spiritual gifts.

How should you use your spiritual gifts?

You should use your spiritual gifts well to serve one another, not wasting or misusing them, but stewarding your spiritual gifts as a demonstration of God’s grace in your life (reference 1 Peter 4:10).

You may need to pause a moment and let this teaching sink in… When facing difficulties and trials, God expects His followers to serve others through their spiritual gifts that God has given them. God desires that followers of Jesus use their spiritual giftedness – whatever it is – as a means of demonstrating their faith in Jesus and bringing God glory (reference 1 Peter 4:11).

Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. Instead, be very glad—for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world. 1 Peter 4:12-13 (NLT)

If you are a follower of Jesus, what should be your responses to difficulties and trials in this life?

You should not be surprised because life is full of difficulties. You should be thankful that difficulties are temporary and limited to this earthly life. You should praise God that He has forgiven your sins, provided salvation for you, made you a part of His family, and has counted you worthy to face difficulties for the purpose of making your faith in Jesus known to others. Finally, remember always, that you are God’s child through your faith in Jesus and God is with you and you will exit your current life difficulties in time if you endure in God’s presence and power.

How can you live your faith in Jesus despite difficulties?

According to 1 Peter 4:7-13, you should ….

  • Be earnest and disciplined in your prayers to maintain a stable mind, exhibit good judgment, and remain calm in the face of difficulties. 1 Peter 4:7
  • Keep fervent in your love for others. 1 Peter 4:8
  • Demonstrate a genuine benevolence and sincere hospitality toward those experiencing difficulties because everyone is facing something. 1 Peter 4:9
  • Use your spiritual gifts to serve others to show your faith in Jesus and bring God glory. 1 Peter 4:10

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