How to Serve God In Hard Places

How to Serve God In Hard Places
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We all have things we don't like and things we'd rather not do. I bet you are already thinking of at least one right now. An idiom describes really hard situations like these as being "between a rock and a hard place." Can you relate to that feeling? We all face things like this in life. Maybe your teacher seems extra tough. Maybe when you get older, you find yourself with a tough boss. Maybe the people around you seem to bring you down. Maybe you get frustrated or discouraged because of the subject you are studying or the work you are supposed to do. Sometimes it is hard to keep going when things get hard. What are Christ-following Christians supposed to do?

Walk Worthy

The Bible often uses the word "walk" to describe the Christian life. The word "walk" reminds us that we are on a journey. We are not perfect now, but God continues to teach us to become more like Christ. When we get to heaven, God will finish that work and we will be made completely perfect (Philippians 1:6). Before we get to heaven, the Holy Spirit walks alongside us. Our job is to live for Jesus everyday. That is our "walk with Christ." As you read the passage below, look for how we should "walk" (live for Jesus) and what things help us to do that.
And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Colossians 1:9-14 (ESV)
What did you find? Here are a few of the things I found.
  • Pray for yourself and other people.
  • Learn more about God (by reading and studying the Bible).
  • Know that God helps us.
  • Remember that God is greater than anything we may face.
No matter where we are, not matter what we are asked to do or who is around us, we are supposed to live for Jesus. When we live in a way that pleases God, that is "walking in a manner worthy of the Lord."

Who Is Your Real Boss?

Sometimes it is the person in charge (a teacher, parent, boss) who we think is asking us to do something that is unfair. How should we react then? The key is to remember that we honor (show great respect to) God when we honor and obey those placed in positions of authority over us. The only exception is when the person in authority over us asks us to do something God would not want us to do. In that case, we should honor and obey God first. In all other things, honoring and obeying people in authority (whether we are happy with them or not) is a way to honor and obey God.
In all the work you are given, do the best you can. Work as though you are working for the Lord, not any earthly master. Remember that you will receive your reward from the Lord, who will give you what he promised his people. Yes, you are serving Christ. He is your real Master. Colossians 3:23-24 (ERV)

Attitude Adjustment

One of the keys to surviving a tough boss, job, work or school situation is to make sure you have the right attitude. This isn't easy normally, but it is especially tough when everything around you gets extra hard. I had a friend once who had just come out of a really tough job. Things got so bad that she had put cards with Bible verses written on them all over her work space so she would remember to trust Jesus, live for Him, and keep a positive attitude. Here is one of the verses she used.
Always be joyful because you belong to the Lord. I will say it again. Be joyful! Let everyone know how gentle you are. The Lord is coming soon. Don’t worry about anything. No matter what happens, tell God about everything. Ask and pray, and give thanks to him. Then God’s peace will watch over your hearts and your minds. He will do this because you belong to Christ Jesus. God’s peace can never be completely understood. Finally, my brothers and sisters, always think about what is true. Think about what is noble, right and pure. Think about what is lovely and worthy of respect. If anything is excellent or worthy of praise, think about those kinds of things. Do what you have learned or received or heard from me. Follow my example. The God who gives peace will be with you. Philippians 4:4-9 (NIRV)

What Does "Joy" Mean?

Let's study the verses above for a minute. Do you know what the difference is between "joy" and "happiness"? What sort of things make you "happy"? One of my pastors defined "happiness" as the way you feel when good things happen. Happiness is a reaction to happenings. If you win a baseball game, you are probably happy. If someone makes you a cake with candles for your birthday, you are probably happy. "Joy" is different. You can have joy even when the things happening to you and around you do not make you happy. Joy is a kind of celebration over the things we know will never change.
  • We have joy and can celebrate because we know Jesus died and rose again to take our punishment for sin.
  • We have joy and can celebrate because we know God made us and loves us.
  • We have joy and can celebrate because we know God has a plan for us and we are part of His work here on earth.
  • We have joy and can celebrate because God promised to always be with us.
  • We have joy and can celebrate because we know God is greater than any problem we will ever face.
  • We have joy and can celebrate because we know that those who love and trust Jesus as their Lord and Savior will live with Him one day in heaven.
The key to joy is remembering God's promises. Look back at the verses above where it says, "think about those kinds of things." What kind of things are we supposed to think about?

Ask God for Help

Remember that God asks us to live for Him no matter where we are (Romans 12:1-3). It could be that God is trying to teach you something through this situation.
My brothers and sisters, you will face all kinds of trouble. When you do, think of it as pure joy. Your faith will be tested. You know that when this happens it will produce in you the strength to continue. And you must allow this strength to finish its work. Then you will be all you should be. You will have everything you need. If any of you needs wisdom, you should ask God for it. He will give it to you. God gives freely to everyone and doesn’t find fault. James 1:2-5 (NIRV)
Pray and ask God to continue to teach you. Ask Him to show you clearly what He wants you to learn. Ask Him to help you live for Jesus, no matter what. Ask Him to help you think about what is good, true, and holy. Ask Him to help you find joy every day, a reason to thank and praise Him. Remember, you are never alone (Hebrews 12:1-3).
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