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Friday, April 28, 2023

Three Ways to Follow God Through Difficulties

In John 16:33 I read, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (NIV)

In the past few days, I've been looking at and learning how God takes me through the Six Phases of Faith—a dream, decision, delay, difficulty, dead end, and deliverance, to grow my faith and to develop my character.

The fourth phase God uses to grow my faith is when I encounter difficulties on the journey toward my dream. These difficulties are tests, giving me a chance to follow God’s guidance.

In Acts 27, Paul set sail for Rome along with other prisoners on a journey with many difficulties. On one leg of the voyage, Paul warned the crew that if they continued to sail, they would be caught in a major storm and the results would be disastrous. The crew decided to sail anyway.

To avoid the mistakes the crew made—and to faithfully follow God instead—here are three things to remember when I’m facing difficulties:

Follow God, not others’ opinions. On Paul’s journey, “the centurion, instead of listening to what Paul said, followed the advice of the pilot and of the owner of the ship” (Acts 27:11 NIV). Because the “expert” said it was okay, the centurion ignored a warning from God and agreed to head back out to sea

If God tells me to do one thing and all the experts in the world tell me to do something else, listen to what God says. His voice is the only one that counts

Follow God, not the majority. On Paul’s ship, “the majority decided that [they] should sail on” (Acts 27:12 NIV). The harbor where Paul’s ship had taken refuge was exposed and not a good choice for spending the winter, and so the majority on board wanted to sail on. But the majority is often wrong

Peer pressure often keeps people from doing what God wants them to do. Remember that God is a majority of one.

Follow God, not my circumstances. “When a gentle south wind began to blow, they saw their opportunity; so they weighed anchor and sailed . . . Before very long, a wind of hurricane force . . . swept down from the island” (Acts 27:13-14 NIV). Paul warned the others that they were heading into a storm, but they sailed anyway. 

Just because I’m given an opportunity, it doesn’t mean I have to take it. I shouldn’t accept every job I’m offered. Satan can arrange circumstances too! I need to ask God for his direction.

No matter what difficult circumstances I face in life, I can remain faithful by listening to what God says, remembering his voice is the only one that counts, and following his guidance.