Girding up your faith: preparing to trust in Christ when its hard and hurts

Christians have always gone through hard times and they have needed encouragement to trust God in hard times. Augustine comforted the saints with his book, “The City of God” after Rome was burned and Christians were blamed. Christians in Armenia suffered but survived under the Ottoman Empire. Today, saints in the Ukraine suffer with their nation as Russian invades. Sometimes the saints suffer because they are Christians in their persecuting nation and sometimes Christians suffer because of their nation. Preparation for either one of present difficulties the following three imperatives help us to prepare for hard times. Here are three things we can do to gird up our faith for times that are hard and hurt. 

Preparation for being read is doing what you need to do so that you can ‘Gird up’ your faith when it is especially pressing. To ‘gird up is to get ready or get in position for action. The Sons of Korah wrote about the Lord’s King in Psalm 45:3 and wrote to Him; “Gird your sword on your thigh, O mighty one, in your splendor and majesty!” (ESV). Getting your sword out off its stand and on your hip is readying for war. As Christians, we need to get ready for living according’s God’s purposes in this time and circumstances that God has placed us. That may include war time. We need to get ourselves in the position so that we are ready to do what God has commanded.  While militaries position their troops in specific locations to be ready for action, Christians get their thinking right about our actions, attitudes and hopes. 

Peter wrote to the church under duress in the Roman Empire maybe 30 years after Christ died and rose, “Since all things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of the God, because of which the heavens burning will be destroyed, and the elements will melt with intense heat! But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, since you are looking for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, and consider the patience of our Lord as salvation,…You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard lest you, having been carried away by the error of unprincipled men, fall from your own steadfastness, but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 3:11-15a, 17-18a LSV)

Here are three acts to get ready to trust in God in hard times.

  1. Rivet your faith to the world that is to come where righteousness dwells. The destruction of this world makes it foolish to attach or rivet our hopes to these world as it presently is. Instead Peter exhorts the church to rivet their hope to the world which is to come – “But according to His promise we are looking forward for a new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.” (v.13) While we should be properly involved in our respective nations for the good of our nation in accordance with God’s Word, our ultimate trust in not what our nation is, does and nor becomes in this present world order. Our faith comes to its end or goal in the consummation of Christ’s new world. That is the world that we rivet our hope to. Do not be indifferent to the present demands of our age, but do not make the present world the payoff of your faith. For this world will go up in smoke (1Peter 3.12); but our hope will not. 
  2. Live the way you should when Christ returns (v.14). Be at peace with your fellow man. Be pure and blameless in your character and conduct. Judge God’s long-suffering as salvation for His people for He suffers long to save His own. We live now as we would live then – the day Christ returns in peace toward us (v.14). Hard times often bring stress and circumstances that sin is an easier response for sinful people. Be ready for those times but knowing how to live to please Christ. Ask yourself, “How would I act if Christ were return and find me living in this circumstance?” Live now the way you would live when Christ returns. 
  3. Be on guard against being carried away by the sins of men who do not  live by God’s principles (18). When things get hard for people in a nation, there were will situations where unprincipled men will do evil. We may be pressured to do the same. Peter tells us to be on guard against such things and such men. Whether it is something as dramatically wrong as smash and grab stealing or slandering for the advance of one’s preferred political party. We live with God’s purpose and principles which are given to us in Scripture. 

Pray for our brethren in the Ukraine and in Russia. Pray that they would live this way towards their respective authorities, fellow-citizens and enemies. Their time to prepare has ended, they are in a hard time.

Sola Deo Gloria.