The Question to Ask During Hard Times

Life is full of uncertain and difficult circumstances. Much of life is moving from one such situation or circumstance to the other without stop or delay.

It is an unrelenting series of events that can be downright discouraging at times.

When those moments come, stop and ask yourself one question: “How does this help me conform to the image of Christ?”

The answer to the big why questions of life find their answer in this idea. If you are a follower of Christ, your destiny is to conform to His image.

But what does it mean to conform to the image of Christ?

To conform to something means:

  1. To make similar in form, nature, or character.

  2. To bring into agreement, correspondence, or harmony.

Conforming to Christ entails becoming more like Him in form, nature, and character. That you would think, feel, and behave like or in harmony with how Christ would in the same circumstance.

Everything that God allows to enter your life focuses on this singular goal, to make you more like Jesus. If something different would do the trick, you would walk that path instead.

To be called according to God’s purpose is to be conformed to the character of Christ. God’s purpose for our suffering is Christlikeness. That is our highest calling. If God answered all our prayers to be delivered from evil and suffering, then he would be delivering us from Christlikeness. But Christlikeness is something to long for, not to be delivered from.
— Randy Alcorn, If God is Good, p.289

Don't ask the Lord to deliver you. Pause and ask for the wisdom and perspective to see how it makes you more like Jesus.

Perspective helps you see beyond the pain of today. It helps you see the glorious outcome, today’s afflictions are producing. It is foolish to avoid the gym because working out is hard and often leaves you gasping for air on the floor. It is an even greater folly to allow the difficult and painful moments of life to consume and distract you from the larger picture of life and eternity.

This practice will help you understand the bigger picture. It will help you see as Malcolm Muggeridge did reflecting on the difficulties of his own life.

Contrary to what might be expected, I look back on experiences that at the time seemed especially desolating and painful with particular satisfaction. Indeed, I can say with complete truthfulness that everything I have learned in my seventy-five years in this world, everything that has truly enhanced and enlightened my existence, has been through affliction and not through happiness, whether pursued or attained.
— Malcolm Muggeridge, A Twentieth Century Testimony