The prophet Daniel got some really hard news in Daniel 8. He received a vision from God telling him about this terrible ruler to come who would persecute and kill Daniel’s kinsmen and would even directly oppose God. To be honest, Daniel didn’t take it well. First, he swooned and passed out (Dan 8:17-18). Then, he lay deflated and sick for days (Dan 8:27). Daniel really didn’t find what the Lord had shown him and told him to be very comforting, but I’m convinced that God didn’t just mean it for knowledge’s-sake. I believe He meant it for comfort’s-sake as well.
You see, in the face of difficulties, God certainly desires for His people to be comforted. He wants them to have peace of mind and hope. He wishes that anxieties and hopelessness be replaced with trust and hopefulness, even in the midst of trials and tribulations. But really Daniel wasn’t in any sort of trial or tribulation. Yes, he was in Babylonian exile but was living well in the king’s court. In reality, Daniel was only thinking about tribulation to come, and just that caused him great emotional trouble and discomfort. We see this sort of thing all the time in people’s lives. Thoughts often lead to discomfort, anxiety, nervousness. So, whether you are merely thinking about trials and tribulations or you are actually going through some, God desires for you to be comforted. Therefore, the Bible is full of ways to be comforted.
In this article, I want to share with you 10 ways to be comforted in the midst of thinking about or experiencing trials and tribulations. I’ll give you 4 things to know, 4 things to be, and 2 things to do.
1) Know that all trials and tribulations are but for a season
You’ve probably heard and said the wise saying, “This too shall pass.” Although that statement isn’t Scripture, the Scripture communicates that very idea. How does it do it? It does it through numbers. Take for instance the 2,300 days prophesied in Daniel 8:14 concerning the number of days the saints of God would be trampled and the regular sacrifice would be removed. We, especially me, immediately get out our calculators when we read a number like that. We want to know the when of the number, but as I’ve thought and studied further on prophetic numbers, it seems that God perhaps first means for us to realize through the number the comforting truth that what we’re about to go through is only temporary.
It seems that that’s how God uses numbers throughout the Bible. These examples are pertinent:
- God told Noah that it would rain only 40 days and 40 nights, and then the rain and flood would subside (Gen 7:4).
- God told Israel that they would be in the wilderness only 40 years, and then those remaining would enter the Promised Land (Num 14:33).
- God told Judah that they would be in Babylonian exile only 70 years, and then they would return to the land (Jer 25:11).
- God told His saints that we would experience the wrath of the Antichrist for only 3.5 years during the Great Tribulation at the end of the age, and then he’ll be slain by Jesus Christ, and Christ will set up His everlasting kingdom on the earth (Dan 7:25).
- God told His saints that we would experience the millennial reign of Christ for just 1,000 years, and then something better—the New Heaven and New Earth—will come (Rev 20:6).
I submit to you that all of these numbers are given, maybe even first and foremost, so that we’ll know that their reference is only temporary. It has an end, and there’s great comfort in this.
2) Know that God is working all things after the counsel of His will
Ephesians 1:11 tells us something very important about God. In that verse we find that God is a god who works all things after the counsel of His will. The fact that God’s will is going to come to pass should bring us great comfort given His moral nature. We usually focus only God’s attributes of being—that God is all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-present. While there’s certainly comfort in these attributes, it’s only found when we couple God’s attributes of being with His attributes of character. What I mean is that a god who does all, knows all, is everywhere, and is evil is a nightmare. Therefore, our comfort is fully found in God’s perfect being and holy character.
You see, the God who is all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-present is also the God who is all-loving, all-just, and all-wise. He always does what is ultimately loving, ultimately right, and ultimately best. This sort of god is the sovereign God of the universe who has us in His hands. He’s loving, righteous, and wise! Therefore, His will coming to pass is a blessing. We should rejoice that God works all things after the counsel of His will. Remembering this truth brings great comfort because goodness will reign.
3) Know that God is working all things for your good
God doesn’t just work things after the counsel of His will. His will is worked for our personal good. We find this truth clearly taught in Romans 8:28-29, And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren. “All things” in v28 certainly includes trials and tribulations. What I’m about to say is sometimes hard for our humanity to swallow, but it’s fully biblical. Everything that happens has been ordained by God for a purpose, and for those who are God’s children, the ultimate purpose is to make us more like Christ. Christlikeness is the good that God is working all things toward.
In light of Daniel 8, we see that this goal is sometimes accomplished through corrective discipline. In Daniel 8:12, we read, And on account of transgression the host will be given over to the horn along with the regular sacrifice; and it will fling truth to the ground and perform its will and prosper. Even Antiochus Epiphanes, which is who the “little horn” prophecy was primarily foretelling of, was for Israel’s good. Because of their disobedience to God, God used him to bring them back to Him and conform them to holiness. God still works for this same good in His present-day saints, and that reality should give us comfort in midst of trials and tribulations.
4) Know that there is unspeakable comfort in Christ
One of my favorite verses from Scripture was spoken by Jesus. He told us in Matthew 11:28-30, Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. Did you know that Jesus recognizes your burden? He indeed does! He’s not ignorant of your situation. Even more, He desires to give you rest and comfort from your situation.
The second verse and chorus of the great hymn “It Is Well” offers an excellent example of finding comfort in Jesus Christ:
Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed his own blood for my soul.
It is well with my soul, it is well, it is well with my soul.
The truth is that Christ is enough of a prize. He’s the treasure hidden in the field (Mt 13:44) and the costly pearl (Mt 13:45-46). If you have Him, you have the Kingdom. Therefore, He’s more precious that husbands, wives, children, jobs, houses, cars, lands, and health. If you have Christ, you have everything! And nothing will separate us from Christ, as promised in Romans 8:38-39, For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. That’s comfort unspeakable!
5) Be wary of date-setters
Why? They will steal your comfort. Naturally, we want to escape trials and tribulations, but that makes us vulnerable to false prophets. Men abound who want to set a date for the return of Christ, and we can so easily buy into their claims. Many have to their near ruin.
Most of us here in Middle Tennessee have seen the billboards telling us that Jesus is coming back May 21, 2011. What the signs don’t really tell you is who’s making this claim. The self-proclaimed prophet’s name is Harold Camping, and Camping is a false prophet. You see, he did this same thing about 16 years ago around 1994. Coming into that year, Camping put out that Jesus was coming back September 15-17, 1994. When that date passed, he changed his prediction to September 1994. When October came, he changed his prediction to 1994. When 1995 came, he changed his prediction to spring 1995. When summer 1995 came, he announced that God had had a Jonah/Nineveh moment. In other words, he claimed that his prediction had been right, but God had relented, deciding to put off Jesus’ return.
Well, Camping’s back at it again, and so are many others. Did you know that author Stephen O’Leary counted over 200 similar claims between 1945 and 1995 alone? Be wary of date-setters. You see, even Jesus did not know the day or the hour. We know this from Matthew 24:36-42:
- But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. 37 “For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so will the coming of the Son of Man be. Then there will be two men in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. 41 “Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one will be left. Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming.
Friend, I’m not sure how within the Trinitarian God-head the Father knows but the Son doesn’t, but that’s what Jesus tells us. He didn’t know. Therefore, we certainly can’t know. Instead, Jesus simply tells us to be ever-ready. Please don’t let date-setters rob you of the comfort God aims for you to have. They’ll be wrong. So, be wary of them. Indeed, very wary.
6) Be mindful that God’s timing will accord with His holy will and plan
You’ve been praying and expecting that your trial will soon end. You’ve been praying and expecting that Jesus would return soon, and in both instances, rightly so. But since we’ve already seen that God works all things after the counsel of His will, we should be mindful that God’s timing will accord with His holy will and plan. In other words, what you’re facing isn’t over yet because God is not done doing what He planned to do through it. Jesus hasn’t returned yet because God’s plan isn’t complete yet.
We see this insight most clearly taught in 2 Peter 3:3-9:
- Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.” For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water. But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.
What Peter is saying is that God’s not brought everything to an end yet because He’s not ready for the end. His holy will and plan is not finished yet. Specifically, Peter says that God has not saved all that He plans to save yet. I pray patience over you, knowing that God has not forgotten you. Rather than forgetting you, He’s just not finished doing what He’s planned to do. Again, there’s great comfort in that!
7) Be in preparation for persecution and the 2nd coming
You must be ready before difficulty comes because once it breaks out, it’s too late. Just like athletics, where you must prepare beforehand so that you’ll excel and endure in the sport, you must prepare spiritually so that you’ll excel and endure in the tribulation. Perhaps the best text on this truth is found in Ephesians 6:13-17:
- Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore, HAVING GIRDED YOUR LOINS WITH TRUTH, and HAVING PUT ON THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, and having shod YOUR FEET WITH THE PREPARATION OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take THE HELMET OF SALVATION, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
These are the spiritual things that you’ll need when trials come and Jesus returns so that you’ll resist the devil and stand. I know from experience that I’m more comforted in the midst of something when I’ve prepared well for it. Scripture says that we can prepare well, and doing so, we’ll experience comfort in the middle of tribulation and testing.
8) Be careful to set your minds on heavenly things
Colossians 3:1-3 is an important passage concerning our comfort during trials and tribulations. It says, Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. You and I will be better helped along if our focus is set on heavenly things where Christ is instead of on earthly things. Even though Jesus was God in the flesh, He withstood His temptation in Luke 4:1-13 because His mind was set on things above. He told Satan, “It is written, ‘MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE,’” “It is written, ‘YOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD AND SERVE HIM ONLY,’” and “It is said, ‘YOU SHALL NOT PUT THE LORD YOUR GOD TO THE TEST.’” He had His mind set on the things above.
Prophetically speaking, it seems from the book of Revelation that those who take on the mark of beast will be coerced into doing so because they will have their minds set on the earth and the things of the earth. We read in Revelation 13:15-17:
- And it was given to [the other beast] to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast would even speak and cause as many as do not worship the image of the beast to be killed. And he causes all, the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free men and the slaves, to be given a mark on their right hand or on their forehead, and he provides that no one will be able to buy or to sell, except the one who has the mark, either the name of the beast or the number of his name.
In other words, the beast will say, “Worship me, or die. Worship me, or starve. Worship me, or be without.” Desiring earthly things more than heavenly things will lead people to worship the beast, and in his service, no comfort is to be found. Therefore, I beg you to be careful to set your mind on heavenly things where comfort is abundant.
9) Do not fear man but God only
Oh, there’s so much that I could say here and testify about from my own life. I’m a confessed people-pleaser, and that often leads to trouble. The Bible boils people-pleasing down to misplaced fear. I often fear people more than God. Therefore, I do things to make people happy that God wouldn’t necessarily have me do. That’s why Matthew 10:28 is such a comfort, Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. This text tells us to get our priorities right. Man might be fear-worthy, but not nearly as fear-worthy as God. So, make pleasing God your priority. Indeed, there is great joy and comfort in pleasing God above everyone else.
10) Do the work of the evangelist
Satan will often try to spin tribulations to keep us quiet about the gospel. People under threat often say, “Just keep your faith to yourself, and you’ll get by.” But the Great Commission doesn’t leave room for that. We read in Matthew 28:18-20:
- And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
Where in that passage does the Great Commission come with caveats to engage in it only if it’s convenient and safe? It’s not there. The commission stands in season and out of season. It stands as long as Jesus is with us, and Jesus said He’d be with us until the end of the age.
We must never stop taking the gospel to others. That’s exactly what Satan and the Antichrist wants. Just imagine the joy you’ll experience when even though you were under threat of persecution, you still shared the gospel, and they believed on Jesus to salvation. You will say, “It was totally worth it!” and there’s great comfort in doing something worthwhile. Friend, the Great Commission is infinitely worthwhile, so never stop regardless the situation.