–Originally published on FWB21 January 29, 2013–
What do you do when bad things happen, or difficult times come, or a door seems to be closing? Do you stubbornly push through? Do you break down and give up? How do you discern the will of God when everything seems to be going wrong? Is it even possible to know?

This week in our trek through I Thessalonians, we read 2:17-18 and compared it with Acts 16:6-8. In one instance, it is very clear that Satan was the one hindering Paul and his companions, and in another instance it was clearly the Holy Spirit. How on earth did they know the difference? Better yet, how on earth are we supposed to discern the difference when trials come today?

We listed a number of actions believers should take when faced with perplexing circumstances:

1. Pray. Talk to God about it. Take your cares to Him and make your petitions known. Ask for wisdom and discernment.

2. Read scripture. Allow God to speak to you through His Word. It is alive and powerful and will keep you from erring in judgment.

3. Seek godly counsel. Search out mature believers and ask for their input.

4. Examine yourself. Check your own motivations, search your heart for sin, and consider whether pride may be keeping you from seeing things clearly. Humble yourself before God and ask Him to open your eyes and to show you any sin you need to deal with. He will be faithful to do it.

5. Look at God’s past actions. Hindsight is 20/20. Look back at a time–in either your own life or in scripture–when you know clearly that God was working, or that Satan was hindering. See any patterns that shed light on your current circumstances?

6. ABIDE IN CHRIST. Most importantly, keep close in your relationship with Christ. Walk in the Spirit. There is no better way to hear His voice clearly than to abide in Him. That relationship is key to discerning truth and wisdom in the midst of difficulty. Even when you do not have the answers, you will still have Him. And He is all you need.

Another thing we discussed is the nature of God versus the nature of Satan. God draws us to Himself, gives us peace when we’re in His presence, builds His kingdom, edifies the body of Christ, purifies us, and brings order to chaos. Satan, on the other hand, tries to destroy the good things God does, makes chaos, and seeks to cause fear, discouragement, and angst. He has no greater pleasure than to draw us away from God. The only way we win–the only way to overcome–is to abide in Christ. To stand firm in faith.

We may never understand in this life why such things happen to us. But it’s good to remember that in Job’s case, both Satan and God were at work. And God is the one with all power and ultimate control. So whatever the circumstance, let us draw near to the throne of grace that we may receive mercy and grace to help in a time of need.