I’ve heard these words almost all my life, and maybe you have too, from well-meaning friends during difficult times. “It’s OK, things will get better soon, this too shall pass…” And while there’s nothing wrong with an encouraging word when one is struggling, some of us have believed that many popular phrases passed down through time are straight from the Bible. But it’s not always true.
“This too shall pass,” is simply not there. Maybe some of you are searching now. But what we can find in all our searching through the Word are the many things God does tell us about our suffering and hard times. We all face them at one point or another, and many of us may even find ourselves there right now.
The great news is this: God never leaves us to fend for ourselves in difficult times. He promises to be with us in all that we face, and His whole heart encompasses our pain, surrounds us in peace, and gives us incredible hope and grace to keep pressing through.
Bible Origins of "This Too Shall Pass"
Here’s what the Bible says about what is lasting and where this common phrase may have originally come from:
“The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever,” 1 John 2:17.
"Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away,” Matthew 24:35.
“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come,” 2 Corinthians 5:17.
God is eternal, and His words stand firm forever. All of us, as believers, are promised eternal life with Him. We are redeemed, made new, and the old is gone. And amid our most trying and painful times, these truths give us hope and strength for the days ahead.
Seven things God says about our suffering and the hope it gives us in hard times:
1. We are being renewed day by day, we have an eternal hope.
"Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, for what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal,” 2 Corinthians 4:16-18.
As believers in Christ, we can hold fast to this promise. We have an eternal destiny through Him. And God will never waste the pain we may face in this life. He will turn it around for good. Every battle. Every hard place. Every dark time. Every painful storm. He will never allow us to walk through deep struggle without allowing it to bring greater hope and purpose, both in our own lives and through our place in this world. Every mark of darkness is redeemed when we’re in Christ. Every crushing trial will be pushed back so we can live free. It’s what He does best. He brings beauty and strength, hope and goodness from every difficult journey and broken day. Our past will not define us. The trial itself will not label us. We are only defined by our Lord who lifts us out of the deep, who brings us through the fire, who takes us straight out of the darkness into greater purpose and blessing up ahead. Restored. Redeemed. Renewed.
Save this free PDF for encouragement - Hope in the Waiting: A 15 Day Prayer Guide for Trusting God
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2. We have victory and peace through Christ.
“I️ have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world,” John 16:33.
God reminds us there will be trouble in this world, and we can surely expect it, but He’s already overcome it all. He’s already victorious. And that same power works in us today, giving us the courage and strength we need to persevere and overcome. True and lasting peace can never be found anywhere in this world but through Him. People will seek for it everywhere, in money, in possessions, in popularity, in success, even in other people. But when troubles hit, these things will never last, they’re never intended to get us through our most trying days. Only in Christ, do we find the peace and power we need to rise above the darkest times.
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3. We are comforted through Christ and are able to comfort others.
“Who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ,” 2 Corinthians 1:4-5.
Unless we experience difficulty and suffering in this life, we can’t truly help another soul who faces loss and pain. It’s only through our own pain and grief, or hardship, that we can have a fuller understanding of what others walk through as well. There’s great comfort in knowing that God will use what we have experienced, no matter how difficult, to help someone else. Christ Himself suffered and was tempted in “all things,” so we can be assured that He truly understands all that we walk through in this life. This world can be a hard place, the darkness can feel heavy for so many, we desperately need those who are willing to notice the suffering around them and reach out with the compassion and grace of Jesus. That’s not always popular in a society that boasts of material riches, “selfie” ways, and easy living. But using our own hard times to help another soul is one of the most powerful ways to leave a mark for Christ in this world.
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4. We learn greater perseverance, strength, and endurance through suffering.
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance,” James 1:2-3.
No one wishes for hard times in life. No one asks for suffering or storms. No one longs to wade through deep rivers of hurt, rejection, and pain, or to try to find your way out of the darkness of confusion and doubt. Yet if we’ve lived long enough, we know that this is all a part of life. Maybe that’s why God reminds over and over in His word that trials are a part of our journey. It’s what makes us stronger, gives us endurance, builds our faith.
Throughout his word, God tells us to choose joy in whatever we face, confident that He is working even through every trial and hard place, to bring us greater perseverance. We never gain greater strength and spiritual muscles simply by living an “easy” life. We can only build deeper faith by walking through the hard times that press us more closely into His Presence. Every biblical hero through the pages of the Word were tested and strengthened, not through simple, easy times, but through great times of suffering and difficulty. This should give us hope even today, that God knows our way, and the testing of our faith will produce endurance. It’s for far greater purposes than we may even realize.
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5. Suffering reminds us where true joy and lasting hope are found.
“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing…” 1 Peter 4:12-13.
God tells us not to be surprised at the troubles we face, but to “keep on rejoicing.” And I’ve needed to let that sink deep again, even in recent times.
“Keep on rejoicing.”
It’s a choice. And it can be a very difficult one when facing great loss, suffering, and the pressure of hard places. But truly, it’s the only way to live free. When we choose to rejoice, not being thankful “for” the hard times, but “in” the hard times, we are pushing back on enemy ground. The devil would love nothing else but to defeat us in despair, to stop us in our tracks. But when we’re choosing not to allow our circumstances and feelings to get in the way of what we know to be true, that’s powerful and life-changing. And we know this: Christ suffered greatly on our behalf, and to share in his sufferings and remember that we are victorious through him, is all the reason we need to keep looking forward with hope and joy in the days still ahead.
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6. His power works within us.
"But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed,” 2 Corinthians 4:7-9.
One of the most miraculous reminders of God’s constant and loving care over us everyday is this: He’s given us the spirit of his very presence. He’s with us, continually. Though we may forget, he never does. He fights for us. He carries us. He strengthens us. He protects us. He covers us. He leads us. All this, and we may not even be aware at times if the incredible ways he is working even within our greatest times of need. Be assured, if you’re hurting today, God has not forgotten you. He sees the pain you’ve carried, he offers you the peace and security of his very presence rising up within you. Don’t ever feel like you’ve got to face things on your own. As believers, we have “this treasure” within us, and we will not be crushed! No amount of suffering we may endure can hold that power over us. When we belong to Jesus, He is greater than all we face.
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7. When it passes, we will come out as gold.
“But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold,” Job 23:10.
Greatest beauty is often formed in the darkest of places. That’s how diamonds are formed; that’s how gold is found. The pressure and heat of hard circumstances is creating within us an eternal beauty, one that lasts far beyond our own years. We will come out “as gold,” tested, tried, and true. God knows our way, and we are only passing through. We’re not meant to stay stuck in our trials and pain. He reminds us that will come out to the other side. Changed for the better, stronger, shining, beauty deepened from within, we won’t ever be the same again.
For the person who eventually walks out of the place of great suffering will be different than the one who walked in. We can be assured, that God’s work within us is never for harm, but to strengthen us, to build deeper character and faith, and to bring us out as “gold,” leaving lasting impressions for His glory in this world.
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A final reminder
Through every trial and season of suffering we encounter in life, God will use it to make a mark in this world. The troubles we walk through can bring glory to Him. He will use our lives, the joy and faith we have, in spite of our problems, to draw others to Himself, and to help us to remember that what we see around us, is not all there is. For He has more in store. And it is greater than we can ever imagine.
May His Presence surround you in the hard places you might be facing right now. May He lead your way and keep you secure, guiding your steps forward, and covering you from behind. May He assure you that He will see you through, as He works on your behalf, even behind the scenes where you can’t fully see. Know beyond a doubt, that our God is faithful, and He will turn your suffering around for good somehow, and bring you forth as gold. He knows your way and he calls you by name.
Peace and grace.
Debbie McDaniel is a writer, pastor's wife, mom to three amazing kids (and a lot of pets). Join her each morning on Fresh Day Ahead's Facebook page, for daily encouragement in living strong, free, hope-filled lives.
Find her also on Twitter and at her blog www.debbiemcdaniel.com.
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Originally published Thursday, 16 February 2023.