God's word in today's world

When the going gets tough

Billy Ocean sang a song, When the going gets tough, the tough get going. I always wondered about the meaning, and checked it out in the dictionary: When conditions become difficult, strong people take action. When life gets difficult, some people get up and face it head on.

Yes, there are people who simply do not allow circumstances to get the better of them. Some people thrive under pressure. It energises them and they strive with everything in them to get through the crisis. I must confess that this is not something I mostly succeed in doing. Sometimes my circumstances prevail and I would rather go and hide in a corner somewhere. But I realise this is not the way out. The way out is to face the crisis.

Like Paul. Paul was imprisoned unjustly. He was most probably tied to a Roman soldier for 24 hours per day. He knew that he would not get a just hearing in the next two years. What a terrible crisis, but he doesn’t hide in the corner, oh no, his tough gets going.

12I want to report to you, friends, that my imprisonment here has had the opposite of its intended effect. Instead of being squelched, the Message has actually prospered. 13All the soldiers here, and everyone else, too, found out that I’m in jail because of this Messiah. 14That piqued their curiosity, and now they’ve learned all about him. Not only that, but most of the followers of Jesus here have become far more sure of themselves in the faith than ever, speaking out fearlessly about God, about the Messiah.

As a result of the way that Paul dealt with matters, wonderful things happened. The gospel spread far and wide and started gaining serious momentum. People who would never have had the opportunity to get to know Christ suddenly met a Christian in real life.

But even fellow Christians were suddenly driven to stand up for their Christianity. Now they were no longer afraid to talk about Jesus, despite their lives being in danger. Before they were paralysed; now they were fired up, igniting the world for Jesus. They got up on stage and introduced the Saviour to the people with loudhailers.

But it didn’t stop there. Paul’s way of taking the crisis bull by the horns has a major impact. Thousands of years after his crisis millions of people still get advice, guidance, comfort, encouragement and much more from his letters from prison. What do you think we would’ve missed out on if Paul had not taken the crisis bull by the horns, but hid somewhere in a corner? I don’t even want to think about it.

I know it is not easy and feels as if the whole world is falling apart around us, but we have to ask ourselves: How can we approach, experience and live the crisis to make it easier for God to turn a negative into a positive? I ask again: How can we approach, experience and live the crisis to make it easier for God to turn a negative into a positive?

We can do it. Like Paul, we can get the tough going, because the Holy Spirit is our helper. Look, it’s a given. Sometime or another the papaw will hit the fan. It’s part of life – accept it. The only question is whether, like Paul, you are tough enough to get the tough going?

Bible Reading

Philippians 1:12-18


How do you deal with crises in your life?

Do you see the bigger picture?

Do you make it easy for God so that others can also benefit?


Father, it’s really not easy for me to deal with crises in the right way. Most of the time I’m so sorry for myself that I don’t even have the energy to get up and take the bull by the horns. I really wish it would simply go away. That is why I need your help. Please let your Spirit help me to take the crises by the horns and make it easy for You to turn a negative into a positive. Amen

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