Sometimes people who serve God live with an unstated “contract faith.” Because they give time and energy to work for God, they think they deserve special treatment in return.

But not my friend Douglas. He has lived a Job-like existence in many ways, experiencing the failure of a ministry, his wife’s death from cancer, and injuries from a drunk driver to himself and a child. Yet Douglas advises, “Don’t confuse God with life.”

When troubles come and doubts arise, I often turn to Romans 8. “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” asked Paul. “Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” (v.35). In that one sentence, Paul summarized his ministry autobiography. He endured trials for the sake of the gospel; yet somehow he had the faith to believe that these “things”—surely not good in themselves—could be used by God to accomplish good. He had learned to see past the hardships to a loving God who will one day prevail. He wrote, “I am persuaded that [nothing] shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ” (vv.38-39).

Confidence like that can go a long way in helping overcome discouragement about how life hasn’t worked out the way we thought it would.