Hard times ahead
When hard times are bearing down and dark days are descending, it is then we discover if we trust God or in ourselves. God calls us to trust in Him, no matter what our circumstances. Paul said that he’d learned to be content in times of need or in times of plenty. When hard times come, and they will, the most important thing is to trust in the Lord’s plans and to praise Him despite troubles. The next most important thing to do is to work hard, plan wisely, and be willing to do what you can with little while rejoicing in your blessings.
Philippians 4: 12, “I know what it is to be in need and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.”
Planning for hard times
Working hard without a plan as to what you wish to accomplish is worthless. It’s useless to scatter your efforts all over the place. It’s much wise to make a plan and work that plan.
Take a survey of your circumstances and make a plan that enables you to do what needs doing. Begin now to look at your life, your efforts, your finances, and your skills. What will your family need to know when hard times descend that you don’t know now? What will you wish you had known? This is the basis of your plan. Make plans now to learn needed skills and to be able to make do with what you are blessed with.
A hard times family story
I’m going to share a family story with y’all. During the Great Depression, my Grandfather, my mother’s father, was deeply pained to no end that he wasn’t able to take care of his family as he needed to. He had a farm and he hunted and fished but there were still needs that he couldn’t meet without cash. Especially when the larder was getting empty after many long hard months.
Granddad was a good man, a hard worker, and he’d always been a good provider. He would work any job he could find and always did a good job. But deep in the Depression, jobs were hard to come by. In this particular season of need, he finally secured a job helping to build bridges. Day after day he walked miles into town to catch a ride to the bridge they were building. Every evening, tired, hot, and dusty, he walked the long miles home. Finally his first payday came around. With gladness in his heart, he collected his pay and headed to the local store where he purchased 50 lbs of potatoes and 50 lbs of flour, both in sacks. He paid for his purchases and, tossing one sack over his shoulder, and toting the other in his arms, he began the long walk home lugging 100 lbs of promise with him.
The excitement that met him when he neared home cannot be overstated. My mother, her brothers and sisters, and her mother, waited outside, watching for the moment Papa would appear on the horrizon.
Mama told me how she and the other children jumped, hollered, and danced with joy when they first saw him. They knew he came bringing hard bought food and that those humble ingredients in the gifted and loving hands of their mother represented good days ahead. They could eat.
They’d long run out of most of the Winter canned goods and pickings had been slim but these two simple ingredients their Papa had brought home meant bountiful meals in the days ahead. With careful planning, they could keep food on the table until the next payday rolled around. Grandma knew her way around simple ingredients and the bounty they knew that she could create made their mouths water.
Proverbs 3: 5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”
Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without~ Great Depression Motto
During the Depression, womenfolks made clothing out of flour sacks. Flour companies figured out what they were doing and started printing their sacks with flowers and such so the ladies could feel pretty. Clothes were made and worn, remade and resized, and then finally made into quilts.
My Grandma, like other ladies, sewed beautiful and utilitarian items for her family. But she also crocheted pretty doilies, purses, gloves, hats, and more. She created useful items and she created beauty; the two were never exclusive.
Things are often different for us nowadays. When hard times hit our family, I didn’t have pretty flour sacks, but I had yard sales and thrift stores. I altered, sized, and cared for those inexpensive offerings. Clothes could be dyed, shortened, and lengthened. Sheets could be made into everything from pillow cases to curtains to tablecloths. Old towels could be made into wash cloths, hand towels, and cleaning rags. Center pieces and decorative pieces could be carefully crafted out of a bit of this and that. Pretty things are important in hard times; we just have to know how to go about crafting or finding them.
We learned a lot during those days of little–my grandparents and their children and, much later, me and my children–about survival. When things are hard, I mean hard as rock hard or worse, when there seems little you can do, there is still much that can be done. You have to be creative. You have to be willing to do what you can and not what you want to do. Most of all, be thankful to the Lord for what you have. Put a smile on your face and make hard days as sweet as you can for those you love. Those who can do this survive and even thrive no matter how dark the days.
If you trust God and work hard, you can always make it through.
Keep a good attitude
Truthfully, much about surviving in times of trial or deprivation depends on how you view things. Attitude is extremely important. I’ve seen it in others and I’ve lived it. Those who kept a good attitude, kept on going. Those who didn’t, failed.
Matthew 6: 25-27, “For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?”
During the hard times my family faced, we hoped because we read God’s Word and believed it. Hoped because we prayed. We hoped because we trusted in God’s mercy, sovereignty, and in His goodness.
We studied Scriptures, homeschooled, read books together, cooked and ate together, did chores, played games, sang and danced, took walks, laughed, talked, encouraged each other, and at times cried together.
We endured because of our trust in God.
My folks did that during the Great Depression, too. During those hard days, families gathered around the family Bible to learn and pray. They went to church. They learned to treasure the gentle rhythm of life that ebbed and flowed from day to night, from week to month, from season to season. Life was hard but that didn’t mean it couldn’t be good. They always trusted God to see them through, no matter how difficult the path. We must do the same.
A good life
Having a good life doesn’t mean it’s an easy one. It doesn’t mean fancy ways or things. Good means valuable but that doesn’t always equal expensive. Good means loving one another. Doing what needs to be done. It means trusting in the Lord, believing His Word, and giving yourself to prayer. It’s working hard. And, at the end of a tiresome day, it means gathering with those you love, relaxing and enjoying one another and thanking the Good Lord for seeing you and your loved ones through one more day.
My grandparent’s fun was simple–but good. My Grandfather, Uncle Bud to everyone who knew him, often held barn dances so the young folks could have some fun. He’d play the fiddle, the ladies brought some food, and they danced, sang, and celebrated all the good in their lives.
Most nights found folks sitting on their porch with neighbors gathering first on this one, then on that, just sharing about the joys and trials of life. The old folks and the not so old talked and joked, while the children ran and played. The children would grow tired of gathering lightening bugs, or running and playing and they’d go settle around the porch, sit in the yard or on the stairs, to listen in as spooky stories, or funny stories, were told and retold. Folks would sing and play everything from the fiddle to a comb.
Every long night turned into another, often difficult, day. Each morning, folks praised God and got started again. Together, families, friends, and neighbors, did what they had to do. They encouraged one another and shared with each other. Those folks prayed with each other, worshiped together, struggled together, and survived. They laughed. Sometimes they cried together. They dreamed and they hoped. Life was hard but that didn’t mean it wasn’t often full of good and joy,
A lot out of a little
Down in the busy days of Fall they’d have hog killing days and neighbors would join together to celebrate. That hog had to last through the Winter. When that ran low, they ate vegetables, or biscuits and gravy. Or cornbread and beans. They hunted and fished. Occasionally when a hen would quit laying, it’d find its way to the table. Those who had little always shared with neighbors who had less.
Even in difficult times, Mamas and Grandmas often made special treats for their young’uns and their menfolk to fill their hungry bellies with. These ladies could make pies out of just about anything. Green tomatoes, pinto beans, wild fruits and berries, vinegar, even water, could all be mixed with a bit of this, some of that, a few spices, a little sugar, and a dab of butter and magic was made: she had a pie for her family out of what little ingredients she had on hand. I’ve made many of those old fashioned pies myself and let me tell you, if you ever make one of those old fashioned pies out of a little of nothing, you’re gonna have some mighty fine eating for your loved ones.
But that’s not all Mamas and Grandmas would do. They’d take a small chicken and make a huge batch of chicken and dumplings and make a working man feel like a king at the end of a long day. Or they’d sauté a bit of meat, add what veggies they had on hand, and create a big pot of tasty tummy-filling soup. Or they’d cook up a bunch of sweet potatoes for young ones to munch on to keep hunger at bay while waiting for supper. Breads were served at every meal and nary a leftover was wasted. What wasn’t eaten was remade into a new delicious offering.
Ladies would regularly mix up a pan of biscuits to keep the hungries away. The next day, they could poke a hole in those biscuits and fill them with sugar. Sugar biscuits, yep a real thing, were often a treat in my Mama’s lunch bucket and for a lot of other children, too. A biscuit served with sugar made a tasty hungry-tummy filling lunch.
There were also lard sandwiches, fruit and mayonnaise sandwiches, tomato sandwiches, ketchup soup, boiled peanuts, mustard or ketchup sandwiches, and specialties made with stale bread or cornbread such as dressing, French toast, cinnamon toast, bread pudding, and so much more.
Meals were simple but wants were simple, too. These ladies knew how to carefully steward all that they had. Folks didn’t think so much back then about what they were missing; they could be content with being able to feed their families.
Hard times descending
All that to say this: I’ve been smack in the middle of hard times so many times in my life. Fearful of the future and wondering what it holds. I’ve been there.
My husband was a financial abuser (among others). He was fired repeatedly, lost our house to foreclosure, our van to repossession, and so many other things because he wouldn’t keep up the payments. He sold my boy’s bunk bed out from under them, pawned my wedding ring, and sold anything that might have been valuable. He didn’t care. But the Lord did. I learned to trust God when I could trust no one else.
I’ve dealt with poverty and with such need that it ached down into my soul and took root. I lost track of the hours I spent crying out to the Lord, asking Him to keep shelter over our heads and put food on the table.
I’ve stood in a kitchen pretty near devoid of food and begged God to fill out stomachs–especially to give me a way to feed my children. He always did. He provided and we ate. He kept us in food, clothes, and shelter. I honestly cannot say that I know how it happened; sometimes it made no earthly sense. But He provided. That’s what I knew and what I praised Him for.
I’ve had to sell, lose, or leave behind so many things that were near and dear to my heart. I’ve learned that things–no matter how precious they might be–are just that, things. Things may not be able to be replaced but they can live in your memories. And you can hold onto those.
Faith not fear
These are scary times we are now living in. The so called pandemic arrived and everything went haywire. The economy crashed. Folks were fired or laid off. Progressives are in the process of stealing our freedoms. Chaos reigns across our land. Sexual deviancy is daily being shoved down our throats. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t concerned as to how all of this is going to play out for our country, for our churches, and even for my own family–and for yours. No matter how dark the days, we have to trust God.
To be honest, we don’t know what is going to happen but we do know that the Lord is absolutely sovereign, He is good and He is always trustworthy. If bad will come, it will be bad that He has allowed to come. For a Christian, the bad is always mitigated by God’s mercy.
Many a time, God has provided for His people. His mercies are always new every morning.
Even as God’s people walk in dark times, we are safe in His hands no matter how hard those times, no matter what we have to learn to do without, and no matter what we ourselves may endure. We must trust God. And we must plan rightly and work hard. Through our prayerful and wise efforts, because of our trust in God, no matter how hard the times, we can be at peace.
Soli Deo Gloria!