How the Bible Addresses Trials, Transitions, and Dealing with Unwanted Change (Part 2)

Dr. Tim AllchinFor Those Seeking HopeLeave a Comment

I recently met with a man devastated by the loss of his lucrative job and the career path he so carefully sacrificed for and cultivated. It felt unfair that his rival took the leadership position and laid him off with a minimal severance. Now he’s struggling to concentrate and provide as a day trader, drinking too many days away, completely depressed, and unwilling to leave the house.

Ask any successful businessman; losing your career path that was carefully cultivated for over a decade is a bitter pill to swallow. Some people do better with life transitions, but most struggle to adjust when life turns upside down.

Change is hard, especially change that we didn’t want. Although we all know change is inevitable, we fear unwanted change particularly when painful circumstances bring on the change.

How did Jesus address unwanted change?

In part one of this post, we discussed adjustment disorders and shared how unwanted change often causes depression, anxiety, and maladaptive or disturbing behaviors. Jesus talked about these sorts of trials often.

We can be tempted to place the circumstances and people of the Bible in an age so dissimilar to ours that the words of Jesus don’t apply. However, Matthew 8-9 shows suffering people coming to Jesus for help with various life struggles.

This chart summarizes the difficulties that each person was wrestling with.

DifficultyConversation PartnerReference
Terminal IllnessOstracized LeperMatthew 8:1–3
Death of a Loved OneCenturion RulerMatthew 8:5–13
Physical Discomfort & SicknessPeter’s Mother in LawMatthew 8:14–15
Spiritual OppressionMany inflicted with illnessMatthew 8:16–17
Financial SecurityScribe lacking commitmentMatthew 8:18–22
Physical SafetyThose in the boat w/ JesusMatthew 8:23–27
Spiritual WarfareTwo Men with demonsMatthew 8:28–34
Loss of ReputationThose with Jesus & SinnersMatthew 9:9–13
Suffering of a ChildRuler with dying daughterMatthew 9:18–26
Permanent DisabilityTwo Blind MenMatthew 9:27–31

These difficulties are the same things we see in our counseling offices at BCC today. We help people dealing with loss, fears about the future, broken relationships that have led to isolation, unexpected foolish behaviors, or deep anxieties. These same challenges are present in every culture because they are the trials and tribulations the Bible describes as common to man. Similarly, our culture today responds to trials in the same ways Jesus observed as He walked this earth.

Here are four responses from Jesus for dealing with unwanted change and transition in life.

Response #1 – Jesus overcame anxiety by trusting God’s plan.

Did Jesus have the ability in His body to feel anxiety? Since Jesus tells us never to be anxious, we might conclude that He couldn’t experience fear or anxiety. However, the Bible says that Jesus was tempted in all points like us, and He didn’t sin.

In our culture, we tend to think of anxiety as something we feel, but Jesus addressed the issue as what we believe. Jesus taught that every corner of God’s creation is known to God. Further, nothing can happen to us that is beyond the power of God to intervene. Jesus dealt with danger and challenges by trusting in the goodness of the Father.

When it comes to unwanted changes in life, we have a choice in how we view them. Has God forgotten about us? Does He see the trial and transition that we are going through? Jesus lived with a confident expectation that the Good Father would accomplish His good purposes, even in death. It was profound faith, and it’s the same faith that God calls us to in difficult life circumstances.

Response #2 – Jesus avoided depression by seeking God’s comfort.

How did Jesus deal with bad days and frustrating times in His life? Did it hurt to be betrayed by His friends or to experience the death of a loved one? The Gospels portrays Jesus as experiencing many difficult days. He didn’t have a perpetual smile glued to His face; He was a man “Acquainted with sorrow.” While this is different from depression, there are many similarities.

Circumstantial depression, the most common form, begins with disappointments that lead to deep discontentment. Discontentment leads to despair followed by the temptation to destructive choices. The chart below demonstrates how we often diagram the progression of spiritually rooted or circumstantial depression.

You can see the downward progression of failing to respond in God-honoring ways and moving away from God. You can also see how God uses our trials to grow us if we respond well and seek comfort in our relationship with Him.

Jesus always responded to disappointments in the right way. He avoided discontentment, despair, and destructiveness, and instead found hope and comfort in God.

Response #3 – Jesus overcame foolish actions and temptations by believing God’s Word.

The response of some teens and adults amid unwanted change is to act out in disturbing or foolish ways. This bizarre behavior is often the end of a depressive cycle, where destructive choices seem like an escape from an unwanted path forward.

Three particularly common escapes are substances, self-injury, and sexual activities. While each of these challenges has its unique appeal, all three forms of destructive behavior mask a deep hurt and distract us from responding to our trials by embracing God’s purpose for them.

When Jesus was tempted after the wilderness, He demonstrated how we will face temptation in times of hardship and how to respond to it. In this moment, Jesus was physically weak, no doubt hungry, and vulnerable from a human standpoint to believe the promises of Satan. However, Jesus reminded us the answer to temptation is to believe the Word of God and trust Him enough to act faithfully to His Word.

While adults and teens may have different temptations when it comes to dealing with unwanted change, the temptation to act out when facing hopelessness is a consistent theme in the Bible. To respond well to the trials of life, we must believe God’s Word.

Response #4 – Jesus prevented demotivation by embracing God’s purpose and love.

When teens are brought to our center struggling with unwanted change, their parents or guardians often describe a lack of participation in normal responsibilities and previously enjoyable activities. School attendance, social pursuits, and even church participation are seemingly replaced by isolation and inactivity. The simple retort over and over is “I don’t care!”

Unwanted change has a demotivating impact on everyone’s life. Paul described the end of one of his trials as he “came to despair of life itself.” He didn’t prefer to go on; life was that hard. Yet he also reminded us that he was determined to “finish the race” that God had set before him.

Unwanted change, life transitions, and severe trials can easily distract us from God’s purposes. In these moments, our greatest example is Jesus. He often had to deal with rejection and unwanted circumstances, yet He was determined to finish what the Father had sent Him to do. As He breathed His last breath, He declared “It is finished.”

When our life lacks motivation, it is often a response to the difficult circumstances of life. However, embracing God’s purposes will give us the strength to move forward. If all we live for is the “here and now,” we will face despair. When we embrace God’s eternal purpose for our lives, no unwanted change can deter us from accomplishing what He has for us.


Throughout our lives, we all deal with life transitions and unwanted change. Perhaps that is where you find yourself right now. A good counselor would welcome the opportunity to discuss your situation, bring God’s comfort to you, and help you determine next steps that glorify God. If you need help, learn more about our counseling and schedule an appointment. We would love to walk with you.

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