Everyone of us will walk through challenging times in our lives…..over and over to be sure. It may be a temporary challenge that lasts only minutes. Or it could be a lifelong challenge that plagues us throughout our days here on earth. No matter what it is, it can seem the most important thing in life at that moment. It can overwhelm you emotionally and physically if you let it. How do we cope with those times? Well here are a few thoughts I have on this. And trust me, this is a list I need to refer back to over and over again myself.
- Count your blessings. When we look back on what God has given us already we will often see how God has moved before in a similar situation. We can see that God has not forsaken us and that he is always with us. Counting your blessings will keep us from becoming discouraged. When we forget this, we tend to concentrate on the problem and fail to notice the good things we should. We will put a focus on what needs to be done and forget what God has already done. I posted a few years ago, my year end recap and the focus was not to look at the negatives that happened the prior year, but to focus on the good things that happened and those that came out of those bad situations. It’s amazing how much goodness can come of tough times when you take the time to look back and reflect.
- Concentrate on the good things. I like to look at this and see what good God has created out of a bad situation. This is often easier to do in hindsight than in the moment, but if you take the time to remember times past where God has made good out of bad, you’ll be able to see the potential in your current situation and you’ll trust that God has a plan.
In 2011, I posted about one of my favorite quotes, “God tears a man down, just to lift him up.” God doesn’t cause bad things to happen, but he allows us to be put through the fire so to speak, to strengthen us. In that old post, I give you the story my professional career has gone through over the last 15 years or so. Looking back on my professional career, there were a few times when a bad situation came upon us as a family, one that we felt at the time was going to be impossible to overcome. And without fail, God brought us back from the “brink” each time, making us stronger. I would tend to gravitate back to the edge again, but that is through my own failings, but each time a lesson was learned and we came out stronger in the end.
- Believe what your heart tells you. Develop a habit of letting what is in our heart become more real to us than what we see, think or feel. We know in our hearts that we can trust God completely, but our heads often tell us to worry.
We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from start to finish. He was willing to die a shameful death on the cross because of the joy he knew would be his afterward. Now he is seated in the place of highest honor beside God’s throne in heaven. – Hebrews 12:2
We know in our hearts that God has a plan and that despite our best efforts to come up with something better, God’s is always the best. Looking back in hindsight, we know that it is true, we just need to remember that when we are in the midst of the storm.
- Choose to think about what God can do instead of what we cannot do. We can’t fix situations, but God can. This could be through divine intervention or simply giving us the tools, strength and wisdom to do so ourselves. But either way, God can do it.
But remember that the temptations that come into your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will keep the temptation from becoming so strong that you can’t stand up against it. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you will not give in to it. – 1 Corinthians 10:13
God will provide a way out, it may not be the way that we think, but God will provide one.
- Turn over your problems to God. God can solve the problem, he will provide an answer. He can do what we cannot. We know in our hearts that it is true….so why not turn over those problems to God.
Give your burdens to the Lord, and he will take care of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall. – Psalm 55:22
Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about what happens to you. – 1 Peter 5:7
This sounds easy, but it is tough. Probably one of the toughest things I have had to do. I felt this article answering the question, How can I turn all my worries and problems over to God, explains this much better than I ever could.
- Release the weight of worry. Again often easier said than done, but we can rest in the great promise of Jesus himself:
Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke fits perfectly and the burden I give you is light.” -Matthew 11:28-30
The rest that Jesus promises is love, healing and peace with God. He doesn’t promise the end of all problems or labor, but with a relationship with God changes the meaningless, wearisome work and problems into spiritual purpose and productivity.