It’s inevitable that we’re going to face tough times in our lives. In fact, we’re all living in one of three places in life. We are either living in a trial right now, coming out of one or about to go into one! The most important thing about walking through these difficult times is how we approach them.
Pain and Suffering are Part of Life
When a trial hits your life, it’s very common to question why God would allow it to happen. The reality is, pain and suffering are a part of life. Even if you don’t share my worldview you would probably agree that everyone goes through difficult times at some point in their lives. As a believer, I know that pain and suffering are to be expected because of sin.
If allowed, pain and suffering can be a good thing by helping us grow to become a more compassionate person. Pain and suffering should always lead us into a deeper relationship with God.
How do we allow the trials of life to work God’s purposes into our life? I want to share some of the things I’ve learned along the way.
You Need to Protect Your Mind
Don’t allow your mind to spiral into the negative. I know it’s so easy to go there. When things are hard and pressing in you might feel as if everything is going wrong. If you’re not careful your negative thoughts can lead straight into hopelessness and you’ll start thinking that your situation will never change.
Don’t let your hard times make you feel hopeless and certainly don’t let negativity control you. Most importantly don’t let bitterness take root in your heart. Bitterness leads to anger and nothing good ever comes out of bitterness.
Protect your mind by saturating it with God’s word every day! You must work hard to guard your heart and mind. Take every thought captive unto the obedience of Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5
Keep Your Problems in Perspective & Just Do The Next Thing
Don’t blow your problems out of perspective. Don’t let your “molehill turn into a mountain”. It’s easy to allow our problems to grow in size and get blown all out of proportion.
Sometimes because we allow our problems to get too big we grow fearful and become paralyzed from making decisions or from moving forward to make changes that will help our situation.
Be careful not to let fear stop you from doing what you need to do. Acknowledge your fear and deal with it. If you have goals work on them. Focus on your daily tasks and just do the next thing. It’s ok if you can’t focus on anything beyond that. Once you’ve completed that one thing then attempts to do the very next thing.
Ultimately, focus on eternity. This world and this life are not all there is.
Believe Your Experience is Making You Stronger
Experience is one of the most valuable commodities you own. No one else has the same experiences as you. They are what makes you, you. Your experience builds strength in you and new experiences help you to grow and help you to relate to others.
Some experiences may be painful but you have the power to turn your wounds into wisdom, your pain into purpose and eventually you can help others who may go through something similar. Your experience can help you face the future with more confidence as you think about how much you’ve grown.
Your Attitude Does Not Need to Be Controlled by Your Circumstance
You can have joy even if your world feels like it’s falling apart. You can have a smile on your face even when you don’t feel like it. It’s hard, I’ll admit it. I’ve seen the most wonderful examples of people who have gone through horrible tragedies and yet somehow still managed to praise God through it. They can do this because they are filled with the joy of the Lord who is their strength.
That Bible verse kept me focused during the most difficult times. Nehemiah 8:10, it ends with “the Joy of the Lord is Your Strength.” Read that again, The JOY of the LORD is your strength. His joy gives you the strength you need and is what will get you through.
You are Where You’re Supposed to Be in Order to Get to Where You Need to Go
Look at your life and identify all the little blessings you have and how they add up to great big blessings.
If your circumstances seem hopeless choose to recognize them as a tool to get you to where you need to go next.
I know you won’t feel this way when you’re going through it but if you’re a child of God, He promises to use all your circumstances for your good, even the bad ones. Romans 8:28
Choose to Be Thankful
Being positive in a negative situation is a sign of leadership and strength. When you’re overwhelmed and want to complain choose to smile and be thankful. It will make you feel better to smile even if it doesn’t change your circumstances. Being thankful also has amazing physiological benefits and I wrote about that here.
In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:18
The definition of patience is the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble or suffering without getting angry or upset. It’s the willingness to stay focused as you move ahead one step at a time.
God is working a greater work in you and that takes time but as we wait patiently God promises his presence and his blessings.
But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. James 1:4
You’re Not Alone
Finally, everyone is struggling with something but not everyone is brave enough to talk about it. You really need to know that you are not alone! Not only do you have the Lord to help you but more than likely you have friends and family who can be there for you. I know that some of you don’t and I’m sure that’s very painful. Pray that God brings healing and relationships. Some have found encouragement in online support groups.
You are not alone! You are not the only one going through a difficult time. This will not last forever! You can do this! You will get through this!
Though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ.1 Peter 1:6