The list of scenarios that create stress and unrest in our lives is long. No doubt, you have a list of discouraging events, mishaps and failures. I certainly have mine. But there’s one danger I have found that far outweighs others and causes us more defeat than our adverse circumstances: our feelings.
When you get bad news from the doctor or a demotion at work or a rift in a meaningful relationship, it can be devastating. The initial shock often can lead to a tailspin if we don’t deal with the situation in a way that guides us toward healing.
Here are four ways to help you claim victory in trying times:
- Run to Jesus, not away from him. When we’re in pain, Jesus will comfort us day by day. One of the hardest mental obstacles we have is the question, “How am I going to get through this?” Our situation seems dire and feels awful. In these times, we must give it to the Lord to handle and not shoulder it ourselves. We feel powerless because we are powerless. Jesus will give us answers in his time, not ours. Trust the one who holds the world — and you personally — in his hands.
- Recall past victories. We love a good pity party. We have an innate ability to dwell on negative things, especially in tough situations. That makes it challenging to recall times when God has come through with some amazing blessings. But chances are God has brought you through rough patches before. He made ends meet, gave you the right answer or right person. He’ll do it again.
- Talk about it. There are times when we want to disappear into a cocoon of misery and never face the world again. But isolating ourselves only does more harm. We can convince ourselves of just about anything when our only audience is us. In treacherous waters, you probably don’t want to commiserate with a friend or co-worker. Your best bet is to speak with a pastor or professional counselor, who will have your best interests in mind.
- Soothe your wounds with God’s word. You’ll never know how comforting scripture can be until you see it through the lens of pain and heartache. David’s Psalms come to life, as do the Apostle Paul’s encouraging letters in the New Testament. Not sure what to read or where to start? Look for a daily devotional that combines scripture with a short commentary. We need to be reminded that God loves us and knows best. When we read it enough and spend adequate time with him, we begin to trust him more with every part of our lives, especially the tough stuff!
– C.A. Phillips serves as communications pastor and director of men’s groups at NorthStar Church. He oversees Over the Hump, a weekly online devotional. northstarchurch.org/lockerroom.