Life is hard, full of trials, pain,and disappointments. The trials are like the weather, they come in cycles or seasons, one day the sun is shining and the next it is pouring rain. There are lots of days when the sun is shining, you catch a limit of fish, everybody is getting along well, and no one is sick. Those days are great for recovering and getting strong, but they do tend to lull us into thinking that those good days are the norm when they are actually the exception for most.
For many the hard days make them bitter at others and God, they entertain long periods of self-pity, their reactions to pain makes them difficult to live with, and they justify and excuse the despair, and negative way they act and treat others because “it is so hard”.
And then there are those who cope with tough times, manage the thoughts and emotions well, grow in their character, grow in their love for God, and treat others with grace and kindness. In fact they become a major source of comfort and strength for others going through the same trial with them or a similar one.
Those who do well dealing with tough times have learned the skill of coping. People call them strong, they weren’t born strong, they became strong. Here is a simple list of 7 disciplines that will make you strong in managing the worst trials in life.
(1) God is infinitely strong and loves to give His strength to us, but it isn’t automatic. He also gives great joy and peace in the awfullest of times, but again, it isn’t automatic. We must trust Him, seek Him, and ask Him.
(2) Our self-talk or cyclical thoughts are critically important. Take every bitter, self-pity, critical, and negative thought captive. I do this by replacing them with faith statements that I have memorized and memorized Bible verses. “God loves me very much and I love Him.” “God is infinitely wise, but there is so much that I don’t understand.” “God is in charge and in control of my life, I choose to trust His every decision that He makes in regards to my life.”
(3) when I have a reoccurring thought or feeling that is getting the best of me I don’t let it win, I conquer it by writing about it. When I write about events that have happened to me, my responses, actions, behavior, emotions, and thoughts, everything shrinks in magnitude, and my thought then is, “I can do this“!
(4) Even in the very worst of times there are funny things that happen, share them, repeat them and laugh at them. Laughing in the midst of hard times isn’t being hard-hearted or unfeeling, and it fills us and others with strength.
(5) Discover activities that are renewing to your soul, and fill your emotional gas tank. Physical activities work great for me, especially working on projects with my hands. The best for me is fishing. I really wanted to go fishing yesterday because I knew Mom was going to die any day now so I found a friend that would go with me and we went surf fishing on the beach for red tailed perch. The sun was shining, we caught 20 fish, and the fellowship was great. On the drive home Patty called me with the news that Mom had just taken her last breath. I was ready to face this and to help others to manage tough times as well.
(6) Control what comes out of your mouth. Thinking self-pity, poor me, bitter thoughts is like driving a nail into two boards. One board is our heart and the other is the programmed way of treating others that is selfish, grouchy, and rude. But when we speak those same thoughts it is like bending the nail over on the back side of the second board. Talk like a strong person who is walking with the Lord and totally trusting Him. If you act and talk like a strong person, before long you will be one.
(7) look for opportunities to help others who are struggling with the trials of life. Encourage, give advice, pray for them and with then. A basic law of God is, the more we give the more we receive.