Advice for Handling Tough Times
How Do You Respond To Tough Times?
Do you worry every time you face a difficult situation? If your response is Always or Often, my hope is that this hub will provide reassurance for you that you don't have to worry when things don't look "right" because the Lord knows the plans He has for us (Jer. 29:11) and will never leave or forsake us (Deut. 31:6-8).
Job and Judas
When it comes to how to respond to challenges, two contrasting Biblical people come to mind: Job and Judas.
- Job took the struggles and trials and hardships and continued to praise the Lord. He knew God was with him and would not turn his back on God. This is not to say that he did not have moments of crying out to God and saying he wanted to die...but he never denounced God. In the end, his faith kept him moving forward and he was able to receive the blessings the Lord had waiting.
- Judas took the struggles and trials and hardships of being a disciple of Christ and traded them for a few silver coins and then hung himself out of despair for the choice he made. Instead of standing up to the persecution and standing strong for God, he turned his back and walked away.
I know there are several others who handled difficulty well, but these two stand out in my mind as the ultimate contrasts. One came out of the difficulty triumphing and celebrating with family and friends while the other allowed the difficulty to overwhelm His life. Who are you most like in times of trouble?
Prayer and Scripture
When I face a tough situation, the first thing I do is pray. I look to God for guidance and peace. After I pray, I like to read the Bible and remind myself that God is there with me and that I can get through the situation with faith and perseverance. The following are Scriptures I turn to when I need to revitalize my faith and hope.
- Hebrews 11:6; Deuteronomy 31:6 : Your lack of faith is displeasing to God. Time to make a change and stop doubting but stand firm knowing He will never leave or forsake you!
- Isaiah 55:1 - 13 : Remember that the Lord's ways are not your ways. He will see His vision for you through to completion. His word does not return void so stand firm on His promises and don't give up!
- James 4:8 : When you doubt that you are going to make it through, draw closer to God. Pray more, worship more, serve more. Get out there and do something that will help you become closer to the Lord. Talk with friends about the wonderful blessings in your life. Ask for help. "Draw near to God and He will draw near to you"!
- 1 John 3:21-22; 5:14 : You have assurance that if you are right with God then you will receive whatever you ask in His name. This doesn't mean it will come exactly as you want it (He isn't a Burger King God where you "have it your way"!) but you can stand on His promise that He will come through and give you what you asked for according to His will.
- Ephesians 4:23-24; 6:10-11 : Whenever you begin to doubt your faith, the enemy is at work. No doubt it is time to put on that armor of God, remember to be renewed in your mind, and stand strong against the devil!
- Romans 12:2 : People who have no faith sometimes worry about the details of their lives. As Christians, we are called to not conform to the world but to stand out and be different. We want to be in His perfect will; and that does not allow for constant worry!
- Psalm 5:11-12; 91:9-10 : You have made the Lord my refuge so nothing can come against me! What better way to overcome doubt and build faith than to worship! Try doubting while singing "God Will Make a Way" or "You Won't Relent" or "The More I Seek You"!
- 2 Peter 1:10 : If you are doubting, then you should be ensuring your calling and election are true. Not to say that Christians will ever make it to a point where there is never a time of wondering "are you there Lord" but the more sure you are about your calling, the better you will know your trials are only temporary tests or lessons to build character!
- Luke 12:31-32 : Whenever you come in to any struggle or feel that the Lord has "left" you; check your heart and know that you are seeking His kingdom first and foremost. There are times when our trials are a result of us moving away from His will. If you realize that you have not been seeking His kingdom first, repent and ask Him to lead you
- Proverbs 15:22 : Sometimes your trials or down time will come because you didn't seek enough counsel prior to heading into a decision. If this is the case, live and learn and remember to pray next time and seek guidance from a trusted friend or mentor.
- Isaiah 41:10: He is always with you. Reach out to Him. Ask Him to guide you and strengthen you!
- Colossians 2:6-7; Philippians 4:6 : You are Christ's and are called to walk in faith, be prayerful always, and to be thankful for all things. End of story!
There are many others scriptures about faith, hope, and standing strong in tough times. Open the Bible, check the concordance; go to BibleGateway.com; ask a Pastor or friend to guide your toward others! Whatever you do, stand strong and don't let the enemy win! Be a Job and see it through to the end so you can enjoy the abundant riches the Lord has in store for you!
Mind of a Child - Gaining Focus
One of the most important things to remember when you are facing difficult circumstances is to ensure you focus on the reality of the situation and possible outcomes versus thinking only of the worst that can happen. It is good to gain focus on the situation, understand what is happening and how you can overcome the challenge, and work toward a positive solution.
To think about how changing our perspective and gaining focus can help us, let's think about children. Little girls often love to play with beads. There is something relaxing about making a necklace, bracelet, or fun bookmark. If you give a child too many beads, they tend to become overwhelmed and things start to get out of focus. They can begin to whine because they don't know what they want to make, or they don't know which color to start with, or they want to make everything at once and simply don't know how to focus their minds and start at the beginning, one bead at a time, one project at a time.
We are like this when we start to doubt our faith in times of struggle or when things don't go our way. When we throw in the towel on God just because we don't like how He is trying to work in us, grow us, or show us something important. When we decide faith isn't worth having if hard work is involved. When we give up on Him because we don't feel like anything is happening. Faith isn't a feeling. It isn't about our emotions, it is about God's word and His promises. We need to focus on those promises and remember that He has promised to see us through every struggle and bring us to completion (Philippians 1:6).
Going back to our scenario of the little girl with beads. If you take this same child, sit with her, and encourage her by reminding her you are there for her and will help her, her perspective changes. Suddenly, all those beads come into focus and do not look so overwhelming. She will smile and ask you what color you want to use and what you are going to make first. She will maybe sing and tell you what she is making. She will be happy and make great progress and beautiful projects.
This is how we are when we step back and remember the Lord is with us and is guiding us. He thinks about all the time and knows our entire story (Psalm 139!). When we bring this to our mind, and calm down, and see this trial or struggle as a chance to enjoy walking with the Lord, or even allowing Him to carry us, we see things in focus. We smile in the face of sadness. We laugh in the face of struggle. We cry tears of joy for the Lord is with us and we have assurance we will make it through.
Love Music? Try Listening to These Songs to Encourage You
Other Ways To Manage Stress
Many Hubbers have covered how to manage stress, so I will not duplicate the content here. In the blue box (above right), I have provided some links to hubs with great tips, written from varying perspectives. Check them after after you leave feedback for me on how you liked this hub or a comment on how it has helped you, encouraged you, or made you think of something differently. Instead of duplicating the content, I will just post a few bullets of others ways you can handle stress and difficult times.
- Have a great support system. Friends and family members can be a great help during difficult times. Don't be too proud to ask for help.
- Listen to music or sounds of nature. Put in a cd and listen to uplifting and encouraging music. Go into the woods or to the beach and listen to the sounds of nature.
- Meditate. Like prayer, meditation involves slowing down and putting your mind on something other than you difficulty. In prayer you usually relay your difficulty to your deity and ask for help out of it. In meditation, you simply move it out of your mind and focus on inner peace and focus. This can be very healing and allow you to find your center.
- Go out with friends and take your mind of things. Sometimes just getting out with friends can help. Go bowling or have a nice dinner. Play board games or go skating. Take a walk in the city and browse stores.
- Talk with a counselor or others who have been there. Sometimes you just need to talk to others and get things off your chest. It may mean talking to a counselor or someone who has walked in your shoes who can offer advice on how to get through it.
Words of Caution
Whatever method you use, remember that drugs, alcohol, gambling, working too much, or other addictive behaviors are not the best way to handle stress. When you face difficult times, it is easy to want to escape and avoid the situation in hopes it will go away. However, avoidance only makes it worse. Instead, ensure you have a strong support system around you and push through the stress to make your way to peace. We all face difficulties, some more than others, and they do make us stronger even though we hate experiencing them. If you find yourself wanting to escape, please talk with a counselor who can help you see your strong points and gain focus on the situation. You do matter and you do have a bright future if you will push through and rise above these temporary circumstances.