Even Jesus acknowledged in Matthew Chapter 6 that troubles are part of life, and I have yet to meet anyone who hasn’t faced some kind of challenge.
There are many ways to deal with our troubles.
We can ignore them. This is, after all, a blog for readers and reading is one of the best escapes I can think of. While we all benefit from the refreshing elements of temporary escapism, a wise billboard outside a local dentist office once taught me: Your teeth are the only things that will go away if you ignore them.
We can wallow in our troubles. This includes regular pity parties, a face more accustomed to frowning than smiling, eventual isolation and perhaps bitterness. Isolation because who wants to spend time with a sour puss and bitterness when we realize no one wants to spend time with a sour puss.
Spend endless hours and countless dollars in therapy about our troubles, trying to fix it on our own. This could reap some benefits but might also bankrupt us and does run the risk of too much self-absorbtion after a while. I’m not suggesting therapy isn’t a good idea, but it’s not the answer to every form of disappointment in life. Sometimes it’s just hard to find a good therapist we can afford, especially since many of our troubles have a spiritual element.
We can give our troubles to someone else. This antidote sounds nice, doesn’t? Just hand over our problems and let someone else do the wrestling. The problem with this, if we can find such a hero or heroine to accept the burden, is that no one else likely cares quite the way we do, and the answer they come up with may not be best for us.
Or we can hand them over to God. Like so many Christian platitudes this is something we hear but the meaning is lost. Surrendering our trouble to God takes a combination of faith, trust, and conscious effort. It’s easy to go through the steps. Pray about something, telling God we’re handing over the issue, and will wait on His answer. But a little while later we take up the worry again. So we start the process over, only this time we add a little guilt to the mix because we obviously didn’t do it right the first time, or at least didn’t have enough faith to wait.
For me, the best way to get through a tough issue is to remember that this isn’t a faith issue. I may not have the faith of an apostle, but all that’s needed is a mustard seed size and I’m pretty sure I have at least that much.
Faith is the foundation to this antidote, even tiny, itsy-bitsy faith, but that’s not where it ends. We can find comfort in the Bible even with wobbling faith, reminding ourselves of the promises God has made for our future and our hope (Jer 29:11, Prov 3:5-6, Rom 8:28). Make time to collect a list of God’s promises.
The next thing to do while waiting for Him to answer, in action or direction, is to remember what God has done in the past—in the big areas, of course, like creating a world as extensively, amazingly, astonishingly gorgeous and complex as the one we live in. Dive into the proof of God’s love that’s right at our doorstep.
And then we should look at the smaller stuff. For me, God proved His love a long time ago when I first realized there was more to life than just my own plans. We have a Savior who was willing to die for us so we can look forward to heaven. He’s loved me through my own rebellions, fears, and mistakes. He’s provided practical gifts too, like a roof and clothing and enough food to eat. And He’s given me ample opportunities to rejoice with other kinds of gifts: beautiful birds to admire when I look out my window; books to read and to write; friends to love; people and other resources to experience the joy of learning and growing. Best of all, I have a wonderful husband, a precious family who needs me and a church I love.
I guess what it boils down to is a song from one of my favorite Christmas movies. I know April is hardly the time to be thinking about a season that comes with cold weather and snow when we just finished one of the worst winters in recent memory, but do you remember the song Bing Crosby sang to Rosemary Clooney in the movie White Christmas? Some of the lyrics went something like this: When you’re troubled and you can’t sleep, count your blessings instead of sheep.
So that’s my advice for getting through tough times: Remember God’s love by counting your specific blessings, entrust the outcome based on what the Bible promises and remember the positive things He’s done for you in your own, personal past.