A few weeks ago I met with a woman who is currently going through a very rough time in her life. After finding out her husband cheated on her, she along with their 2 children were abandoned by him while he ran off to be with his mistress. There was no time for her to think about the direction she was going to take, or how she was going to adjust. She woke up one morning and her whole life changed. Left to raise two children under the age of 5, with no job or financial support, left her in a very difficult state. She was evicted from her home, and faced many other struggles.
It was very emotional to hear her story and struggles. While talking to her, my repeated question was “how do you do it?”. I just couldn’t believe how she was sane and still at peace when her world around her was crumbling. While listening to her I tried to put myself in her shoes and began wondering how I would have handled something like this. Yet, her response to me which was the most refreshing and perhaps even memorable moment from our meeting was when she looked at me with a smile and simply said “I know I’ll get back up”. Can you imagine? I went to meet this woman to show support, yet I walked away encouraged and comforted by words of hope from a woman who was in (what looked like as) a hopeless situation.
I’m sure there have been times when we’ve all heard some horrible stories from the lives of those we know and thought “Geez, thank God that wasn’t me!” But let’s think about that for a second – what if that WAS you? Maybe not what happened to her, but what if something similar or worse happened? The journey of life has many ups and downs. There are moments when we don’t just trip over something, instead, we fall really hard and hit the absolute bottom of the rock. Are we prepared for such moments? I am certain that each person has his/her own way of coping with situations in life – whether they are right or wrong is a different argument. However, today I don’t want to talk about “coping mechanisms”, rather I’d like to briefly talk about getting back up. How do we get back up during the most most difficult times of our lives? When we’ve hit the absolute bottom of that rock, how do we rise from it, rather than just coping with it? This week, I would like to leave you by challenging you to apply the following two points in your life during times of hardships.
First thing is first – HOLD ON TO THE HOPE FOUND IN HIS PROMISE: Most of us, like to live life assuming that life will be a breeze. We’re in denial of the fact that we will face many storms and challenges. Therefore when life gets a bit rough on us we get so consumed by it and forget to hold on to the hope of His promise which is designed to get us through the rough times. If we spent as much energy and attention on the hope given to us instead of the problem we’re going through, then the problem we’re going through would only serve as an opportunity for Him to fulfill His promise. You ask, what is the hope of His promise? One of my favorite verses is found in Matthew 28:20. The last part of that verse says “[…] And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age”. There are many things God could say to you to comfort your heart during your storms such as “don’t worry”, “you’ll make it”,”I’ll help you”, “you’re strong”, etc. all of which are great things to say – but pay attention because He’s given you something greater. He’s NOT telling you that He will be standing on the sidelines cheering for you while you struggle to make it to the finish line. He’s REASSURED you that He will be with you always, alongside of you, facing the hard times with you.. through every storm – ain’t He something?! If only you’d give Him the chance to prove His promise…
Secondly and most importantly – FIND THE JOY IN YOUR TRIALS: I’m certain for most of us this is the greatest difficulty we face. How can we find joy in times of hardship and suffering? Let’s take a look at this by first understanding what joy means. If you don’t understand what joy truly means, then you will not recognize it, or realize it’s importance in times of trials. In Nehemiah 8:10 it says “Do not sorrow, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” Don’t mistaken joy for happiness. Happiness is an emotional response to circumstances, or things around us. Joy does not depend on the surrounding circumstances of your life, or your emotions. This joy is birthed out of, and dependent on the understanding of who God is, as well as the power He has over all matters of your life. The joy that is birthed from the understanding of who God is strengthens us when trials of life try to weaken us. We see this in perfect example by looking at Paul, who while chained up in a prison cell wrote to the Philippians saying “finally my brethren, rejoice in the Lord” (Phil. 3:1). Therefore, to find joy in our trials really means to find God. When we look to Him during our storms of life we begin to realize the greater power He has over our storms; and through that realization of who God is, joy (which is independent of our circumstances) is birthed.
Let that sink in.
See you next Monday!