CLERGY CORNER: When the Going Gets Tough

Posted on 29 August 2013 by LeslieM

The start of the school year always brings with it a sense of new beginnings. There’s new work to be done, new friends to make and new experiences to enjoy.

You don’t have to be a current student, or the parent of a student, to appreciate the renewed energy that comes with this time of year. No matter your age or stage in life, the late-summer fresh start is yours to enjoy.

But even with all the excitement that another academic season brings, one thing is for sure: there will also be major doses of difficulty as the year progresses.

Hardships are inevitable. That’s why every new beginning also signals a fresh opportunity to face life’s unavoidable problems with revitalized strength. When the storms of life whip up around you over the next year, here are 3 steps you can take to stand unshakable in their midst:

1) Sidestep Surprise – The situations that have the most power to shake you are the ones that seem to come out of nowhere. When you’re sideswiped by a problem you didn’t anticipate, it’s easy to become vulnerable. So choosing to not be surprised when the going gets tough is key to standing strong.

God never promised that life would be easy, but he did promise to be with you every step of the way. You will encounter trouble in this world, but take comfort in Jesus’ assertion that He has already overcome every trial and tribulation you face (John 16:33). No matter what is going on around you, you have the assurance of his peace.

2) Ask the Right Question of the Right Person, Right Away – When life goes wrong, your first instinct should be to turn to God. Too often, you and I are quick to ask our friends for advice, buy self-help books, or turn inward and start mining our own resources, rather than looking to Him.

While there’s nothing inherently wrong with any of these things, they shouldn’t be our first stop for support. When trouble is brewing, our reflex should be to look to God – and to ask Him the right question.

I’m sure you’ve known people in difficult situations who spend their energy questioning God, rather than trusting him. Asking why doesn’t accomplish anything. Try asking what instead. Rather than giving into the common temptation to demand, “Why did you let this happen to me, God?” ask “What do you want to teach me through this?”

3) Embrace Emotions – Once you have given God top priority in the difficulty you’re facing, embrace the emotions you are feeling. Tune in to what’s going on in your heart. God gave you your emotions; he doesn’t expect you to ignore them. You don’t have to plaster on a smile and muscle through. As you lean into God first, and then embrace the emotions that your situation is stirring, he will use what you are feeling to draw you closer to himself.

Staying steady when things get hard has nothing to do with how strong you are and everything to do with how strong God is.

No matter how smart, rich, connected or resourceful you consider yourself to be, you can’t make it through life’s toughest storms unscathed on your own. But as you build your life on the foundation of God’s strength and take these practical steps in every difficult situation you face, you will be able withstand whatever comes your way during this new year of fresh possibilities.

Nelson Searcy is the lead pastor of The Journey Church in Boca Raton. The 2.5 yearold church meets at Boca Raton Community High School (I-95 and Glades Rd) each Sunday at 10:30 a.m. For more, visit www.boca journey.com. He is the author of 11 books and served for 10 years as a pastor in New York City before moving to South Florida. Each person who visits The Journey Church in September will receive a FREE copy of his latest book “Unshakable: Standing Strong When Things Go Wrong” — on which this article is based.

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