I don’t know about you, but for me, this time of year always feels extra difficult. Summer, for the most part, has been fun and relaxing, but now school is about to start and schedules are getting hectic and it seems like everything I do is harder than it should be. Stress and busy-ness is creeping back in.
Add to that the grief of losing a loved one, or the stress of being out of work, or maybe a strain on your marriage, and the next few months could be full of adversity for you.
We’re all bound to face adversity at some point in our lives, especially if we’re doing something significant (like growing a family, or tending to a marriage or building a business). The Bible says we are “more than conquerers in Christ” and that we have what it takes to overcome adversity (Romans 8:37). But if you’ve ever been right in the middle of adversity, you know it has a way of making you feel like you won’t come out on the other side.
Here are four ways I’ve found to we really helpful when it comes to dealing with adversity.
Admit and accept the reality.
This is an important part of the process, and one I think many Christians miss when they quote the “more than conquerors” verse. Just because we have what it takes to overcome adversity doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. When adversity comes, we will feel grief, loss, anger, frustration, and sadness. Feel free to admit your emotions. Admit the reality of your circumstances. Grieve. Cry. Yell if you need to.
But remind yourself that you have what it takes to overcome. You will make it out on the other side.
Even better than that, God will use your adversity to grow you and shape us to become more like him.
Look for the lesson in it: God might be trying to teach you something
Not every difficult circumstance we face is from God, but every difficult circumstances we faced can be used for God. Whether something really tragic has happened to you — or you’re just in the middle of a really stressful season in your life — ask God what he has for you to learn in the midst of it.
Commit to being focused on learning that lesson during this season, no matter how difficult it is.
These lessons, in addition to making you a stronger person, will give meaning to your struggle, which will make it easier for you to face the difficulty in front of you.
Keep positive people in your life.
There is nothing I’m more grateful for during difficult seasons than people who speak positive words about life. Surround yourself with these kinds of people (and eliminate those who are constantly negative) even when life is easy. That way, when it gets difficult, you’ll already be surrounded by people who will encourage and uplift.
We become like the company you keep. What kind of company are you keeping?
Draw on positive habits
A friend who was going through a difficult time once told me he was so thankful he had already developed a habit of prayer. Then, when the difficult circumstance came, it felt very natural for him to turn to God in prayer. Do you have these positive habits in place in your life? Things like prayer, quiet time, exercise and even eating well are good habits for all of life, but also serve a specific purpose during times of adversity.
Reflect on the positive habits in your life that make you feel balanced and healthy, and draw on these habits during difficult seasons.
photo: Creative Commons, Naomi