What do we do if we’ve been going through difficulties for a long, tiring time? Sometimes, we need to keep standing, keep walking and continue to pray and believe in strength, but how? There might be a time when we should ask God if we should try something else. Have you ever heard, “If you want something you’ve never had, you must be willing to do something you’ve never done?” * Maybe it’s time. Our trial might provide the perfect opportunity to learn or experience something outside our comfortable box. I don’t know about you but I usually don’t try to venture there.
Get Out of Jail Free
Christians don’t receive a “Get out of jail free” card from difficulties and pain. Every human on the earth will experience pain and trials. God initially created a perfect place for all humans to live. When mankind followed Lucifer into rebellion, we could no longer stay in that Holy Place. We are relegated to the earth that we’ve infected with the pain, toil, and heartache of sin. There’s good news. God never stopped loving us. He provided Savior to pay for and deliver us from the bondage of sin. The Bible never promised to deliver us out of all of our trials, but he promised to help us in them. I’d don’t know how I could have gotten through the problems I’ve had in the last few years without him. His peace, joy, wisdom, and love have made me strong and carried me through.
I am the Door; anyone who enters through Me will be saved [and will live forever], and will go in and out [freely], and find pasture (spiritual security). 10 The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance [to the full, till it overflows].John 10:9-10
I discovered a concept among terminal patients (Technically, I am one) called “toxic positivity.” Terminal patients face unbearable situations that would cause anyone depression, anger, and hopelessness. I get frustrated when people minimalize my state of hope when I walk through hell just to show up that day. For some, the thought of dying while seeing others enjoy life can be a trigger. When a person says, “God’s got it, have faith, or think positive” to someone who’s teetering out on the edge of death, it feels like an attack. When you’re in this state, tired clichéd quotes or unsolicited advice is not merely annoying, it feels toxic. Only God can give us supernatural hope within our heartache. We may not always get the result we want, but a spiritual hope that transcends trials is nothing short of miraculous. It doesn’t come through talk or advice but through God creating out to us in our pain with his comfort.
Jesus said to her, “[a]I am the Resurrection and the Life. Whoever believes in (adheres to, trusts in, relies on) Me [as Savior] will live even if he dies;John 11:25
The Raging Thoughts
God is merciful; he knows everything we feel, even if we’re mad at him but he meets us where we are. Sometimes we’re caught up in the storm of negatives swirling around our minds it’s difficult to know what to think. There’s good news. We don’t have to be a victim to every thought that enters our minds. Not every thought is true, good, or God. When we’re thrown into the middle of difficulties and pain tears our hearts, we’re getting pummeled with negativity. We need to stand up to it like one would a bully. While I was going through cancer treatment, it was easy to go down the rabbit hole of darkness. (And Google) When you have stage 4 and plan your funeral, you have thoughts that torment you in the night. God gave me wisdom during this time to use some practical strategies for the mind, emotions, and body he designed.
Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.Romans 12:21
Life gives us two plates, one of disaster and the other of blessing. It’s always something on the good plate, no matter how small. Our brains are designed to focus on the negative. We also tend to magnify those things on which we focus. It’s our prerogative, even our duty, to use that and place our attention on the positive plate. By doing this, we don’t deny the event. We are overcoming evil with good. We are magnifying the positive. During chemo, there were times where I thought it’d be so much easier to die and give up. God knew how I felt. He didn’t condemn me for it, but I asked him to help me focus on the good. He did, and he gave me the wisdom in Romans 12:21. To overcome the negative things, I had to input the positive.
Our weapons are divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. 5 We are destroying sophisticated arguments and every exalted and proud thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought and purpose captive to the obedience of Christ, 6 being ready to punish every act of disobedience when your own obedience [as a church] is complete.2 Corinthians 10:4-10
DeTox & Deprogram
When we’re in the middle of the disaster plate, we can’t always climb out on our own. This is when we can trust God to be strong in our weaknesses. I always say, try to do what you can with the brain, creativity, and talents God gave you and leave the rest to him. Remind God that he’s your strength, and trust him to guide you. The Lord created our bodies, souls, and spirits so that when one is affected, all can suffer. It makes sense to fortify each of the areas instead of just one. I want to share a few practical strategies that helped me. God says to call on him, and he will answer and show us things we don’t know. Well, sometimes I don’t know what the positive side is or how to get there. At other times, the stress builds up in my heart and mind that I can hardly stand it. These natural responses are meant to be an alarm that we need to take care of some practicalities and lift the rest to him. Below are some practical strategies that helped me focus on my realm.
- Try modern medicine. Sometimes we need help, and several medical advances can help us. God has given intelligence and creativity to man and delights in us, using them to improve our lives. Don’t ever feel bad about taking antidepressants, chemo, antibiotics, or any other medicine. If you have a problem with medication, you should also have a problem with aspirin for your headache, glasses for your eyes, and Immodium.
- For the Spirit, Pump Up The Praise – Since my spirit was nearly crushed, I listened to a praise playlist my kids made me; I listened to my favorite preachers, sometimes going to bed with their sermons in my ears. Psalm 22:3 he inhabits our praises. His word brings life (Psalm 119:25) and light Psalm 119:130.
- For the Mind, Rest it Out- We can’t do anything if our mind is so stressed that we can’t focus. Sleep and rest are so important while going through. I gave myself a bedtime. I put away my phone; I used things like lavender oil, easy music, hot baths, melatonin. Not only did God rest on the 7th day, several times in the Bible, but we are also commanded (it wasn’t as a suggestion) to rest.
- For the Emotions, Be Contrary, Be Thankful – Since negative was inundating me, I decided to do the opposite. I stopped watching the news and only watched comedies. I made myself laugh 3 times a day like medicine. A merry heart does good like medicine, Proverbs 17:22. Gratitude journals are a big thing nowadays because they work. (Philippians 4:8 tells us that)
- For the Body- Give it Goodness – During cancer, I strengthened my body but cutting down on sugar and increasing healthy foods. I spent time in the sun (For immunity, serotonin, and vitamin D), I began to exercise (it was a pitiful exercise; I was not athletic), I tried it all, replaced the toxic in my life with the nontoxic. A little exercise relieves stress and takes care of your body. It’s the temple of God. (I Corinthians 6:19-20)
We have no choice, we will have trials, but when we invite God in, he makes a big difference. It’s easier to lift things to God when our bodies, minds, and emotions are as stable as we can make them. Sometimes we can’t do any of that, and we are utterly helpless. That’s when God steps in with his love and power in ways that we’ll remember for eternity. He strengthens our spirits and they won’t be crushed under the weight of oppression. When we’ve put God’s word in our hearts and minds, he can animate it to give us a lift at the worst times. The renewed sense can be thankful and find more positives than problems. We don’t stop crying, but we can laugh too because we still have the joy of God that gives us strength. If we search for him, even in the most minor ways, our pain squeezes our worldly desires and opens our spirits while God weaves his beauty, grace, and love throughout our lives. When we try inviting God into our trials, he will show up for us in mighty ways.