When the “winters” of your life descend, leaving a trail of destruction and hard times to endure, how do you deal with it? No matter who you are: parent, grandparent, single or senior, writer or teacher, blue collar or white collar, here are five ways to make hard times better:
1. Give thanks for what you still have.
Job knew about hard times. He lost his possessions (7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, 599 female donkeys)and all His children (10 of them) in one day. Soon after that, he was struck with incurable boils from head to toe. (Job 1-2). What could he possibly give thanks for?
His wife? Well, that’s debatable, considering how she reacted to all of it: “Curse God and die!” Friends? Um, maybe not. Their advice would not encourage a grateful heart. But Job did have God on his side, the One who considered him as a man of integrity. He refused to blame God for anything.
2. Give thanks for what you can still do.
I’m amazed at Nick Vujicic’s life and story. This man, born without limbs, will more than inspire you and stir up a heart of gratitude for the things you can still do in hard times. Sort of makes our circumstances or complaints fade, huh?
3. Trust God to do what you cannot do.
The secret lies not in our strength, but in God’s. That’s true in Nick’s life, and it will be true for us. Looking to Jesus for our strength takes our eyes off own weaknesses and difficulties. The apostle Paul learned that same truth: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13, NKJ).
4. Pray for others you know who are also enduring hard times.
It’s not always easy to think about others when we’re hurting, because we can always find someone in a worse condition than ourselves. And we don’t always want to consider that–right now. But hard times are not occasions for a pity party, but an opportunity for an empathy party. Praying for others focuses our attention upward and outward, rather than inward.
5. Rest in the Lord.
I know, easy for me to say. I haven’t walked in your shoes. But you haven’t walked in mine, either. Pain is pain. And we’ve all been there or will be, someday. It never helps to compare ourselves to others using a “my situation is worse than yours,” kind of mentality. What does help is to celebrate that God’s still in charge; He still loves us; and He wants us to cast all our cares on Him. In other words, to rest in Him and in His Word (Psalm 37:7).
Like He did for Job, God may restore what we lost in this life, or He may wait until eternity to do that. But one day, the temporary will pass away. No more hard times. No more sadness. No more pain. But until then, we can contribute to making the hard times better. Both in this life and the next, Psalm 16:11 says in God’s presence, there is joy, fullness of joy. What a beautiful promise!
I love this translation of a verse I mentioned earlier, Philippians 4:13 (MSG): “Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.”
Because if we have Jesus, we have everything.
What has helped to make hard times better for you?