Since October I’ve been trying to keep a daily journal of things I’m grateful for. I try to list out three things in a manner that is as if I’m writing it to God. I usually begin with Thank You for_________ and then list out whatever it is that day I’m grateful for.
Today, I did something that 9 months ago I would have never guessed I’d do. I thanked God for an extremely painful and hurtful situation that I went through the beginning of this year. When I was in the midst of it, goodness I was having a hard time just seeing past my pain and a shattered idea of what my future was going to hold. At the end of summer, I reached closure and reconciliation with the person this situation involved but it wasn’t until today that I actually thanked God for putting me through it.
In the midst of a difficult situation it can be hard to see past the pain, confusion, and myriad details it involves, but, afterwards looking back often times there are lessons that we can glean from those situations. For me, I feel like God brought me through with a greater confidence and a greater conviction in who He wants me to be, and where I am going in life. I had to let go of girlish ideas to see more clearly His design for me and my life. I feel that I’m a stronger person, and more able to relate to and encourage other people who have come through/are going through similar situations. And for that I’m grateful. It’s with a bittersweetness that I look back on times that will never be again. But I wouldn’t want them back again, because I’m looking ahead to what God holds in the future for me.
I believe we can learn something from every situation we go through. Below I’ve listed out 10 lessons I personally have learned in the fire of adversity and want to pass on in the hope that it will be an encouragement to anyone currently undergoing or coming out of a hard or painful situation.
1. Take a step back. It can be easy to play a constant reel over and over again in our head of “he saids, she saids, they did, I did”. Just don’t. You will never be able to move ahead if you are perpetually stuck on all the details of what is happening or has happened. There is a point that you have to reach where you decide to channel those mental efforts ( and emotion) into a direction ahead of you.
2. Trust. God in his infinite knowledge and wisdom knows and sees our future. And for all of us who cling to Him as our hope and salvation He will always carry us though even the most difficult situation. God never promised our lives would be easy He said “… in this world you WILL have trouble. But have courage, I have overcome the world” – John 16:33.
3. Pray. Even when it hurts like all get out. Ask for His direction. Ask for Him to show you what you can learn.
4. There is always a positive that can be found even in a very negative situation. You may have to look for it harder, but it is there. Find that positive and thank God for it!
5. Listen to the Holy Spirit. I am confident that my being open to the Holy Spirit and His direction determined the difference between having a hard season, or having a hard life by making a wrong decision. I’m so glad it was just the season.
6. Confide. I think that often times we make ourselves believe that confiding to someone when we are hurt or having a rough time makes us weak. It doesn’t. I know how vulnerable it can feel, but it can really be helpful to gain a different perspective from another trusted person(s) when we are have a rough time.
7. Hindsight is 20/20. Don’t beat yourself up over mistakes you’ve made. Learn from those mistakes, and move on.
8. Its through the furnace and flames of adversity that a person’s character is either broken or strengthened. The choice is ours. We can choose to let our trials destroy us and become bitter, or empower us to be stronger warriors for God.
9. Always forgive. No matter what the situation, always forgive anyone or any group of people that have hurt you or treated in a way that was absent of love or integrity.
10. “Have courage and be kind.” Even though I’m borrowing the phrase, I think it is very applicable for this topic. Especially when the hardship we are experiencing involves people (living in a world with 7+ billion other human beings it’s very likely that people will be involved in some way) it can be difficult to remember that just because we are hurting or confused doesn’t mean that we can throw in the towel on treating other people with kindness and respect. Love shouldn’t be conditional and hinge on whether I feel like being loving or not. It takes a conscientious effort and a reliance on God giving us the strength and grace to continue being kind towards other people even when we are having a difficult time.