I’ve been working on this post for a couple of weeks now, trying to get all my thoughts collected, and find the time to put them down here in a manner that makes sense. During that time, this topic or parallel ones have come up quite a bit, and seem to be confirming that it’s something I’m supposed to write about here on the blog. It’s a topic that anyone can relate to, because though difficulty come in all shapes and sizes, it’s something that we all experience. On average, most of us try hard to protect ourselves from situations that can be potentially difficult or hurtful; because honestly, who likes difficulty?? We sometimes hear things such as “A calm sea never made a skilled sailor” and may agree, but we continue to go about our lives trying to control and organize them in a way that we have minimal exposure to hurt and difficulty. I personally have found that no matter how hard I try though, difficulty still manages to worm its way into my life. Certainly I’m not the only one who can attest to this fact?
When difficulty comes, the easiest thing in the world is to develop a negative, bad attitude. While I receive comments about the good attitude I’m able to keep even among adversity (and generally speaking that is true) it’s still something I struggle with sometimes, because unfortunately I have yet to reach that pinnacle of perfection in controlling all of my thoughts, all of the time, and never letting anything slip.
Our mindset during difficulty vastly impacts the decisions we make in the midst of it, and even the outcomes afterwards. While difficulty is hard, the good news is, oftentimes there is a way we can benefit from it. It all seems to come back to mindset and attitude on our part. I have personally seen the importance of keeping a healthy perspective among difficulty and pain, so that I don’t prevent myself from benefiting in the long term from the lessons that can be gained. Our thoughts and attitude can hinder us, or help us move ahead in life; we can look at difficulty as a burden to bear, or, as an opportunity for growth in character, relationships, and strengthened trust in God.
Career and life plans will fall through, people will disappoint, sickness will surprise us, and yes sometimes our hearts may feel as though they are being torn apart. All of these plus many more situations will often be accompanied by “why” questions. Which we may or may not get the answers to. I’d like to suggest that while that is the natural question to ask, maybe there are better ones we could ask that would be more beneficial. What if, we were to ask: “what” questions instead of “why” questions?
What can I learn from this?
What can I do to make this the best possible situation?
What is the positive light to this?
What (if anything) could I have done differently to prevent this?
We can either grow stronger and wiser from our difficulties, overcoming them as victors through Jesus or allow trouble to make us grow bitter, hard, and develop an attitude of defeat. The choice is ours, and ours alone.
I’ve recently started looking at it this way:
We’ve all heard the quote “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” Lemon’s aren’t a nasty or bad fruit, they have many health benefits and can actually be enjoyable if you know how to take them. Maybe difficulty and trials are the same way. Not to be dreaded and avoided at all costs, but just requiring more effort to make sweet, while filled with many potential benefits (lessons) if you approach them the right way.
It seems that one of the keys to emerging from difficulty victorious, is giving thanks in it. Look for the bad and negative in any situation and you will most definitely find it, but it goes the other way as well; if you look for the good and positive to GIVE THANKS for, you will find it.
1 Thessalonians 5 says to “Rejoice always! Pray constantly. Give thanks in everything, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
After my family’s home was destroyed by a tornado, we were going through what wreckage remained, when I came across a framed decoration that used to hang on our wall and had somehow survived. I carried it to my mom and turned it around for her to see. It said: “In Everything Give Thanks”. Wow! Talk about a clear message. To have lost 98% of your belongings and that message to be one of the 2% to survive. It was a powerful reminder to rejoice in what could have been a devastating circumstance. Though it has certainly been in better condition, that picture hangs on the wall in our current home, along with a wrought iron cross that also survived the tornado.
It can be incredibly difficult to do: giving thanks amidst adversity or difficulty. But like many other things, its a habit. The more you do it, the easier it becomes.
For anyone who may be going through a difficult time, I’d like to encourage you to keep going. Fight to give no room in your heart and mind over to mistrust in God, bitterness towards others, or discouragement. Don’t dwell on the negatives, there is a positive light to everything, we need only have the eyes and desire to see it. Look for the good and give thanks! If you are God’s child, He has you in the very palm of His hand and He’s got the circumstances and details under control. We encounter many seasons of life, each holding varying degrees of calm or trouble and lessons to be learned. The thing about seasons is they never last forever. If we can learn to embrace each season of life, even the difficult ones, we will be better off for it.