There have been times in my life when I think, yeah, things are going ok. Everything’s in place. Life seems to be progressing well. I’m happy. Then life throws me a curved ball and suddenly I’m completely floored by my problems. How to cope when life seems to fall to pieces?
A friend of mine said to me today that she had observed that some people when they experience suffering they throw it all back at God, question why He has caused them such pain and even end up losing their faith.
She said about a recent trauma that she had been through that, instead of blaming God and falling out of faith, they were thankful for Him and the fact that they could lean on Him through their hard times.
The way we choose to cope with the problems we experience in life is important.
And, yes, I believe that it is a choice.
We choose to close in on God, depend on Him more for the strength we need to get through and seek to trust in the times when we don’t understand.
This is faith.
In this series Joy Despite… we have been exploring what it means to remain with a sense of joy in the midst of suffering. How, even when we have lots of problems, we can still experience that sense of peace from knowing Father God and the wonders of His grace.
However, we have examined how it is important that we are authentic in this. By maintaining this sense of joy we are not saying that we all wear “happy masks” and pretend that life is hunky dory even when things around us are falling apart.
The emotions we feel when we go through hard times such as grief, sorrow and distress are all natural human emotions that God gave us as a means of coping with our difficulties, expressing our loss and journeying towards healing.
However, Paul tells us that even in the midst of our suffering we are to act in such a way that we are a credit to the Gospel.
Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; in no way alarmed by your opponents—which is a sign of destruction for them, but of salvation for you, and that too, from God. For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, experiencing the same conflict which you saw in me, and now hear to be in me.
So, how to cope with the big problems we all face from time to time without completely falling apart and actually conduct ourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel as well?
Well, from my own experience I know that there are areas in this that I have managed to honour God and areas that I have failed.
This was to such a severity that I had a breakdown. There were times when I got very angry and it wasn’t pretty.
I lost it with my husband many times. What had happened to us was not his fault, but the anger I felt inside ended up landing at his door, unfairly. He was suffering too and the last thing he needed was to face the rubbish I was throwing at him too.
In this I was not acting in a way worthy of the gospel. My emotional release was destructive to our family. I was allowing the emotions I was feeling to cause me to fall into sin.
Yet, I never lost my faith. I never doubted my God.
I wondered why things were happening in the way they were to us. I got upset with God at times. But I knew even in the midst of the darkness that He was always there. Even when His presence seemed like a long way off.
How to cope with our problems in a manner worthy of the gospel?
Stay close to God.
Press in to the Lord.
Seek His Spirit.
Pray for the peace of Jesus.
Close the door to sin – don’t use your suffering as an excuse to lead you down a path of destructiveness.
Express the emotions God has gifted you with to release your pain and journey towards the healing power of freedom that God has planned for your future.
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Photo credit - Bert van ‘t Hul via Stock.xchng