Helping women live victorious lives in Christ

Archive for December, 2018

Responding to Trials

Trials, difficulties, struggles, challenges.  They all happen to each of us throughout life.  These situations come in all shapes, sizes, and flavors:  job loss, loss of a loved one, divorce, or a health challenge.  As Christians, we should not be surprised when they happen (although they do sometimes catch us off guard).  Scripture reminds us that we should not be surprised when challenges come in our lives: “Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you– 1 Peter 4:12, NLT. Whatever the situation, we have a choice as to how we react…we can try to embrace the challenge and push through it, or we can resist it and possibly become bitter and angry because this thing has happened to us.  The path we travel on during our situation is really up to us.  And for Christians, as we push through our situation, we do not do it alone.

In my own experiences, my trials have eventually turned out for my good.  Note I said “eventually”!  The good from my situations was not instantaneous, but was revealed over the course of time.  And as a result of my challenges, I am a better person, a stronger person, a more compassionate person, a more grateful person.   So, as we are facing difficulties, what can we do to get through them, to the point where we can see the good, and can experience the transformation that God wants to make in us?

Choose our perspective

How do we view this negative experience?  In our mind, is it the end of the world, or is it an opportunity for a new beginning?  James, the brother of Jesus, reminds us of this: “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” (James 1:2-4, NLT)  This trial is an opportunity for our endurance to grow!  Something good will come out of this!  We choose to look at this situation from that perspective.

Choose to trust God

As we experience our trials, we can choose go to the Word of God to bolster our faith.  When we read passages about the heroes of faith (Moses, Mary, Paul, and Joshua are just a few examples), we can see how God worked in their lives, and we are reminded that He can also work in ours (AMEN!)  We can also look back on my own life and remind myself of what God has already done for me (if we were to really count our blessings, we would lose count!)  As we read Scripture and look back at past blessings, we are learning to trust God more and more in what’s happening right now.  If He did it before, for me as well as for others, can He not do it again?

Choose to be patient with ourselves

We should remember that as we experience trials, our change may not be instantaneous (in fact, most times, it’s not).  There may be days when we feel we’ve make one step forward, and the next day we get knocked two steps backwards.  That’s ok.  We should be patient with ourselves as we trust and believe that we are being transformed by God (and that transformation happens by the renewing of our minds…see Romans 12:2).  So, be patient with the process…it is a process. We choose to be patient and to take each day as it comes, believing by faith that transformation is happening (even if we cannot see or feel it).

As we press through trials, we have choices!  We can choose to be bitter or better, we can choose to trust God, and we can choose to take things one step at a time.  It’s up to us.  Make a decision to want to be better as a result of what has happened to you. And watch what God does in you and through you.  The lyrics of this song by James Bignon remind us of this:

“On the other side of through
There’s a blessing waiting for you
Hold fast
Hold fast
Your troubles will not last
There’s a blessing
There’s a blessing
On the other side of through”

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Preparing to Survive the Holidays

As I write this blog, we are six days before Christmas.  This holiday season (starting with Thanksgiving) and anticipating the season has been difficult, as this is the first season without my mother, who passed away on January 6 of this year.  As the fall approached and we drew closer to the holidays, I began to dread figuring out what to do.  In particular, I wasn’t sure what to do about New Year Eve and New Years’ Day, since it was on New Years’ Eve that my mother took ill, and it was on New Years’ Day that I was trying to travel home to be with the family (the drama of trying to get a last minute flight on a holiday was tough).

As the season approached, I decided that I would not put pressure on myself to make solid plans, but would just try to let things unfold. A few weeks before Thanksgiving, I decided to go home for that holiday, and my daddy, grandmother (my mother’s mother) and I would spend the day at my cousin’s house.  The memories of the previous Thanksgiving were sometimes hard to bear, as my mother was the Thanksgiving hostess last year. She insisted on having a big family dinner, since earlier that year, we had lost her sister and her cousin, and there were 2 sets of children who didn’t have their mother for the holiday.

Plans for the day began to unfold almost naturally. We spent the afternoon having dinner with family and friends, and spent the evening watching football.  It was a sigh of relief at the end of that day to know that we’d made it through one holiday.

As Christmas now approaches, the plans I desired to have (my daddy coming to visit me) did not materialize, so I am headed back home for Christmas.  The only thing I knew about Christmas was that I wasn’t up for hosting a big dinner at my parents’ house.  Thankfully, my daddy and I have received a few invitations to dinner on Christmas Day, so we will have (hopefully) a leisurely day with people who are aware of our loss and want to support us.

The holiday season is not over, but there are a few things I’ve learned so far:

Be flexible

Try not to be so rigid in your plans (or lack of plans). Be open to how things may unfold and just take each day as it comes.  Let things flow naturally.

Don’t put pressure on yourself

Our emotions are all over the place during this season.  Don’t put undue pressure on yourself to be in a celebratory mood like most people are (or seem to be).  If you don’t feel like decorating the house, skip it.  If you’re not up for a holiday party, skip it. It’s ok.

Accept help from others

We don’t have to prove to anyone that we are strong enough to handle this first holiday season.  If someone offers to help you with something, and you know you could really use it, accept the help with gratitude.  Allow others to minister to you to help you through your grief or difficulty.

Take some extra time for yourself

Try to do something special for yourself for a pick me up…get your nails done, schedule a massage, read an inspirational book, or take a walk.  Do something to care for yourself, to remind yourself that you are valuable and worthy.

Ask God for help and guidance

Pray, pray, pray! It’s ok to cry out to God because He knows and understands exactly what you’re going through.  And, be intentional about reading the Word of God. In particular, the book of Psalms provides us many words of comfort as we struggle, just as many of the Psalm writers struggled.

Take the season one day at a time

Some days may be good, and others may be difficult.  However each day unfolds, just be in those moments.  If the day isn’t good, hold out hope that the next day is a new one with new possibilities.  When the good days come, enjoy them and be thankful for them.

 

I pray this helps someone reading this who is walking through a similar season as I am.  I will write a follow up to share with you how Christmas and New Years’ Day turned out. J Be blessed.