63. How to Stay Positive in Difficulty

by Jun 3, 20242024

Difficulty, tragedy, and adversity can all make us feel as though we’re drowning. Depending on the severity of the challenge, we can figuratively feel as though we’ve been kicked in the stomach, or literally feel nauseous. I know, I’ve been there. At times, negative circumstances can accumulate so much, we feel like giving up or doing something completely out of character. We can even become so discouraged we are paralyzed from being able to attend to our most basic needs or responsibilities.

I feel it’s important to lay the cards on the table. We have all faced, or will face, our share of hardships. I know of no one who has escaped. Marriage trouble, wayward kids, health issues, business struggles, family drama, depression, anxiety. It seems everyone gets a taste of at least some of these, if not each one. No one escapes. Not the most self-centered and immoral nor the most sincere and faith filled. It is a mark of humanity.

No solution is forthcoming that will immediately lift you out of feelings such as what I’ve just described. What I will offer, however, is help for moving through the trouble you are encountering. To begin with, it’s important to acknowledge that all of us will experience a measure of trouble and there is no avoiding it. Such is the life we have all been given.

Our Life Is Not Our Own

God is not only the Creator, but as our Creator, He knows us. He has made our world in His wisdom and by His own design. He is all-knowing and His plan – including the parts that allow for heartache – is not for us to determine. They are part of His plan, His design, and with our own limited knowledge and wisdom, we don’t get to call the shots. That’s the raw truth, as plain and simple – perhaps even harsh – as it might sound.

But with this hard truth, we also have His precious promises. Jeremiah 29:11 affirms that His plans are not to harm us, but rather to prosper us and give us hope and a future. So, yes, there will be much we cannot and do not understand about what we experience. But in those experiences, we can still trust the One Who is gracious, merciful, good to all, abounds in steadfast love and extends mercy over all He has made (Psalm 145:8-9, personal translation).

As we recognize our role in creation, we also recognize our responsibility to meet each circumstance with humility and acceptance. As we work our way through the disappointments we face over a lifetime, it is our role to honor God and see Him as the Sovereign God He is. It’s OK to struggle, but we can land on our feet as we understand our place in the universe and choose to honor the One who has made us.

Rights or Privileges?

It’s always helpful for me to remind myself that I don’t earn my existence. I didn’t create myself, and therefore, I have no right to insist that my life should be a certain way. I wasn’t the one who designed my body, who gave myself air to breathe, eyes that see, a heart that beats, and legs that walk. All of us have been given much more than we deserve. And so, when things get hard, the best way for us to not get swallowed by self-pity or discouragement is to acknowledge that we are not God. God is God and He has every right to govern the details of our life.

It is apparent to me that the highest form of praise we can give to God is to praise Him in the midst of our difficulties. I Thessalonians 5:18 teaches us to “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (NIV). I’ve seen it lived out so well in the life of my dear friend, Joni Eareckson Tada. And I’ve watched how her example has made a difference in and for multitudes of people all over the world.

The Bible has promised, and Jesus has confirmed, that there is a heaven awaiting those of us that put our trust in Him. In that place, there will be no more sorrow and no more suffering, for we will be with our Savior for all eternity. When that day comes, the trials of this life will seem as nothing compared to the joy we will experience. That’s our hope, and that’s how to stay positive in difficulty.