Facing the Storms of Life

Monday, August 22, 2011

Sometimes life becomes difficult and other times its smooth sailing. Well, I have recently found myself in the midst of some pretty crazy storms!

All in about a one-month time period the following (and some I just won’t mention) have happened to come upon my family and me.

· My dad was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer

· My grandmother (my dad’s mom) passed away

· One of my mentors and dear friends passed away

· One of my good friends wife was diagnosed with incurable cancer

· My oldest daughter moved two hours away to start college

· My middle daughter started 8th grade in a new school

· My youngest daughter started Kindergarten

· An old back injury raised its ugly head and may require surgery to repair

· My wife’s grandmother fell breaking a her hip and wrist which required surgery

I’m not writing about this to have my own pity-party or to make you will feel sorry for me. Everyone has difficult days and I realize many people have much more going on in their lives than I do. I’m also not writing because I have it all figured out. I don’t.

I writing because I thought it might help someone else who is going through a difficult time. I’ve seen far too many friends drop off the deep end during a mid-life crisis or over some tough season of life. I don’t want to be one of those guys. So, here are some things I’m doing to work through the junk that is going on in my life.

1. Stop – realize what is going on.

It’s important to stay positive in life but there are times when we should stop and realize what we are facing just aren’t normal. One of the first steps to finding your way out of a wilderness is to stop and take account of the situation. Then you can determine a marker and set a direction for moving forward. It’s one thing to face one difficult situation in life but it’s completely different to face several all at once.

2. Talk to someone

I have to admit this isn’t easy for most men. I don’t necessarily like it. Talking with a godly person helps us be accountable to someone else and we are more likely to be honest with ourselves. I actually recommend finding two or three people that you can lean on during difficult seasons. Express what you are going through. Allow them to speak into the situation and to cover you in prayer. And, just so you know – I’m assuming you are already communicating these things with your spouse. Also, I always recommend that men find godly men to share with and women find godly women.

3. Pray and journal

Prayer is vital to our growth and walk with Christ. This is important in good and bad times. Journaling is simply another way for me to express my feelings in writing and seems to help me think more clearly about what is actually taking place. I write out my thoughts, create a prayer list, and sometimes write out things that I’m thankful for. This process can also help build your faith as you see God answer prayers and carry you through those difficult times.

4. Worship

I like to begin my day with worship. This helps me focus on God’s greatness, grace, mercy, and love. I usually have several worship songs on my iPhone that I love to listen to in the morning. Worship is the opposite of worry. I read recently that someone said, “worrying is temporary atheism.” I think we often worry because we have forgotten to worship.

5. Take one day at a time

This one kind of speaks for itself. I love to plan and cast vision. But when going through difficult times I have found it best to focus on the needs at hand for that day and trusting God with the rest.

6. You can’t walk it alone

As believers we were never meant to walk through life alone. We need each other. It’s biblical to help out others and it’s biblical to allow others to encourage, pray, and help you out when the time comes. If you aren’t part of a solid church family then you are missing out and I honestly feel sorry for you.

7. Exercise

Taking a walk, going on a bike ride, or jogging can seriously help clear your head and release a lot of tension. Unfortunately, difficult times often cause us to withdraw and avoid healthy activity. Do everything you can find ways to exercise.

8. Pick a verse

God’s word is powerful and life changing. It encourages, teaches, and guides us. I have found it helpful over the years to find a verse or two that I can focus on when facing challenges. A few weeks ago, God led me to the following:

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. I Thessalonians 5:16-18

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9

The fact is storms will come. God never promised us an easy, carefree life. How we handle the storms is critical. Sometimes it’s the storms that actually make us stronger and help to develop a closer walk with Christ, family, and friends.

So, how do you deal with the storms of life?


M Gainer said...

Thanks, Joe, for sharing. Your plan of action during difficult times is right on. Those points have been important to me too. I keep Jeremiah 29:11 foremost in my mind as well as the first one you quoted. "All" circumstances covers everything that comes to our lives. Being thankful for all is a significant step in walking through hard times. Seeing each as a part of our Father's plan is helpful in trusting Him to do what's best, especially when we can't understand. Knowing our Father is in control helps anchor me. Praying for you...