What can we do when life sucks: when life is far from how we want it, when we just can’t take one more thing? We need a new way to focus our attention. What I am going to suggest may take a lot of effort. You may have to recommit to it several times throughout the day whenever your troubles pop back into your primary focus. I believe these 3 virtues can help you through tough times.
The 3 virtues are (in this order of application)
~ Faith– complete confidence in God and His will for the best outcome in your life (even if you can’t understand it right now.)
~ Compassion– sympathetic awareness of other’s distress along with a desire to alleviate it.
~ Kindness– being friendly, helpful, and well meaning.
Ground Yourself in God
(its time to start walking out your faith)
Let’s start with our foundation. We need to be grounded in Faith. Without faith that God’s got our back and looking out for our best—without that, it is difficult to keep our heads up and face another day.
Do you question how & when things will change?
Do you even sometimes wonder IF things can change in your situation, or at least, in your heart and thoughts?
Well let’s start with Luke 18:27 “He replied ‘what is impossible for people is possible with God”
Do you need your situation to change for the better?
Do you need healing, peace, or patience to get through a situation?
Do you need resources that you alone cannot find?
Put the situation in God’s hands. That is what David did in Psalm 55:
Vs 1-2 Listen to my prayer, O God. Do not ignore my cry for help! Please listen and answer me, for I am overwhelmed by my troubles.
VS 5 Fear and trembling overwhelm me, and I can’t stop shaking
Vs 11 everything is falling apart
Vs 16 But I will call on God and the Lord will rescue me
Vs 17 Morning, noon, and night I cry out in my distress, and the Lord hears my voice
Vs 22 Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you. He will never let the righteous be shaken.
So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you (1 Peter 5:6-7). “ For I know the plans I have for you”, says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 28:11). For we walk be faith and not by sight. (2 Corinthians 5:7).
Hold onto faith that God hears your cries and God wants the best for you over all. For after all Hebrews 13:14 says “For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come. Where (in Revelation 21:4) “He will wipe every tear from their eyes and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain.”
When we know and truly believe that God is in control and looking out for us, then we can turn our attention towards other people is other situations.
You Are NOT Alone
(look around you and have compassion for others)
There are people everywhere who are hurting and needy. You need look no further than your own family members who might be struggling, people at work, in your neighborhood, your city, the nation, in hospitals and hospices, in war torn countries with thousands of refugees, or even women and children caught in human trafficking. The list is seemingly endless. THE WORLD NEEDS COMPASSION.
Have some compassion for others. By getting your eyes off yourself and onto others you will gain some perspective about your own situation and its difficulty. Liza Minelli said her mother, Judy Garland — the original Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz—suffered from deep depression. Every morning to get perspective on her situation she would read the obituaries and say “Boy, and I thought I had it bad!”
I am not suggesting focusing on morbid things all the time. That just leads to depression and pessimism. But having a broader outward looking perspective during troubling times is a benefit to our spirit. It produces gratitude that things could always be worse than they are for us at the current moment.
Colossians 3:12 says “since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy (compassion- in the NV) kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.” We are called to be humble and gentle despite our situation and have mercy/compassion for others showing them kindness.
We can do that because 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 says “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” We are to “bear each other’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2) But we can’t do this if we are focused on our own misery.
We have a choice. We can wallow in our sadness and misery and self-pity. We can seek sympathy for ourselves (which, by the way, will NOT change anything). Or we can spread joy through kindness.
Reach Out to Others
(start with a little kindness with those nearby)
Have you ever given a stranger a random compliment? I have. I first did this in 1990 when I went to New York City. I was 21, walking around taking in the sights. As I passed one building the doorman caught my eye. I turned around and said, “I just have to tell you…you are the best-looking doorman I have seen in this city so far.” He lit up and smiled from ear to ear as he said Thank you. I get that same reaction today if I compliment a woman coming out of a store. I may compliment her on her shirt, or her earrings, or her hair. Regardless what it is, the stranger always smiles a bit and says thank you. What is amazing is that kindness is the gift that gives back. When I see that I have made someone happy = then I feel happiness. And what do we need during our troubles= happiness.
Verses which call us to be kind include:
Ephesians 4:32…be kind to each other tenderhearted, forgiving one another….
Proverbs 11:17 Your kindness will reward you, but your cruelty will destroy you.
Galatians 6:10 Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone- especially to those in the family of faith.
1 John 3:18 Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth (of our love) by our actions.
2 Thessalonians 3:13 As for the rest of you, dear brothers and sisters, never get tired of doing good.
My challenge to you today is twofold.
First, pick someone that is having more difficulties than you are right now (someone on the verge of divorce, someone who just lost a loved one, someone homeless) pick whomever you like and then pray for them for 30 days.
Second, come up with 5 ways you can show kindness to people in your life this week.
While you are here…why don’t you take a minute and comment on who you will be praying for or list your 5 acts of kindness. We are in this together.
Until Next Time~