You aim to triumph over trials.
But, everywhere you turn, you find heartache. If that is not enough, you encounter negativity. Additionally, conflict highlights every conversation you overhear.
Worse yet, you are privately fighting your own dark battles. You stuff them to get your work done. Still they bubble up to the surface.. Tears, unwanted anger, and high blood pressure readings all remind you that you can only ignore it so long.
It’s oppressive right? You claw your way through the darkness trying to reach for hope. You look for light. However, it all remains dark. Perhaps, you’re like me and verbally command the despair to leave. But it takes all the energy you can muster. Still, the circumstances still remain the same.
I get it. This has been my life, all my life, and it is my life now. No, I am not whining. Nor am I seeking pity. No martyr syndrome here. I am stating a fact.
Life is hard, my friend. And, it doesn’t get any easier. Hardship is a change shifter. It takes on new and varied forms as we age.
Two Choices When Suffering
My life began with heartache, unfair circumstances, and trials have been my regular companion. Over time, I understood I had two choices.
- Marinate in misery
- Embrace hardship as a gift to build strength.
To be honest, I tried the first option. The results were stinky. Consider this metaphor:
Marinating in misery is like bathing in a cesspool. You exit the pool smelling terrible. Washing with stink makes you stink all the more.
Do you really want to wash with a stink repelling everyone around you? Or would you rather to wash in all things lovely? What if you bathe with something that draws people to you? They ask questions about the source of that amazing fragrance?
“But I want to bathe in a cesspool,” said no one ever.
A Powerful Paradigm Shift
To wash in all things lovely, requires a paradigm shift. It is a different mindset in the heart of battle.
It is a subtle but powerful shift.
Move away from this dead end thought process:
Trials are destructive and define us.
Remember, this is like washing in the cesspool.
And try this instead:
Trials are instructive and refine us.
A Lovely Metaphor
Ah, yes! Think about it. As a soap maker, I specialize in using color, swirls, and spellbinding fragrance for the ultimate act of self -indulgence. This contrasting metaphor is powerful. Seeing trials as instructive and refining is like washing with a luxury bar of Bright Hope Soap.
Yes, the kind that will have you linger long in the shower until your family beats on the door complaining. Embracing anguish as a gift will draw people toward you instead of repelling them. Furthermore, consider this passage:
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Philippians 4:8
Easier said than done, right? I understand. It is an abstract concept making practical application elusive.
Tragedy and hardship struck a gut wrenching blow in my life this past year. Three beloved family members passed away.
To build more strength, I lost a cherished relationship with someone precious to me. Keeping the relationship meant covering up wrongful illegal behavior that must be addressed with the healing power of the Gospel.
Unfortunately, Satan twists the gift of healing offered to someone oppressed by shame into distortion of revenge and punishment. The serpent did this in the garden whispering to Eve that God meant harm instead of good. It’s a tale as old as time. Consequently, we can’t change how others interpret our honest intentions. Letting go becomes the only option.
Creating an Authentic, Humble, and Powerful You
Indeed, I know the power of pain all too well. As a seasoned sufferer, I learned anguish is a tool to sculpt us into well conditioned soldiers. Additionally, as trained/fit warriors, we advance the gospel in a world growing darker by the moment . We can more effectively comfort others when we have felt that comfort and experienced hope firsthand.
Hannah Williamson said it beautifully:
If you are called to mend to the brokenhearted, you are going to wrestle with a broken heart.
If you are called to heal God’s little ones, you are going to experience your own share of trauma.
If you are called to empower, your self-esteem will be attacked- your successes hard fought.
Your calling will come with spiritual warfare and a sifting – BOTH are necessary for your mantle to be authentic, humble and powerful.
Your crushing won’t be easy because your assignment is not easy – and you can’t minister POWERFULLY what you haven’t walked out. Read that sentence again.
Two Strategies to Triumph Over Trials
How do you put this abstract concept into practice? After all, you can’t just magically shift from trials are destructive to trials are instructive. This is especially true when you are in anguish.
Strategy one: Use the right tool to Triumph Over Trials
Use your sword in war. Also, master the art using of it in peace time. Imagine entering war with a weapon you have never used. No, I am certainly not a literal sword. Instead, use your spiritual sword as defined in Ephesians 6:17. That is, the word of God.
“I don’t need a weapon in battle,”said no person ever.
Showing up for war without a weapon results in instant death. Yet, so many people show up in life without their greatest weapon ever. This sword surpasses the power of all legendary swords. Just how powerful is it?
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Hebrews 4:12
It is not even stuck in a stone, reserved for a special warrior to pull out. No, it is readily available.
Still, research shows that 32 percent of churchgoers read their bible daily.
And shockingly, statistics reveal 31 percent of Americans never attend a church or synagogue. Few people are using harnessing the power of this weapon.
Strategy Two: Gratitude Helps You Triumph over Trials
Intentionally highlight things for which you are thankful. Since we are approaching Thanksgiving, this is all the more apropos. Thanksgiving is not reserved for eating turkey and gathering with family. Conversely, it is something to be celebrated every day. Philippians 4:4
In summary, your pain is not pointless. It has a purpose. You may not see it right now. But each time you encounter a trial it becomes a building block strengthening you for the next step.
Oh and whatever you do, don’t forget your sword, the word of God. Don’t leave your weapon behind while in war for sure!