How can you protect yourself from the despair that often blindsides you when unexpected circumstances blow in like a hurricane?
One way is to decide in advance how you will respond.
No matter what.
I know you’ve heard them. The rejoice-when-you-go-through-trials and count-it-all-joy sermons. Usually a hard-pill to swallow in the middle of issues.
But there is a way to make rejoicing such a habit that it becomes second nature. That your habit kicks in when you need it most.
Praise is necessary! It’s a vital requirement to overcome tough times.
But it’s a choice.
Oh, you can endure tough times without a heart that knows how to rejoice. But do you really want to just get by? Do you really want to feel like you are treading water about to drown?
I didn’t think so.
Here’s my remedy. Well, actually, it’s not mine. It’s God’s.
Intentionally practice praising. Praise God in good times so that it becomes a habit. That even when times are bad, you can still find something good to praise God for. You have to find something good. Why is it so important? Because the joy of the Lord is your strength. And if you lose your joy, you’ve lost your strength.
Philippians 4:4 says, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!”
Not just when things are going well, but always.
Do it again!
Don’t misunderstand. This doesn’t mean we’re supposed to thank God for the problem…we thank God in spite of the problem.
Rejoice means to re-joy. Like a battery getting recharged. Without the charge, there is no power. Without our joy, we lose our strength. And when do you need joy the most? In the middle of a mess.
So make praise a habit now. Practice having a heart of gratitude. Like a muscle develops memory, be intentional with praise so your strength is there when you need it most.
Learn to find something to thank God for everyday.
Then when the winds of adversity blow, refuse to let your circumstances steal your gratitude. Thank him for the fact that even when you can’t see the next hour or minute, He sees the end. And ultimately He promises to cause all things to work together for your good.
Just to give you a little kick start, here’s an acronym for FAITH. It can give you ways to build your faith during times of peace in order to sustain you in times of hardship.
Fix your eyes
Take your eyes off the problem. Ask the Lord where he wants you to place your focus. Like a mother in labor finds a focal point to push past the pain of contractions, you need a focal point to push past the pain of your circumstances. What is your focal point?
So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal (2 Corinthians 4:18).
Accept his grace
In the middle of issues, problems and tragedies, you need to rely on his strength. A car that has run out gas cannot go anywhere. Likewise, without his grace, you are stuck. Recognize you’re unable to manage with your own fuel. Ask for his grace to endure and don’t let go.
It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure (Psalms 18:32).
Invite his perspective
Ask for God’s perspective on your situation. Ask him to show you how to see through the lens of what he is doing. His wisdom is supreme. He will guide you with his eye.
I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye (Psalm 32:8 KJV).
Train your lips
Train your mouth to be thankful and declare his promises. Don’t report the problem. Your words have the power of life and death. Anyone can report the present circumstances, but with your tongue, you can direct the ship of your circumstances to turn.
The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit (Proverbs 18:21).
Hide in his presence
Don’t try to manage in your own strength and wisdom. Surround yourself with things that remind you of his faithfulness. Meditate on scripture. Listen to worship music. Read your Bible. Listen for his voice. Let friends pray for you.
Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust (Psalms 91:1-2).