How much control do you have over the problems in your life? Does having a positive attitude really work? Will God help you and will He answer your prayers?
This is a four-step process that will help you overcome problems in life and stay strong emotionally and spiritually.
Our circumstances often dictate how happy we are. If work is going well, we’re happy. If our spouse is happy, we’re happy. If everyone in our family is healthy, we’re happy.
But it’s unlikely everything in life will be going well. Life is plagued by one problem after the next. Sometimes, we’re bombarded from all directions. It’s as if there’s an ambush waiting around every corner.
What happens when life turns against you? Do you get frustrated? Do you get anxious or depressed? Do you get angry with God?
Do you wonder if there’s anything you can do?
Well, there is. Here’s a 4-Step process that can help you stand strong in the face of adversity.
Step 1: Accept that you have limited control.
When trouble arises, we’re inclined to find a way to fix what is broken. Can we call someone to help us? Can we buy our way out? Can we just handle it ourselves?
Regardless of what we think or how hard we try, our control is limited. How much we can do to influence or change the outcome will vary, but sooner or later, we reach the end of our rope.
In Matthew 6:25-34, Jesus bluntly tells us that we can’t do much about our problems.
“That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are?
“Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?
“So, don’t worry about these things…These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your need.”
(Click here to read the entire passage.)
Once we accept that we can’t control the outcome, we must:
Step 2: Have the right mindset.
A lot of people try to overcome the problem with the power of positive thinking. This theory suggests we can influence the outcome of a situation by focusing on the desired result rather than the result we want to avoid. But does the power of positive thinking really work?
This article from PsychCentral suggests there’s more to having a healthy mindset than thinking positively. But while science attempts to measure the real impact of positive thinking, it is widely accepted that positive-minded people hold a distinct advantage over those who dread negative outcomes.
For Christians, this isn’t news. The Bible—which was around long before psychology—documents that the way we think directly influences our quality of life. Let’s look at a few scriptures:
“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” (Romans 12:2 - emphasis mine)
“And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” (Philippians 4:8 – emphasis mine)
These scriptures make it clear. If we’re going to stand strong in the face of adversity, we’ll need to have the right mindset.
Once we have that, we turn to the one who is really in control.
Step 3: Tell god about it.
It’s common for a child to run to mom and dad when times get tough. Whether they need a few extra dollars for something they want, have a problem, or just need a little encouragement, parents are usually the first ones in whom they confide. God wants us to do this too, and this scripture confirms it:
“Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” (Peter 5:7)
It’s interesting that this scripture tells us to give our worries and cares to God. Why? Because we rely on Him for those things the most. Many of us connect to God more in times of heartache and hardship, so God uses those opportunities to bring us closer to Him.
After you tell Him what you need...
Step 4: Wait.
This is the hardest part, but the most important. Learning to trust God is difficult because we don’t know how or when He’s going to show up. God rarely works on our time frame, but Micah 7:7 promises:
“As for me, I look to the Lord for help. I wait confidently for God to save me, and my God will certainly hear me.” (emphasis mine)
In other words, yes, God hears your prayers and He will answer you.
You’re going to face adversity in this life. Work will be stressful and money will be tight. People you care about will get sick—maybe even die. There will be times when you and your spouse don’t get along, or your kids may rebel against you. No matter what you do or how hard you try, you can’t avoid heartache and hardship.
Rather than crossing your fingers and hoping for the best, wouldn’t you like to have peace about standing in the face of adversity? Well, you can.
Psalm 112:7 tells us that “They (those who trust God) do not fear bad news; they confidently trust the Lord to take care of them.” (my words in parenthesis)
Think of the biggest obstacle or challenge in your life right now. How much can you really do about it?
Whatever it is, use it as an opportunity to let God take control.
If you do, He’ll take care of you.