Friday, December 16, 2011

Coping Through Rough Seasons

This was originally published in my column in EEW Magazine.  I wrote it earlier in the year, and thought it may still serve as a blessing to someone today.

In life, each of us will be confronted with difficult seasons. It’s inevitable. One thing we all must do is deal with those trying times in our lives in some way or another. The way we handle tribulation has the power to determine how bearable, or seemingly unbearable, that season may be.

I haven’t always been successful at coping with the stress of hard times. In fact, I found that my choice of coping mechanisms actually made me feel worse than the things I was facing at the time. Instead of going with the flow of the currents of my tough seasons, I often acted on impulse, panicked, and did things that caused me to drown in my sorrow. When I should have been using prayer and praise as ways to cope with stress, throughout the years I either turned to pornography, sex, or alcohol. Though they offered a temporary relief to my flesh, because I knew these things were wrong, my spirit became wounded; thus causing the problems I was already facing even harder to bear. In fact, I really wasn’t dealing with my tough times, but only suppressing and pacifying my feelings with sinful lusts of the flesh. At a time when I should have been drawing nigh to God, my inability to man up and deal with what the Lord was allowing to happen in my life, ultimately as a means to grow and mature me, I became caught up in my feelings and allowed my sins to separate me from Him.

I eventually came to realize that my way of coping was totally wrong, and caused more harm than good. I knew that I HAD to learn a better way. It took some time, but through my Fool-Proof Combination: Prayer, Fasting, and Studying God’s word, I learned that God wanted to give me beauty for my ashes, the oil of joy for my mourning, and the garment of praise for my spirit of heaviness.
(Isaiah 61:3) He taught me how to adopt prayer, praise, and worship as the perfect way of getting through the difficult seasons in my life. I am a witness that it works!

There’s no doubt that He will bring us out of the tough times we face, no matter the level of pain and difficulty. Although God will see us through, that does not negate the fact that we must learn how to go through His way. The way of escape is already mapped out; however, we must be in tune with God in order to allow His Holy Spirit to lead us to that place of deliverance. This can be accomplished by praying, praising, and worshipping the Lord, even in the midst of your fiercest storm.

I know sometimes it can be difficult to praise when your whole world seems to be falling apart. And I know that sometimes the pain can be so intense that all you want is a quick relief. But instead of turning to things that have no lasting power, I dare you to tap into the One that has all power. Praise invites God into your situation, and anytime God is present things are guaranteed to change. Consider Paul and Silas when they had been unjustly arrested, bound in chains, and thrown in jail.
(Acts16:23-26) What did they do? They prayed, and sang praises to God. They invited God into their situation, and He showed up. He caused every chain to be loosed, and they were made free. How much more does God want to do the same thing for you?

There is no better formula for coping with the trials of life than that of prayer, praise and worship. When you go into your secret place and commune with God, He will come and sit smack dab in the middle of your raging sea and command peace. Try it, you’ll see!

~May you live in His love.~

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