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How to Handle Hard Times

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How do you feel when things don’t go your way or problems arise that are too big to fix?  If you are like me, it is easy to be disappointed, discouraged, or even upset.  How do you deal with such feelings?  If you can’t change the circumstance how can you hang on until things get better?  Consider these words from someone who was rejected by his people and endured the agonies of war, only to see his city be destroyed.

Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed,
Because His compassions fail not.
They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“Therefore I hope in Him!” (Lamentations 3:22-24)

These are the words of Jeremiah the prophet.  His heart broke when Jerusalem went up in flames, but he remembered the Lord.  He realized that God’s mercies kept him from the flames.  In the midst of a terrible time with nowhere else to turn, Jeremiah turned to the Lord.  Thinking about how big the Almighty is helped him look past the pain and say “Great is Your faithfulness”.

But how was God faithful if He didn’t stop the problems?  Jeremiah could look back over his life and see in every difficulty, the Lord was with him.  God had faithfully kept him alive, even when enemies tried to kill Jeremiah.  Yes, he had pain and problems, but he knew the Lord had a purpose and had never left him alone.  So Jeremiah could say, “Therefore I hope in Him!”  Where is your hope? And what can help you have hope?

I had a 2 year assignment in the Navy that I didn’t want.  Because I didn’t want it, I let myself be miserable for 2 years.  God even tried to help me by providing a good Christian friend to be ray of sunshine at work.  I never lost my faith, I just didn’t use it.  As a result, I missed out on 2 years of blessings by focusing on my problem instead of thinking about God’s goodness.  Five months after the assignment was over, I met the wonderful woman who would become my wife. 

Years later, I realized, if I had gotten the job I wanted, we would have never met.  For 2 years, God was getting us both in position for just the right time to bring us together.  He was faithful even when I was downcast and discouraged.  If only I had known, I could have actually had joy in a place I didn’t want to be.  I could have blessed the people around me.  I should have trusted the Lord who had taken care of me time and time again.

Friends, learn from my mistake.  Now I know, when things don’t go the way I want, I should look at the big picture.  Specifically, looking back and giving thanks for previous blessings.  I think about how the Lord has been working in ways I could not know at the time to bring about something good.  Remembering that God is faithful can help you appreciate past blessings and look forward to future ones so that problems don’t make you bitter.

Why not take a few minutes and look back over your life?  Has the Lord used any unpleasant circumstance or occurrence to bring about a blessing or greater good in your life?  If you discover a blessing, please share it in a comment and encourage someone else.

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