“Fake it til you make it.” Cliché of all clichés, right? We’ve all heard it, maybe even said it. I think all of us fall into one camp or another; we either believe this to be possible or we don’t. For me, I think I have wavered back and forth on whether or not I believe this to be true.
Until recently. The past three months have been some of the hardest months of my life. Praise God, there is a shift occurring. But I am still living in the effects of this difficult season. This season has been one of almost complete devastation. I have lost many of my possessions in the recent flooding in Baton Rouge. If you’ve never been through a natural disaster, it is unlike any other event. There is a complete lack of control. There was no controlling when and if the Baton Rouge flood would occur. There was no controlling what was ruined. And there was no controlling if and how restoration would happen.
This season has been full of process in both the natural and spiritual realms. God is a loving Father who is very much concerned with every situation. But He is always most concerned with our hearts in those situations. He cares not only about the outcome of events, but about who we are becoming.
This process has never been more real to me than it has been during these past several months. I tend to think of myself as a realist. I am, for the most part, able to look at a trial in my life and weigh out both sides of it. I can look at several outcomes and all of the possible effects of those outcomes.
When circumstances don’t play out the way we desire, there is a temptation to feel hopeless and believe that God won’t come through. There is a temptation to become offended by Him.
Some changes in perspective have begun to set into my belief system during this last bout with hardship that have immensely kept my heart from offense.
Cultivate a grateful heart.
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,…” James 1:2
This verse has had to grow on me. I’m not an ungrateful person, but I can easily become caught up in the hard that is going on in my life. I can focus on that at the expense of seeing all of the good around me. I have my health, my relationship with Christ, my friends, my church and so many other blessings. This verse doesn’t necessarily tell us to be grateful for the hard, but to be grateful in the midst of it. I’m learning that regardless of how difficult life can be, God is good and He is good to me. He is good to us.
Speak truth to your circumstances.
In this current season, I have been extremely intentional about speaking God’s Word and declaring His promises over my situation. It’s been a joy to see how God has worked through my words. My circumstances have not disappeared overnight nor have I stopped feeling pain. But I have seen His hand clearer than I’ve ever seen it before. The more I speak His truth, the more it becomes ingrained in my thinking, and the more my emotions take root in it.
Make decisions according to truth.
“You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works.” James 2:22
Do what the Word says. That is most definitely easier said than done. I have taken to heart many of Jesus’ commands over the past months when I could have simply isolated myself and sunk into the deepest pity party. I have loved on the hurting, those like myself. A sweet friend’s husband is fighting cancer. I have spent many a night at their house babysitting or cleaning. I helped out with flood relief. I don’t have much to offer, but I have time. I have effort. I have encouraging words. I have prayers that speak life and hope into the lives of those around me. You have all of those as well.
My church wholeheartedly believes in meeting the needs of others knowing that God will attend to our needs. I’ve run with this. Receiving and blessing have come my way, but I have been far more blessed by giving than receiving.
View life with an eternal perspective.
Although we know that everything in this world is temporary, we still seem to get attached to our stuff and positions and circumstances. They bring us pleasure, and that’s not a bad thing. Every good and perfect gift comes from God. But we are to hold fast to the fact that those things will not last forever. They don’t go with us into eternity; they were never intended to. Souls are what matter. Souls live on. If I lose possessions, I can grieve. It’s OK. My prayer is to enjoy the physical blessings that God gives me, but not let them become chained to my heart and emotions.
In summary, here are the things I’m reminded of even when my circumstances threaten to steal my joy:
Our God is good beyond measure.
God fills our lives with much to be thankful for.
God’s presence empowers us to persevere through various trials.
God’s faithfulness allows us to focus on the eternal.
What are some ways you’ve learned to deal with not becoming offended by God in strenuous seasons? If you find yourself in such a season, I’d love to pray for you!