“The first place we lose the battle is in our own thinking. If you think it’s permanent then it’s permanent. If you think you’ve reached your limits then you have. If you think you’ll never get well then you won’t. You have to change your thinking. You need to see everything that’s holding you back. Every obstacle, every limitation is only temporary.”
Living in the Pacific Northwest you learn to expect the clouds. Here we are on June 11th and this morning it was 46 degrees and overcast. For a California native this took quite awhile to get acclimated to when we moved up here. In fact, when we first moved here I distinctly remember searching the gray sky for little patches of blue just to remind myself that it was still up there, hidden behind the clouds.
Much like searching for patches of blue sky on a dreary afternoon to help lift our spirits, how much more important is it to search for God’s light and presence when we’re going through a storm of our own. Here are a few tips that we can apply that can help us refocus our perspective:
- This particular season of your life might be a surprise to you but it’s not a surprise to Him. He wasn’t caught off guard like you may have been. I heard a wise pastor say recently that if you reach this storm and you frantically say, “God help me, God help me, God help me,” this isn’t necessarily faith but more of a panic attack. Instead if we can exercise our faith by taking a deep breath, slowing our minds down and calmly saying, “God I know that I can’t do this alone and I need your help. I don’t know how You’re going to do it but I’m looking forward to seeing what You are going to do!”
- Remember that this season will not last forever. In the whole scheme of eternity, this time of struggle is merely a breath. The enemies’ attacks are often unrelenting during this time as he will try and take you out while you’re down. Pray that God would crush the purposes of the enemy and that God’s purposes would be fulfilled as you make your way down this path. Also look for God to show up through encouraging words from strangers/friends, during your time in the Word and during prayer. Arm yourself with simple reminders like a “verse of the day” app on your phone and go to it throughout the day. Keep the conversation with God flowing.
- You are not abandoned. God is a good Father and He is with you. It may be a time of testing and you may not be able to discern His presence (the teacher is always quiet during a test) but He is always there. There may also be ministering angels sent by Him to protect and strengthen you. Continue to look up to Him and be on the lookout for those “patches of blue.” Let them be reminders that beyond the gray clouds is a majestic, bright beautiful blue sky. Even when we can’t see it, it is a constant. It is always there.
- Reach out to friends and family. Don’t just text, IM or email. This type of communication lacks the intimacy that you may need. Some studies show that electronic communication may even make you feel more isolated and disconnected. Call them on the phone and grab a beer or cup of coffee. Plan a fun night out. Break up the ordinary and surround yourself with positive people!
- Break a sweat. Lift weights, learn martial arts or some sort of combat sport (boxing, jiu-jitsu, Krav Maga, etc.), go for a run, bike ride or swim. Play basketball, do yard work or do a yoga style workout. The important thing is to find something that you enjoy and get your heart rate up. Get those endorphins flowing! This may be very tough to start but once you finish you’ll be glad you did it.
- Make a “to do” list. Fill it with “micro” goals (ex. 20 minute jog before work) and “macro” goals (ex. read one chapter in the Bible every day that week). Plan your day/week in advance and crush those goals! The list will help keep you dialed in and focused.
- Stay positive and practice positive self talk. Say to yourself, “This sucks but I know that it is not the end of my story and God will get me through it,” or “What the devil meant for evil, God will make something good from it.” (see Genesis 50:20) Also remind yourself that your spiritual enemy is a defeated enemy and that he can only try and make your life miserable for a time. With respect, you can tell him that he has no real power over you, that you belong to Jesus and that their time is short. I always like to remind them of that.
Stay in the fight, my friend.
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28