STAYING POSITIVE IN CHALLENGING TIMES
1. WE ARE LIVING IN CHALLENGING TIMES
- We are certainly living in challenging and uncertain times.
- Someone recently wrote to me and asked me why we can't go back to the way things were in the world, 30 to 50 years ago, when there was law-and-order, fear of God, justice, morals, respect, and all the things which we grew up with as 'normal'.
- Although sometimes when we look back, it may appear that things were more stable, more predictable and more manageable, every part of history has had to deal with its own challenges and uncertainties.
- My grandparents lived through two world wars and a pandemic called the Spanish Flu. Millions of people died, in fact 50 million people died from the Spanish flu and 115 million died between the two world wars - and we think it's rough now.
- Our times have their own unique challenges. As we face the challenges of our times, we need to recognise the difficulties, but at the same time we need to stand strong in the Lord and in the knowledge that He will bring us through it. One day, others will look back at us and be amazed that we faced these things and overcame them.
- If previous generations could live through their challenges, with God's help, then with His help, we can live through our challenges and come out the other side thriving.
2. STAYING POSITIVE IS VITALLY IMPORTANT
- As with everything in life, it involves choices.
- We can choose to see the positive and believe for the best, or we can throw in the towel, give up, and give in to hopelessness and despair.
- When we choose to stay positive it changes our mindset in the situation.
- A positive mindset affects everything in our lives, including our health and wellbeing.
- Staying positive enhances all areas of life, including productivity, creativity and problem solving. It lower levels of distress and can lead to a longer lifespan.
- When you focus on the positive you naturally focus less on the negative.
- Staying positive is about anticipating better outcomes instead of expecting unfavourable outcomes.
- As we stay positive, we will be able to see the 'way of escape' that God promises to provide when we go through difficulty and temptation.
- 1 Corinthians 10:13 'No temptation [regardless of its source] has overtaken or enticed you that is not common to human experience [nor is any temptation unusual or beyond human resistance]; but God is faithful [to His Word - He is compassionate and trustworthy], and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability [to resist], but along with the temptation He [has in the past and is now and] will [always] provide the way out (a way of escape) as well, so that you will be able to endure it [without yielding, and will overcome temptation with joy].'
- Perhaps you have been tempted to get discouraged and to become negative, but you don't need to yield to it, because the Lord will provide a 'way of escape' so that in the end you can overcome with joy in your heart.
- You can do this! You can hold on to your hope and remain positive, because it will be worth it in the end.
3. HOW TO STAY POSITIVE
A. FOCUS ON THE TRUTH OF GOD'S WORD AND NOT THE PREVAILING INFORMATION.
- In challenging times, we need to be able to differentiate between truth and information.
- Information will always be unreliable and changeable, and the truth will always be reliable and certain.
- Years ago, when I was in the military, I discovered that rumours had a powerful influence on the moral and psyche of the troops that I was part of. Every day there would be a different 'story' during the rounds, and it would lead to great distress and anxiety. A small group discovered that they could create a rumour and cause pandemonium. They decided to spread a rumour that the scheduled leave was going to be cancelled. It spread like wildfire and discouragement fell like a heavy, wet blanket over the entire camp. It even spread to the families and friends of the recruits and eventually the officer commanding the base had to call everyone to a parade on the parade ground and he had to try and undo the damage.
- Life is much the same, so much information is swirling around and so much of it is half-truth or simply lies, or what has now come to be called 'fake news'.
- God's Word, on the other hand, is filled with unassailable truth that stands the test of time and situation.
- Take God's Word as an absolute in your life and believe it with all your heart.
- Ephesians 4:14 'We won't be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth.'
- By living in this way, it will bring stability and security into our lives.
B. KEEP ON LIVING A LIFE OF TRUSTING GOD.
- Trust the Lord to help you make wise choices and decisions.
- Trust the Lord to help you with what is possible while trusting Him to do what is impossible.
- It is as we trust in Him that we can stay positive even in the most challenging of times.
- Trusting in Him takes our eyes off the situation and circumstances, and it reminds us that He is still in control and still has the final say regarding all the issues in our lives.
- Trusting God also means that we are depending on Him and His all-knowing, all-powerful hand in our lives.
- Proverbs 3:5-6 'Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.'
C. TURN YOUR WORRIES INTO PRAYER.
- Prayer brings value into our lives, even if we don't see immediate response.
- Sometimes our own anxious thoughts can overwhelm us and paralyse us.
- But as we take these issues and concerns and begin to pray about them, the weight and burden of them is carried over to the Lord.
- He has promised to care for us, and this care includes helping us with the very practical issues we may be confronted with.
- Philippians 4:6 'Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.'
- The Lord desires that we would know peace in our lives and not anxiety and fear.
- The secret is to take those fears and make them a matter of prayer so that the Lord can actually lift the load we are carrying and bring answers and breakthrough to those areas where we need help.
D. LOOK FOR THINGS TO BE THANKFUL ABOUT AND FOCUS ON THEM.
- We often focus on all the negative things when we are facing challenging times.
- We can just see the negative and the problems, and this hinders us from being about to see solutions and answers in the middle of all the issues.
- The strange thing about life is that regardless of the challenges there are always things to be thankful for or thankful about.
- Every person's situation will be different and unique, but in every instance there will be things to thankful about.
- Psalm 100:4 'Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His Name.'
- As we adopt this attitude of thankfulness, it brings certain advantages in our lives
- 1. It helps us to be optimistic in God and aids us to overcome pessimism and negativity.
- 2. It helps us to overcome stress. Anxiety and fear are forms of stress that we do not need. Thankfulness shifts this and brings peace and appreciation in exchange.
- 3. Thankfulness helps us to remember how God has helped us in the past, or in other situations, and as a result gives us the assurance of His ongoing help for today and for the future.
E. LIVE IN CHILDLIKE DEPENDENCE ON GOD.
- Don't overthink or over complicate matters.
- Live one day at a time.
- I have often had to deal with people facing challenging times. When I have suggested an alternative, or perhaps a solution to the issue, they often give me many reasons why what I am suggesting can never work.
- In challenging times it becomes difficult to hear the solution that perhaps God is bringing across our paths.
- There was a blind man in the Bible who wanted Jesus to heal him. Jesus made mud and placed it on his eyes and told him to go and wash. When he did this, he regained his sight. It makes you wonder if he would have been healed if he had not done the simple thing of going to wash, as instructed. (John 9:1-12)
- Simple childlike faith and obedience can turn things around in challenging times.
F. REMEMBER THAT THERE IS AN ETERNAL DIMENSION THAT WILL EVENTUALLY OVERSHADOW OUR TEMPORARY EARTHLY EXPERIENCE.
- Sometimes we think that this temporary earthly experience will last forever.
- When we are going through challenging times, it can feel like things cannot or will not ever change.
- The truth is that our earthly experience is temporary and constantly subject to change.
- But ultimately we are eternal spiritual beings having a temporary earthly experience and afterwards is the promise of eternal life with God.
- We should live with a greater consciousness of the eternal than the physical.
- 2 Corinthians 4:18 'So we don't look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.'
4. IT'S NOT TOO DIFFICULT TO STAY POSITIVE IN CHALLENGING TIMES
- How do you keep positive and trusting, in childlike faith, in these challenging times?
- Perhaps you have asked yourself this very question.
- Perhaps it all just seems too difficult.
- It may be a challenge, but as you apply these suggestions mentioned above, you will discover that it is not too difficult.
- Each one of us can choose the way we will respond to challenging times.
- There are positive and negative ways of dealing with all we face.
- The challenge is to make the right choices within the challenging times.
- Joseph, in the Bible, lived through years of challenging times, yet in the end he came out on top.
We may wonder how he was able to do this, but he was able to make the right choices, choose the right attitudes, and make the most of the situation he found himself in. As a result, we see that God went on to use him in a wonderful way. He was used to save his family, his nation, and a generation and today we remember him for not becoming overwhelmed in challenging times, but for navigating his life, with God's help, to a place in history.
- You and I can do the same and God will be faithful, just as He was to Joseph.
- You can do it - you can stay positive in challenging times.
By Andrew W Roebert
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