Author Jenny Sanders gives tips on how to tackle the blows that life brings, and reminds us that Jesus promises to walk with us through them.


Source: Photo by Peter Conlan on Unsplash

Jesus himself told us, ‘In this world you will have trouble’ (John 16.33).  We shouldn’t be surprised then whether it creeps up on us incrementally or ambushes us in a dramatic, side-swiping blow.

Bereavement, redundancy, betrayal, loss, disappointment, financial collapse, relational breakdown, failed exams, rejection, poverty, illness… the list is bleak but not unfamiliar.

It’s important to remember that Jesus also went on to say, ‘But take heart! I have overcome the world.’  

It’s important to remember that Jesus also went on to say, ‘But take heart! I have overcome the world.’  There lies our hope and our anchor.

When faced with such challenges our prayers can consist mostly of asking God to make the trial disappear or to get us out of it. Binary options. I firmly believe that rather than change our circumstances, God often chooses to change us in those circumstances, while promising to walk through them with us.

God often chooses to change us in those circumstances, while promising to walk through them with us.

Here are my seven tips when facing adversity:

  1. Avoid knee-jerk reactions; refuse to give in to overwhelm.  Staying grounded helps the logical part of our brain (limbic) keep working.  If our frontal cortex overrides everything else, we fall into the flight, fight, freeze or fold mode which stops us making good or godly decisions.
  2. Remember that a) God is not surprised and b) He doesn’t change.  Our life is still in his hands; he knows the end from the beginning and his promises are unbreakable. This truth helps us keep a healthy perspective in the darkest times. 
  3. Check your focus. God is bigger than any problem; He has been preparing you for this. Keep your eyes and heart fixed on Him using the powerful tools of prayer and worship.
  4. Check your roots. Even huge trees can be felled in a storm if their roots are shallow. By consistently pursuing and nurturing our relationship with God we will be more prone to enduring rather than falling.
  5. Speak to your soul. David’s Psalms demonstrate this strategy. They often follow the pattern: ‘This is what I feel; but this is what I know’.  Acknowledging our emotions is important. They serve us like the lights on our car dashboard – very helpful, but they don’t rule us. Remembering the certainty of God’s love, faithfulness and His desire for our best keeps us from being tossed around like feathers in the wind. We must consciously remind ourselves of God’s Truth over and above what looks true around us.
  6. Dig in with your community. Avoid isolation; we were not made to be alone. Having fellow believers encouraging, praying and supporting us makes a huge difference.
  7. God promises to be a light on our path. That light often only shows us the next step rather than the whole journey, but that’s all any of us need.

Whatever you’re facing, remember that it is just a part of your story. Challenges can give us a deeper desperation for God and allow Him space to shape us. The decisions that we make in times of crisis – press in or hold back – become enthroned in our lives, embedded neural pathways, determining our true personal culture and creed.

God’s goal for us is that we be ‘conformed to the image of Christ’ (Romans 8:29). Adversity is a means to that end, providing opportunities for developing spiritual muscle as we persevere and become more like Jesus. Strap on the spiritual armour of Ephesians 6 – if we weren’t going to be in a battle we wouldn’t need it.  Believers and unbelievers alike will be curious to see how we respond. So too will the ‘crowd of witnesses’ who are cheering us on (Hebrews 12:1). I think that God cheers the most loudly of all!

Polished Arrows: Becoming a ready arrow in the hand of God is published by Instant Apostle.