"Therefore, I ask that you do not lose heart at my tribulations for you, which is your glory."
As I flipped open my Bible on Saturday morning, this was the verse that was underlined on the page I turned to. Just the right timing, just the right words.
[[ And subsequently, if you know me, you know I love music and anything that relates to how I'm feeling, so this is the song that's been stuck in my head.]]
Gently Your voice like a calming embrace
Calls me from out of the noise
You whisper to me, "Child, forget not your dreams"
As we lie awake in the dark
Just don't lose heart
It's the subtle reminders, the random messages, the conversations with a friend, the lyrics of a song, the conviction of a sermon, the way a verse pops out at me when I open the Word, that leave my heart in peace though the world is trying to fill it with noise, anxiety, worry, fear, feelings of unworthiness, sadness, and frustration.
Tribulations. According to Merriam-Webster, a tribulation can be described as "distress or suffering resulting from oppression or persecution; also : a trying experience."
If I asked you to raise your hand, I bet every one of you would say that in some way, shape, or form, you are going through some sort of tribulation right now, maybe even in more than one way. Maybe they're coming at you from five different ways, or maybe just one, but it's still been consuming you.
During trying times, it can take everything in us to keep going. Some days it's hard to put a smile on. Some days you just want to sulk and throw yourself a little pity party. Others, you can't even muster up the words to say what you're feeling because you "can't even."
Hey, we've all been there. We've all probably gotten to a point where we're so discouraged, so frustrated, so at at a loss, that we don't even know what the next step is or how to keep going without losing heart.
Life is messy. Things happen that we don't understand but want more than anything to be able to make sense of. People change. Our patience is tried. We're stuck in a season of waiting. Words sting. We want to change situations and what's going on, but know that it isn't up to us or in our control. We see hurt people hurting people we care about. We question why bad things happen. We get confused, frustrated. [[Insert your struggle here, because I know the list could go on for paragraphs.]]
When there are so many venues that the tribulation could come, how do we hold our heads up and keep going?
The people around you aren't in your life by accident. God's blessed you with some for this season, some for the past seasons, and some for a lifetime. Look around, don't be afraid to be vulnerable and open about what's going on. If you need prayers, if you need to talk to someone, if you just need someone to listen, someone to go out and do something, ask. Don't be afraid of being looked down upon or judged. In Matthew 7:1, it reads, do not judge or you too will be judged.
Who are we to judge anyone around us, when we too have our own struggles and pitfalls? If you don't want to talk about anything, just go spend time with someone and don't talk about it- focus on other things. The enemy loves isolation and when we choose to keep it all in. That's when he can do his work and fill your head with every lie possible to keep you down and disheartened. Don't let him do that. Lean on Him, lean on others, but don't lean into the lies he wants you to believe that you'll never get through, because that's just what he wants you to believe to cause you to lose heart.
This is probably the one I turn to most often in a day. If I hear a song that relates to how I'm feeling, it's on repeat whenever I'm driving or working on my computer. As of late, my top played include: Confidence, Holding on to You, Yes and Amen, Stronger than the Grave, I Can Wait. For me, music is uplifting. If you want to be sad, you can listen to sad music. If you want to be refreshed, listen to the promises He gives us through the lyrics. I could sit and have a million thoughts running through my head, 80% of which would easily discourage me right on the spot, OR i could turn up the music and praise Him. It's something that can take your mind off of whatever you're going through and give you refreshed hope. Turn it up so your thoughts can't get to you. He's got you in the palm of His hand and He will deliver you.
His promises are spelled out, page after page. Find a verse that gives you peace, comfort, hope, strength, courage and cling to it. If you don't know where to start, you can always go to Google. What can't we ask Google these days? Search for scripture for _____ whatever you need. Keep it close to you so whenever you need it, you can go back to it.
Find your passion.
Find something that brings you joy and do it as often as you can. Go out and help a neighbor, volunteer, tutor someone, help a friend with a project. There are things out there that you know you absolutely love, but don't make time for. Try to open up a spot in your schedule to do it more regularly and rather than dread the day, you'll look forward to the times you know you'll feel happy doing what you're doing.
On the flip flop, are there things you're doing in your day that are sucking the life and energy out of you? If they aren't absolutely necessary for survival, could you try to take a step back from those things and instead fill those times with those that will bring you life?
We have the power to choose. We can choose to let our tribulations take us down or we can choose to surrender it all to Christ and to keep going with a determined, optimistic heart.
Sure, it might sound simple, but I can be the first one to tell you that sometimes you're going to have to choose to trust Him more than one time. There are days lately I have to repeat it to myself over and over again, within minutes, heck, sometimes even seconds. HEY HIL, stop worrying. He's got it.
There will be days you have to choose to put a smile on. There are days you'll have to choose to love someone even if they're doing things that are causing you or ones you love troubles. There will be days you'll have to choose to believe that everything will work out for the good. There will be days when you have to choose to not be overcome with the negativity surrounding you. There might (and probably will be) lots of days when the discouragement is coming from lots of different angles, but that's precisely the time when you put your foot down and stand up tall.
He will give you the strength you need. He will never give you more than you can handle. He will give you who and what you need. He has a plan, He has a purpose for what you're going through, even if it doesn't make sense. It might be today, it might be until next week or next month, but you needn't worry because He already has a set time for the promises He has for you. He will fulfill them and He will stay true to His word. He loves you and He will work everything for your good. Just don't lose heart.