As many of you know, I’ve been posting on Instagram for quite a while, however there was a long period in which I paused because my father got sick.
What happened was, he fell into a coma because the hospital he was staying in made a medical error. To say that my family was brokenhearted and stressed over this incident is an understatement. For six months we visited him every day at the hospital and struggled against doctors who wanted us to discontinue his life support.
Being devout followers of God, we did not want to take this matter into our own hands. We firmly believe that no one has a right to take another person’s life because God gave life, and only He should have the authority to take it away. Needless to say, the doctors and some health professionals we dealt with were unsympathetic to our suffering. It was difficult enough to have to watch my father deteriorate each day, but to add the challenge of having to field the medical professionals’ attacks made our struggle even worse.
My family struggled with balancing these hospital visits and meetings with doctors with our own hectic lives and it took a toll on our health. Throughout this time, however, God’s grace really came through for us, in providing us with mental, emotional and physical strength to survive each and every grueling day.
Surviving adversity is a topic that I know too well. I have experienced everything from sexual violence, to bullying, to abusive relationships. The “assaults” from the world kept coming, but my father’s passing was what truly broke me.
Throughout my hardships, however, I never, for one moment felt abandoned by God. Yes there were times when I had chosen to rely on my own understanding, or worldly methods for coping with pain, yet I quickly learned that these worldly methods were futile to heal the deep-seated anger, pain and battle that was going on inside me. When I finally started relying on God, however, my heart was strengthened a hundredfold. I’ve learned that adversity is not the end of who we are, but in many ways it is only the beginning.
This is what I know about how to effectively survive:
- Always trust God. Throughout the Bible there are so many stories and verses that describe people who undergo severe suffering, but they remained steadfast. Some examples are: Job, Daniel, Jonah, Esther. Perhaps your own adversity is merely God’s way of:
- Testing you – to see if your faith is true. – Consider James 1:12 – Blessed is the one who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.
- Making you a stronger person. Proverbs 24:10 says, If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small. God has grand plans for you. He wants you to reach great heights. The problem is, to reach these great heights you have to have the stamina and determination to succeed. All the adversities you encounter in your life help to prepare you for bigger challenges, bigger moments that God has in store for you. God doesn’t want you to settle for being mediocre. He doesn’t want you to have a faint heart that gives up easily. He designed you to be courageous, steadfast, resilient and strong. Like the story of David, God will help you to always conquer the Goliath in your life. At the end of all suffering, God’s glory is always revealed. – 1 Peter 4:12-13
- Surround yourself with positive, supportive and kind people whom you feel safe with. Preferably, surround yourself with people who can pray with you. God says, “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” – Matthew 18:20.” One of my favorite social media influencers, Tiphani Montgomery, once mentioned in her Periscope blog that she gathered a huge group of “prayer warriors” when she was faced with a difficult and disheartening problem in her life. Not only do the prayers of others help reinforce your prayers, but they also give you the emotional assurance that you’re not alone in your struggle.
- Practice self-care – Try to eat well and get plenty of sleep to avoid burning out. Adversity is really mentally draining, and when your mind is drained your body suffers too.
- Think outside the box – Try to discern what lessons you have learned from this challenging experience. How can you use that lesson to propel you to better things? Take the focus away from your suffering for a moment, and ask yourself how you can use this experience to grow as a person and help others.
- Pray diligently. Worship is the best counterattack to worry. When we give praise to God even when feel overcome with misery, He will renew our strength. Listen to this inspiring song by Hillsong called “Even When It Hurts” in which the band sings about praising God in spite of our trials.
- Use scripture to fight your battle. God says that His word is our sword with which to fight our spiritual enemies. It could be that your adversity is just a form of spiritual attack, so you should battle any negative thoughts or emotions that the situation creates by referring to biblical verses. Here are some verses I like to use when I’m faced with an overwhelming problem:
- Ezekiel 37: 1-14 – The Valley of Dry Bones – A verse in which God demonstrates his sovereignty over the most hopeless situation (raising up dry bones.)
- Psalm 61:1-3 – “Lead me to the Rock that is higher than I.”
- John 16:33 – ” …In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”
- Jeremiah 29:11 – “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
- Romans 5:3 – ” Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.”
- Know that this is not the end of your story. God always, always, always has a plan so you have to be patient. And remember, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9