The Counter-Productive Way to Handle Hardship

Sometimes I worry that people think I write this blog because I know something. I don’t. I write this blog because I don’t know things and I figure out something that works by trial and error, studying the Bible, asking wiser people, and reading lots of books.
But one thing I do know is that we’re going to experience hardship. Trials, problems, difficulties, whatever you want to call them, they are going to come.
My tendency is put them on a great long scale with the smallest of problems- oh I have a hangnail- on one end and major problems -child with terminal cancer, imminent capture by Islamic terrorists- on the other.
Then obviously my problems only fit on the smallest side and my reaction to them is “This shouldn’t bother me.”

But if it DOES bother me it doesn’t matter if it shouldn’t. I need to deal with it. Dismissing it doesn’t discount that it’s a problem to me right then. You can’t pretend your problems away. Or pretend them into being not-problems.
That’s still a comparison issue. We aren’t supposed to consider our lives in light of another’s. We don’t need to compare our joys to anyone else’s or our sorrows to another’s. Our eyes are to be on Jesus.
I do think it’s very helpful to look at someone else’s life and realize how much you have, how much you are blessed, how much worse it could be. But it’s not helpful to decide that something shouldn’t matter or shouldn’t bother you because there are “bigger” problems.
Last weekend Justin was gone for work and I was sick. I mean shivering cold and took all my energy to hold my eyes open sick. I pulled my sweatshirt sleeves up and it made my arms hurt. All day long I worked on being thankful that Justin was going to be back that night and for sunshine and movies and how well my kids were behaving. I tried to count my blessings as the day ticked by tediously slow.
 hardship quote
Despite my struggle for gratitude I was still sick. I still rested while they watched a movie and slept on the couch as soon as I put them in bed. Then I took medicine and stayed in bed the next day recovering while my (amazing) husband took care of everything.
There’s a big difference between looking for blessings and deciding that since I don’t have cancer I can’t acknowledge I’m sick. I was still sick.
The beauty of problems is that they drive us to God. Our problems remind us that we need the grace of God to make it through our days. We are incapable of managing life on our own.
Deal with your problems. Maybe not on Facebook. Leave off the vague, passive-aggressive status updates and the outpouring of raw emotions. Save that for your closest friend, your advisor, your time with God. The Bible tells us that God cares for us. Most people on Facebook don’t. Take it to someone who cares and can change your heart. God tells us to pour out our hearts to Him. He doesn’t mind our emotions, our issues, our struggles.
It doesn’t matter what your problem is. It might be that you have a child with a restricted diet because he has a rare disease and you have another child that was diagnosed with a severe dairy allergy. Oh wait, that’s just me. If Facebook documented my relationship with food instead of my husband I’d have to say “It’s Complicated” because I kinda hate food right now. And I love food: making and eating it. It’s not imminent capture by Islamic terrorists- and I am very thankful for that- but it still a big dinnertime complication and I can acknowledge that.
You know what your problem is. And maybe it seems easiest to deny it’s even a problem.
Admit it’s a problem. Take it to God. Quit saying that it shouldn’t matter just because you are safe from terrorists. Be thankful for that, definitely, but don’t define your life in light of that. Quit carrying the weight of your problems by yourself when you have a God who can carry you too.