4 Helps for Hard Times

hardtimes
“O God, You are my God; 
earnestly I seek You;
My soul thirsts for You,
my body longs for You,
in a dry and weary land
where there is no water.”
~ Psalm 63:1 ~

In our 6 years overseas, we experienced a number of challenges:

  • my husband inexplicably collapsed (all but unconscious) for 5 days,
  • we lived in 10 residences (that’s counting only the ones we lived in for 2 months or longer),
  • I had 3 babies, and miscarried one,
  • learned to tackle domestic challenges like learning how to *really* cook, how to clean house, and how to offer hospitality
  • felt loneliness and homesickness like never before,
  • began homeschooling,
  • took countless hours-long flights with increasing numbers of children,
  • started learning Mandarin, but had to leave once I really started making progress,
  • studied until I became nearly-but-not-quite fluent in Turkish,
  • and probably did many other stress-inducing things too that just aren’t coming to mind at present.

During that whole time, I always had at least one baby in diapers, and was pregnant or nursing almost the entire 6 years. There were often times when I was juggling multiple items on that list while walking through deserts of the soul… times when I was weary, dry, parched, and felt like I had little-to-nothing to GIVE.  

And yet there’s this:

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 
the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 
who comforts us in all our affliction, 
so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, 
with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” 
~ 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 ~

Believing that 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 is true– that the things that comforted ME in those times may be comforting to OTHERS– I want to share these four things that brought comfort when I was parched and dry:

#1- REMEMBER: God is near.

Acts 17:27-28 says: “they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for ‘In Him we live and move and have our being.

The truth is that whether you have had your “quiet time”, whether you have just yelled at your child, whether you are in the shower, no matter what, “He is actually not far from each one of us.” He is near. He knows our hearts (Prov 15:11), and He knows our thoughts.

For me, there was great comfort once I mentally acknowledged His constant presence in my life. It did not CHANGE that He was present (He always was), but it CHANGED my awareness of Him being near. God is near to you; acknowledge and invite Him into your busy, tired days.

 

#2- REMEMBER: God sees the big picture.

Consider the Israelites. When Abraham was given a promise by God about his descendants, He told Abraham:

“Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years.  But I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions.” (Genesis 15:13-14)

Did you catch it? He knew in advance that they would suffer. It was part of His plan.
He has the wide view of history… and yet He understands our weakness, and even Christ cried out to the Father in moments of heartache and weariness. He tells us in Philippians that it has been granted to us that we should suffer (1:29)… this does not seem like a granting of anything good, but in the context, it is.

His plans are good, and we can trust Him, even if we are suffering.

 

#3- Remind yourself of the big picture.

If your weariness is routine difficulty/exhaustion (i.e., pregnancy, difficult season at work, having a toddler, etc.), take the “birds’ eye view.” You probably don’t know *everything* about the big picture that God sees, but look in Scripture for the parts that you CAN name. Look for the things HE says are true about your situation and force yourself to repeat after HimConsider the eternal impact of what you are doing… what you are building into your children, what you are doing by doing your work as unto the Lord, or the value of the human lives you are pouring yourself out for.

If your weariness is from something unusual (perhaps a medical situation, recent death of someone close to you, or something else weighty and difficulty), view it in the scheme of eternity…
  • what is God teaching you?
  • How might He make you more like Jesus through this situation?
  • How will He be glorified in this circumstance?
  • What comfort is He offering to you that may later benefit others?

Even when there is much you can’t see the reason for, take comfort in the big-picture truths that you CAN see.

 

#4- Do what is needful/make your life as sane as possible.

On this point, I think this is something that some people do naturally, so you may be thinking, “yeah, duh”, but other people might see this as self-seeking & wrong for a Christian.

Let me urge you– if you see self-care as somehow selfish– to rethink this. Several of God’s commands to us (i.e., “love your neighbor as yourself”) assume that we care for ourselves. The fundamental assumption is that at the very least, we care for ourselves. We are right to meet our own needs with the resources God has given us… that is part of a right use of our God-given resources.

Sometimes God has a purpose for us and intends for us to stay in the desert, but sometimes we can take a different “road” and hightail it out of the desert. A hot bath, or taking 20 minutes to read, might be just the thing you need to relax. Spending time listening to an audio Bible could be a great thing to “re-tank” while you do routine tasks.

Consider what plans or routines might help you be more sane:

  • A meal plan?
  • A chore chart for your kids to help shoulder the load?
  • A plan to proactively tackle the laundry mountain?
  • Perhaps you don’t have a good sleep routine for your kiddos and could really benefit from a few weeks of careful training in this area so that you and your husband could have regular times together in the evenings?

What things can you build into your life that will help you, over the long haul, manage things well & stay sane? Do those things. In stressful times, we may just need to do the next thing and keep our feet moving. Sometimes making these changes will propel you out of the desert, and other times, it will simply make the desert more survivable. Either one of these is a good thing.

These are some of the things God has taught me in the “down” times of life.  I hope this will help others who are in need of some relief from the dry and weary valleys of life.

 

In the comments, please share: WHAT HAS BEEN BENEFICIAL FOR YOU IN THE TIMES WHEN YOU’VE WALKED THROUGH CHALLENGING TIMES?

Other articles you might want to read:

10 Essential Self-Care Habits For Moms // JessConnell.com

10 SELF-CARE HABITS For Moms

Is Your Child Getting Enough Sleep? …Are YOU? // article + helpful chart with sleep recommendations according to age // jessconnell.com

Is Your Child Getting Enough Sleep? … ARE YOU?

WHAT HAS GOD PUT ON MY PLATE? Battling Insomnia, Anxiety, Stress, and Exhaustion

What has GOD Put on My Plate? 
(Battling Insomnia, Anxiety, Stress, and Exhaustion)

We NEED What We Would Never Choose // JessConnell.com

We NEED What We Would Never Choose

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Jess Connell

Jesus-follower, Happy wife, Mom of 8 neat people. Former world-traveler, now settled in Washington. Host of Mom On Purpose podcast (momonpurpose.com). I write and wrangle kids.

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7 Responses

  1. The biggest help to me is to change my focus from the situation or person causing the problem to God Himself. A conscious changing of my thoughts to Christ always helps. Another big help is to praise God and thank Him. When I do both of those things, it changes my whole outlook, and that gives me peace in my soul–whatever the circumstances. Loved your post!

  2. Laura says:

    On Sunday I heard a sermon about those verses in Matthew 11, where Jesus talks about coming to Him when you are weary. For the very first time I realized what He meant by the ‘yoke’ (and I don’t know why because it seems so obvious now) … It’s that the yoke He places on us is meant to be shared with Him. There were always two oxen in a yoke. In Jesus’ yoke, it is me and Him shouldering the load together. In this season of my life (a scary diagnosis on my horizon), I needed to remember that HE IS HERE. And not only that, He is walking right beside me, yoked, so that it’s not even possible for us to walk a different direction from each other. This is such a comfort to me. I honestly do not know how people face life without Him.

  3. Kondwani Kondwani says:

    What helps? Often blog posts like this! Clear, easy to read, punchy, biblical, honest and help people like me to refocus on the truth. I recently noticed the same thing when reading the Bible to the children – that God knew and was clear about the fact there would be a FOUR HUNDRED year period of slavery and hardship. Yet it was all in His perfect plan.

    Right now we are in a ‘dry and weary land’, but there is the occasional torrential downpour. Just adjusting to the heat, altitude and different pace. It’s weary, and great to read something encouraging!

  4. Rosa says:

    It always helps me to (in almost the opposite of the big picture) focus in on ways that God has been good and faithful to me before and presently and thank him for them. When my husband had his brain injury a few years ago it was so hard but such a sweet time, being so intimately cared for by God. This circumstance was no surprise and I thanked him for all of it. <3

  1. November 18, 2015

    […] 4 HELPS for HARD TIMES […]

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