“It’s just a hard season.”
I said this one day a few weeks ago and a trusted friend reminded me that it is always a hard season with me.
It doesn’t get anymore blatant than that. I walked away from that conversation feeling frustrated with myself. That’s not the kind of person I want to be. I don’t want to be seemingly always “going through something.” I don’t want to complain and gripe and be negative that much.
But when I got still and thought about it, I definitely have been overwhelmingly negative lately. Sure, there is a lot of logistical stress in life right now. But if I’m honest, my worst days are many peoples’ best ones. My cup is half full. I have nothing to complain about. In fact, I absolutely love the life God allows me to live.
When I find myself a little too pessimistic about my circumstances, there are three things that I need to shift my perspective.
- Gratitude: God’s Word tells us to give thanks to the Lord. I sometimes just stop and take in the beauty of all God has given me in life. Sometimes, I have to be even more intentional and write a list out. One of the daily practices I have adopted is writing down three personal victories from the day each night before I go to sleep. When we stop and realize how good we have it, it is so difficult to stay focused on what we don’t have.
It is good to give thanks to the Lord
And to sing praises to Your name, O Most High; – Psalm 92:!
They are to stand every morning to thank and to praise the Lord, and likewise at evening, – 1 Chronicles 23:30
In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. – 1 Thessalonians 5:18
- Service: God commands us to go out and love our neighbor as ourselves. He tells us to care for the poor. The Hebrew word for “poor” is Ani and refers to the impoverished, disabled, women, children, lower socioeconomic status and anyone who may have made life choices that made them outsiders. That means His Gospel was especially for those outside of the socially-accepted. It means our focus has to be more on those far from God than those who are already sitting in His grace. I love to serve within my church. I would live there if left to my own devices. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Our ministries need volunteers and our worship experiences need people to make them happen. But Jesus’ command was not simply to create church within four walls every weekend. It was to go out and share His Good News with those in desperate need of hope and healing. It’s why I love when our church does a Serve the City event, where typically more than 1000 people go out and do physical projects around our cities on a Saturday. It’s also why I feel convicted to serve outside of my church. It’s why I am driven to find the people I come into contact with who are in need of Jesus. It’s why my heart breaks for kids trapped in our nation’s foster care system. It’s why the local children’s hospital is one of my favorite places. When we get outside of ourselves and serve another human being, our problems seem so much less overwhelming.
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,
Because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor.
He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives,
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set free those who are oppressed, – Luke 4:18
Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world. – James 1:27
- Courage: Sometimes, there are things we don’t like about our lives that are simply implications of our own choices. Guess what? We can’t change everything, but there are some things we can. And all we need is courage to do so. It’s about having the faith to get out of the boat and step into the realm of the unknown. In my personal experience, it’s about doing the things I don’t necessarily want to do. I spent years wanting to get stronger. Wanting to didn’t get me anywhere. But the courage to get up and go to the gym everyday has created a habit and a hobby, and a new result I don’t complain about anymore. Sometimes it’s choosing to do right over wrong, healthy over unhealthy, hard over easy. And yet, sometimes, it’s choosing to be courageous and take a risk even when you don’t know what’s next. But nothing great is born out of playing it safe.
Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the Lord your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.” – Deuteronomy 31:6
Be strong, and let us show ourselves courageous for the sake of our people and for the cities of our God; and may the Lord do what is good in His sight.” – 1 Chronicles 19:13
These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33