Of course, the first and most important way that we survive a trial is by leaning on the Lord – relying on His strength, clutching to His Word and what it teaches us about Him, and learning to have a mindset that sees things from an eternal perspective (God’s perspective!).
I was speaking with a friend on the phone the other night – one of my very good friends who has walked through a very hard trial in her life, stage four breast cancer treatment. (She is cancer free, by the way!) She got her diagnosis of breast cancer in October 2006, about three months after Grant died. Because of the grace and comfort the Lord had lavishly bestowed on me, I was in a perfect position to walk with her (along with a LOT of other people) on her journey.
I was thinking about how spending time with her, praying with her, going to doctor appointments or chemo with her, thinking about her, and giving her encouragement – it helped me with my grief. God doesn’t do anything by coincidence and I can look back and see that God let us go through our trials side by side for a very good reason.
Because of this experience, I learned that one very important way to survive a trial is to get your mind off your own trouble and think of and spend time with someone else in their trial. If we are in a place in our life where all we can think about and obsess over and moan about are our own issues, we will dig ourselves a pit that may be bottomless.
There are times when we deserve to have a pity party and spend time grieving and weeping. I don’t think God would begrudge us those times. However, we can’t stay there. It isn’t healthy and it doesn’t help anything or anyone.
The number one priority in those times is to go to the Word. A few weeks ago when I was in a pity party mood and I was balling and crying out to the Lord asking Him for help it was like He said to me, “Your help is sitting right there beside you! Pick it up. Read it. Listen to what I have to say to you.” Of course! I had the source right there and I wasn’t even picking it up.
The other really important thing I learned while walking through grief was that what I needed to look for in God’s Word was God. I needed to know more about Him, His character, His deeds, His promises, His demands. Of course, I found comfort, peace, and strength in the pages, but what I really needed to feel secure was to KNOW God better. Knowing God is what gives us an anchor. We can’t set our anchor in feelings or other people.
If you spend time in the Psalms you learn that although there is plenty of pouring their hearts out to God and grieving or questioning, but there is always remembering and stating. Remembering what God has done in the past, reminding themselves of Who they know God to be and what He promised for the future. When we remind ourselves of the faithfulness of God in the past, we can trust that He will be the same God in the future. That brings us back to center so that we can see things from God’s perspective instead of our own – which is always skewed.
Psalm 34:1-7 I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul makes its boast in the LORD; let the humble hear and be glad. Oh, magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together! I sought the LORD, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed. This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him and saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them.