Thursday, July 16, 2009

coping with difficult seasons (2) attitudes

Yesterday I talked about some of the practicalities of coping with difficult seasons as a wife and mother. But just as important - in fact, far more important! - is what's going on in our hearts. How do we fix our eyes on Jesus during these times? How can we find time to pray, if we can barely find time and energy to breathe? How can we trust God when our hearts are heavy?

1. cry out to God, ask others to pray for you
God wants us to cry out to him when things get tough (Ps 88). Only he can give us the strength to go on. Tell him how you feel. Ask him for help. Ask others to pray with or for you, especially if you're having trouble praying.
2. realise that time with God will be limited but is still important
I know how tough it is to spend regular time with God when you've got a new baby or the kids are sick! Sometimes this is because we aim too high. Try for 5 minutes: put your Bible, a prayer list, a book of helpful reflections and a set of memory verses in a bag and grab one when you've got a spare moment. When you're sitting feeding a baby or cuddling a child, perhaps you could quickly pray or repeat a Bible verse you've learned. Christian music and talks or the Bible on MP3 are good ways to get input during difficult times. Don’t wait until you’re coping: come to God messy.
3. understand that suffering is part of life
We’re often surprised at how tough life is – at least I am! But it shouldn't surprise us (1 Pet 4:12), for suffering is part of this fallen world. God never minimises our suffering. Suffering hurts. Suffering is real. Sleep deprivation (and sick kids and stressful times and sadness and …) are suffering.
4. understand that God is in control
That might not feel all that comforting right now! But your loving, heavenly father is in control, and he is good and gracious (Job 1:20-21, 2:10). Nothing comes to us except from his loving hands (Heb 12:7-11).
5. understand how suffering reveals your heart
Times of suffering are times when God reveals our hearts (Deut 8:2, 1 Cor 10:1-15, Jam 1:13-15). If I get irritable when I'm over-tired, that's my heart talking, not the suffering! The suffering just shows what was already there. But there’s hope …
6. understand how suffering helps you grow
God uses suffering to make you more like Jesus, even when you can’t see it and you feel discouraged by your sin (Rom 5:3-5). You'll look back on those times and realise that you've grown in hope, joy, love and patience: I know, I've been there, although there were times I wondered if I'd changed at all!
7. try to serve cheerfully
Remember that it's Jesus you're serving (Col 3:23-34) when you serve that annoyingly sleeping husband, that baby who's just dirtied the 4th nappy in a row, or that child who's just woken you again. Count to 10 before you say anything! Try to speak words of patience and kindness - with God's help.
8. remember it will end
God doesn't tempt us beyond what we can bear, although it often feels like it! (1 Cor 10:13) This time will last as long as it needs to and no more. It will come to an end, if not now, then in eternity.
9. fix your eyes on Jesus
Jesus is the one who endured all things for your sake. He endured suffering with patience (1 Pet 2:21-25). He knows your struggles and sympathises with your weaknesses (Heb 4:14-16). He's praying for you right now (Heb 7:25). His Spirit is within you, praying for you and helping you to be godly (Rom 8:26-27, Gal 5:16-25). Suffering can't separate you from his love (Rom 8:31-39). One day you'll enjoy perfect rest with him forever! Now that sounds good.

* You'll find some great suggestions for spending time with God when you have a new baby at growing with a newborn by Cathy at The Best Book Co-op.

images are from stock.xchng


Wendy said...

Thanks for this post Jean - a good reminder.

Perhaps another thing to do (or at least I have found helpful at times) is to read a Christian biography. Reading of an older, wiser person's struggles - be they similiar to your own, or completely different - can also help to lift our eyes and see the big picture. And it can comfort us to know that others have been through similar, or worse, and survived.


Jean said...

Thanks, Wendy, that's a great suggestion!