Staying Positive In Difficult Times
It’s late, and I really ought to be in bed by now. But after tossing and turning for the past hour and a half, I finally came to the realization that this is not going to be one of those nights when sleep comes easy to me. Words are bouncing around in my head and no matter how hard I try, I can’t get them to shut up and leave me alone so that I can get some sleep. And so instead of tossing and turning for another hour and a half, I have decided to get up and put pen to paper (so to speak), trusting that this restlessness is actually God inviting me to partner with Him to meet a need. Believing that this writing, written as an act of obedience, will be a blessing to somebody out there.
Today was a good day. I was able to accomplish most of what I intended to do today, which not only included finishing a blog post I’d been working on for a few days but also catching up with a dear friend who lives in another state. But I think what really has me so amped up at 11:58 pm are the endless “possibilities” that are before me. Let me elaborate.
First, a bit of background. Just under 1 month ago, I joined the ranks of the unemployed. I’ll be honest and tell you that it was a little scary those first few days of unemployment. I know several people that have been looking for jobs for well over six months – and the more people you talk to, the more of those stories you hear. And so as soon as I lost my job, I had to make a decision. Will I listen to new reports and war stories of family and friends telling me how bleak the job market is right now? Or will I listen to and put my faith in what the scriptures say about my future? I choose the later! And so for the past 4 weeks, I have been rigorously ‘guarding’ my eyes, ears and thought life so that I am not giving a home to any fear-based thinking about what will happen if …
Put on all the armor that God gives you, so that you will be able to stand up against the Devil’s evil tricks. For we are not fighting against human beings but against the wicked spiritual forces in the heavenly world, the rulers, authorities, and cosmic powers of this dark age. So put on God’s armor now! Then when the evil day comes, you will be able to resist the enemy’s attacks; and after fighting to the end, you will still hold your ground. – Ephesians 6:11-13
When negative news reports come on, I turn to another channel. When friends tell me how bad the job market is, I quietly rehearse in my head scriptures about God’s promise for provision to those who love Him. When worry knocks on the door, I don’t stand around and chat with it – invite it in for a nice cup of tea, nor go out on the porch for a quick little catch-up. Nope, I smack that door shut and then crank up some worship music so that I can’t hear the knocking anymore!
Now lest I sound like some simple minded Pollyanna, let me be very clear about one thing. Staying positive in difficult times is not for sissies! It requires putting on the full armor of God, because if you only put on a few select pieces, I guarantee you that your adversary (the devil) is going to attack those unprotected areas and take you out! So put on the whole suit – the ‘belt of truth’, the ‘breastplate of righteousness’, your feet fitted with the ‘gospel of peace’. Put on the ‘helmet of salvation’ and take up the ‘shield of faith’ in one hand and the ‘sword of the Spirit’ in the other. And of course, PRAY! This is a war. And you, my friend, are a called to be a Gladiator!
So stand ready, with truth as a belt tight around your waist, with righteousness as your breastplate, and as your shoes the readiness to announce the Good News of peace. At all times carry faith as a shield; for with it you will be able to put out all the burning arrows shot by the Evil One. And accept salvation as a helmet, and the word of God as the sword which the Spirit gives you. Do all this in prayer, asking for God’s help. Pray on every occasion, as the Spirit leads. For this reason keep alert and never give up; pray always for all God’s people. – Ephesians 6:14-18
In addition to guarding my thoughts, I am minding my tongue – which is to say that I’m careful about the words I allow to come out of my mouth. Instead of giving in to the temptation to speak doom and defeat over my circumstances (i.e. I heard that there are more than 100 applicants for every job out there, I hope I don’t run out of money before I find a job, etc.), I am instead speaking God’s Word over my circumstances!
Proverbs 18:21 reads “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” (NASB). In other words (quoting Charlie E here) … ”you will have what you say’. Friend, if we are going to ‘eat the fruit of our words’, it only makes sense that you and I be purposeful about what we say! We must train our tongue to speak God’s Word over our circumstances. The scriptures are overflowing with promises of provision and prosperity (having more than enough to meet every need for every area of your life). Cant think of any? Read my earlier post entitled “I am: Blessed” and then open your mouth and start speaking out loud the Word of God over your life and circumstances.
And going hand-in-hand with minding my tongue is feeding my spirit. A couple weeks into the job hunt I hit a wall. I was mentally and emotionally exhausted. Nobody was calling me about my resumes, but of course my estranged friends Worry and Fear were quick to come knocking on the door to share with me the latest stats on how many months I should expect to be out of work. I cranked up the worship music. The knocking continued. I watched some Daystar TV. They rang the doorbell. Eventually, I took to loading up my Nano with just about every Podcast teaching I could find by a few of my favorite Pastors (Creflo Dollar, Joyce Meyer, Joel Osteen, Brian Houston) and started taking 6 am walks … long walks. Yup, with headphones on and sound teaching streaming into my ears, I opened wide the door and walked straight past Fear and Worry, listening to one Podcast after another (i.e. feeding my spirit) and refusing to turn back towards home until those old cronies legs got tired and they quit following me! By the time I got back home each day, my faith was so stirred up that I was well prepared to face the challenges of the day with a victorious attitude. It was awesome! I’m still replaying several of those teachings in my head even while I type this.
Now I’m not necessarily suggesting that you start walking 4-5 miles a day, but do what you have to do to feed your spirit! You can put on the armor of God and quote scripture over your circumstances til your blue in the face, but if your spirit man is malnourished, you aren’t going to have the strength and stamina to stay in the game long enough to win this battle!
Four steps to staying positive in difficult times
1. Put on your Armor
2. Guard your eyes, ears and thoughts
3. Open your mouth and speak (appropriate) God’s Word over your life / situation / circumstances
4. Feed your spirit
Now back to my earlier comment about being amped up about the endless “possibilities” that are before me. You see, while I was lying in bed trying to reel in my runaway thoughts, I got the brilliant idea to quietly speak (out loud) all the things that I am grateful for about today. Like how grateful I am for the direction the Holy Spirit provided this morning when I was doing some writing. How blessed I was to be able to connect with this out-of-state friend of mine in the afternoon. What a wonderful teaching I listened to later in the day, and how happy I am that I have learned how to release my faith in the power of the blood to secure victory over my circumstances. And then I started naming them off. One thing led to another, and instead of winding down, I got so excited that I knew I’d not be able to sleep for at least another hour or two.
So there you have it. The late night (actually, now early morning) ramblings of one very tired woman! I’m praying that its just fatigue and a wild imagination that keeps seeing little brown shadows flitting across my office floor. Imagination or not, I’m getting a little creeped out and am going back upstairs to bed before I succumb to the temptation to start singing the song “You’ve Got To Put Your Armor On” by Psalty The Singing Songbook.
Goodnight and be blessed!