3 Tips for Keeping Above Water When You Feel Tested
Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.
C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
God’s been doing some building in my life that has definitely caused me to wonder why He’s “knocking my house about” in this way. We’re in the midst of our transition from Maryland to Florida, and the number of things that have gone wrong left me sitting in the Hobby Lobby parking lot yesterday, crying my eyes out. Too much change, too much chaos, too many needs, and too little routine have not been a happy combo. For a little while, I told myself that God was teaching me to not let the little things consume me. Then I reminded myself that this is an opportunity to grow in patience. The thought that earthly frustrations help me long for heaven encouraged me for about five minutes, but at least that was something! But when we found out that our attic is full of rodents and there are poisonous snakes in the backyard, I echoed C.S. Lewis’ words, “What on earth is God up to?”
Maybe you can relate. Perhaps you are experiencing a season of life when you feel tested and it feels like the rug has been pulled out from under you. Just when you feel you’ve reached your limit, something else happens that’s really overwhelming. There are hardships that we can make sense of, and then there are circumstances that leave us utterly perplexed as to God’s plan, and that is a weary, achy place to be.
As much as I don’t want to hear it, the truth is, God’s plan is bigger and better than my own. His vision for you and me is far greater than the best game plan we can come up with. God is building us into a palace that is fit for a King. The beautiful thing is, He doesn’t wait until it’s perfect to move inside. He takes up residence when it’s still messy and under construction, and starts to do a transforming rebuild from the inside out.
So what should we do in the midst of the pain and discomfort? These are the three tips that are keeping my head above water at the moment.
When you feel tested:
Do whatever it takes to spend time alone with God. Every day. First thing in the morning.
I know how impossible this sounds in the midst of chaos. But without this time of filling up and connecting with the One who loves us, we are TOAST. We might make it through the day, but we won’t do it graciously or with inner peace. Write out what you’re feeling in a prayer journal. God cares about your emotions. Then ask Him for whatever is the antidote to those needs. Read a little Scripture. The following verses might be consoling: Psalm 18:2; Psalm 34:18; Isaiah 63:9; Lamentations 3:22-26; Romans 8:18; 1 Corinthians 10:13; 1 Peter 4:12-19, 5:6-10. I have found the devotional Streams in the Desert by L.B. Cowman to be a great comfort.
Remember that the people around you aren’t the enemy.
When our circumstances are overwhelming, our need for everyone around us to just behave goes through the roof. The smallest things start to irritate us much more than they normally would and the desire to let frustration out makes blaming others pretty tempting. It’s important to remember that everyone’s just doing the best they can and that everyone’s got their own pain. Within a family, we need to remember that we’re all on the same team. Cutting each other slack and giving each other the benefit of the doubt is really important during stressful times.
Have a good cry and then do something delightful.
It’s amazing how much better you can feel after a good cry. Sometimes you just need to get alone, have an ugly sobfest, then wash your face and put your make up on again (because walking around splotchy faced will only depress you more). Then look for some little happy thing you can do. It doesn’t have to be big, but try to build something into each day that just brings delight.
As my mother told me today, this too shall pass. And each thing we endure does have a purpose, and is being used by God for something good. I’m preaching this to myself, friends. It’s a hard pill to swallow when we just want things to get easier, but the truth is, when the palace has been built and we’re able to see what God was up to in the midst of our trials, it’ll all be worth it.
“For this momentary light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.”
2 Corinthians 4:17
Blessings in Christ,