Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise Him again—my Savior and my God! – Psalm 42:11 NLT
Seasons of prolonged difficulty can leave us feeling frayed, making bad habits and addictions more attractive. How do we lead ourselves when our flesh and the world tempt us to trust in them instead of God? Here are 4 steps (S.T.E.P.) that strengthen our mindset and save us from unhealthy coping during the seasons of life.
1. Seek rest in Jesus. In Matthew 28:11 Jesus said, “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” As we go through different seasons in life, we need to find rest in Jesus on a regular basis. As believers, we do this by spending time in His Word each day, casting our cares on Him throughout the day in prayer (1 Peter 5:7), and regularly meditating on God’s promises to us. No matter what storms come into the different seasons of our lives, we can find safe harbor by resting in Jesus.
2. Talk to others. The Apostle Paul writes in Galatians 6:2, “Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.” God never intended for us to carry every burden in life by ourselves. He wants us to share our burdens with Him and godly people in our lives. Reach out to family and friends you trust. Plug into a local church and join a small group or Bible study there for support. For some of the more challenging seasons of life, consider meeting with one of the pastors at your church or connecting with a Christian counselor in your area for additional guidance and support.
3. Expect good results. Binge-watching T.V., over-eating, alcohol abuse, and even drugs do not disqualify us from God’s love. Maybe you are doubting or have even walked away from Jesus. Though God is saddened by our wanderings, He receives and loves us, always! He keeps our tears in a bottle (Psalm 56:8), is full of compassion (Lamentations 3:22), and is ready to forgive (Psalm 86:5). Even when we are a mess, His grace is greater than our sin (Romans 5:20). What helps me keep a good perspective and expect good results is knowing the struggle is a gift since “God causes all things to work together for my good.” (Romans 8:28)
4. Prioritize self-care. You are a person worth taking care of. You can’t be at your best if you’re running yourself ragged all the time. It’s important for you to set aside time each day to eat healthily, drink lots of water, and get exercise and rest. Enjoy your hobbies, but regain focus by tossing junk food, monitoring media consumption, and decluttering your living space so that (Hebrews 12:1) we can love God and others better. (Matthew 22:37-40)
Of the four steps listed above, which one do you need to focus on the most right now? What’s one action you can take this week to help you put it into practice?
Prayer: Father, thank You for being my source of everlasting hope. I can win in the seasons of life when I tell myself the life-giving truth of who You are. Help me view struggles as a gift to develop me so that You can work through me. Thank You for making me on purpose with a purpose. In Jesus’ name, amen.