New recruits at a defense academy start out excited and (probably) naive about the rigours of the life they signed up for until they are roused at 5am (or earlier) every morning for drills which last for at least an hour. Imagine their bewilderment when they discover that after morning drills, they are expected to freshen up and have breakfast within an hour, attend classes for at least 6 hours, have more drills, lessons in combat and so on. And that when it begins to dawn on them that they are in for tough times.
What is more? This rigid routine is repeated for days on end and sometimes lasts for months. Even for the strong hearted, it can be tough. Day in and day out, you have commanders barking orders at you. Worse still, one are unaware of the outside world and the state of your loved ones.
Yet, it presents an opportunity for growth. According to one senior officer, life in a defence academy can be tough but if one applies himself/herself to it, it can be instrumental for growth and capacity development.
Sometimes, life is a defense academy…
It can be tough due to a million and one reasons – unmet expectations, harsh economic conditions, death of a loved one, failing health, and the likes. If observed, all these issues have one thing in common – they are distressing.Sometimes, life is a defense academy. It can be tough due to a million and one reasons. But do you know that tough times can be instrumental in developing strength and vitality for living? Click To Tweet
Many people balk at the idea of going through tough times. Why? Because they are never palatable! That feeling of hopelessness is horrible to experience even for one second. You feel like your life lacks meaning and before you know it, the idea of living becomes a burden that should be discarded with immediate alacrity. And if one cannot die from natural or man made causes, why not take one’s life?
But do you know that tough times can be instrumental in developing strength and vitality for living? Yes, the same circumstance that saps life from you can be used for a greater good, if only you know how to handle it.
With this in mind, here are tips for handling tough times in no particular order:
1. Embrace tough times
It seems like we have been sold a lie by social media and the entertainment industry that life is supposed to be rosy. If not, why do we break down at the slightest inconvenience? You get stuck in Lagos traffic and the next minute you’re updating your WhatsApp status with “Stuck in traffic, Can I just die already?”
Maybe your reaction is not so dramatic but you still carry the notion that everything is supposed to be alright all the time. Well, not if you live in this fallen world. You don’t have to belong to the Christian faith to know that something is terribly wrong with the earth and the people in it. Sickness, natural disasters, human disasters, hopelessness, poverty, bad governance … all these occur on a daily basis and to anyone.
Of course, there are bright spots here and there; Some days are better than others and we do have many reasons to laugh. But one thing is for sure, tough times are a natural part of life. Knowing this, don’t get caught up in wallowing in self pity, instead embrace tough times when they come.
Like a recruit at a defense academy, rather than shirk from tough times, throw yourself into them. In fact, doing so helps you to handle them better. Learn to embrace the tough times and watch how easier it gets to handle them over time. And this leads us to the next tip.Like a recruit at a defense academy, rather than shirk from tough times, throw yourself into them. In fact, doing so helps you to handle them better. Click To Tweet
2. Find a greater source of strength
When your inner strength is depleted, who do you turn to? Another human like you who’s probably dealing with issues of their own? Of course not. Why don’t you turn to God, a source of never ending strength, just like King David did?
Many times, King David found himself in dire circumstances. To be exact, his life was characterised with threats to his life – threats from Goliath of Gath, King Saul, his family, the military force of various heathen nations, and his own son! How much can one man handle? Well, not if that man finds his strength in God.When your inner strength is depleted, who do you turn to? Another human like you who's probably dealing with issues of their own? Why don't you turn to God, a source of never ending strength, just like King David did? Click To Tweet
No wonder the Psalms are filled with honest words about not only tough times and pain but also victory, hope, strength and triumph. (Psalms 3:1-2, Psalms 6, Psalms 9:1-3, Psalms 10:17-18 and many more)
Going through tough times? Turn to God. He will carry you through it.
3. Choose joy during tough times
Yes, choose joy.
“I am depressed and you’re telling me to choose joy. How!?” You say.
From a biblical point of view, it’s not hard to choose joy because it’s the fruit of the spirit of the believer. And by all indications, it is not determined by outside circumstances. Joy is on your inside to elicit at any time. Nothing stops you from laughing, shouting for joy or rejoicing at any time. Just do it. Yes, it’s counterintuitive but it’s Spirit led. So do it.From a biblical point of view, it's not hard to choose joy because it's a fruit of the spirit. And by all indications, it is not determined by outside circumstances. Joy is on your inside to elicit at any time. Click To Tweet
Do it right now. Shout for joy! That’s right. The devil cannot steal your joy. It’s yours, given to you by God. It doesn’t matter what you face, you’ve got it. Use it.
4. Focus on Purpose
There’s nothing like focusing on purpose during tough times. Purpose provides a better perspective to life problems because of its inherent power to paint a bigger and better picture.
Take Jesus for example, he had to endure pain, humiliation, insults (and much more) but it all made sense in the end because of purpose. See how the Bible puts it:
“… for the joy that was set before Him, (He) endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” – Hebrews 12:2 NKJV
You have to agree with me that whatever you’re going through cannot be greater than what Jesus endured. The mere fact that He had to leave His status as God to become a man is enough condescension. To also be treated like a criminal by the ones you created? Yet, He endured because of the bigger picture – for the salvation of our souls.There's nothing like focusing on purpose during tough times. Purpose provides a better perspective to life problems because of its inherent power to paint a bigger and better picture. Click To Tweet
In the same way, focus on purpose when going through tough times. It would make all the pain worth it all. In addition, “…consider (Jesus) who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.” (Hebrews 12:3 NKJV)
5. Share your woes
Maybe you just need to talk to a trusted friend about your woes. “Friend” here implies family members, clerics, counselors and so on. They might be able to show you a better perspective to your issue/circumstance, encourage, or even provide viable solutions.
According to that senior officer from earlier, having a community of believers helped in handling the rigours of the defense academy. They would pray and share the word of God together. Sometimes, they had alumni come around to encourage them and give them a better perspective. So, sharing your woes does help when facing tough times.
Trust God to work it all out. Tough times will come and go but He will remain. And if you are a believer in Christ Jesus, you have a hope that everything will be fine whether in this life or the next.
We live in a fallen world. So even if things work out now, something else will always crop up. Knowing this, the rational thing to do is to trust God to handle every tough situation we find ourselves in.
Bearing this in mind, remember Jesus’s words:
“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”” – John 16:33 NKJV
And this leads us to the next point…
With trust in God comes rest. In addition, knowing that He is in control, you can rest assured that everything will be fine. “Rest” in this sense does not mean inactivity. Instead, it is being patient enough to hear God’s instructions (by the word or spirit) about your life, followed by reciprocal actions. Also, this rest is characterised by a peace that transcends all understanding. It is free of anxiety and worries.With trust in God comes rest. In addition, knowing that He is in control, you can rest assured that everything will be fine. Click To Tweet
You will just find that being in control of your life is a duty you’ve handed over to God. In a place of rest, you will stop “hustling” to have all your ducks in a row.
8. Take one day at a time
Sometimes, it is all about getting through the day and not figuring out how the entire year will turn out. Remember Jesus’s words:
“…don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” – Matthew 6:34 HCSB
Yep, don’t worry about tomorrow. Rather, seek God first. Cast your burdens on him. Just like God clothes the lilies of the valley, He will cloth you. He will keep and guide you.
Need a song to drive this point home? You can listen to “Jireh by Maverick City Music & Elevation Worship(My Playlist)“
9. Focus on the finish line
Ever heard the saying “Tough times don’t last forever, tough people do”? Well, it’s true. Tough times don’t last forever except if you live in Nigeria. Okay, that was a joke. Let’s be serious here. Tough times come and go, and if you focus on the finish line like an athlete focuses on the end of the race, you might get the motivation to make it worthwhile.
10. Pray during tough times
Although this is the final point, it is not the last piece of advice. If you know the power of prayer, then you should know how vital it is when going through tough times.
The Bible is filled with prayers of people who went through tough times. We’ve already mentioned some by David, but there’s also that of Elijah, Jabez, Moses, Habbakuk, and much more.
In fact, in the case of Hagar (Sarah’s servant), it was God who reached out and comforted her. She didn’t even say a prayer. And because of her experience of His mercy and kindness, she coined the phrase “the God who sees me.”
So are you going through tough times and wondering if God even cares? Well, you have your answer now – He not only cares, but also sees you. And He will surely hear your prayer.
In this battlefield of life, your commander-in-chief is God and He has won on your behalf. Not only that, He has made you more than a conqueror. You are not alone.Tough times come and go, and if you focus on the finish line like an athlete focuses on the end of the race, you might get the motivation to make it worthwhile. Click To Tweet
And there you have it – “10 Tips for Handling Tough Times.” Are you going through one right now? Change your perspective about it. Stop seeing it as a punishment but an opportunity for growth.
Do you have other tips about the subject matter? Please share in the comments section below.
You can also read “Ways to Overcome Depression: 4 Practical Advice” or “Can a Believer Suffer Depression? – My Journey Out of Depression“.