Sometimes we stumble and need to regain our footing. Sometimes we fall and need to be helped up. Sometimes we struggle while just trying to get through life. How does God help us with THAT? ◊
You might be familiar with the medical alert device that’s recommended for aging adults who can press a button and get needed medical attention. “Help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” are the anxious words spoken by an elderly woman in the popular television commercial for this product.
Wouldn’t it be great to have one of those alert devices that’s a direct link to God? Actually we do via prayer.
But that sounds too easy for some people, even Christians. And it doesn’t always seem very reliable for some who would say they have prayed and don’t get the help they need or want.
What’s the answer for times of serious need? Or the answer for chronic struggles or even depression just trying to cope with life? While some might easily regain footing when they stumble or even fall, what’s the fix for those struggling with a consistent bout of fear, anxiety, hopelessness, and loneliness.
How does God help with that?
3 Case Studies
Jeremy is recovering from a serious illness but is struggling to get his life back together. He had to take time off school and now finds himself “hopelessly behind” in his school assignments. He also lost his part-time job that was helping him pay for school and housing. He’ll most likely have to quit school and move home to live with his parents or get his parents to step in and support him. He’s very discouraged and while he’s praying about it, he feels somewhat distant from God.
Janice has a drinking problem. She’s been told by her doctor that her recent tests indicate a damaged liver. She lives alone since her divorce and functions well at her work. Few know of her ailments. She often cries at night in her loneliness and wonders about the meaning of life. Certainly hers seems without purpose or meaning. She believes in God, or at least a “higher power” but hasn’t touched a Bible since childhood and wouldn’t dare darken the entrance to a church for fear that God would strike her dead.
Eric thinks he should be a missionary, or so that’s what he thinks God “told him” to be long ago when he was a teenager attending a Christian summer camp. He’s taken some local college courses and has also worked retail jobs while he tries to really figure out what to do next. His parents tell him that he should go into his uncle’s health food business. He sleeps 10 hours a day and watches a lot of TV. He’d like to marry his girlfriend someday and raise a family. In the meantime he and his counselor have concluded that he is depressed.
How Do They Cope?
There are very real people like Jeremy, Janice and Eric all around us. How do they cope with their life issues that go beyond just a stumble or fall here or there? These are deeper challenges that drive chronic fear and anxiety, even depression. How does Christianity help with these situations? What is God doing with them? Are they being punished? Does God care? What could or should they do?
Here are 5 steps I’d recommend for each of them:
- Approach God. This does not mean going to church on Sunday or even meeting with a pastor or priest. Approach God directly via prayer. Yes, pray, even though one’s level of faith in the power of prayer may be at a 1 on a scale of 1-10. It’s OK to send out the “God, help me!” prayer. The prayer need not be fancy, just simply talk to God as in a normal conversation. The key to God’s response is in Step #2.
- Humble Yourself. There is ample evidence in the Bible that the God who created you, like a Good Father, will listen to the cry of His child, no matter the level of current or past rebellion. When you’re at a physical and/or emotional low point, that’s often the time of your greatest humility. Out of your desperation, get on your knees or even prostrate yourself before God. If you’re too proud to humble yourself before God, then you’re still unwilling to give up and surrender control.
- Express Your Desires. It’s very OK to tell God what you want and what you need and your deepest desires. He knows, understands, and can handle the request. He may not give it to you, but it’s fair game to tell Him how you’d like things to play out. Make your requests known to God, again coming to Him like a young child requesting personal wants and desires before a Loving, Kind, Good, and All-Knowing Father.
- Give It Up. Now that you’ve laid out what you want, surrender it all over to Him. Completely. Think about it this way: If there are 3 options, A, B and C, and you really, really want Option A, but actually God has a plan involving you at this time selecting Option C, would you really still want to go with Option A? God sees and knows the big picture and the long play. Better to let Him take the ball and be the quarterback of your life. Again, let Him know what play you’d like to run, but then let him run the play He knows best in the grand scheme of things. (Note: God can undo your mistakes, it’s just gets complicated and takes longer.)
- Wait, Listen, Act, and Repeat. God moves on His own time schedule. It’s not always an immediate answer that gets presented before us. Give this God engagement strategy a time to play out. Wait and listen and watch for signals that may be in the words of others, in your reading and studying of the Bible, or in your thoughts and mind. If you must, take a forward step (even toward Option A) but as you do, repeat all of these steps, approaching God with your decision but asking Him in humble surrender to stop your progress if this is the wrong move. Even Jesus said “take this cup from me.” This is the best way to avoid mistakes in big and small decisions in life.
Life is hard. The Christian life is hard as well because we must relinquish the control we so desperately desire. It’s a learned and developed way of life. Daily. But walking this life with the God who loves us and designed us and who has great plans for us is a worthwhile adventure when seen in that clear light.
No, it’s not always a clear road ahead, but we can trust that He’s planned a better road ahead. Our best plan is to follow Him and His leading.
How are you really dealing with your struggles?
“The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:5-7