Wednesday, June 28, 2006

How Do We Cope?

Songs and bumper stickers often misrepresent the Christian Life, and mislead believers into thinking they will be happy all the time. Happy is merely a feeling associated with circumstances. It is difficult for any human being to experience happiness 24/7 when God also created other emotions. Even Jesus wept.

Perhaps a Country and Western song would be more appropriate for our journey: "I Never Promised You A Rose Garden." God didn't tell us life would be hunky-dory after we come to Him, He just assures us that He will be with us whether we are in a valley or on a mountain top, in the storm or viewing the rainbow.

This week, I've talked to others who have received bad news, and I personally have had trials. There are those who are dealing with family members who mock them. Doctors' offices have called patients with potentially serious test results. Business associates have undermined others in their industry. Grandparents are caring for grandchildren because the parents are absent or negligent. There are illustrations of trials everywhere you look. Being a Christian does not make us exempt from being hurt or afraid or burdened.

So, how do we cope?

First we pray. We ask God to help us to be willing to let go of our problems and let Him handle them. We seek His wisdom and His solace.

Then we recruit prayer support and encouragement from others. We find those who will empathize and let us lean on them. But we also give others permission to "be real" with us if we need an adjustment in our perspective.

We read God's Word for advice and allow scripture to mold our attitudes and actions. The Bible is as relevant today as when it was inspired.

And finally, we realize our expectations will not fully be met while we are living in this imperfect world, and that we contribute to this imperfect world with our own faults. We give others the benefit of the doubt. We recognize that bad things happen to good people. We become proactive and take responsibility for our own lives, to be lived out in a Christ-honoring fashion. We cope. Coping becomes surviving. Surviving leads to thriving. Thriving in the midst of bad news is the miracle. Not the rose garden, but learning to live out loud in spite of the thorns.

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