Hello from left field again! Apparently a lot of you have brains that spend time in left field as well, because the post that I almost didn’t post turned out to be one that many of you responded to. Thank you for the comments, emails, messages and for those who referred the first half of this article to others. One friend said, “Thanks for the slap in the face—I needed that.” I laughed. I guess it was a bit of a “wake up call” but at least I slapped myself first, if that’s any consolation.
So, in the first post we saw a downward spiral—a progression that starts in our minds when fleshly thinking creeps in during a trial. It starts with murmuring against God—”why me?” Murmuring leads to moping—draping complaints on the heart and weighing it down with despair. Moping leads to comparing to others and envying those who have it better. Envying always leads to criticizing which leads to a harsh disposition and hurtful spirit towards others.
But the progression doesn’t stop there. The first five things we looked at impact our spirit and relationships with people. But there’s another really bad side to carnal thinking during distressing times. The other bad habits on this list impact our direction and decisions. While God is trying to work something good in your life through circumstances you can’t control, the devil would like to try to bring you to total meltdown.
Here are five more things that Christians need to stop doing during tough times:
6. Stop doubting, start trusting—when life becomes unpredictable, the natural response is to start questioning all the right things. The logic goes something like this: “If I was doing the right thing, why is my life suddenly so hard. Doing the right thing should make life easier. SO… I must have gone wrong!” At that point, we start to back track in our minds and allow doubt to call into question all the right decisions we’ve made.
We doubt past good decisions. Notice I said GOOD decisions. This is a different thing than knowing in your heart that you made a bad decision and disobeyed God. I’m talking about an all out assault on the spiritual things in your life. Your walk with God, your surrender, your pursuit of Him, your witness to others, your faithfulness in church, your financial stewardship, your faith. Doubt during difficulty attacks all of the good things in our life… and then we start hesitating…
7. Stop hesitating, start obeying—doubt leads us into an emotional and spiritual fog. Our bad responses start rippling cracks through the foundations of our lives—all the good things, biblical things, faith things that were put into place suddenly come into question and rather than pressing forward in obedience, we pause and panic.
If you’ve built your life upon the Word and the presence of God, you don’t need to freeze or panic with hesitation. Your purpose, your calling, your Biblical foundation is still strong and steady regardless of your circumstances. So step up and move forward with obedient faith. Act. Do the right things you’ve been doing. Keep doing them as much as you are able! Don’t question God or the good things you’ve decided for Him.
8. Stop retreating, start committing—sometimes doubt and hesitation lead to retreat—we run for our lives, start scrambling to “plan B” and strategizing how to take care of ourselves “since God let us down.”
My friend, God intends your present circumstances for good. And you are already on the winning side if you belong to Christ. So I dare you—while your world seems unstable, stand firm, march forward, and commit—or recommit. Commit to truth, to Christ, to rejoicing, and to serving God. Commit to using your hardship for God’s purposes!
9. Stop guessing, start deciding—when we panic, freeze, or otherwise freak out in the face of hardship, it’s almost like we turn the reigns of our life over to random events and pandemonium. We start making rash decisions out of irrational thought patterns. The uncertainty of a trial can cause us to start guessing our way forward, like suddenly you’re standing on thin ice and wondering if the next stop will plunge you into arctic waters. The result—bad decisions.
No Christian should ever guess their way into a decision. We should decide—obey our way forward. Every step should be one of deliberation—every move made in assurance that we are obeying our Heavenly Father and following His lead through the fog. Even when all of life seems like thin ice, the steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord!
10. Stop dreading and start anticipating—finally, when life gets hard, sometimes we start dreading what might be around the next bend. A lot of Christians go through life tentative and fearful from past hurt—overly anxious of what lurks around the next corner—like they’re walking through a haunted house. And some trials are filled with a million varying dark corners and unpredictable turns—medical tests that could lead to jarring results, relational hurt or betrayal from the bad behavior of another, sudden economic or industry shifts resulting in loss, and the list goes on. God does not give us a spirit of fear, but love, power, and a sound mind.
The opposite of this “dread” is confidence and anticipation. Trust and hope. God wants me to live with an anticipation that whatever waits around the next corner is simply my next assignment from God on this wonderful race that I’m running with patience for His glory.
One final thought: these bad habits make your trial a weapon in your enemy’s hands against you. The opposite behaviors make your hardship a weapon in God’s hands against your enemy!
Your trial is a weapon in someone’s hands—either God’s or the enemy’s. It really depend on who you hand it to. Decide now to keep it from your enemy, hand it to God, and let Him start using it for good!