Some of my earliest childhood memories are that of my Dad preaching of the end times. Wide-eyed, I eagerly listened through the winter nights of the 1980s. I remember stories of Lot’s wife: the woman who looked back, and of fire and brimstone beating down on the city of Sodom and Gomorrah.
With a raised index finger – a habit that still distinguishes him – he preached with such gusto. “The days are coming when the church doors will be closed, and the nights will be darkened by death and sorrow. You will be separated from your family. What will you do then, will you forsake God?” Dad’s voice would echo over the PA system, bouncing through the corridors of the nearby homes.
As religious as it may sound, little did I know back then that this would be the life I would experience 40 years later.
The evening prayers and the repeated question of “Did you read your bible?” held our family together during challenging times. “Pray when the storm clouds gather all day, pray ‘till the light breaks through.” These song lyrics that my parents sang permeated our home. Loving and depending on God became a lifestyle and not a religion.
We are living in perilous times. Economies are crashing, unemployment rates are spiking, and uncertainties about the future linger like a dark cloud over humanity. Life is tough and we don’t always cope.
I have put together 7 tips that I apply to my own life to help me cope when times get challenging.
1. Have confidence in God.
In Psalms 71, we read of David’s cry to God for deliverance during troubled times. Psalms 71 New International Version (NIV) says, “5 For you have been my hope, Sovereign Lord, my confidence since my youth. 6From birth I have relied on you; you brought me forth from my mother’s womb. 15 My mouth will tell of your righteous deeds, of your saving acts all day long though I know not how to relate them all.16 I will come and proclaim your mighty acts, Sovereign Lord; I will proclaim your righteous deeds, yours alone.17 Since my youth, God, you have taught me, and to this day I declare your marvellous deeds. I will ever praise you.”
To have confidence in God means relying upon, depending, and trusting Him with your whole life. From your thought process to your actions, you uphold yourself, remaining fearless and composed knowing that He is working it out for you.
Remind yourself of the times when God came through for you in the past. Did He not deliver you when your back was against the wall? Did he not save you when you felt that there was no escape? Well, if He did it once, then He can do it again. Boost your confidence in God. He is still the same yesterday, today, and forever. He remains the same, it is us who doubt Him.
2. Remind the enemy of your track record.
Have you ever wondered what thoughts go through the minds of your enemies? Are they ever threatened by you?
In the book of Joshua, chapters 5 to 6, we read about the story of Joshua and the City of Jericho. Before Joshua could overthrow Jericho, he sent out two spies to secretly explore the land. Rahab, a prostitute in the city, offered to hide these spies in her home. That night, she revealed to them how the people of Jericho felt about the people who were about to overthrow her city.
She said, “We have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to Sihon and Og, the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan, whom you completely destroyed.When we heard of it, our hearts melted in fear and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below.” (Joshua 2:10-11)
When you feel suffocated by just doing life, whether it’s because of financial struggles, sickness, or divorce, remind the enemy of who you are and what you have overcome in the past. You have a history with God. Hard times are not new to you. This will not only boost your confidence in Christ, but it will remind the enemy of who you are in Christ. We overcome the enemy by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of our testimony. (Revelation 12:11) Your past victories are your testimonies. Your testimonies are evidence against the enemy that God has pulled through for you in the past. Use your testimony and the blood of Jesus to remind the enemy of your track record of victories. Count your blessings.
3. Hold onto God’s promises.
The Bible is filled with many promises that God has secured for us. He promised us love, joy, peace, and hope. He promised us salvation and eternal life, with the adoption into His heavenly family. He promised us comfort, healing, and prosperity. When challenging times sweep us off our feet, we are so quick to lose hope, allowing the situation to overtake us and forgetting that God’s promises still stand. Deuteronomy 31:8 (NIV), “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
Isaiah 41:13 (NIV), “For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.”
Psalms 48:14 (NIV), “For this God is our God forever and ever;
he will be our guide even to the end.”
Remind yourself daily that God’s promises still stand. He sees further than you can, and even a ‘no’ from God is still an answered prayer. He holds your right hand, therefore He is in this with you. He promised never to leave you nor forsake you.
4. Pick your weapon of choice.
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world, and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6:12 NIV).
“4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.” (2 Corinthians 10:4 NIV)
We are spiritual beings, therefore our battles are spiritual. Our weapons are also not of worldly artillery.
What is it that keeps you grounded and rooted in God? Is it intercession, prayer, fasting, praising, or worship? What is your weapon of choice?
How did this great city of Jericho crumble down? One would think that Joshua used a catapult to pound this fortified city to the ground. But no artillery was used. It was purely God’s doing. Joshua 6:2-5, “Then the Lord said to Joshua, “See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its king and its fighting men. 3 March around the city once with all the armed men. Do this for six days. 4 Have seven priests carry trumpets of rams’ horns in front of the ark. On the seventh day, march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the trumpets. 5 When you hear them sound a long blast on the trumpets, have the whole army give a loud shout; then the wall of the city will collapse and the army will go up, everyone straight in.”
On many occasions, we feel the need to catapult through our situations. We force the hand of God by using manipulation and evil craftiness to get our way around things. God cannot reward us if our hands are made unclean by these types of deeds. (Psalms 18:20) Don’t bulldoze your way through the walls that stand in the way of God’s promises to you. The children of Israel used no physical force to bring down the walls of Jericho. So, put down your chisel and hammer, and use your praise, your prayer, and sing through your darkest times.
5. Be patient.
When the Israelites marched around the walls of Jerico, the walls didn’t come crashing down after the first march. They circled the city a few times. Once a day, for six days, and on the seventh day, 7 times. That’s a total of 13 times. Not only did this intimidate the people of Jericho, but the children of Israel got a clear view of what the enemy’s terrain looked like. Each step around the city worked on their patience. They walked around it in silence and confidence, obeying God’s instruction on how it must be done. Not their way, but His way.
Never let any situation get the better of you. Investigate, research, don’t give up, and get professional help. Take hold of the situation (James 2:18-26). However, remember to keep the above points 1 to 5 in mind. So, it’s a balance of keeping your faith and confidence in God, and at the same time, being patient and trusting His plan for you. The pieces will fall into place.
6. Let God go before you.
I have banged my head against many walls in my lifetime, but the only thing I got out of it was a severe headache. This walk with God is a lifestyle. His presence is what leads the way.
“Joshua got up early the next morning and the priests took up the ark of the Lord. The seven priests carrying the seven trumpets went forward, marching before the ark of the Lord and blowing the trumpets. The armed men went ahead of them and the rear guard followed the ark of the Lord, while the trumpets kept sounding.” Joshua 6:12-13 (NIV).
The ark of the Lord was a religious symbol to the children of Israel at the time. The ark was a place where the high priest could meet God. When God was pleased with the sacrifice made to Him, His presence descended upon the mercy seat of the ark. The ark led the way into many victorious battles during the Old Testament times. But when Jesus became the sacrificial lamb, He made it possible for all men to experience His presence. We house the presence of this Great God. The same spirit that raised Jesus from the dead now dwells in us.
So, let’s exercise this privilege that we have and allow God to go before us. Let His presence break down every bondage. Let His presence loosen every chain. Let His presence tear down every wall that stands in the way of our rightful inheritance. As long as He goes before us, the battle is won.
7. Know when to shout it out.
“But Joshua had commanded the army, ‘Do not give a war cry, do not raise your voices, do not say a word until the day I tell you to shout. Then shout!’ ” Joshua 6:10 (NIV).
How many times do we prematurely blurt out God’s plans and secrets for our lives? Timing is everything. “A time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak.” Ecclesiastes 3:7 reminds us of the importance of being quiet. So, when the time is right, give it your all and SHOUT IT OUT! Shout out to those walls and get your breakthrough during this challenging time. See those walls come crashing down. See yourself pushing through this period of difficulty. Confuse the enemy and raise a shout of praise.
Let your voice send shock waves of victorious war cries through the enemy’s camp and watch those walls fall.