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A Hell of a Year

Persevering Through Adversity

What can you do when tragedy after tragedy seems to touch down in your life with no breathing room in between? Each of us has, or will, experience heartache and misfortune at some point in our lives. This past year has taught me many things, but most of all, how to simply persevere under the weight of adversity.

2013 brought five major events that stopped my family in their tracks. For four months, our lives revolved around emergency room visits, doctor waiting rooms and the droning hum of our shop vacuum. Several injuries were millimeters away from becoming permanent disabilities or death.  Three of us will have lifelong physical consequences, but by God's mercy, we are functional.  After the fifth tragedy,  I finally reached a breaking point and said, “Lord - enough is enough – make it stop!” 

I prayed, “Seriously, Lord… what the hell is going on?” Quietly, in my mind I heard the Lord answer, “Yes, indeed, hell IS going on.” I began to think about that statement and was reminded that we do have a real enemy. I’m sure the Lord and his army of angels were doing everything they could to minimize the damage that was inflicted on my family and me. But we were being targeted like fish in a barrel.

Indeed, ‘hell’ had touched down in my life, and I wondered, "How can a person know what events are from the hand of God and what are attacks from the enemy?"

When our lives are attacked mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually at the same time, we can get overwhelmed to the point of numbness and despair. What can we do when we are at this low point?

One way I made sense of all the problems I encountered was to filter each experience through the lens of scripture. During each incident, I faced major amounts of fear, anxiety, pain, and helplessness. I reached out to the Lord and asked how I was supposed to handle all these problems at once. I needed guidance because I was running on empty. It seemed as if I would never rise above the waves of adversity long enough to recover. I had no more strength of my own.  I needed supernatural intervention.

Slowly, I began to see each event, not as a hurdle to overcome, but rather a detour to follow.  I stopped fighting against what I was going through and I began to take life literally one day at a time. I stopped putting pressure on myself to do every little thing and I concentrated on doing what was necessary for each day. I took time off of work to manage each crisis.  I put my writing on hold.  Every time fear and worry crept into my mind, I would focus on Bible verses that reminded me that the Lord promised to fight the spiritual battles that surrounded my life. Here are a few of the general searches that helped bolster my strength to persevere. 

Worry     Fear    Stand Firm   Anxiety

By pouring scripture into my heart and mind, my attitude began to change for the better. I was able to stop trying to be ‘supermom’ and simply let God do his job while I did mine. I paid the bills I could pay. I made simple dinners. I got my kids to help out around the house. I let some things slide in order to keep up with the important tasks. Maybe you need a reminder today that you can let some less important things wait. Leave time to regroup each day.  God promises to take care of you, to clothe you, provide food and shelter for you and to take care of all your needs.   God has remained faithful and my needs have been met, and in some 'out of the box' ways.

I had to overcome many obstacles this year, but the hardest ones were the battles in my mind. Doubt, fear, anxiety, anger… the mind is the battleground that the enemy thrives in. If we don't prepare our minds before trials come, we are setting ourselves up for defeat.  We need to be equipped with the right weapons and strategies. By filling our minds with key Bible verses, we will have an arsenal at our fingertips and a plan of action. When the enemy assaults you, pull out the verses that speak God’s promises to you. That's what Jesus did when he went toe-to-toe with Satan.  The Bible says that we do not fight against physical things, but rather we fight against forces we can not see, but God sees what's going on. (2 Cor 10:3-4, Eph 6:10-20). 

If you do everything you can and you are relying on God but it seems like you aren’t gaining any ground, there is another thing you can do. Simply stand.  Like a fighter in a boxing ring – one who refuses to stay down. You don’t have to fight, you simply have to stand and not give up, either physically or mentally.  Rise up and believe the promise that the Lord will fight for you. The Lord will be the wall between you and the enemy attack.  Peace will cover you when you yield to the Lord.

Through these trials, I learned how to tell the difference between a lesson that was from the Lord versus an enemy attack.  I paid attention to how the situation set me off internally. When an event made me feel anxious, fearful and jumpy, I knew it was an enemy attack.  How could I be so sure?  Well, our Lord is not the God of peace – HE IS PEACE. It is his nature - his essence. When I felt calm, peaceful and under control in a situation, I knew in my spirit that I would be OK. I knew that if peace was in my heart, God was already there with me, leading me through the rough spots. The peace I felt gave me hope that I was going to be all right.  I kept on moving forward, slowly, but always making progress.

I had to make the Lord’s promises louder than the doubt and fear that assaulted my mind. When I focused on the scriptures, peace descended on my spirit, gently inviting me to slow down and breathe. When I yielded and let peace settle on me, suddenly anxiety and fear disappeared. If I woke in the night with a fearful heart, I would speak God’s promises, and slowly, I would relax. I had to choose to trust the Lord based on his promises alone.  He did not let me down.

We also must remember that we need to ask for help too.  God chooses to also work through people to answer prayer.  Ask friends or your local church to lend a hand or cook you a meal. Rely on your friends and family while you have a need, but don’t become dependent and expect them to bail you out of every problem. Do your part and what you are able.

There is nothing that can separate you from the love of God. Nothing. Don’t let the enemy blind you to that fact. Search the scriptures to build a wall of truth around your life so that when the hard times come, you will have many layers of peace and protection already supporting you and protecting you from the attacks of the enemy. Turn up the volume on God's word and his promises to drown out the enemy's lies.

Joyce Meyer is a Bible teacher who writes about the “Battlefield of the Mind” – it’s a great resource and I highly recommend her book.

Another resource suggestion is from Rev. Margie Fleurant .  She has produced a 2CD set of scriptures that she reads aloud.  The audio tracks are designed to bring peace to your heart as you allow God's word to pour over your spirit. 


Not sure how to pray when times get tough? Here's an example:

Lord, I know you are there even though I don’t see you. I am your child and you promised to lead me through this difficult situation. You promised to provide for my every need. Well, I am in dire need. I refuse to worry tonight. I ask that you calm my heart and allow me to fall back to sleep with the confidence of knowing that you will handle all that I’m going through. Lead me in the right way to find the solutions. If you don’t just drop the answers in my lap, I will continue moving forward and doing what I can to make it through the situation. I am leaning on your word but I can’t do this on my own. I need your help in a big way. You promised Lord…. I’m counting on you. Amen.

Suzanne Rahn is the Editor in Chief of InnerVoice magazine. Suzanne is a freelance writer, photographer and a single mother of 4 teenagers. Suzanne lives in Somerset County, NJ and is a member of Liquid Church.
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