When life hands you lemons, make lemonade. When life hands you a snowstorm on the first day of school, send your kids with thermoses and hot chocolate instead. When life hands you an unexpected divorce, take up painting as a hobby and find new friends who inspire you. When life gives you all these troubles at once, how does a faithful family survive? That’s the kind of question that makes sense only in hindsight. We can see now that every trial we’ve experienced was strengthening us for what was to come. But as we stepped through each doorway, our only thought was: How do we get through this? There’s no magic formula for enduring hardship — but there are some principles that have given us strength when we have needed it the most.
Be grateful for your trials.
The first step in surviving hard times is to see the good in them. We don’t always get to choose what life throws at us, but we can choose our response to it. Each trial can be a chance for spiritual growth and a source of gratitude for what you have in your life. We’ve been grateful for our financial struggles because they have forced us to be creative in finding ways to spend time as a family. We’ve been grateful for our health struggles because they have brought us closer together as a family. We’ve been grateful for our relationship struggles because they have given us the opportunity to learn about God’s grace and forgiveness.
Cultivate hope in the midst of darkness.
When times are tough, it’s often hard to remember that the sun will rise again tomorrow. It’s even harder to remember that tomorrow will be better than today. Our hope isn’t in the future, though. It’s found in the God who holds tomorrow in His hands. He created the sun and the moon and the rhythm of the tides. He knows all the details of tomorrow and He knows what you need to get through today. When you’re in the midst of darkness, cultivate the hope that God is at work in your situation. He has a purpose in what you’re going through — even though you may not be able to understand it yet. When you have this hope, you won’t be swallowed up by darkness. You’ll be able to step back and look at the bigger picture. You’ll be able to rest in the knowledge that tomorrow will be better than today.
Trust God and lean on your friends.
When we’re in the midst of a difficult time, it’s easy to become distrustful of God and distant from our friends. We don’t want to burden our friends with our problems and we don’t want to look like a failure in front of God. We’ve found that it’s important to lean on others when we’re going through a hard time. God truly wants us to rely on each other. He wants us to ask our friends for help and give them the opportunity to pour out love on us. He wants us to trust Him with our future and know that He has our best interests in mind. He wants us to be honest with Him about our struggles and ask for His help.
Commend yourself to God’s care.
During times of trial, it can be easy to feel like you’re in the fight of your life. It can be easy to look at the seemingly insurmountable obstacles and feel like you’re losing the battle. We have to remember that every person and every problem God has ever faced is on His list. He’s in the middle of the fight with you and He won’t let you down. He will help you work through the problems you face. He will help you overcome the obstacles. He will help you find the strength within you to keep going. God has the big picture in mind. He knows exactly how this will turn out. He also knows what you need to get through the day. Commend yourself to God’s care and He will see you through.
Take care of your body and mind.
Our bodies are the vehicles that get us through life. It’s important to take care of them with good nutrition, exercise and rest. It’s also important to keep our minds healthy. We need to keep learning and growing and pushing ourselves to new limits. One of the best things we’ve done as a family is get into a regular routine. When things are chaotic, it’s easy to let ourselves go: to eat junk food, to not exercise, to not keep our minds sharp. We have regular times every day to eat nutritious meals together as a family. We exercise regularly together as a family. We also have regular times for each person to do something that helps them stay mentally healthy: a sport, a project, a hobby, reading, etc.
Commit to shoring up the foundations of your family.
When you’re in the midst of a hard time, you have to be careful not to get so focused on the current difficulty that you forget the foundations that hold your life together. There are some fundamentals that every family needs to survive any kind of hardship: committed and supportive relationships, a strong identity rooted in faith, and a healthy approach to money and time. You can’t let hard times cause you to forget about these things. You can’t let difficult situations cause you to lose sight of what’s important. You have to commit to shoring up the foundations of your family — even when you’re knee-deep in the muck of a hard time.
Life is full of unexpected twists and turns. Sometimes, these experiences are joyful and easy, but many times they are hard and challenging. The most important thing is to remember that these experiences, no matter how good or bad, will come and go. You have to learn how to cope with the bad experiences, and use the good experiences to inspire you to be greater than you once were. Stay strong and remember to keep your head up during hard times.