Deep Courage: Walking with Adversity

Some of life’s situations are dreadfully problematic. Just when we believe in the illusion that we have our arms around today and tomorrow, reality shows up. Isn’t that a bummer? Life should follow our plans. Right? We’d like to think so, but it rarely does. In truth, life rarely “fits.” Sometimes it’s too big, and sometimes it’s too small. But whether big or small, life brings conflicts.

To make things very simple, consider two levels of conflict. There are those annoying, aggravating situations. Not life-changers, but meddlesome issues that bug us: children who are ill, unbeatable mucus, tight clothes, hitting your “funny bone,” stepping on jacks spread all over the floor at night, spilling coffee on your keyboard, falling in public. Those are little, later-laughable issues we all encounter.

On the other extreme are those unexpected events which change the course of lives. These are not laughable, short-lived, or easily escapable challenges; usually they change our direction altogether: lost jobs, divorce, a child’s rebellion, diseases, disasters. We are powerless to resolve these conflicts quickly or reverse their consequences qualitatively.

In my own seasons of life, I have experienced conflicts large and small—water damage in winter, a broken heart in spring, a frail air conditioner in summer, and medical appointments in fall. Those things brought frustration, but I knew how to handle them. There have been others, though, that have stopped me in my tracks—issues which demanded I step into the revolving door of grief, acceptance, change, and adjustment. Those are the ones that always cause me to pause. My desire is to stop the door from spinning or to just run away. But I’ve had to learn, over time, to step in, even if the door continues to turn . . . because, in truth, it cannot be stopped.

Maybe your life is like a revolving door, spinning round and round, and you’re trying to decide if you should step in, try to stop it, or just run away. Here are a few “door stoppers” I’ve tried: turning away, denying I had to move at all, wallowing in victim-like passivity, blaming others for the problem, and letting bitterness eat me up. Notice that none of these options sound that great? But such are the ones you may be facing. And you have all the freedom in the world to choose your response.

My son Jon is now 18. He has been diagnosed with many medical conditions, the most severe being Tourette syndrome. He also has been diagnosed with mental retardation—now called intellectual disability—AHDH, OCD, ODD, global anxiety disorder, learning disorders in abundance, and PTSD. Yet, in spite of so many challenges, Jon is the most courageous person I know. Why? Because despite his hardships, the harsh comments of others, and the physical and psychological pain, he has chosen to accept life as it is. Oh yes, he could fight it, complain, and refuse to go outside. But instead, he chooses to step into life—he chooses to move through the revolving door.

Where are you in life’s revolving door? Are you stuck, clinging to the false belief that all troubles are going to pass without consequences? Problems can motivate us to seek help—ultimately found only in Jesus Christ. Are you going in circles? Do you want out? Or have you made it through but lost your heart? I urge you to spend a few moments alone this week and think about what you are running from. Is your direction toward the Lord?

The first step is to acknowledge that you are in need—that something has broken your stride. The next step is to ask for help. None of us can make it without a faithful heavenly Father and loving family and friends. Maybe 2016 will be marked by divorce, a disabling condition, or an enduring difficulty like never before. Will you choose courage, or will you choose to try to place a doorstop in the things you can’t change? Proverbs 10:9 reminds us, “The man of integrity walks securely, but he who takes crooked paths will be found out” (NIV).

Walk with integrity, even if life seems to spin out of control, and the Lord will give you courage and make your path secure.