As we all know, life is never a bed of roses. Every life has its hard moments. It can be something so major as the sudden loss of a dear friend or something so minor as lost luggage on a flight.
I ask myself three questions during those difficult moments, and they have made the difference for me personally. The more I have grown in the Lord, the more critical those questions have become.
Am I spending more time praying or pouting?
Pouting does nothing except complicate the problem, increase my negativity, and prolong the hardship. Praying, on the other hand, does everything. Philippians 4:6 encourages us to “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” By following this truth, I experience the sustaining grace, wisdom, and patience I need to work through the difficulty.
Please understand that I have had some very hard moments. While on a speaking engagement in Connecticut in 1979, I received word that my father-in-law had just been killed in a tragic car accident. My sorrow was understandable. Prayer—praise God!—got me through it and reminded me to rejoice that I would see him again.
How important will this be 100 years from now?
Recently one of my flights was delayed coming back from a speaking engagement, which caused me to miss a connecting flight. This then forced me to stay overnight in a nearby motel. I got to the office a day late, compacting an already full schedule. Humanly speaking, that was the worst week for that to happen because of my work load. A hundred years from now, though, that delayed flight won’t really matter. It was not a life-threatening situation.
This question keeps me from making minor difficulties into major events and truly causes me to relax by taking one day or even one hour at a time. One hundred years from now whatever was the cause of the hardship—a car breakdown, missed appointment, hail damage on my house, a broken bone, financial hardship—won’t seem nearly as critical as it did at the time.
Are you concentrating on what happened or are you concentrating on how you are going to respond to what happened?
All saved people get to heaven, but not all saved people are equally rewarded. God is both loving and fair. He is loving because whosoever wants to come to Him can come to Him (John 3:16). He is also fair because those who live for Him are the ones who get rewarded.
Revelation 22:12 says, “And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with me, to give to every one according to his work.” If I respond properly to whatever hardship, I receive eternal rewards. Alternatively, if I allow bitterness into my life, I lose an eternal reward. Regardless of what happens in my life, I want to hear my King say to me, “Well done, you good and faithful servant.”
Concentrating on those three questions has done more than anything else to keep my attitude where it needs to be when the hard moments of life come.