“I don’t know how you do it. How do you cope with the hard times?”
That’s the sentiment I hear fairly frequently in one permutation or another over recent months since trying to juggle managing my private practice with significant staff turnover, caring for my husband since his cancer diagnosis and multiple pulmonary embolisms, and my own health issues, while tending to my family with the challenges of adolescence.
Some days if you could peak into my life, you wouldn’t want to see how I do it…
Some moments you’d find me crying before the Lord in my secret place because the weight of it all seems just too much. And in my own strength, it is.
But truly, I think that’s the beginning of how we should deal with both the hardships and joys of life: honestly before the Lord.
1) Share honestly with the Lord – He can handle it (and He knows it anyway)
There are days when I literally get down on my face and cry before Him, telling Him that it’s too much all at once, and I’m not sure I can handle one more day. At times I have prayed not for strength for the day, but literally for the next five minutes! And yet, He always gives me the strength for the next day, and the next.
But honestly, I’m grateful I don’t know what the next day holds because each day has enough worry of it’s own, and it’s given me a fresh revelation of Matthew 6:34 (NIV), “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
By staying in His word, I remain encouraged by the example of those who have gone before me and faced much worse but come out victorious.
2) Look to Scripture for encouragement from others who have gone through difficult circumstances and seen God’s faithfulness.
While my own circumstances can be trying, I have to consider myself fortunate because I have the examples of those in the Bible to look to for inspiration and encouragement. As I read of their lives, I see time and again of how God was faithful to provide and sustain them. Yet they had no Bible to look to for such an example—they had to rely solely on their faith. And now they bolster my faith. I thank God that He not only supplies for my physical needs, but through His word He supplies the answers and the encouragement I need. And hopefully I can comfort and encourage others with the comfort He has given me.
In recent months, I’m ever so aware of how challenging and lonely it is to face trials alone. While we are never really alone, despite how it may feel at times, God is always with us. Yet the physical presence and help of others makes such a difference in our times of suffering to give us mental strength and fortitude to keep going, and hold on to our faith. I have surrounded myself with a trusted inner circle of praying friends who war in prayer on behalf of me and my family when times get really tough. I know that were I to call any one of them, day or night, they would drop what they were doing that very instant and pray.
3) Surround yourself with praying friends who will encourage you in your faith and speak truth into your circumstances.
“I also tell you this: If two of you agree here on earth concerning anything you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you” (Matthew 18:19).
As a neuropsychologist, I spend the majority of my time educating patients about how to manage life stresses to minimize the impact on their physical and emotional well-being. It’s amazing how when crisis hits, some of the most important things we can do for ourselves are the first things we skimp on. So during this time of stress and strain, as I ask my patients these questions, I also silently ask myself the same:
“How well am I caring for my temple? Am I getting enough sleep? Am I getting enough exercise? Am I eating a balanced diet with enough protein?” Basically, how am I doing in terms of self-care? Because if I don’t take care of myself, I won’t be able to take care of anyone else.
4) Ensure adequate self-care in the form of sleep, diet, and exercise. They are often the first things we sacrifice in times of crisis, but the most crucial for sustaining our bodies in the long term.
Ultimately, though, the only true explanation for “how I do it” and make it through the stresses of the most unbearable circumstances is by relying on God to carry me through. I truly can’t fathom how people survive who don’t rely on Him. When times are devastating, the ONLY thing that truly makes any difference at all, is the knowledge that God and I are a majority, and it’s not over until God says it’s over. And in fact, because I’m on God’s team, I already have the victory.
5) Remember that you and God are a majority and you’ve already won!
I don’t know what you are faced with today, but I know who holds your future and mine in His hands. I know that He declares His plans for you to be good, and that He promises to never leave you or forsake you, and to work ALL things together for your good. Scripture promises that we can have peace because even though we will all face difficult times in this world, He has already overcome the world!
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
Because of Him, #PeacePrevails!
(If you have a question you’d like Dr. B to answer, contact her here now. Your name and identity will be kept confidential.)
A short brief about Hope Prevails.
Insights from a Doctor’s Personal Journey through Depression
Dr. Michelle Bengtson
Speaking from personal and professional experience, a neuropsychologist unpacks what depression is, shows how it affects us spiritually, and offers hope for living the abundant life.
Neuropsychologist Offers Hope to Those Struggling with Depression
-By 2020, depression will be our greatest epidemic worldwide
- An estimated 350 million people worldwide suffer from some form of depression
- As with the bestselling My Stroke of Insight, the author experienced the same condition she treats
- Helpful features include personal stories, biblical truths, prayers, and music recommendations
In Hope Prevails, Dr. Bengtson writes with deep compassion and empathy, blending her extensive training and faith, to offer readers a hope that is grounded in God’s love and grace. She helps readers understand what depression is, how it affects them spiritually, and what, by God’s grace, it cannot do. The result is a treatment plan that addresses the whole person—not just chemical imbalances in the brain.
For those who struggle with depression and those that want to help them, Hope Prevails offers real hope for the future.
Hope Prevails is available now wherever books are sold. To find out more, see: http://drmichellebengtson.com/hope-prevails-book/.