There’s a bumper sticker on a car at my daughter’s child care center and it says: Tough times never last. Tough people do. I just love a good motivational, thought-provoking bumper sticker! Maybe that’s because I get a lot of thinking done behind the wheel during my long commute in traffic. The message makes me think of one of my father’s favorite sayings: This too shall pass. Not surprisingly, the premise for this saying can be found in the Bible. “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:17-18.
For awhile now there’s been some smooth sailing at work. There’s too much to do and not enough time to do it in, as always, but the daily struggles of long ago had been a thing of the past. The sea does not stay calm forever, I suppose. And now that the wind is picking up, the waves are getting bigger, and it seems a storm is swirling and ready to hit, I find myself repeating this phrase, “This too shall pass.” Too often we’re focused on all the little things happening in our lives on a daily basis – the driver that cut you off on the freeway, the co-worker that dumped work on you, the family member that snubbed and/or offended you. But there is a larger plan and all of these little occurrences are nothing but blips on the radar screen of life (another of my dad’s favorite sayings). Each day I’m reminding myself – there’s a reason why these things are happening at work and in your life. God is trying to tell you something. (Now I’m hearing that song in “The Color Purple” in my head!) For all the people that may be going through a tough time at work or at home, here are some nuggets to consider:
- You don’t have to buy into the bad mood or panic that others in the same boat might be expressing! Your thoughts and words can have a great effect on your actual disposition. So when I hear my co-workers harping on how tired and overworked they are, I have to ask myself – is that what I want to put out there to others? Is that what I want to focus on in my mind and with my words? Or can I make myself feel a little less tired, overworked and frustrated by not focusing on that? Each time I hear myself beginning to say “I’m so tired” or “There’s just too much to do, I’m overwhelmed,” I need to redirect. Gratefulness often works as a redirect. Instead of opening up or continuing the conversation focused on those “bring you down” topics, how about changing the course and focusing on what’s good, right, uplifting? Sometimes I just focus on how grateful I am to be here, breathing, walking, enjoying my family.
- Worrying gets you nowhere. Has any worrying ever made you feel better? Uplifted or inspired? I’ll bet not. It’s really a useless emotion. I’ve heard at least one pastor say that worrying is a sin because it indicates a lack of trust in God. I’m not sure I ever went that far in my thinking, but I can say that I try to avoid worrying because it’s futile. A true waste of time. Never got me anywhere. And most of what I worried about hasn’t occurred. And what I did worry about happening that did actually occur? Guess what? I was able to handle it. I truly can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13. You can’t control everything no matter what and worrying does not help to put you in control.
- This difficult time is opportunity for learning and growth. A friend re-posted this on Facebook awhile back: Your challenge was not sent to decrease you; it was sent to increase you. That one really spoke to me. What I’m going through is purposeful. It’s part of God’s plan for me. I like to think of it as grooming for the next level. If I don’t know how to handle this, then how can I handle the great things in store for me? I want to be able to handle those wonderful gifts and blessings. So I’m trying not to fail the test! Can I stay grounded, grateful and focused on Him during this trying time? I will say this – doing that is much more sustaining than questioning it, being upset about it, complaining and worrying about it.
In the end, tough times never last. You get through them somehow. But we can be intentional about how we get through them and that might make them seem easier to get through, not as long-lasting, and more like a blessing. If you reflect on how you get through it and keep those methods in mind for the next trial, you just might pass that test!