When the going gets tough

“When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”

This saying comes to mind every time situations make me feel like giving up. I think to myself, “I’m not that kind of tough, am I?” It reminds me that what I’m going through is momentary, but how I respond to it defines me for good. How we deal with hardships determines how far we can go in life. Would you agree?

Recently, I went to an event where a speaker was sharing his success story. He spoke about how he started off from shoe-shining and went on to now own a multi-million dollar business. The group of young people in the crowd listened to him very attentively, amazed at the several ups and downs he went through. Afterwards, when it was time for questions, a young lady asked, “What kept you going through the tough times?” He replied, “The down’s in my life are actually what inspire me.” His answer caught me off guard, and required me to pause and think. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one. Anyone, especially a young person who is working hard to make it in this world understands that the ‘tough times’ aren’t something to look forward to. It required a paradigm shift in my perspective to understand what he was saying.

It is the moment we stop seeing challenges as mere hindrances that we’ll start to overcome them. When we realize that our frustrations are in fact opportunities, we can then become solution-finders, entrepreneurs and change agents. However, if during though times, all we see is the hardship, complaining will over take us. This will only lead to discouragement and consequently, to failure. We need to realize that more than our circumstances, our perspective of those circumstances has the ultimate say on how things will end up.

If it’s to be, it’s up to me

I would put it this way: perspective is a choice. When it seems like our world is crashing down, we can either accredit our failure to the cards we’ve been dealt, or consider the hardship as a challenge to be more creative, and as an opportunity to soar higher. In addition to being a choice, I believe that maintaining such a perspective is also a skill that needs to be developed. Hardships don’t go away. In fact, they come back harder and deadlier. If we’re not equipped with a healthy perspective, we might not survive the next round.

What helps me when going through hard times is remembering the testimony it will become once it’s over. I think of how the story of what I’m going through will someday be an encouragement to someone else, how my struggle will serve as an inspiration to others. Don’t get me wrong; this perspective doesn’t change my circumstance, nor does it make the pain and suffering any easier. Yet, one thing I’m sure about is that it makes it a little more bearable.

Seeing with different eyes

But how can you have this honest shift in perspective? It is possible that we’d only be lying to ourselves when trying to see the brighter side in tough times. Where can you find a real capacity for a genuine perspective change?  To this question, there is only one answer. It is the person of Jesus Christ that enables us to truly see our situations in a different light. When you have a relationship with Jesus, and the promise of eternal life with Him, challenges lose their power and become smaller when compared to the bigger picture.  I’ve seen this work time and again in my life. Whether it was loss of a loved one, broken relationships or hardships at my work place, it was the overwhelming love, acceptance and security that I found in Him that  settled my heart and gave me peace beyond understanding. Having a faith in God through Christ brings peace in any storm, the knowledge that you are never alone in tough times gives you the strength to keep going, even when your natural resources are exhausted.

If you feel like you’re going through turmoil beyond what you can handle maybe it’s time to ask Jesus to help you carry your load. You will see that the stillness you’ll experience amidst all that mess is all you need to keep going.

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