There is no night too dark that the sun does not rise again.
The world watched with anticipation last week as 12 Thai soccer players and their coach were heroically rescued from the cave which held them captive for almost two weeks. The entire story is nothing short of miraculous as the valiant rescuers raced against time to bring each boy and their coach out of the cave and into safety.
I couldn’t quit thinking about what it must have been like for the team to be trapped 9 days in darkness as they waited and hoped for help to arrive.
At the time of this writing, we don’t have all the information about those dark days, but we do know they survived by drinking water dripping along the walls of the cave and eating birthday snacks which they had just purchased for one of their teammates. The coach, a former Buddhist monk, led them in mediation which helped to keep them calm.
I started thinking, how would I handle days of complete darkness, not knowing if I would be rescued? How would I keep hope alive?
We all go through dark days in our lives, whether it is a grim cancer diagnosis or a discouraging job situation or a difficult marriage. Hope may be impossible to see, but that’s the nature of hope. The apostle Paul wrote to the Roman believers, “Hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.”
Although we may not be able to see the outcome, we can trust that God sees our situation. Paul wrote these words of encouragement, “ May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” By the power of His Spirit, we can begin to experience abundant hope in the midst of the dark cave.
When you find yourself in a dark place, consider these three practical principles to help you gain hope:
Stay Calm – The soccer team may have sought peace through meditation, but we can find it through prayer. Prayer is a calming factor because we are bringing our cares to our loving Father and seeking His help, comfort and guidance. Paul wrote, “Let the peace of Christ rule (referee) your heart.”
Consider What You Do Have – The Thai soccer team didn’t have a banquet of food, but they did have a birthday snacks. They had fresh water trickling down the walls of the cave. In a similar way, we must turn our focus on the provisions God has given us. Let’s take time each day to thank the Lord for His provisions and the helpful people He has placed in our lives.
Ask for Strength – The Bible reminds us that those who wait on the Lord gain new strength. Paul also wrote, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” Let us not think that we fight our battles alone. Ask the Lord to give you the strength you need to make it through the night. He gives strength to the weary.
We may not be able to see hope in the midst of our darkness, but we know that God sees our situation no matter how dark the night. Let us say with the psalmist David:
Let all that I am wait quietly before God,
for my hope is in him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress where I will not be shaken.
My victory and honor come from God alone.
He is my refuge, a rock where no enemy can reach me.
O my people, trust in him at all times.
Pour out your heart to him,
for God is our refuge. Psalm 62:5-7
Discouragement can seem like an unscalable wall at times. It hits each one of us in different ways, whether it is losing a key client or setbacks with a major project or frustrations with a family member. How do we strengthen our resolve and keep going? Here are a few life principles to adopt:
Take small steps. Sometimes the big picture can be overwhelming, so let’s learn to take incremental steps forward and celebrate the little victories along the way. Create a few simple daily goals that are doable and move step by step in a positive direction.
Change the focus. Life looks pretty bleak if we only focus on our problems. Let’s stop looking at what we can’t do, and consider what we can do. There is always a bright side, but we must be looking for it. Let’s make a deliberate effort to concentrate on what can be done and the possibilities ahead of us.
Be flexible. When we are fixed on only one outcome, we open ourselves up to defeat. Let’s be willing to adapt and adjust to Plan B. Could it be that “B” stands for Better?If we consider a variety of scenarios, it allows us to adjust our goals and broaden our horizon.
Ask Questions. Discouraging situations also bring opportunities for growth and learning. We can ask questions such as, “How can I do better next time?” “What can I learn from this?” “How can I help others as a result of this?” “Are there other people I need to seek out for counsel or help?”
Have patience. Let’s face it, waiting is hard, but if we persevere we will find that we become stronger and more courageous as we wade through deep waters. Victory, success and change take time. Hang in there and remind yourself that most things get better or easier over time. Even if our circumstances seem like they won’t change for a while, the good news is that we can grow and become better in the process.
Most important, let’s remember that we are not alone. There are others who have gone through similar tough times. We can reach out to them for advice, and we can find encouragement from their example. We can also find strength and hope in our faith that God will give us the courage we need one day at a time.
For more about overcoming challenges, check out Karol’s book, Positive Leadership Principles for Women n sale for $5 this month.
As we close out the week of Independence Day, let’s take some time to reflect on what it means to live in a free country. Truly we are grateful for the freedoms we enjoy – the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. But with freedom comes responsibility. Responsibility to live with:
- Integrity to do the right thing.
- Wisdom to always tell the truth.
- Compassion and kindness toward every person.
Our society functions best when we choose to live respectfully and responsibly in regards to others. Ultimately, the greatest statement of respect and responsibility was spoken by the One who sacrificed His life for our freedom. Simply put, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself.” Life tends to fall into place when we have these priorities in place.
My fellow writer and Baylor Bear, Ben Hagins, poetically put it this way:
This week we celebrate
The Fourth of July
To enjoy our freedoms
But let me ask why
Did so many go before us
And serve the country they love?
To protect our liberties
So we can worship the One above
Who gives us a choice
To pursue any quest,
With a mission and a goal
Of having happiness.
Now the privileges we have
Mean we can’t do just anything.
Put your God first, and others second.
You’ll be happy when freedom rings.
Ben Hagins, Woodway, Texas
May each of us live with love, joy and passion as we enjoy freedom and embrace responsibility.
When it comes to making a connection with other people, a stimulating question can be our most effective tool. Whether in business, relationships or family life, bridges are often built through asking and listening rather than instructing or demanding. Engaging in meaningful and kind interaction is especially important when we are with people who have opposing points of view or see life differently than we do.
It’s not a bad idea to keep a few thoughtful questions at hand to open up dialogue and ignite positive conversations. Here are a few of my favorite questions:
What do you think about ________________? This opens up the door for you to discover another person’s point of view and where they stand on an issue or situation. This is an opportunity to listen, not to vent your opinion or stand up for your point of view or ideas. Simply listen and ask more questions.
What makes you feel that way? With this simple question you are able to dig a little deeper than surface level and find out some of the reasons behind a persons words, actions or opinions. Everyone has a story, but few people take the time to listen.
What do you want? Most people have hopes, desires and dreams but rarely verbalize them. This question is full of potential and allows the other person to identify what they are really after, both short term and in the big picture of life.
In what ways do you need help? You may not be able to solve all their problems, but you may be able to do something or point them to someone who can. In many cases, they just need is a listening ear and to know someone cares enough to ask.
Let’s have the courage and strength to listen with love and understanding. We will learn and grow as we open up the door of conversation and ask questions that lead to truth and discovery. Use questions as your tools and wisdom as your guide in building bridges, rather than burning them.
Invite Karol to share with your group on the topic of ”Thrive, Don’t Simply Survive.” Email Tammy at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ever feel slightly scattered? Do you have days when you run in twenty different directions, yet never seem to accomplish anything on your To Do list? Between the distractions on our cell phones, interruptions of the unexpected and overloaded schedules, most of us find it difficult to simply move from Point A to Point B of our daily agendas.
One way to help us stay focused and on task is to apply what I call the “Principle of Three.” Generally speaking, our brains find it easier to remember things in threes. In writing, the “Rule of Three,” suggests that a trio of three characters or events are more satisfying, effective and even funnier than other numbers (The Three Little Pigs, The Three Bears, Three Blind Mice). And of course, every preacher knows the power of a 3-point sermon. The Principle of Three is seen throughout nature: three primary colors, three parts of a human (body, mind and spirit) and three beings in the Trinity (Father, Son, Spirit).
If we apply the Principle of Three to our daily lives it can help us narrow our focus, build on the essentials and reduce the distractions. Here’s a few ways to put it into practice:
- Write out your To Do List each morning (some prefer to write it out the night before), then choose 3 priorities from the list. What 3 things are essential to accomplish for the day? Use a highlighter to designate your top 3 priorities and work steadily to accomplish them. With a focus of 3, you are more likely to remember and accomplish the essentials for each day.
- Instead of writing yearly goals that fizzle by March, consider creating a list of 3 objectives that you want to accomplish in the next 3 months. Having a quarterly focus will allow you to stay on target and keep your aim in sight.
- For each of your quarterly objectives, write out 3 doable action steps. For example, if one of your objectives is to lose 5 pounds, you may want to list your action steps as:
- Exercise 5 days a week
- Cut out sugar and white flour from diet
- Eat before 6:30 pm every night
There are many other ways to apply the Principle of Three to your personal life. Start each day with this combination of 3: pray, read, and count your blessings. You will find that your perspective is clearer and your outlook on life is brighter.
In what ways can you apply the Principle of Three to your daily routine?
Contact Karol to speak to your group on the “Principle of Three” – email@example.com