With each passing year, I become more aware of how fleeting life is and how little control I have over what happens.
It’s not like the Bible hasn’t warned me of this truth but, when the times are good, it’s easy to forget and begin to rely on my own strength. And I give myself the credit for any and all achievements.
We don’t know the future and that’s OK
If you’re unfamiliar with the passages I’m alluding to, here is a simple one to add to your memorization list.
Don’t brag about tomorrow, since you don’t know what the day will bring.— Proverbs 27:1
For a little more context, we can look to the Book of James:
Look here, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit.” How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone.— James 4:13-14
While not having control over the future, or even knowing what will happen next, can be fear-inducing, there is another choice. We can trust God to handle our future, just like He always has and just like He always will.
In his devotional book Day by Day, Bible-teacher Chuck Swindoll puts it this way, “We are only finite human beings. We can only see the present and the past. The future is a little frightening to us. So we need to hold on to His hand and trust Him to calm our fears. And at those times when we’re stubborn and resisting and God shakes us by the shoulders to get our attention, we’re reminded that we don’t call the shots, God has a plan for us, mysterious though it may seem, and we want to be in the centre of it.”
Reframing challenges into opportunities
Challenges in life are inevitable. Whether it’s a job loss or an illness or some other type of obstacle, it’s easy to only see the negative aspect of our situation. Of course, nothing in life is one dimensional. Yes, the circumstance may be dire, but there may also be lessons to learn, truths to discover and revelations to be revealed.
The people who are able to look at their challenges and embrace them as opportunities unlock the ability to find meaning and experience growth in any circumstance.
Tips for reframing challenges into opportunities
Becoming the type of person who can turn a challenge into a wonderful opportunity boils down to a choice. When facing a negative situation, these three key attitudes allow us to widen our perspective and see a bigger picture.
1. Remember the Truth
Even when our current culture is trending towards relativism and personal truth (small “t”), we as Christians can hold on to and live by the Truth (big “T”). When facing a challenge, our knee-jerk response should be to ask God to show us His viewpoint rather than relying on our flawed opinions and self-focused assumptions.
No matter what, there’s a bigger story being told and it’s there for us to discover if we’re willing to open our eyes. It starts by remembering what’s true, and what’s not.
2. Embrace change
A lot of reframing challenges into opportunities comes down to our openness to change. It’s admitting to ourselves that we don’t have ultimate control over our lives or circumstances. It’s being open to something new and different, something we didn’t want but that we are experiencing now. If we’re closed-off to change, we will resist it and have a negative encounter with it.
Sometimes being open to new possibilities is uncomfortable and pushes us outside of our carefully curated comfort zones. But if we’re able to take that leap of faith and welcome change as a friend (or at least not as an enemy), there may be some beautiful lessons and encounters along the way.
If we’re not open, we’ll miss it. And the change will happen anyway.
3. Be honest and humble
While we want to put a positive spin on our situation, we need to balance that with honesty. Sometimes things suck. Sometimes stuff is no good at all. And it’s important to acknowledge that.
Once we’ve allowed ourselves to feel the authentic, raw emotions, it’s time to humble ourselves before the Lord and ask Him to show us the way through the pain. We can’t stay rooted in this place.
In the midst of hardship, it’s important to find the balance between being honest about our situation and determining to find the strength to endure it and perhaps even thrive in the midst of it.
Find a way through
Even if it seems impossible to see any positive meaning or lesson in a situation, at least ask the Lord for deeper understanding.
Maybe a challenge you went through will allow you to empathize with someone who you wouldn’t have known how to connect with before.
Perhaps you’re able to grow deeper in your faith and interact with God in a more authentic way.
What if your curiosity and bravery while facing this challenge unlocks something powerful within you? Something you can apply to your vocation or your relationships? Isn’t the possible transformation worth the temporary discomfort?
Moving through the obstacles and allowing yourself to feel every part of it will tune you into so much of the world around you, as well as your fellow human beings.
Every challenge presents an opportunity to trust God
While some of us may be wondering how there can possibly be a bigger plan or perspective in the midst of a global crisis, Christians can rest assured in the fact that God is sovereign over everything—even now.
Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.— Hebrews 10:23
There is nothing outside God’s purview. Nothing surprises Him. While we may not understand what is happening or know why God allows bad things to happen, it’s still important for us to trust that He has everything under control and He will see us through this.