In part 1 of What To Do When Difficulty Appears, we dealt with "counting like God counts" while defining an approach and attitude in attacking difficulty that focuses on development over discouragement. In part 2, we want to take a look at some practical elements to incorporate along the way to development. We're going to talk about development in two ways. The first way is to build a foundation for development through three specific practices to help us set the atmosphere for development. The second way will involve eight particular details of action.
Three foundational practices for choosing development over discouragement can be drawn from the way Jesus led Jairus to respond to news of his daughter's death in Mark 5. These practices include:
1. Practice right first response. When Jairus' was given the report, Jesus immediately jerked Jairus' mind off of discouragement by telling him, "Be not afraid, only believe." According to Jesus, the right first response to discouraging things is to resist the grip of fear, believe accurately based on truth and stand firmly in your rights to possess what is rightfully yours.
2. Practice the vocabulary of silence. There's no recorded verbal response from Jairus following the report. Sometimes, saying nothing is the best path of action to take when discouragement is seeking to overwhelm us. James put it this way: "Be swift to hear, slow to speak and slow to wrath." It's easy for discouragement to turn into anger, but being swift to hear means pausing to think before we speak, then
controlling the words we allow to come out of our mouths so that they align with what we believe and expect based on truth. This process is vital towards experiencing successful development when faced with difficulty.
3. Practice environmental control. Jairus' gave Jesus authority to create the environment necessary for a very difficult personal event to be changed for the better. Jesus determined who was and was not to be present when re-directing the impact of the difficulty Jairus faced. There's a time when you don't need the drama of anyone's lack of confidence in what God and you can do together. Especially within your inner circle, intentionally surround yourself with those who motivate and celebrate you, never surround yourself with those who tolerate or devastate you.
When you've focused your attention and efforts with these three practices, you've set the atmosphere for development to take place. Now let's consider eight practical details for action.
First, look in a literal mirror. Evaluate your countenance…and put an immediate smile on your face where needed. Why? Because you understand that this difficulty is a trial of your faith and if handled properly will help you develop. Look yourself in the eyes and say it out loud, "this, too, shall pass." Looking at yourself in a mirror is also a reminder to look into the mirror of the "perfect law of liberty" for the remedy, solution and antidote to whatever difficulty that has appeared. Remember this, there's always a working and winning answer present in the scriptures to help you overcome whatever you're facing.
Second, in a very concise statement, write your difficulty in plain terms. No candy coated, sugared up versions are allowed. Then very briefly list the real or potential cause(es) of this difficulty. It's important to get straight to the point as best you can. It's also crucial to understand that you're not going to linger here for very long. This is only for awareness purposes and to begin identifying the solution. The rest of the time is focused on employing and applying the antidote.
Third, present your findings to God. When Hezekiah found his city surrounded by an enemy army and was presented a letter of a very real threat and promise of destruction, he took the letter and spread it out before the Lord and sought God's precise directions. Take your written difficulty as a petition directly to God. Paul encouraged the Philippians, "Do not fret or have anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer, petition and definite requests, with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God." Philippians 4:6 (Amplified Bible) Present your case with scriptures that support your desired outcome. Acting on this truth will invite peace to "garrison and mount guard over your heart and mind."
Fourth, diligently search the scriptures for the specific antidote to the difficulty. If it's important to you, it's worth digging for what you need. This is where you find the "accurate opposite" to what you're facing. Hatred and strife have opposites. Poverty and lack have opposites. Poor relationships have an opposite. Define and find the accurate opposite truth provided in scripture to defeat the difficulty. Then put it into action "day and night," first in meditation, and correspondingly into action. If you find the truth and stand on it, everything around you that's not true must change and conform to the truth.
Fifth, "Ask for help!" If pride is blocking your path, resist and eliminate the pride and ask first for God's help, then ask for any natural help you can acquire. It can be momentarily embarrassing to let others know you have a need for help but it can ease your anxiety and help solve the difficulty more quickly. Many people "have not because they ask not." This doesn't mean we put pressure on people to solve our problems nor look to people as our source. Genuine faith never pressures people to meet its needs. God meets all our needs. He's our unending, never failing Source and Supply.
Sixth, employ and apply the antidote without wavering. In the fourth action detail, we mentioned putting things into active practice day and night. The emphasis is doubled here in the sixth detail because it's only the God-directed action that's followed that will permanently resolve and overcome every difficulty. This sixth detail goes a step further than only following an instruction. To "employ and apply" is pointing toward us taking on the nature of the antidote as a way of life. It's one thing to incorporate an action as a temporary or short term way to do things in life. It's another thing altogether when we make a long term commitment to what we do and allow it to originate from a way of being within us. When what we do is ingrained within and emanates from the core of our being, difficulties dissolve under the immense weight and integrity of the "real you."
Seventh, do something beneficial for someone else. This is especially effective when you release well-doing on behalf of another as a precise seed that aims at harvesting a crop of what you need. If you need peace in a relationship, send peace into other people's lives, not demanding any particular response from them, but just to be a peacemaker because it's the right thing to do.
And eighth, faithfully speak well. There's a time to refrain from speaking, but there's also a time to speak well and speak with faithful conviction. Here are two sound examples of the end results of speaking well. Proverbs 13: 3 says, "He who guards his mouth preserves his life." Proverbs 21:23 says, "Whosoever guards his mouth and tongue keeps his soul from troubles. " The Message Bible states it this way: "Watch your words and hold your tongue; you'll save yourself a lot of grief."
Speaking well also includes speaking in an exact way against the difficulty. In Mark 11, Jesus didn't just speak about a fig tree, He spoke TO it. In Mark 4, Jesus didn't speak about the storm, He spoke TO the storm and AGAINST the winds that were fueling the storm. In Mark 11:23, Jesus said we're to speak TO the mountain, or the obstacles standing between where we are and where we want to be, that we're to speak AGAINST the root causes fueling the difficulty.
Well speaking means speaking to the difficulties with a command that orders circumstances to line up with truth. Although confronting people may be required in this process, it's important to note that we're talking largely about addressing the spirit or attitude behind the circumstances, not so much directly at a person who may be causing difficulty.
In the third and final part of What To Do When Difficulty Appears, we'll explore a specific antidote example, but let's finish with these thoughts. There are certainly many different ways in life to solve difficulties, but the eight action details presented here have principles and precepts that can make a difference. As with any recommendations or advice on handling difficulties, it's the diligence and attention to action that energizes your success, so take charge over your difficulty, make development the higher priority and watch discouragement leave your mind and life.