* Pray often. Every day, pray about what’s on your mind, listen to what God says to you through His Spirit and His Word, and embrace the encouragement and hope He offers you. Ask other people to intercede for you in specific ways. Pray with others (such as a prayer partner or members of a Bible study group) whenever you can. Make your prayers personal, being honest with God and building intimacy with Him. Thank God for what He has done and is currently doing in your life. Approach God with an attitude of repentance. Make specific requests. Express your confidence and trust in God’s ultimate control of your life – including your suffering.

* Embrace comfort. Don’t try to tackle too much at once or let anxiety about the future consume you; go easy on yourself and just take one day at a time. Look for signs of God’s grace around you every day, such as through the hugs of friends and family members and the inspirational messages of songs. Read your Bible often for encouragement. Let people who care about you know how they can help you, and accept their help with gratitude. Reach out to God for comfort whenever you need it.

* Reach out beyond yourself to others. Know that every challenge you face helps prepare you to help others. Use the lessons you’ve learned in your own suffering to positively impact other people’s lives. Ask God to turn your tragedy into a platform to share His hope and love. Pray for Him to open your eyes to notice the many people around you who are struggling. Remember that no matter what you’re going through, there is always someone else who is experiencing even greater suffering. Show compassion on others by praying for them, financially supporting charities, doing volunteer work, and in any other ways God leads you to serve. Discover your passions for ministry and follow them. Ask God to shine His light through you into suffering people’s darkness. Share the story of how God has worked in your life whenever you have an opportunity to encourage someone else. Point other people toward Jesus and the hope and love that He offers them.

* Recognize gifts in disguise. Understand that your challenges can actually be gifts disguised as burdens. Be thankful whenever your challenges cause you to grow closer to God, focus on what matters most in life, or help you mature into the person God intends you to become.

Adapted from Why?: Answers to Weather the Storms of Life by Vernon Brewer, copyright 2006 by World Help. Published by World Help, Inc., Forest, Va., www.worldhelp.net. 
Vernon Brewer is the founder and president of World Help, a nonprofit, nondenominational Christian organization that is uniquely qualified and strategically positioned to meet the spiritual and physical needs of hurting people around the world. World Help exists to fulfill the Great Commission and the Great Commandment through partnering, training, helping and serving, especially in the unreached areas of the world. Vernon is also the author of The Forgotten Children: Hungry. Hopeless. Running for Their Lives.