Sprinkled throughout all the beauty, life often pours out its share of bumps and bruises, disappointments and devastations.  Sure, we all have a lot to be thankful for, but what do we do with the hard stuff? The shocking, I-can't-believe-this-happened stuff? Or the kind of things that make you wonder if it will ever stop hurting just to inhale? 

In times like these we have a few choices.  We can ignore the pain and stuff our feelings.  We can get lost in the sea of emotions that swirls around us.  Or we can get lost in God.  I have tried all three. Getting lost in God instead of the pain has proven to be a better choice every time.

David writes, "Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings" Psalms 17:8 (NIV). I think in the middle of the raging storm around us, God holds out an invitation to hide our hearts in His. Turmoil brings out the smallness in me; meaning I sense how very not-in-control I really am.  It makes me see that I can't fix circumstances, people or even myself.  God is the Fixer of all things broken. 

Not me.

When life throws a hardship our way, we often have very little control over the circumstance, but we do have control over our response to the situation.  Here are some practical ways to hide our hearts in the Lord when turmoil surrounds us:

1. Focus on His character. Too often we allow our circumstances to cloud our vision of God's true character. During times of heartache we need to dig deeply into God's word -- which never changes or fails us. 

Eve was tempted in the Garden because she bought into the lie that God was holding out on her. She forgot God's true character and allowed a circumstance to change her trust in Him.  We can do the very same thing! In the middle of hard times it is all the more important to refresh our vision of our Lord.  Here are two ideas for ways you can focus on God's character:

Scripture cards. I am personally not that good at memorizing anything- let alone Bible passages. So, I constantly have my world wallpapered with notes of Scripture I need to remember. When my circumstances tempt me to think that God has forgotten me, I find verses that remind me of the truth that He sees every detail of me life and tape them up on my bathroom mirror, kitchen walls or daily planner. When I feel out of touch with His love, I search out verses to rekindle that sense of His love. Whatever character trait of God you are apt to forget in hard times, search out Scripture that will remind you of the truth and fill your world with it!  Along with the Scripture cards, there is another "focusing" exercise that helps me. 

 

List God's goodness.  On a sheet of paper, I make two columns. In one I write out the issues that have hurt or disappointed me with a circumstance or individual in one. Naming it and writing it out helps me deal with the issue in truth -- not with over-dramatic emotion that has been brewing in my heart or sweeping it under the rug of denial. Then in another column, I write character traits of God that are the opposite of the issues I wrote in the first column.

For example, if a friend gossiped about me, I might write that her lack of loyalty and love hurt me. In the second column I would write God is faithful to me all the time (2 Timothy 2:13) and that His love is one that always protects and covers our confessed weakness instead of exposing it (John 8:4-11, 1 Corinthians 13:4-7).  I make sure to include the Scripture reference in my listing and by the end of my columns the hurt has been put in proper perspective, and I am praising God for who He is!