How do you keep going when things get tough?

"By trying we can easily learn to endure adversity -- another man's, I mean," wrote Mark Twain.

If you're reduced to human resources, there's wisdom as well as wit in Twain's quip. Severe personal adversity has a way of undoing us. The self-assured masks we love to wear become difficult to maintain.

Taylor, age 10, knows what it's like to be embarrassed: "Once I remember I was not doing good in my baseball game. I really wasn't batting or fielding well, so I asked God to help me be better next time I go to bat or go to field. I keep going because I go to the Lord in prayer."

At times, everyone drops the ball and strikes out. The difference is where you go when you're down and out.

"One time I thought nobody loved me," says Anna, 7. "After a few days, I told my mom. She said that they love me, but sometimes things don't go your own way. She also said that if I trust in God, he will lead me to the right path. After that, I trusted in God. Guess what, my mom was right."

It's amazing how many times moms are right. God created us with a deep desire to be loved. If you have loving parents, you're blessed. But even the best parents can't fill all the capacity you have for love. Neither can your spouse.

If you feel unloved, you'll create your own adversity. No one can carry the overbearing weight of feeling unloved. Adversity merely brings it to light. Until you're in a relationship with the most passionate lover of all, God himself, you'll try to fill the void of feeling unloved with all kinds of things and people.

"I keep on going when life gets tough by knowing that there is more to life than just that one moment," says Robbie, 11.

"Do not lose heart," the Apostle Paul wrote. "For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen" (II Corinthians 4:16a-18a).

If there were a Suffering Hall of Fame, the Apostle Paul would be inducted unanimously on the first ballot. Maligned, misunderstood, shipwrecked, beaten, stoned, jailed, ill, betrayed and eventually beheaded, Paul unquestionably was afflicted.

How did he come through it? He looked beyond immediate hardship. He saw God using hard times to create in him something glorious. Paul traded the weight of feeling unloved by those who persecuted him for what he called "an eternal weight of glory."

Some might accuse Paul of wearing eternal rose-colored glasses, but he's not alone. "When things get tough, you have to realize that God planned it, and it will turn out for the best," says Caroline, 11.

This is not a fatalist view toward adversity. Rather, it's seeing God at work even where opposition abounds. God is mysteriously at work in adversity, but it takes eyes of faith to see him.

Another Caroline, 9, tells us how to focus when looking through our eternal-weight-of-glory glasses. "When things start going bad for me, I believe in God, and then I say a prayer. Then I feel a whole lot better. Sometimes I just go up in my room and get my Bible and start reading."

Point to ponder: Jesus persevered for us in his suffering on the cross. Scripture to remember: "For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls" (Hebrews 12:3). Question to consider: Can you see God's purpose in enduring a difficult person or circumstance?

Inspire your children by reading this column with them and visiting the Kids Talk About God website at  www.KidsTalkAboutGod.org. Bible quotations are from the New King James Version.

And -- You'll smile, laugh and wonder when you see the new KTAG TV commercials and hear the radio spots at
 www.KidsTalkAboutGod.org.

© 2004 CAREY KINSOLVING