Coping, Comfort, and Control

If your way isn't working anymore, let God help now.

How to cope with life, how to find comfort, and learning coping skills.

Being deathly ill, suffering injustice, and even having a misunderstanding can make a person feel powerless. Whenever I felt powerless, I would often try to control situations myself. When that didn’t work (or wasn’t possible), I’d try to alleviate the stress in unhealthy ways or distract myself so I could forget the issue altogether. It would seem to work for a little while, bringing an initial sense of comfort, but ended up becoming a bigger mess as the underlying problem never went away; it would just manifest again in some other area of my life.

Before learning proper coping skills, I employed countless tactics to divert my attention. I would spend money (as if I had some to spare) to create the feeling of financial security. When I felt stressed or powerless over being mistreated or having a rough day at work, I would go home and get intoxicated to “alleviate stress” and numb the inner turmoil. Sometimes I would take long naps, or delve head-on into major projects to get my mind in a different mode. I even tried minimizing the seriousness of sad situations by mentally re-writing them into humorous ones.

At some point, it becomes painfully, unavoidably clear that distracting yourself from the issue or inner turmoil isn’t working anymore, and you have no choice but to take care of the underlying anger and issues causing the powerlessness you feel. You need a true solution that provides genuine comfort. Negative emotions might feel like destructive poison inside, but they CAN be dealt with constructively.

When substance abuse or other unhealthy reactions are involved, it’s very important to talk to someone. Seek a wise friend, get professional help and / or join a recovery group. No human is capable of overcoming everything on their own; we simply weren’t designed that way. The most effective coping mechanisms include finding supportive people to talk to, getting a little exercise, spending quiet time alone with God, and helping others. Even doing just a little every day will make a huge difference in the long run, as applying new, healthier coping mechanisms becomes second nature, replacing the old ingrained habits.

What about unanswered prayer? If your faith depends on resolution, you may end up very disappointed, or even angry with God, if the resolution doesn't come. Our hearts are like gold being refined by fire; it gets hot, uncomfortable, and unbearable, as all the impurities rise to the top. Refinement hurts. But when we finally get to shed these earthly bodies to meet the Lord, we will be so happy, we won't remember the pain, due to the extreme contrast! We must decide now to be resolved to praise Him, and trust Him though we don't understand what he's doing, especially during those times when our expectations aren't being met. Especially when it seems like they should be met. Especially with the crushing possibility that they may never be met. Will you still love Him?

When a plant is deprived of water, its roots grow deeper into the soil in search of water. On the surface, it doesn't appear to be growing, yet underneath, it is getting more firmly rooted and stronger. Life's trials can be a blessing when they make us "thirsty" for Him, so we can get firmly rooted, deeper in Him. Ephesians 3:14-20 says: "I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.".

Try This Prayer:

“Father, please help me overcome the core issues causing (and perpetuating) my stress and anger. Help me stop stuffing my feelings down, because they just come right back. If I have any old, bad memories that I need to process, walk me through it and remove the sting, so I’m no longer plagued by it. Take away its power, and the feeling of doom.

Show me what to do instead of the stuff I always use to comfort myself, or to make myself feel like I have control of my life. I’m ready to try better coping skills. My ways aren’t working. My ways aren't resolving anything, I'm making it worse.

I want to know how powerful YOU are over the things that make me feel powerless. Help me have real comfort in knowing that YOU are the one who is truly in control. Also make me aware of the things I DO have control over, but I don’t realize (or believe) it yet.

Bring new ideas and people into my life that can help, and please give understanding to the people that wish to harm me, or remove them from my life somehow. Please give me the courage to connect with healthy-minded people and ask for their support.

Help me stay focused and trust that you will make all things new, that there WILL be justice, healing, restoration, mercy, and complete safety, if not in this lifetime, then definitely in the next. Help me trust you, even if healing and justice never come in this lifetime. I trust that you have a plan, that you will be there in the future, and I look forward to it. Thank you for everything you have done for me, and for everything you will do. In Jesus name, Amen!”

Read: 2 Timothy 1:7 and 1 John 4:16

Start: seeking comfort in God and people through spending time together, not just talking about issues, but also in non-structured recreation. Enjoy their presence. Find a way to start helping others, too.

Stop: any false thoughts about yourself which do not coincide with God's word, negative speculations about the future, and speculation (judgments) of others. Try not to be angry with God when you feel like your prayers aren't being heard. Instead, try asking God what He wants you to understand.

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