We may watch the approach of the hardship (eg, the date of the dentist’s appointment), with fear and trepidation, desperate to avoid it yet knowing we cannot. We wonder how we can get through the ordeal when we cannot even bare to think of it.
I had a very sickly childhood, often coming down with tonsillitis, bronchitis, bronchilitis, and very painful middle ear infections. When I came down with one of these illnesses again, I knew from my previous experiences what I was about to go through. A burning throat would lead to a high fever, sometimes exceeding 40ºC and often accompanied by deliriousness. Complications typically followed such as infected sinuses, a chest infection, or a middle ear infection. If I contemplated what I was about to go through, it was too heavy for me.
Instead, once the sickness took hold me of me, I would say to myself, “In a few days, I will be better, this will all be over, and life will go back to normal. I will walk outside into a sky full of sunshine, with this sickness behind me.” This hope greatly comforted me and helped me to endure the trial.
Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. James 1:12
As well as keeping my gaze fixed on being well again instead of worrying about the suffering yet to come, I prayed to Jesus throughout each day that I lay sick in bed, asking Him to help me through each moment. He was my refuge in the midst of these storms.
He gives power to those who are tired and worn out; He offers strength to the weak. Isaiah 40:29
I concentrated on living one hour at a time, without worrying about what would come next. The hours added up and the day would pass. Then I concentrated on living one day at a time without worrying about the next day’s sufferings. The days added up and finally the sickness was gone. Then I would walk outside into a sunny day, and rejoice in the Lord.
What did Jesus say regarding worrying about the future?
Matthew 6:25 – 34 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?
"And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
I dealt with trips to the dentist in the same way. (I really do not like going to the dentist.) Instead of brooding fearfully about the approaching dentist’s appointment, I took each preceding day one day at a time. And when I finally I sat in the dentist’s chair I would tell myself, “In thirty minutes or so this will all be over. Then I will walk out of the dentist’s smiling with joy because it’s over.” Focusing on the sense of relief and elation that would come when it was over helped me to get through the procedure, rather than focusing on the procedure itself.
The Lord’s wonderful advice sets us free from worrying about the future. “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:35
This is a very effective strategy for coping with depression as well. Take it one day at a time, trusting in Jesus to strengthen us and help us through that day, rather than constantly fearing what the future may hold.
We do not need to carry tomorrow’s burdens today. When we get to ‘tomorrow,’ Jesus will be there, ready to help us deal with them.
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