Had things are hard; and there are times when life is just plain hard. Rev. Charles Poole spoke of this in his book “Don’t Cry Past Tuesday.” “You cannot escape life’s hard things. There are no detours around them or shortcuts over them. All the power of positive thinking you can muster will not take the hard edge off hard things. All the ‘silver lining in every cloud’ clichés you can recite will not make that which is truly hard into something soft or easy…Hard things are hard,” he wrote. How well we know that right now as we try to get back on our feet after the hurricane and in the midst of present economic challenges. Sometimes life is hard because of wrong choices we make and the consequences that follow. Other times, we find life hard when we go through our busy days without taking time to connect with God and seek his guidance. Yet, sometimes life is hard, not because of our own doing but as a result of the choices of others. Things over which we have no control. The actions of others have consequences in our lives and we find ourselves struggling. Then there are the hard things we must deal with that can’t really be traced to anyone’s wrongdoing. They just come into our lives. Hard things are hard. So, we search the scriptures for answers on how to cope. We consult with spiritual leaders and counselors, looking for understanding, only to realize the truth: we live in a world where bad things can, and do happen. So, what can we do to get through the hard times in our lives? Rev. Poole’s writing took me to two men in the Bible, Jeremiah and Paul, who dealt with hard times by doing two specific things. First, they told their stories. Jeremiah cried out to God, “Why is my pain unending and my wound grievous and incurable?” (Jeremiah 15:18). In the first chapter of 2 Corinthians, Paul shared his story with his friends, “We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life.” Both men began by telling their story candidly and honestly - not as victims but as strugglers - that hard things are hard. Perhaps we can begin where they did. Like Jeremiah, we can talk to God about the hard things we are facing. Then like Paul, we can share our story with someone we can trust who will listen and understand. That’s the first step, but not the last. Paul went on to tell his friends of his trust in God’s deliverance even in the face of possible death, “He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us.” Jeremiah and Paul embraced hope, believing that God would do in the future just what he had done in the past. Carry his children through the hard times of life. When hard things come our way, we can begin by telling our story and continue on by holding onto our hope. Then we can press on, even in the hardest times. Rev. Poole tells of a man who owned a plum tree that was ravaged by a tornado. He and his friends assessed the damage as one neighbor asked, “What are you going to do with it?” After a long pause, the man replied, “I’m going to pick the fruit and burn the rest.” He planned to find whatever good he could and then get on with life. Sometimes the fruit we find in the midst of life’s storms is in the form of insight. Or, perhaps in the comfort of friends and family. Sometimes the fruit waiting for us is increased awareness of God’s presence, promises, and provision. We may have to look deep because the fruit isn’t always easy to see under the rubble; but it’s there. When the hard times come along, remember to tell your story and embrace hope. Then pick the fruit, let go of the debris, and move forward, knowing you’re not alone. God is with you, even through the hard times. Nancy Williams, LPC has a professional counseling, life coaching and consulting practice in Kingwood. Send questions or comments to her at www.nancywilliams.net.

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