Everyone is going to face adversity at one time or another. Sometimes it will even come in double doses - one on top of the other. Just when you think things could not be worse, suddenly they are. How some people make it through these hard times is often very inspiring. They refuse to let it take them down.
That doesn't mean they never have their moments of sorrow and depression. What it means is that they have somehow found the formula for pulling out of the depths of despair and rising above it. It's all about finding a glimmer of hope and letting it lift you up. It helps you hold on. Fortunately, bad times usually pass. There is always sunshine behind the cloud. We just have to wait a bit for the cloud to move over and let the sun shine through. Sometimes we even have to part the cloud with our own faith and determination in order to see the sunshine.
Our reaction to adversity is the key
The way we part those clouds is controlled by how we respond to our times of trial. A religious leader and motivational speaker, Dieter Uchtdorf said, "It is your reaction to adversity, not the adversity itself, that determines how your life's story will develop." His words remind us that in all the fairy tales he had read to his children it was obvious that every heroine had to first overcome difficult situations before reaching her dream. So it is in our lives.
The story is told of a frog that fell into a pail of cream. Rather than sink in despair he began to paddle with all his might hoping to find a way out. He continued to paddle. Before long, the cream churned into butter. He pulled himself up on a clump of it and hopped out of the pail. The point is, never give up the fight. The fight itself will strengthen you and help you find a brighter future.
Look for the blessings
When you are in the midst of hard times, it helps to look for all the positives about it that you can. When the hardest part is over, looking back helps you see how blessed you were through it all. This is the case with our friend, Jennifer Anderson, a young mother who just completed seven months of cancer treatment for a very aggressive form of the disease. Her experience has been an incredible journey of faith and hope.
She reported on her blog that as she thinks back over the past several months she wonders if this really happened to her. "Did I really go through all that cancer treatment?" Remembering the pain and seeing the surgical scars on her abdomen brought it all back and she said, "Yep, I did!" She commented that she was a better person for having gone through it.
What does someone learn from going through such a difficult trial? In her case, it became crystal clear that, as a result, she was a better person. She said, "I hope I learned about serving others as I have been served, about prayer and blessings, and the importance of family and friends." She commented that her experience of sharing stories with other cancer patients was also strengthening. When she started counting all the many ways her life had been enriched through this illness she realized that her setbacks had been stepping stones, not stumbling blocks.
She was also quick to note that there were times when feelings of helplessness overcame her which is normal for one going through such a difficult time. But she explained "those moments dissolve and transform into defining moments where we find our inner strength and make it through more than we ever thought we could."
Her final comment was, "I know there are people everywhere fighting their own battles - maybe less public than mine has been. I pray that I can offer the kind of hope, service and love that has been shown to me during my battle. If I have helped one person by my experience, then this whole cancer thing has been worth it. After all, that's why we're here."
Her perspective in dealing with her adversity has been an inspiration to many. So it is with all of us. As we face our challenges and overcome hardships we are strengthened. So are those who helped us through it.