For whatever reason the world seems to be increasingly harsh. Men and women of faith are all undergoing a thorough working over by the spirit of the age. It seems to me that almost every day I hear of another person who has fallen into deep sin that is life transforming for their family. So what should we do in the face of a hostile living environment?
1) Be encouraging- Since so many people are struggling let's make our words powerful and encouraging. The best way I know to do that is to sprinkle liberally encouraging promises in our conversation. "Let your conversation be seasoned with salt..." wrote the Apostle to the Gentiles. He knew that the most powerful words are divine words. And, while it might be tempting to ramble along meaninglessly, or to trade in the gossip of the office pool, remember the likelihood that somebody there needs to be encouraged today. Ephesians tells us to "Let no unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs so that it may benefit those who listen."
2) Be sensitive-Looking beyond the surface takes an extra moment but sometimes you can see the toll that the struggles of life are taking on those in your work place or prayer group. When they are hurting, avoid the words of unsolicited advise and use, instead, words of compassion and hope. Struggles don't come at good times, they pile on in bad times. So be sensitive to the hurts, needs and cares that your friends and family are having to fight through.
3) Be positive-Negativity is death. The sign of a spirit-filled life is making music in your heart to the Lord. PRAISE! There is no time when it is inappropriate. Hope is the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ. No matter what you are facing God has more than enough power, wisdom, strength and help to get you through. Make a stand yourself and encourage those who are slowly being poisoned by negativity and hopelessness.
4) Be prayerful- Some situations are impossible... unless God acts. He doesn't act until he is invited into the situation. So you and I will have to be prayer warriors. Seeking the face of God to do warfare against the real enemies of our soul. Your enemy is not your boss, your struggle is not with flesh and blood. Rebuke the devil with all authority, resist his subtle advances and temptations, and submit yourself to God completely and you will have a victorious outcome. Pray for those who are hurting, those important people in the ministry of your church who watch for your soul- they are under incessant attack. Let God's power be released through your prayer life.
5) Be on your guard-While we minister to others, occasionally there is a transference that happens. Their burdens bring discouragement upon us. We find ourselves sharing their doubts and sinking into their despair. Guard your heart, as Solomon taught his son, for out of it flows the issues of life. Caution is needed that we don't go too fast, too deep, for too long. Is your life balanced? Are things good at home, in your marriage, with your kids? Are you working productively at the office? Are you developing new friendships? Are serving spiritually somewhere? Is there music in your life?
Overcoming the darkness isn't that hard...we just have to turn on the light! Let your light so shine...