How to be Strong and Embrace Hardships?
This blog post is divided into 2 parts: 1st part is personal testimony, and the 2nd – self-management coaching.
All Things Work Together for Good
We entered the Fall Season and Thanksgiving Day is approaching. On a Thanksgiving Day, we hear so many conversations and stories of what people are thankful for. But how can we be thankful not only on Thanksgiving Day but on a daily basis as well? How can we be steadfast and sincerely thankful when we encounter difficulties and hardships, or when we don’t receive the desired answers to our prayers?
It is not that easy to be thankful in those times, is it? We might feel perplexed, frustrated and angry when things don’t go the way we want them to, right? Feeling lost and anxious we may ask “God, where are you? Why are you slow to help me?”
Over the 25 years of my faith journey, I had encountered quite a few of these situations. Over the many years of my walk with the Lord and my recovery from the adversity, I have learned how to have unwavering faith in all circumstances and have a grateful mindset no matter what’s going on in life. I am eager to share with you something that greatly empowered me to accept hardships and be steady in the life’s storm.
In my journey of recovery from adversity, many times I’ve experienced circumstances when hopelessness stared at me though ironically smiling and whispering to me, “The game is over. You’re done”. There were many difficulties and countless challenges. There were days and even years when it seemed like the Lord was not answering my prayers.
And there were times when I was telling Him that He misunderstood me that this was not what I really wanted. 🙂 At times I just couldn’t understand what God was doing, and being totally perplexed I would ask, “Why couldn’t you arrange this differently, Lord?” Many times, I stood before my Lord in tears asking Him, “Why, Lord, why did this have to happen?”
And then, after talking to Him in my prayer, I would say to Him “No matter what’s going on, I trust you, Lord. I know that you are a righteous God and you know what is better for me. Please give me the strength to go through this time”. And, I would pull myself together and continue making my best effort in everything I had to do, and patiently waiting to see what’s next.
And what an astonishing eye-opening experience it was to see that everything – including difficult times, hardships and even destruction and my mistakes – worked together for my benefit, exactly how it’s written in the Bible in Romans 8:28!
“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28 NKJV)
The first time I realized this phenomenon four years after the accident. I was sitting outside, wearing my prostheses, enjoying gorgeous Californian weather. I was thinking about my life feeling deeply in awe of how it was changing in the most incredible way. I felt sheer joy and gratitude for what I had attained, expecting even greater, more beautiful changes in the near future. As I was thinking about certain events and how they contributed to my current circumstances, suddenly I realized something I had never seen before.
“Wait a minute,” I thought to myself. “I would not have these comfortable prostheses if not those 2-years of suffering the unbearable pain and the disappointment. I would not have had all of this if I received my answer to walk again when I wanted and how I wanted!”
For two years I worked through great pain as I was learning to walk with artificial legs made by local prosthetic specialists. Prostheses caused excruciating pain. Walking was a torture. But I believed that with the help of God I could overcome everything, and I continued to train every day. With each step, it seemed to me as though someone was stabbing me with a knife. The brim of sockets cut through my skin; my legs were bruised, swollen and I would even end up having open wounds in my groin area. But I held on to my faith saying “Lord, I believe you, I believe that you will help me. You promised me that you would restore my life and I believe you, I believe that I will walk again and live a full life.” But in spite of my prayers and belief and hard work, after 2 years I clearly saw that due to the unbearable pain and constant wounds it was simply impossible to walk. My dream to walk again and live a full life collapsed before my eyes and there was nothing I could do about it. Specialists kept repeating that it’s the reality of walking with artificial legs; suffering pain is part of the package. Deep disappointment and hopelessness were all I felt. I did not see how I could possibly move forward in life toward my ultimate dream of an independent and dynamic life.
Yet, I couldn’t agree with what was happening. I kept waiting on the Lord. One day, when it felt as though hopelessness and deep depression were about to overpower my hope, I resisted that feeling, and said, “I don’t want to agree with the fact that people around the globe cannot walk with prostheses! I don’t want to accept it and I won’t!” And at that moment, a clear thought came to me that I should go on the Internet and look for help in other countries. And when I began my search, the Lord connected me with an American prosthetic specialist and the owner of the company who agreed to help me. After a week of emailing, he said “What a coincidence – I am scheduled to do a prosthetic seminar in Turkey. This is the closest place to Lithuania where I will be. If you could come to Istanbul to meet me, then I could evaluate your prostheses what’s wrong with them.” I knew this was not a coincidence. Believing that this was my opportunity, I decided to travel to Istanbul. When we met in Istanbul, Michael checked my prostheses and was shocked. He couldn’t believe I was actually able to walk at all with prostheses that were made as badly as they were; he said I must have suffered unbearable pain. He said he was inspired by my great desire to walk and he would do everything possible for me to have comfortable prostheses. Long story short, soon he invited me to come to California so that he could make me comfortable prostheses as a gift.
And so here I was, in California having my biggest impossible dream come true – I had prostheses and I could walk without suffering any discomfort. I clearly saw that I had to thank my hardship for the fulfillment of my dream. It was my pain combined with deep disappointment that started me looking for help. I would not have searched and would not have met American prosthetic specialist if I had not felt that unbearable pain and despair. Furthermore, my great desire and perseverance brought me to California, the land where the climate is perfect and the environment was fully accessible for people in wheelchairs, which was a big problem in Lithuania at the time. Here I could continue to pursue my ultimate dream of independent living! I would not be in California today if not those two long years of pain, discouragement, and despair!
During those two years, it seemed to me that God did not hear my prayers and was not providing any answers. But now I see that He did hear me and He was delivering me His help. It’s just His help was coming to me in a different way and on a different timeline because the Lord had a much more beautiful plan for my life and He was fulfilling it. It was the plan that I could not even imagine in my wildest dreams! So, it turns out that this pain and disappointment actually worked for the better.
That was the first time I saw the beneficial value in experiencing difficult circumstances, pain, and despair. It was quite unusual and not easy to admit that. However, I was thankful for it all, because I realized that the pain and despair were what motivated me to make a radical change by going on the Internet to look for help internationally. For the first time, I felt sincerely grateful for those two long dark years of hard work and countless hours of strenuous training, for bruises, open wounds, sores, and swollen thighs. I was feeling sincerely thankful that my desire to walk was not fulfilled in the way I wanted at first because what I had now was so much better than what I could have had if I had received my answer when I wanted.
And the best part of it – my aim to have comfortable prostheses brought me to sunny California, where I could continue my journey and fulfill my ultimate dream of restoring my independent, fulfilling life.
That was the first time I paid attention to what was written in the Scriptures,
“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28 NKJV)
Since that time, I started observing what was behind events and circumstances and where they ultimately brought me. Time and time again, I got to see a mystery – events that occurred, people whom I met, the experiences I went through played a critical role in my life, and to my surprise, all of it really worked together for the good.
I experience this phenomenon time and time again and today, I have many testimonies which show that all things work together for good to those who love God and are the called according to His purpose, is really true.
Even though it was not easy to get through them, they left a valuable imprint on my life. What’s more interesting, the strangest thing was to realize that particularly those events that seemed destructive or seemed like endless hardships, actually brought me to my ultimate dream. The funny thing is that even my mistakes had a great value in my life. In fact, I needed to make those mistakes, because they made changes deep within me and taught me some very valuable lessons which I would not have gained otherwise. Problems, difficulties, pain, and failures to attain some goals, hopelessness, and all that I experienced were for my benefit. It taught me to get rid of stress, fear, or anxiety. Realizing that the difficulty worked for my good surprised me each and every time. Today I am very grateful for everything.
And the most precious, through it all, I got to know God as my father. I not only heard from others, but I myself experienced how good God is, how He cares. I saw how powerful the Lord is to change circumstances, how He can heal the deepest wounds of the soul and give a new life, even if it seems impossible. I understood that through all the difficulties the Lord changes our hearts and teaches us. I am truly thankful for all the storms in my life and especially I am thankful for hopeless situations because they have taught me things which I could not have gained otherwise.
I have more real-life testimonies to share about it. I created a presentation “Steady and Thankful in the Midst of the Storm” and I will be speaking on Saturday, December 1st in San Francisco. I will be sharing multiple testimonies that will ground your faith. Along with the testimonies, I will provide coaching so that attendees leave not only encouraged, but also equipped with the practical knowledge on how to have unwavering faith, be thankful in the midst of the storm and emerge from hardships with a win. It’s a FREE event, please come to join us. I truly believe you will be very encouraged and uplifted and ready to face difficulties with courage. Please see the details in the flyer below or on Events page.
For now, I want to give you some tips that tremendously helped me. Since the Becoming Unstoppable shares not only testimonies but practical coaching and guidance to help people to be strong and create the lives they’re longing to live, I will share some of the tips here. In the presentation, I have a full program, but I want to share some tips with you here to help you begin taking steps in managing yourself, so you feel strong and gracefully go through your difficult times.
SELF-MANAGEMENT / COACHING: How to be Steady Instead of Anxious and Fearful?
Looking back and seeing that problems, hardships, and all my experiences together served a purpose and brought me to where I am today, I see that I only made it harder for myself by allowing my concerns and frustrations to disturb my peace. With time I have learned to manage my response and the way I view things based on my faith. Since then, my life became so much easier and stress or fear free. And I want to share it with you.
My first big self-management tip is – Manage yourself what you see and what you do with the situation.
- See what’s going on beyond the actual facts. What’s the purpose in it?
Naturally, when things don’t go the way we want them to go, we tend to be frustrated, anxious and fearful. We put a lot of attention on the actual problem and constantly think about what’s not good, how bad things are and how big problems are, how much we don’t like what’s going on, and how difficult it is, etc. But what happens then is the problem becomes bigger and darker. Then, we feel frustration, anger, anxiety, fear, and even despair. What do you think, can we make the right decisions when we feel that way?
Before you react to a situation and let your negative feelings overpower you, stop yourself. Step back and look at the situation from a different viewpoint. Respond to the situation by controlling what you see. It’s your perspective, your viewpoint will determine what it will mean to you, how you feel about it and what you’re going to do about it. Therefore, it’s critical to be in charge of your mindset, your viewpoint.
See your situation through the eyes of faith. Choose your response based on your faith.
How? Think about it – if you love God (which means you live according to God’s commandments) and are called according to His plan, then this spiritual law works in your life. And, in the book of Job in the Scriptures, we see that the enemy cannot do more in your life than what God allows. Plus, in Mathew 10:29-31 we see that even hair on our head are counted.
Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. (Matthew 10:29-31 NKJV)
Father is watching over every detail in our lives and nothing happens unless He allows it. And if God allowed this situation, so there is some purpose in it, right? Nothing just happens without a reason. And, according to Romans 8:28, it has to work together for good. So, instead of becoming anxious and fearful, ask yourself, why this was allowed in your life. Don’t be fearful and don’t entertain questions “What if this and that happens?” Be like a child and trust your God. He’s watching over you. Your job is to find the purpose behind these circumstances.
Before you react, ask yourself the question – Keeping in mind that the Lord controls everything and nothing in my life happens without Father’s will, why is this allowed in my life, what is the purpose behind this?
See, the Lord often allows difficulties and doesn’t make it easier right away because He’s working with our heart, He’s teaching us. At times He tests us. The vessel goes through the molding and the fire before it is used. If you look at what benefit you can find in it, what’s the good side of this difficulty – you will be amazed how much good you will see.
Remember – we find what we seek. So, if you choose to focus on a problem and how bad it is – this is what you are going to see. And feel. That will be your loss. But if you change the angle of your viewpoint and look for the good side of this problem and what good purpose this might serve you, what the Lord is doing in your life through this, then you will see very different things.
And even if you don’t see anything good, if you don’t have the answers yet – just trust your God and do your best to get out of that situation. Not always we get to see right away what’s behind certain circumstances.
- Instead of focusing on a problem focus on possibilities to fix it and make every effort to fix those problems.
Don’t sit idly waiting! Don’t just sit there dwelling on your problem and analyzing how bad it is. Also, even if you believe without a doubt – you must make an effort (unless you had a revelation not to do anything). Focus on opportunities to improve your situation. What are the ways to fix it? There is always a way, only you need to find it. Where is the solution to this? And, do the work; make every effort to improve your situation. In my personal experience, most of my solutions came as a result of my perseverance and relentless effort to find a way to improve my circumstances. I see that I would have missed my opportunity if I didn’t make any effort. So while you walk by faith, do the work. And be unstoppable in your pursuit.
Be like a child trusting your God because He is faithful and he answers to them who seek him with all their heart. At the same time, be wise and diligent; always do your best in any given circumstances. Maybe through your efforts to improve your situation, you will meet a new opportunity and through that, you will come to the answer that you’ve been waiting on for so long. I wish you all the best as you go through your life experience.
I hope this was valuable to you. And again, if you would like to hear a full presentation, please join me on Saturday, Dec 1st at 3:30PM in San Francisco, 1690 21st Ave, San Francisco, CA 94122. It’s a Free event. We only will be grateful for donations to help us cover the cost of putting this event together. But no obligation. The most important is you hearing the message and begin living a stress-free life.
If you would like me to do this presentation in your church – please connect with me directly and we will make arrangements.
Meanwhile, be unstoppable. It’s a choice. 😉