1. Recognize the season.

The Japanese poet, Kenji Miyazawa, wrote, "We must embrace pain and burn it as fuel for our journey." Unfortunately, many of us have had a lot of extra fuel for our journey. Disappointment, divorce and death are each gut-wrenching in their own way. But when you are feeling the sting of a setback, God is preparing you for your comeback. I promise, on the other side of that pain and grief you'll find yourself wiser and stronger.

Ecclesiastes 3:1 explains it best, "There are times and seasons for everything. Wherever life puts you, plow the ground, plant the seed, water the seed and wait for the harvest."

2. Look to your last hurdle.

In Proverbs, it's written that, "unrelenting disappointment can leave you heartsick." Your heart is the center of your being; it's where joy, peace, generosity and faith reside. When you're continually disappointed, you risk not only becoming heartsick, but also bitter, angry and afraid.

Like many people, I went through a painful divorce. It left me feeling as if I were sleeping on a pile of ashes, like a house that had burned to the ground leaving nothing behind but remnants of something that once was so good. At the time, I was emotionally and spiritually bankrupt. Eventually, I realized that I had been through even more challenging experiences in my life and survived, and that I would overcome this experience, too. Remember that while you might not be able to change the circumstances, you can change your outlook about those circumstances.

3. Listen to the "first voice."

Even in your darkest days, success leaves clues, and we find the answers we need are all around us. For evidence, look at other people's journeys.

A woman recently asked me for counsel. After 30 years of marriage, her husband had left her for another woman. Now, she's struggling to make peace with what happened. Sadly, many people face similar challenges. So the questions become, "What do you do after someone has left? How do you fill the void?" My advice was to get back to what I call the "first voice." This is the voice of innocence. When we were children, this voice spoke to us about our destiny. The woman started to cry; she admitted that she was always living for her husband and their relationship, but never really living for herself. A smile came to her face as she realized that her first voice was pointing her toward a life of her own making.

4. Dial in the right frequency.

Who you surround yourself with during life's trials can make all the difference. Do your friends (and even family members) place blame and bring you down? Or do they help uplift you?

Back in college, I used to share my dreams with people who just didn't understand what it was to be a big dreamer. I remember hoping that they would finally get on the same frequency. After many exhausting conversations, I came to realize that you can't get an FM radio station on an AM dial. When you're going through challenges in life, make sure you have people in your life who have turned their test into a testimony. Your partners must be tuned into faith, hope and the knowledge that the best is yet to come.

Utmost Living Tim Storey is the author of Utmost Living.


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