The three words we all need to hear

A few years back, Psychology Today posted an article highlighting the decline of resiliency among college students and the overwhelming rise of counseling visits that have accompanied the trend. Professors expressed the tension of feeling they needed to lower academic standards due to an increasing number of students who simply didn’t know how to handle the everyday struggles of life. Across major universities, counseling sessions more than doubled, with students seeking professional help to manage stress.

Studies also show this problem isn’t confined to college campuses. Americans are becoming increasingly anxious, depressed, and stressed out with life, and it is wreaking havoc on their physical and mental health, leading to one significant outcome: giving up.

Now there’s a chance you’ve been too busy to notice if you’ve been affected by the epidemic but as you slow down long enough to read this article you might notice your jaw is clenched for no apparent reason, your shoulders are tense from the week you’ve had, and you are on your fourth cup of coffee and, ironically, more exhausted. Life is hard, there is no way around it. Need further proof? Look at the news headlines right now. I don’t even know what they’ll be on the day you happen to read this but my guess is there are not a lot of encouraging and life-giving stories.

I WENT THROUGH A LONG, DARK TIME. I PRAYED GOD WOULD END IT. HERE'S WHAT HAPPENED

As depressing as the news might be on any given day, what really gets to us is the personal stuff. Loneliness sets in. A spouse walks out. A job gets eliminated. A prayer seems to go unanswered. The picture of how you thought life would turn out becomes unrecognizable.

When I was growing up, any time my siblings and I would go to our grandmother’s house there was only one option for entertainment: puzzles. Some of you think that sounds like the perfect use of time, and then there’s the rest of us. What made her puzzles especially puzzling was the fact that she didn’t keep the boxes the puzzle pieces came in. Instead, she would work a puzzle, throw away the box and then keep the pieces in a zip-lock bag.

I never finished one of her zip-lock puzzles. It’s easy to give up when you don’t have the picture on the box. A picture inspires you to keep going. It shows you how the pieces fit together. Sometimes in life you will find yourself staring at a bunch of puzzle pieces that don’t make any sense. The picture you had in mind for your marriage, children, finances, health, or your future seems like an impossible dream. You feel like giving up. If that’s where you find yourself, then chances are this article is frustrating you. But you’ve read this far, so keep going.

You may be thinking, “You don’t understand.” “You don’t know what I am going through.” Then comes the blaming. Blaming is the quickest exit ramp to quitting. People blame their parents, spouse, coworkers and friends; but more than anyone else, people blame God. Blaming allows someone to be the victim and once you become the victim, then you can quit without feeling like quitter – because it’s not your fault.

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Instead of blaming God, what if you leaned into him?  I believe faith has the power to give us tremendous resiliency. The Bible defines faith as an assurance of things hoped for and a confidence in things not yet seen. Faith gives us the strength to “keep at the puzzle” even when we don’t understand how the pieces fit together – because God has a picture in mind.

I desperately believe that God can take the puzzle pieces of your life and bring them together into a picture that can still be beautiful if you keep going, keep persevering and don’t give up…especially on God. He hasn’t given up on you.