Easing your burdens with faith, hope and a sense of humor

It's not easy to remember that life's trials are good for you when you are in the midst of them. However, faith, hope and a sense of humor can help you cope during difficult times.

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  • Can you imagine a life free of challenges?

  • Think about it. You are born to perfect parents who raise you without mistake. Your childhood is joyful and pleasant. You sail through school without a bump in the road. You graduate and find the perfect, well-paying job. Then, you meet the perfect man to marry. The honeymoon never ends. You add perfect children to your perfect family, and they never cause you a moment of grief or heartache. You live an active, healthy life until age slows you, and finally, you pass away serenely in your sleep.

  • Ah, that sounds good, doesn't it?

  • Maybe at first. But then you take a closer look and start to think how boring that would be. Would you appreciate all that good fortune? Or would you take it for granted? More importantly, would that life require you to grow?

  • Life challenges are good for us. They push us to learn. They deepen our gratitude and enjoyment of good times. They make us more sympathetic and caring towards others who are going through difficulties.

  • Of course, it's not easy to remember that life's trials are good for you when you are in the midst of them. However, faith, hope and a sense of humor can help you cope during difficult times.

  • Faith

  • Faith is believing that God is aware of you personally and will be there to help you. He will comfort you, strengthen you, and send people into your life that will lift and support you. Faith is trusting that God would never place upon you burdens too heavy to bear.

  • The American Psychology Association says that religion can influence a person's ability to cope. Studies have shown that praying regularly, seeking comfort from faith, and accepting support from other church members were the most helpful. The authors cautioned, however, that those who relied on religion excessively and ignored other coping techniques did not enjoy the same benefits.

  • Try it

  • Participate in regular prayer or meditation. Choose inspirational books to read. Sing hymns and songs of praise. Invite a friend to pray with you.

  • Hope

  • Hope is believing that things will be better tomorrow. For many, trials and difficulties are temporary, not permanent set-backs. A job loss, an illness, a rough patch in marriage – these are difficult at the time, but we find relief and happiness once the storm passes.

  • But what if your challenges are not temporary? What if you have a chronic, progressive, or even terminal illness? Can you still have hope that tomorrow will be a better day?

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  • Yes. Your circumstances may not change for the better, but you can. You can learn coping techniques and management skills. You can grow in strength and grace, increasing your ability to handle the challenge. You can develop compassion and deepen your relationships with God and those around you. You can allow your trial to craft you into a more beautiful, understanding person. You can have hope that when you have endured this trial well, you will be welcomed home to your Father in Heaven who loves you, and you will have peace and relief.

  • Try it

  • Visualize yourself in the future. Imagine your victory over this set-back. Picture the qualities you will have developed and the lessons you will have learned. Imagine the moment when you are embraced in God's arm, and He tells you that He is proud of you for enduring it well.

  • Humor

  • You've probably heard the saying, “If I don't laugh, I'll cry.” Well, it may not be a bad idea. HelpGuide.org reaffirms what many of us know instinctively: Laughter is good for your body and soul.

  • Laughter relieves stress, boosts the immune system, protects the heart, and releases endorphins, those ever-important, feel-good chemicals. It shifts your perspective. It can also help you relax and recharge.

  • Laughing with others is more powerful than laughing alone. Shared laughter is a great way to strengthen your relationships with those in your support system.

  • Try it

  • Smile

  • Smiling is the beginning of laughter.

  • Count your blessings

  • Considering the good things in your life will put distance between you and the negative feelings that are a barrier to humor and laughter.

  • Reminisce

  • about past funny events. This can often start you laughing again.

  • Spend time with fun, playful people

  • People who laugh easily — both at themselves and life's absurdities — routinely shine the light on the humor in every day events. Their humor can be contagious.

  • Bring humor into conversations

  • Ask people to share their funniest moments with you.

  • Watch funny videos and movies

  • With instant access through the internet and our television sets, laughter is only a click away.

  • Nobody wants to have trials and difficulties in their lives. However, it is inevitable that they will happen. Faith, hope and a sense of humor can help ease our burdens during those times. Now, have you heard the one about a duck that walked into a bar...?

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Shelli Howells is a creative fiction writer, and a mother of six.

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