Monday, November 5, 2012

Coping with Life: looking inward

Coping is often simply defined as the way a person deals with the situations and hardships in life. A person might focus on the problem solving, positive thinking, rational thinking leading to action, or self blame. Coping can be positive or negative. An example would be self medication with alcohol to cover the pain of a passing loved one verses seeking the advice and comfort of a friend who survived a similar experience. Most of the studies done on coping techniques show that of all the coping mechanisms used, about half of them are related to religion or faith. People look outside themselves for the answers to life’s big problems.

            Personally in my spiritual life, I have used prayer as my main coping mechanism. If only some kind person one would give me a quarter for every time I have looked up towards heaven and begged God to intervene on my behalf. Sometimes I pray to God about serious problems, sometimes it’s a parking spot prayer, you know the kind I mean, woke up too late and class starts in fifteen minutes, and “dear God let me find a spot”. We have all been there. Sometimes I have prayed when I have got nothing else to give, that somehow through Gods supernatural power I could make it through whatever hardship I was facing that day, whether psychological, emotionally, physically, or spiritually. For some crazy reason God answers those prayers, every time, I don’t have qualified scientific data but on my honor when I pray those desperate prayers God always somehow gives me the strength to get through; sometimes the answer to my prayer is so specific to the request I wonder if I should not have prayed for a cave of gold. What if my prayer started before I got to such a desperate place? Would I experience more of Gods power? More of less I am not sure but I am always astounded when Christ seems to meet me at my weakness, like I am surprised when shows up, even though He promises to never leave us or forsake us. He meets me at the moment when I realize my problem is that I have not been relaying on Him for strength, but instead I rely on my wit, or supposed wisdom.

            What I want to propose is that religious coping through prayer has been both positive and negative in my life and I image that this is the same for the rest of the faith community. Positive for me in that, at the most dire moments of my life, My God has never left me alone, no matter how alone I feel I know that I have not been abandoned. Negatively I use prayer to cultivate an immature connection with God were the biggest thing I ask for is a parking spot that will allow me to get to class just earlier enough to not be noticeable late. This is not the kind of connection with Christ I want to be known for and I imagine it is not what most other people of faith would want for themselves either. My vision is too small, and my God is bigger then I can see. So how does this affect my reader? Transparency breeds honesty, so perhaps with me you will be willing to evaluate your coping techniques, be truthful about how you relate to God. Maybe seek to change that by perhaps communicating with God as you would a best friend who you know will not judge you. I am so amazed at how patient God is in waiting for me to seek His presence just for the sake of connecting with Him. Seek God with me; let us seek to desire His presence, and not just what we gain from Him. Once Jesus asked His disciples if they wanted to leave Him after he had just finished a hard teaching, Peter’s answer is recorded in John 6:68-69 “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life. 69 “We have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God." (NASB) May this always be our confession, that we have nothing but the words of life in Christ, and we have found that it is more then enough.


  1. Jesse, I really enjoyed reading your post! I agree with you wholeheartedly. Prayer is how I cope with the challenges of my life. If I could not look up and shout or whisper out a prayer to God, knowing that he hears me, I do not know what I would do. I have also prayed for something as simple as a parking spot to "Lord I need you to heal and take away the pain in my body". All in all prayer is essential to my walk. It is my personal relationship with God that helps me along this journey. Yes, it is true, that we sometimes rely on our own strength to make it through difficult situations, for me sometimes not realizing that God is with me and that He says that he will never leave me nor will he forsake me. I also believe that it is important that as Christians we build the kind of relationship with God that causes us to think of Him as a best friend who we can tell anything to and not be judged. Once again great post!

  2. I think all too often, Christians place God in the corner of the room and call on him in times when we've exhausted our own strength and have limited options left. We forget that he's still in that room with us, he never left and was simply waiting for us to just ask for his intervention on our behalf. While prayer is a way of coping, I think that you have given a good reminder that we can turn to Him even before a time of crisis or need. We should be in the habit of not only praying prayers of supplication, but also of thanksgiving. I agree with both you and Bridget that viewing God as our best friend - someone that we talk to about any and every thing will bring so much peace. We could then see that he wants us to be right next to him in that "room" and in constant communication as we go through life.

  3. Jesse,

    I enjoyed reading your thoughts on the subject of coping. I can relate to the idea of relying on our own strength and “supposed wisdom.” Just the other day, my friend and I were brainstorming ideas of how to keep each other accountable in various areas of our lives. We quickly realized we were relying so much on our own strength rather than inviting the Lord to take control over each area. When we turned our attention to God in prayer, I was amazed to see the Spirit activated and equipping us for every good work. I can also relate to the immature connection with God; I too have prayed for those parking spaces! Though He graciously answers and meets those small needs too, I desire a deeper connection with God—a connection that involves basking in His amazingly glorious presence rather than out of desperation or want of something. It is sometimes easy to forget that it takes discipline and earnestly seeking Him to experience such an intimacy.

  4. Jesse,

    I want to first say that it is truly a blessing to know that our father hears us when we pray. Much like yourself, I have found God's answers to be extremely specific to what I have prayed, and other times I have to step back and realize that his answers take different forms than what I may have originally been looking for. In addition, much like you I do not want a casual relationship with the Lord. If I were to be honest, many times I feel like that is exactly what I have. What if my prayers ascended to the throne in more instances than when I am in distress? What would life look like if I were more earnest about a healthy prayer life? This class has challenged me in more ways than one to seek the answers to those questions. At any rate, God is still faithful, and I am so glad he hears me in desperation and in safety. Great post!

  5. Jesse, Much like you, I use prayer as a coping strategy. In times when I am helpless and there is absolutely nothing I can do about difficult situations, I run straight into the arms of Jesus, sharing with him all my hurts, struggles, and difficulties. He fills me with a peace and comfort that no earthly person or material thing can provide for me. Prayer not only helps me cope with difficult situations but it also brings me closer to Christ. While some of "little" prayers seem so small and silly, there is nothing to small to bring to the Lord. He wants to hear our every thoughts.


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