Updated date:

Tough Times: Survive or Surrender

MsDora, former teacher and Christian counselor presents practical Scriptural principles for joyful everyday living.

Tough times find a place at some time on every one’s calendar. They may come in the very period where we had good times penciled in, and they may last long enough to test our endurance. Regardless of when or why they come, one of the benefits is that they help us discover who we really are and where our source of strength lies.

Planted By the Waters

Bald Cyprus at  Lady Bird Lake, Austin, Texas, USA. Photo by Wing-Chi Poon

Bald Cyprus at Lady Bird Lake, Austin, Texas, USA. Photo by Wing-Chi Poon

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord ...

For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters,

Which spreads out its roots by the river,

And will not fear when heat comes.

— Jeremiah 17:8 NKJV

Right from the start, we can determine to be among those who survive, or we can choose to remain passive and most likely join company with those who surrender.

The Old Testament Prophet Jeremiah helped the Judeans survive tough times including the capture of Jerusalem by the Babylonians in 586 BCE. In Chapter 17 of his book named after him, he includes a comparison of those who survive and those who surrender to the difficulties of life. He points out four differences between both groups, including the forecast for their future.


(1) Source of Help

Those Who SurviveThose Who Surrender

Trusts in the Lord; and whose hope is the Lord (Verse 7).

Trusts in man ... whose heart departs from the Lord (Verse 5).

Tough times discourage some people to the point where they give up on God. They adopt a do-it-yourself attitude, preferring to face life’s challenges with human strength and skills. If God could not prevent it, He certainly cannot remove it, they seem to say. Some open themselves up to so-called spiritual teachers who emphasize man’s ability to direct his own life. In their own strength, they live in fear and frustration and eventually lose hope.

On the other hand, believers in God usually testify that without Him they could not survive. From inside their hearts (or minds) He engineers their brain waves, directs their thoughts and fills them with meaningful ideas on how to keep pushing ahead. He affects their emotions: comforting them, calming their fears and providing them with a peace beyond understanding. He keeps their focus on Him and His Omnipotence, and distracts them from the threatening obstacles around them. He is able to keep them functioning and progressing.


(2) Self-Evaluation

Those Who SurviveThose Who Surrender

A tree planted by the waters (Verse 8).

A shrub in the desert (Verse 6).

Shrub in the Desert

Camel Thorn Tree in Namib Desert, Namibia, Africa.  Photo by Luca Galuzzi

Camel Thorn Tree in Namib Desert, Namibia, Africa. Photo by Luca Galuzzi

Without hope, man begins to see himself as a fraction of what God designed him to be. The difficulties begin to look like mountains, so much mightier than the lonely, disconnected shrub which, in his mind represents him. According to the law of attraction, he will become what he thinks about.

The man who trusts God continues to believe God—that God will protect Him, provide for him, and be with him throughout the tough times. He dwells on the image of a tree continually flourishing from the river of God’s provision. He maintains his sense of purpose, and continues to pursue it. Tough times do not shake his faith.


(3) Perception

Those Who SurviveThose Who Surrender

Not fear when heat comes (Verse 8).

Not see when good comes (Verse 6).

It is not unusual for people in unfortunate circumstances to walk with their heads down, literally. They miss the invigorating sights: the fluffy clouds, the rainbows, the roses in bloom, and the encouraging smiles on the faces of others. They see nothing good even when good is all around them. They focus on their lack and ignore the sights of hope.

The survivors also see troubles in the tough situations, but they are not afraid. They do not dwell on what they see; they trust in a God who is ever present and they concentrate on their connectedness with Him. They remember that He can control the winds and the waves. He can also prevent fire from scorching, and if He doesn’t they still trust Him. Neither tough times nor death can separate them from Him. They survive the threat of the tough times to rob their joy and destroy their hope.


(4) The Outcome

Those Who SurviveThose Who Surrender

Leaf will be green, And will not be anxious in the year of drought, Nor will cease from yielding fruit (Verse 8).

Inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, In a salt land which is not inhabited (Verse 6).

In the Heat

Dense patch at dense patch of saw palmetto understory at Florida Panther NWR.  Courtesy of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Southeast Region

Dense patch at dense patch of saw palmetto understory at Florida Panther NWR. Courtesy of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Southeast Region

According to Jeremiah’s long term goal, those who surrender to tough times will find themselves in an uninhabited parched place where they’re as good as dead—no connections, no influence, no usefulness. Tough times get the best of them.

Those who live (or die) with their faith and hope in tact will continue to produce an effective, positive influence on the lives of others. Their stories of faith, perseverance and hope will be like a tree with evergreen leaves still bearing good fruit in the lives of those who hear their stories. Some of them will even have tangible trophies to show as proof of their survival.


Prayer

Heavenly Father, please help us to face the tough times with complete trust in You. Help us maintain an attitude of well-being and the perspective that You are with us in our struggles. May we find the good in our situations until the good turns to better. Amen.

Suggested Reading

  • 25 Quotes That Will Help You Through Tough Times
    Favorite quotes that I find have helped me through tough times. Sometimes we all need a few quotes for strength, to make us all realize that we aren't the only ones who have gone through hard times, that no one's an exception.

© 2013 Dora Weithers

Comments

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on March 16, 2018:

Lori, this is the top comment on my "encouragement" pile. Thank you so much and thank God for you.

Lori Colbo from Pacific Northwest on March 15, 2018:

Hi Dora, obviously I missed this when you first published this. Some friends of mine in the ministry are going through a devastating trial. I was trying to think of a verse to encourage them. I thought of you and all your articles of encouragement and I found this one. Who needs google.when we have Ms Dora. Mostly I've just.listened and prayed with my friends, which is probably the best thing, but I'd like to give them some biblical encouragement. Thank you for your ministry here on hubpages. I adore you Ms Dora. God bless you.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on September 25, 2015:

You summarized it perfectly in your last statement. Thanks for visiting and contributing.

victor from India on September 25, 2015:

You've done a good comparison.

As per my understanding we should never give up the matter of trusting God - even at the point of death. A true seeker of God will trust God and love him as long as he lives. At the toughest times, we have to hold on to our faith upon God. The end is the proof of the trust. Sometimes we may feel our spiritual walk is unbearably tough; however, consistency matters. Being faithful unto God till the end will fetch us the rewards in eternity.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on July 27, 2013:

Thanks for your kind words. Glad to share mine with you!

ziyena from the United States on July 27, 2013:

Dora ~

I just wanted to let you know that Ive attached this HUB as a link to my own "Ziyena's Sabbatical"

Your words of wisdom are a very powerful tool when trying to overcome adversity and it falls in alignment with my own personal experience. Thank you UP

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on June 15, 2013:

Thanks, Alocsin. I appreciate your comments and your votes.

Aurelio Locsin from Orange County, CA on June 15, 2013:

Wise words, Dora. I hope those who are suffering through tough times will be able to read your hub. Voting this Up and Beautiful.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on June 15, 2013:

Rajan, yours is an awesome testimony. Thank you for sharing.

Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on June 15, 2013:

MsDora, for me its trust in the Lord through thick and thin and I leave the reins of my life in His hands. And He has never let me down.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on May 24, 2013:

Bluebird, thanks for your input. Glad you liked the hub and the quotes. Have a great weekend!

bluebird on May 24, 2013:

Great post, also really liked the 25 quotes. Good food for thought for courage to battle the foe. We have to overcome evil or it will overcome us. I feel for the souls who are being lulled to sleep by the entertainment media, etc. They have no clue what's coming. We must watch and be ready. Thanks for this wonderful hub.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on May 24, 2013:

Rajan, thanks for your input. You also summarized it in very good words. Thanks.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on May 24, 2013:

Nell Rose, I have to repeat it the way you say it--so catchy and so true. "To do it ourselves is strong, but to believe is stronger too." Thank you.

Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on May 23, 2013:

Very interesting reading both sides of the topic. Trust in God and even times non conducive to one will pass off peacefully.

Nell Rose from England on May 23, 2013:

Hi MsDora, we do all have to face tough times, and your words certainly inspire us, to do it ourselves is strong, but to believe is stronger too, wonderful, nell

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on May 22, 2013:

Lab, I'm always happy someone find my effort useful. Hope your daughter is also encouraged by the quote.

lab143 on May 22, 2013:

This is so helpful! I am forwarding one of the quotes to my daughter right now. This couldn't have come at a better time. Thank you, Ms. Dora!

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on May 22, 2013:

MsClara, thanks for dropping by. Praying is something we all can do so let's act on your suggestion an pray even more.

Clara Kish from Mt. Perry. Ohio on May 21, 2013:

MsDora, I just read your hub ,I think we all needed that . When you look around you can see so many friends and loved ones that do not know the Lord as their Savior and your heart aches for them , many of them have at one time given their heart to The Lord but have fallen away. They need prayer but they think they don't need God , what will it take to get them back to The Lord? I guess we have to pray more than we ever have before.Love, Clara

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on May 21, 2013:

Frogy, you're an inspiration. Thanks for your very kind comment.

frogyfish from Central United States of America on May 21, 2013:

"Tough times do not shake his faith." Right on, even when the tough times do shake our emotions!

Your words/comparisons are true and beautifully compiled!

Thank you for a firm and beautiful rendering of foundational Truth!

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on May 21, 2013:

Ebonny, thanks for your input. Practicing faith in God before, during and after the tough times is the best we can ever do.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on May 21, 2013:

Lifegate, thanks for your encouragement. I find these thoughts very helpful to me as well.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on May 21, 2013:

Denise, you hit the nail on the head. Sticking with the Lord through tough times is the best advice.

Ebonny from UK on May 21, 2013:

Thank you for sharing. When we have faith that God is with us, all is well.

William Kovacic from Pleasant Gap, PA on May 21, 2013:

Hi MsDora,

I love this comparison - very enlightening. Thanks so much for putting it together.

Denise W Anderson from Bismarck, North Dakota on May 21, 2013:

Thanks for taking the time to understand Jeremiah and explain his analogy. It is important to know that we stick with the Lord, he doesn't necessarily take away our trials, but gives us the strength to learn and grow from them. In the end, we benefit by them. Excellent insight!

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on May 21, 2013:

Shofarcall, you're so kind and encouraging. Thanks for the vote.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on May 21, 2013:

Billybuc, well done from you is like a reward star on my page. I appreciate you!

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on May 21, 2013:

Faith Reaper, thanks for your input. Tough times call for a demonstration of our faith.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on May 21, 2013:

Eric, well said. What if we all accepted and applied the gift of faith? How wonderful our live would be!

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on May 21, 2013:

Very Nice MsDora. I am so happy that I do not know His ways. So I just get to have faith. What a nice gift.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on May 21, 2013:

Thanks, Frank. I humbly admit that some of my ideas are inspired, I think.

Frank Atanacio from Shelton on May 21, 2013:

what a very clever hub.. you do come up with such good ideas for hubs bless you Ms Dora :)

Faith Reaper from southern USA on May 21, 2013:

Excellent and insightful article here, Ms.Dora!

Yes, we cannot be "fair weather" Christians and praising Him only when things are good. He tells us in His very Word that we will face trails of many kinds each day, so we should not be surprised when a trial comes along, but continue to praise Him and trust in Him. Our faith should be solid.

Voted up ++++

God bless you, Faith Reaper

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on May 21, 2013:

Wonderful philosophy and I agree with all of it. Well done, Dora!

shofarcall on May 21, 2013:

Ms Dora,

I so enjoy your hubs and always learn from them. Thank you, faithful servant. Jeremiah is one of the prophets, whose words from God, I need to know better. Voted up and useful