When trouble comes knocking: 10-step strategy

When trouble comes knocking

All of us can expect at some point in the future to get into some difficulty. Sooner or later trouble will come knocking.

One of the interesting features of life is that we seem to be regularly caught off guard by things that are inevitable. How prepared are you to deal with trouble when it makes its inevitable call on you? Do you have a strategy for dealing with trouble?

I want to share with you ten tips to help you better cope when trouble comes knocking:

One: Focus on the issue at hand

All too often when trouble comes knocking we get lost in non-essential and distracting things that lead us away from finding a solution. We tend to cloud the issue by bringing in past events or personality issues that are really NOT central to this issue.

It is said that if you find yourself in a crocodile infested swamp; mosquitoes are really not a central concern. One key to coping when trouble comes knocking is strip away all the distractions and identify what is the real issue at this point in time. We do not want to lose energy dealing with non-essential things.

We must resist the temptation of letting the personalities that are involved in the issue cloud our thinking and blind us to what are the substantial challenges.

Two: Avoid rushing off into playing the BLAME GAME

Many of us thrive on affixing blame whenever negative events occur. Our attention is immediately drawn to answering the question: “Whose fault is it?” We are consumed by that inquiry and we are drawn away from the core challenges that we face.

Often, those of us who are honest with ourselves place the blame squarely on our own shoulders. All this is happening because of something we did or did not do and now we must pay the price.

Others look to find a scapegoat to blame for challenging developments. They place themselves in the role of victims and hold others accountable for the situation in which they find themselves.

Whether we blame ourselves or others, the fact is that at the end of the blaming exercise we are not likely to be closer to resolution of the situation. Problem solving requires more than affixing blame.

Resolving issues does require that we get to the underlying problem. That we get to the heart of the matter. This may in fact end up pointing to someone who is the source of the problem. That is OK. However, letting the naming of scapegoats get in the way of meaningful resolution of the issue is another matter and should be avoided.

Three: Be proactive

Many people respond to trouble by pretending not to hear the knocking. They appear to believe that if they ignore the knocking long enough it will go away. They see TIME as the great healer and take a “Sit and wait” approach to problem solving.

The fact is that elapsed time by itself will not resolve issues. Other forces must be brought into play during the passage of time to produce new results. When trouble comes knocking we must seek to take positive action to deal with it and to correct the situation.

It is action that solves problem not the mere passage of time.

Four: Avoid alarmists

When trouble comes knocking you want to ensure that you stay clear of the influence of alarmists. These are people who magnify the problem and who paint a gloomy picture about the prospects for early resolution of the problem.

Consider Number 13 with respect to naysaying.

Some people develop great competence in making situations look a lot worse than they are in reality. They spin a web of hopelessness and despair to ensnare us. We need to steer clear of that web less it renders us powerless and ineffectual.

Like Joshua and Caleb we must resist the naysayers and resellers of doom and gloom.

Num 14: 6 – 9

Five: Do not panic and remain calm

As we just read “….but the LORD is with us”. The confidence that Christians can have in facing adversity comes not from themselves but from the fact that we live in a world that is controlled by God our Father. The God who rescued Daniel from the lions’ den, Shadrach from the fiery furnace, protected Paul through numerous treacherous situation watches over us. We need not have a spirit of fear.

Rom 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

The other thing to recall as you seek to still your nerves is the thought that the situation is temporary. This too will pass. You will find that with the help of God, you either find a solution to the problem or learn to accommodate it.

One thing is sure and that is that addressing trouble with an emotional mindset is likely to produce inferior results to taking a reasoned approached to understanding and dealing with the issue.

Six: In your choice of action stick to what is right

Sometimes in response to the significance of the situation and what is a stake, we contemplate taking short-cuts to achieve what we consider to be a desirable solution. We think that if we use deceit or use illegal tactics we can resolve pressing issues and come out victorious.

All too often these unrighteous schemes backfire and cause us even more grief. But even if they were to succeed consider Matt 16:26

“What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?”

Going against the will of God to suit our own purposes is a dangerous practice as evidenced by Ananias and Sapphira Acts 5: 1 – 6

Seven: Summon up courage from outside of yourself

David’s confidence before the giant Goliath 1 Sam 17 and lessons from Gideon’s army Judges 6-7 highlight the fact that God is in control and if we are aligned with God and are obedient to His will we can achieve great things.

Phillipians 4:13 I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

Eight: Call on available resources

The Book of Esther recounts the wonderful story of how Mordecai was able to turn the tables on the mighty Haman by calling on the resources of the girl he had sponsored and groomed – Esther. She had become favoured in the king’s court and was now able to save not only Mordecai but her compatriots.

Some times we feel that when trouble comes knocking, what it brings is so sensitive and embarrassing that we are afraid to seek assistance.

At other times, we let pride get in the way of seeking help. Again, we feel that the issue does not lend itself to outside support and we try to go it alone.

Self-reliance is good. At the same time, we are not islands unto ourselves. We live and have our being in interaction with others. Lightening each other’s burden makes them easier to bear.

Nine: Rely on the power prayer

Job 42: 10 After Job had prayed for his friends, the LORD made him prosperous again and gave him twice as much as he had before. 11 All his brothers and sisters and everyone who had known him before came and ate with him in his house. They comforted and consoled him over all the trouble the LORD had brought upon him, and each one gave him a piece of silver [a] and a gold ring.

Jonah 2: 1 From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the LORD his God. 2 He said: “In my distress I called to the LORD, and he answered me. From the depths of the grave I called for help, and you listened to my cry.”

Acts 9: 40 Peter sent them all out of the room; then he got down on his knees and prayed. Turning toward the dead woman, he said, “Tabitha, get up.” She opened her eyes, and seeing Peter she sat up. 41He took her by the hand and helped her to her feet. Then he called the believers and the widows and presented her to them alive.

James 5: 13Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. 14Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven.

17 Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. 18Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.

Ten: Prepare yourself for life’s challenges.

One of the keys to coping when trouble comes knocking is to have prepared ourselves in advance. Adversity readiness preparation should be a constant feature of our existence.

Adversity readiness preparation includes deepening our faith.

Hebrews 11: Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.

Acts 3: 16 By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has given this complete healing to him, as you can all see

Romans 1: 16 I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. 17 For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”

Galatians 2: 20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

What about your faith? Are you firmly grounded? Will you be able to use your faith as a buffer when trouble comes knocking?


5-step framework for coping with the storms of life

5-Step strategy for responding when the storms of life are raging:

1. Approach life with certainty.
Research data suggests that when persons are in a state of uncertainty negative results seem to have greater impact. The blows seem to be amplified.

So from that it would appear that people who approach impending events with confidence and certainty fare better if things do not go as planned.

2. Deal with the facts as there are now…not what they could be or have been
All too often we place ourselves in the role of a storyteller. We face one set of facts and we rush off to create situations that may not even occur.
Luke 8:24 The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!”

This extension of the facts produces unnecessary tension and reduces our capacity to address the facts as they really are.

3. Invite Divine Intervention. James 5: 13 Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. …. 16 The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.
Outside of invoking the power of God, prayer has the additional benefit of helping us to focus on the resolution of the issues at hand. We petition God about things that we figure will resolve the issue. It helps to direct us to the way forward.

Prayer also has the effect of calming our frazzled nerves. By appealing to a higher authority we grow in confidence and we feel better about the situation.

4. Take action that supports your prayers.
When we pray we should act as is our prayers are being answered. We have to proceed with the assurance that God’s providence is going to be granted to us and all our actions should reflect that confidence.
Mark 11: 24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

5. Get the support of others.

When the storms of life are raging it makes good sense to seek to weather them with the support of others. Sometimes things are just a little too much for us to handle on our own. Even the strongest of us need support at times. We should be willing to seek assistance – even just moral support when we face difficult times. That is one of the reasons for the Christian fellowship. We are to be our brother’s keepers.

Gal 6: 2 Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

Cues from Life: Lessons from Dental Floss

Cues from Life

Lessons from Dental Floss

Early Removal

Dental floss is a convenient replacement for toothpicks and is designed to allow us to efficiently remove food particles that have lodged between our teeth. The early removal of particles prevents the occurrence of decay and the onset of poor dental hygiene. Poor dental hygiene has unpleasant effects and usually produces painful consequences.

Sin has a way of lodging easily in our lives. Left unattended it leads to decay and poor spiritual health. The effects are unpleasant and can be eternally painful. Have you noticed that when you err for the first time in a particular area, it is repulsive and you are really very upset. The next time, the level of your anger is somewhat lower. This continues until the error becomes a “besetting sin” — in other words, you have grown to accept its occurrence. That is why it has beset you. Swift repentance (real, deep-seated regret and a firm commitment not to repeat the action) flosses out sin from our lives before they get a chance to settle in and produce lasting decay.

Sterner stuff

Thread-like in appearance, dental floss owes its popularity to the fact that it is made of sterner stuff than thread. The texture of thread is such that it snaps too easily when used for flossing. One of the goals of personal development is to so shape our ‘texture’ (character) that we are built of sterner stuff.

We want to produce mental fibre that can withstand the stresses of life without snapping. The first step is to recognize the fact that it is possible to develop the capacity to cope better with stress. In order to produce floss instead of thread, one has to alter either the inputs or the process. The same is true of character. What we are is result of the raw material we feed into our minds. A steady supply of healthy, positive thoughts mixed with a clear vision and a commitment to excellence will produce a strong personality, capable of coping with life.


Dental floss grew in popularity over toothpicks because its flexibility offered the user far greater opportunities to remove food particles than a toothpick. Too many of us go through life in a fixed, one-directional manner. We get flustered and unproductive if things fail to go as planned. We stick stubbornly to ‘the plan’, unwilling to open our minds to other options and to revised objectives. Flexibility is a better option than holding firm to a wooden, uni-directional approach to living.