to survive

10 Ways to Survive Something Terrible

What would you do if you were attacked by a giant python? The experts say that the best way to survive is to lay still with a knife in hand. Then comes the hard part—waiting until you’re partially swallowed by the snake and then executing a quick upward thrust when your arm is partway down the python’s throat. How do you think you would do? Me neither. But while the snake scenario is unlikely, we do all run into circumstances that are potentially overwhelming: relationships in crisis, children in serious trouble, financial stress, unemployment, separation, chronic or terminal illness, the loss of a spouse, trouble with the law.

Difficulty is a fact of life. Terrible stuff happens and we’d be foolish to pretend otherwise. So what do we do? How should we respond? Is there any way to simply survive? Yes. Where there is life, there is hope. Sometimes all we can do is live in this moment and believe that the next moment might offer a step forward, a chance to try one of these 10 ways to survive something terrible.

1. Count your blessings.

Sometimes a little perspective is all it takes to tip the balance toward hope. We’re not talking denial here, but a realistic appraisal that takes note of what’s right as well as what’s gone wrong.

2. Talk with someone.

We were created to live in community. Isolation is contrary to our design. A wise Proverb says “a three-fold cord is not easily broken.” We become exponentially stronger when we have the support of friends.

3. Be honest.

Speaking truth about trouble can take away a lot of its power. Being honest about it helps us face what’s in front of us and builds our character, which is necessary to overcome any problem.

4. Work on it.

Once the terrible thing is out in the open, commit to resolving it. The house may be gone, but you can work on rebuilding. Relationships may be shattered, but you can work on reconciling. A tragedy may have happened, but you can mourn with others who feel the loss, cherish the memories, and work toward moving on.

5. Remember that light is stronger than darkness.

Just a small amount of light can illuminate a huge dark space. Goodness, honesty, love, honor, courage, patience, kindness—all these virtues overcome darkness.

6. Have patience.

Time can heal. There will be a new day. It may take a while, but if you are patient and persevere, the sun will rise for you again.

7. Trust in God.

Sometimes, after something terrible happens, we simply can’t see the next step in the road or even the possibility of the next moment. That’s when we have to trust that God is good and that He has a great plan for our lives.

8. Be realistic.

There’s a difference between realistic hope and wishful thinking. Reality says “I will still struggle, but it’s a worthwhile struggle and I’m going to be OK.” Wishful thinking will lead to disappointment.

9. Give yourself a chance.

It’s OK to take responsibility for our failures; it’s important that we do. But self-condemnation is never the right move. Take responsibility, make amends, forgive yourself, and move on.

10. Forgive other people, too.

Forgiveness is important if we want to survive something terrible.Holding blame over other people doesn’t work. Forgiveness is important if we want to survive something terrible. But this is something we shouldn’t have to handle alone. Get help, get past it, and get on with tomorrow.

Sound off: Which of these do you think is most important in order to survive something terrible?

Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What is the toughest situation you have ever had to go through?”