5 Things to Do When the Situation Feels Impossible

Joyce Smith stood in the corner of a hospital room as about 25 medical staff worked desperately to save her son’s life. On a balmy January day in Missouri, her son John and some friends were playing on an ice-covered lake. The ice broke beneath their feet sending the three teens into the frigid water. The other two boys were pulled out by rescue workers, but John had fallen under the water and had been below for 15 minutes. By the time he was pulled out, his body was frozen, there was water in his lungs, and he had no pulse. At the hospital, a large man—six feet, seven inches tall—performed CPR for close to an hour. Still, no pulse. It was coming time to pronounce John dead, and a doctor walked over to Joyce and told her she could talk to her son. She walked up, put her hands on her son’s cold feet, and said a desperate prayer: “Holy Spirit, please come and give me back my son!” To the utter disbelief of everyone in the room except for Joyce, John suddenly had a pulse.

It was a long road, but John eventually recovered fully. All of the medical personnel and first responders called it a miracle. The story is told in a powerful movie called Breakthrough. You may be dealing with a life or death situation. Perhaps you are experiencing relationship problems or have a child struggling with an addiction. Maybe you are underwater financially or just overwhelmed with life. These burdens or crises can feel, and perhaps are, impossible. Take a lesson from Joyce Smith. There are several good ways you can respond to the impossible. Here are 5.

1. Pray.

You may not be a person of prayer, but this is where most people turn when in foxholes and hospitals. This was Joyce’s first act when facing the impossibility of her son’s survival. You may be skeptical and call it a coincidence, but the reality is a pulse came right after her prayer, and the medical workers said they have never seen anything like it. I believe in a God who is personally involved in our lives; one who has the power not only to change our circumstances but to give us peace, hope, and strength when He does not change our circumstances. Maybe I’m wrong, but if I’m not, isn’t that the best place to start? If you are overwhelmed by life and need a prayer breakthrough, we have a bundle to help.

2. Seek wise counsel.

If you are going to beat the odds, you are going to need the best information and strategies. Seek out those people with wisdom and experience. Learn everything you can. Make sure they are objective, trustworthy, and have expertise. If it is a professional you are just meeting, do your homework. Don’t just take their advice because they have a degree. Find out as much as you can about them.

Focus on the details in front of you, and execute them with as much excellence as you can.

3. Get help.

If you are overwhelmed by life, you don’t need to tackle it alone. In fact, you shouldn’t tackle this alone. Your loved ones are going to want to be in this with you. Let them know what is going on with you and invite them to share the burden. Maybe they won’t be able to do something practical to fix the problem, but they can give you emotional support. In her son’s most desperate hours, Joyce asked the entire community to pray, and they did. Sometimes it’s as simple as that. People want to help. Let them.

4. Be positive.

Being negative has a way of creating self-fulfilling prophecies. Joyce wouldn’t let anyone speak anything but positive words and outcomes in John’s hospital room. Being positive certainly doesn’t guarantee that everything will work out in your favor, but in the end, it gives you a better chance. Try to visualize the outcome you want and maintain that vision. It will also help you control your emotions. Emotions can be great motivators but terrible strategists. Plan with your head and lead with a positive heart.

5. Work on what you can control.

Do the best you can, when you can, while you can, and surrender the rest. There are going to be things about your situation you can’t control, perhaps even the outcome. Just focus on what you can do. When clutch quarterbacks are asked how they completed a game-winning drive, many will say they focused only on executing each play, one at a time. Focus on the details in front of you, and execute them with as much excellence as you can. Let the result be what it will be, and deal with it when it comes.

Sound off: What do you do when you’re overwhelmed by life or facing an impossible situation?

Huddle up with your kids and ask, “How do you feel when you have a problem to solve?”