When I moved from Jamaica to Japan five years ago, I felt broken and lost having left on the first anniversary of the death of my first husband. Strengthening my relationship with Jesus Christ was one of the furthest things from my mind. I didn’t think about finding a church family or connecting with other Christians when I got here. I just knew I needed a physical change.
My brother-in-law, residing in Canada,, asked for my location and used it to search for churches in my area. He found one and that’s where I have been since. Many times, I have considered what the outcome would’ve been if he hadn’t done that. At that point in my life, I was still grieving, being alone with my thoughts was dangerous.
I was constantly wrestling with trusting God while grieving. I couldn’t understand why God would put me through that kind of suffering. Being far from home and everything familiar made it easy for me to slip into constant depression.
Our adversary continuously feeds our thoughts, it occurs, especially, when we are going through our struggles. He plants seeds of doubts, fear, and hopelessness within our minds.
It’s not always easy
My favorite Bible verse has always been “Count it all joy when you fall into diverse temptations knowing that the testing of your faith worketh patience” (James chapter 1 verse 2). However, when faced with the most challenging situation, I had forgotten to hold on to this verse and instead I focused entirely on how things had been unfair for me.
I’ve realized that our circumstances tend to dictate our feelings. As humans, we are programmed to react according to how pleasing the situation is for us.
When things are unfavorable, we easily get distracted. We focus on how we can deal with these struggles mostly by ourselves. I am not saying we shouldn’t give ourselves time to grief when distressed but it is important that we not allow it to steal our joy and control us.
It is also important for us to know in whom our trust lies. Trials and temptations are designed to either pull us closer to God or away from him. How we deal with them will determine the outcome.
Protect our minds
Our trials and temptations can be both physical and mental. Hence, it is important to protect our minds. If your mind is anything like mine, then it’s a constant battlefield. I tend to overthink and over analyze things which sometimes results in me drawing the wrong conclusion.
Our mind is one of the tools the enemy uses to get to us. If he can control our thoughts, he can control us. Hence the importance of rebuking negative thoughts before they take root was brought to my attention. I recognize that not all our thoughts originate within us, it becomes a part of us when we entertain them.
Our thought process
It is also important to identify the things that consume our minds the most. The first thing we think about when we wake up or the last thing on our minds before we go to bed.
Our thoughts are manifested in our actions and behavior. Anything that consumes our minds control us. If it has nothing to do with God then it’s a distraction and is something we need to ask God to help us to overcome.
Trust God’s plan
Moving to Japan, my goal was to escape, I was tired of being in the same place, hearing and seeing the same things. Little did I know that God had a greater plan. While residing here, I got involved in church and during the times spent away from my family and friends I started writing poetry. I later realized that these poems are able to help others who are facing difficulties.
Your challenges are not to destroy you but they are to build you and enable you to become a wholesome believer.. Everything is for a greater purpose. We may not understand but we can trust that God knows exactly what he is doing.
As the verses state, “We are hard-pressed on every side, but not crushed, perplexed but not in despair, persecuted but not abandoned, struck down but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians chapter 4 verses 8-10).
Don’t allow negative thinking to distract you from your purpose or to pull you from God. I challenge you to be open to God and ask him to search your heart and mind and to remove the thoughts that serve as distractions within your lives.
Latanya Fraser Cato is an elementary school teacher who enjoys reading and writing poetry. She is currently a Sunday school teacher at her church in Japan and has served on various youth-related ministries both in church and school in her home country Jamaica. She has a passion for counseling and helping others. She has published a book of poems entitled Soul’s Inspiration which she hopes will assist individuals facing various challenges..