By Debbie Olujobi

The world that we live in is changing, times are hard and there is no candy floss way to sweeten it. The entire world has been in the vice grip of a punishing recession and terrorism has added a new and bitter twist to hardship.

There is no cocoon that insulates anyone from pain and inside every single one of us is a saint and sinner; circumstances determine which is predominant! I am amazed at how resilient the human spirit is and even more encouraged by just how much adversity and tragedy we can overcome. I have noticed that anytime I say something will never happen because I couldn’t possibly survive it or stand it, that exact thing occurs in even more horrific dimensions!! See what I mean by God’s sense of humour!

It’s like daring fate!! You say you couldn’t possibly take a particular blow and wham!!! It slams you right in the face as if to say, I dare you not to survive!!! A look at any news bulletin will confirm that the human spirit can survive in almost impossible situations and conditions; you may not get what you want but you get what you need; even in war torn situations you get what you need; survival would then depend on the toss of a divine coin if my divine humour theory is plausible! Surviving the times is only possible by grace alone.

A lot of people have tried to gauge the survival quotient by strength but then how would one explain the mighty and powerful failing tests that the weak and puny pass! Strength has little to do with surviving adversity; some tests have little to do with brawn, other have even less to with the brain, and the simple minded stands as much chance of survival as the genius!!  Grace is the difference between annihilation and survival.

The issue at stake for most of us is survival, in a world where costs of living are rising and earnings are diminishing, strength is almost irrelevant, our ability to adapt is. It used to be that people cut their coat according to their size but that was before, the reality of our present situation is that you cut your  coat according to the material available; size has nothing to do with it.

Being good is no immunity against evil and as frustrating as it is, bad people don’t always get what they deserve but still we trudge on doing the best that we can most of the time! Some people get hit by some of life’s blows and choose to survive by cloaking themselves in bitterness; they may be dour and no fun but no one can deny that it’s a legitimate survival technique; it sure beats jumping off a bridge!! Others develop emotional muscles and even brawn from adversity and go on even more battle ready for what lies ahead; they are the minority, the heroes of their time, we can’t all be Mandela!! The rest of us go through life trying to survive, tasting joy, sometimes triumph, sometimes failure but all in all we get by.

Last week really had to be one of the toughest weeks I have had in a couple of years!! I had so many commitments that even superman would have balked at my diary! I was juggling expectations and appointments and even by my own assessment I was failing. Getting back on a strict exercise regime that I had abandoned for a few months meant I was also aching all over and for some strange reason I always seemed to be stuck in traffic when I was very hungry.

Like most people in the world I am operating in survival mode, if Jesus tarries, I will need to do so to ride out the storm. Lately I have expended a lot of my time in the ministry of encouragement as I think that is a tonic we all need at the moment, the good thing about that is  I also find myself very encouraged when I encourage others. like everyone I am in the active pursuit of happiness and I pray for a prosperity that is all encompassing, That would be peace in the world, abundance in every area and even more love, more grace.

One of the ironies of last week was the chance encounter I had with an acquaintance I hadn’t spoken to in ages. After the normal niceties, I learnt she had been looking for me,  She needed to ask me some things and she began by asking me how come the downturn had not affected me and how I coped. I didn’t really understand so I asked her to explain what she meant by coping!! She said she had kept a casual tab on my progress over the years and wondered where I got the energy to do everything and be on top of it all!

I wouldn’t have classed myself as on top of it all in any way but God gives the grace that make all things look easy even when they are not. She had been looking at me for confirmation of the perceived utter fulfilment she thought I enjoyed and I just laughed! Success is relative and God has been extremely kind and generous but one must concede that no body has it easy or perfect, I certainly don’t! Life as a working wife and mother was getting overwhelming and she wanted to know how other women were surviving.

The grass really is greener on the other side as I could not imagine someone as accomplished as her feeling unfulfilled and inadequate but I could understand sometimes being overwhelmed by responsibility and obligations! I could not honestly say that i was doing any better than she was but I have what she doesn’t; hope. I believe hope is a by product of grace.

That encounter was helpful as it lightened my mood and gave me an opportunity to share the good news of the gospel. The truth is that God gives grace even to those of us who feel battle scarred and bone weary and it is that grace that we need to survive the times. Do I think things will get better? Yes, definitely, the tide always comes back in and no matter how hard things get we need to lean on the grace of God, drink some life giving and hope boosting tonic of prayer and praise.

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