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Many people look for ways to cope with the pain they encounter. Coping is a good option in the short term but it’s a horrible option long term.
Coping Doesn’t Fix The Problem
Using coping skills is a good idea. Coping allows you to get through the day without becoming overwhelmed by the sensation of pain. But relying on coping as the solution is a mistake that only creates a bigger problem.
Coping numbs your pain. When you don’t feel your pain, you will feel relieved and maybe even hopeful. But coping, without a long-term solution, only produces a false sense of hope.
The world doesn’t have a solution to pain and suffering. Coping is its best attempt. Have you bought into its subtle message? The world tells us to focus on the pleasure we can experience today. Be greedy. As long as you feel good today, you don’t have to worry about tomorrow. You can’t do any better than maximizing your happiness each day.
But what if there is something even better than happiness that you’ll never experience if you follow the world’s advice?
Jesus said to not worry about tomorrow (Matthew 6:25-34). So a worry-free life is the right approach. However, Jesus’ advice is radically different than the world’s. The reason believers shouldn’t worry is exactly the opposite of non-believers. God guarantees that believers have a hopeful future and non-believers have a hopeless future.
The real problem is that everybody is going to die physically and in the meantime, life can be confusing and gut-wrenchingly painful. Even coping can’t shut out this reality completely.
A hopeless future is unbearable, so it makes some sense to avoid its pain. If you’re not going to choose to follow Jesus, then coping is your next best option. But it’s not a solution and doesn’t even come close to what God offers.
Choose Healing Over Coping Whenever Possible
Everything you pursue, except eternal life through Jesus Christ, will leave you thirsty again. When you drink a glass of water, it only temporarily relieves your thirst. You will need more soon enough. But eternal life results from an endless supply of spiritual nourishment.
Jesus replied, “Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again. But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.”John 4:13-14 NLT
For Jesus’s truth to work for you, you need to be willing to give up feeling good all the time. If you’re feeling good while preoccupied with the pleasures of this life, you probably won’t develop a craving for Jesus water.
For those who follow Jesus, our best option is to face the pain now. We can face the pain because it grows our faith and allows healing. Facing the pain drives us to drink the water Jesus promises will satisfy us.
The bubbling spring is the Holy Spirit. The Spirit guides believers into all truth (John 16:13). The first step to receiving healing is to receive the truth.
Imagine you are walking in the wilderness. You are tired and hungry. You have a long way to go until you reach home. How do you feel?
How much difference would it make in your mood if you knew you were going to make it home sometime in the near future? In real life, the Holy Spirit is the one who whispers, “Keep going. You’re going to make it. Don’t give up!” Are you willing to receive this truth? If you can, the journey becomes easier mentally, even when it doesn’t become any easier physically.
Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.Colossians 3:1-4 NLT
Matt Pavlik is a licensed professional clinical counselor who wants to see each individual restored to their true identity. He has more than 20 years of experience counseling individuals and couples at his Christian counseling practice, New Reflections Counseling. Matt and Georgette have been married since 1999 and live with their four children in Centerville, Ohio.