Success in the face of difficulties is what makes heroes.
One thing guaranteed to all is the opportunity to deal with hardship, pain, loss, difficulties, and undesirable problems. They come to us all, and to the last man standing, we all cope.
You do it. I do it. Everybody copes with life. By definition, to cope means to deal with difficulties on an even playing field or even with some success. In days past, it meant to face combat.
I like that older idea of coping. It gives more thrust to the challenge of doing business with our problems with a do or die ultimatum. It’s you, or it’s me bugger…and I’m not going down without a fight.
There is something to be said for the strength-of-will to push through turmoil with a hope of brighter days beyond. Far too many give up at the first sign of discomfort. To cope well is to slay, surmount, or just survive for another day.
However, the difference is that we do not all cope in the same way. A recent article on ultramarathoners highlighted how many of those extreme athletes deal with nausea, intense pain, boredom, and mental doubts. The growing popularity and public acceptance of marijuana has brought that drug into play as a way to cope with running success.
Steroids and enhancement drugs are so widely used in professional sports, that coping has become synonymous with doping. If Rodriquez can dominate in America’s game with a little substance injection, then why shouldn’t the overworked business executive makes his target numbers with something intoxicating? If Tyson can beat all opponents with white powder, then why can’t the overstressed homemaker streamline her emotions with a little meth. If Armstrong can keep most of his millions even after coping with tour-de-blood-doping, then perhaps it isn’t so bad if the frustrated employee copes with his poor pay with a little extra collection on the side from the company treasuries.
Cope doping is a national pastime.
Those awkward stages of fitting in that result in tattoos, body piercings, smoking, and related expressions are all methods of coping with acceptance. New parents find that candy and indulgent-purchases are quick coping fixes for demanding youngsters. The overweight (in mind or body) may cope through self-inflicted eating disorders.
Alcohol is a coping substance of choice. Work-a-holism is a powerful tool for coping with inadequacy or keeping other problems at a distance. Music, movies, and now even the internet are all super-effective numbing devices for those who struggle with hearing their own thoughts or coming up with their own ideas. Advil and Tylenol have become the breakfast of suburbia champions. Even religious busyness can seem to quite the demons that accuse us of not doing good enough.
Having kids is a coping attempt for many who find their early marriages drifting apart. TV had doped entire generations who found it an easy way to cope with loneliness or used it as a way to avoid unwanted house chores. Setting up walls around our hearts is a secret way of trying to cope with relationships that bring us pain. Binge reading is a great way to get lost into fantasy and disconnect from dealing with reality.
And who can deny food? Not even Adam and Eve were capable of avoiding that forbidden fruit. We cope, because we all do it naturally.
There are near endless ways, when faced with difficulties in life, to cope our way through them. All have varying degrees of apparent success and hidden consequences. Most people don’t even care one way or the other about the acceptability of their particular coping styles, at least not until the little problems they were trying to sedate, now become life-threatening.
And so, writing about coping, is a lonely enterprise. Who really cares?
Well, I guess, those who have finally come to recognize their own brokenness, and are willing to admit that they need help with a different method of dealing with problems, are ones who might have ears to hear. It seems that when we come to an end of ourselves, we are often in a better position to look up.
The Bible tells us “do not be drunk with wine, but be intoxicated with the Spirit”! Problems don’t just go away on their own. We still have to deal with them. We can cope on our own, or we can cry out for help to the Father of our spirits and seek to be filled with God.
What coping seeks to do is to inject power to combat problems in our lives. What the Holy Spirit enables us to do is to dominate all our challenges with the same power that raises the dead.
Rather than doping as a way of coping, the Lord recommends hoping — in him.
Would you like to trade in your cope for some hope?