5 Timeless Choices When Life Sucker-Punches You

It was 5:25 a.m. My phone sounded more like a firecracker on the Fourth of July than the quiet I usually expect that early in the morning. The buzzing, ringing, dinging, and vibrating could have woken the heavens, but thankfully, our God does not slumber or sleep (Psalm 121:4)—a truth that brought peace when I would have typically panicked.

5 Timeless Choices When Life Sucker-Punches You
Image from Photodune.

The text message beeps hushed. I looked to read the four messages I received from four different people:

  • Colleen, please pray, husband lost his job without warning, don’t know what to do.
  • The mole removed last week . . . cancer . . . surgery next week. Please pray.
  • Divorce finalized, lost custody of my children . . . don’t want to go on.
  • Doctor confirmed . . . Alzheimer’s. Where do we go from here?

Tumbling and Fumbling

Life’s crises can sometimes hit us like a sucker punch—BAM! BAM! BAM!—and we’re left tumbling and fumbling through the fragments of a shattered life.

That morning, I wanted to turn off my phone and turn back the pages of time, so I could be prepared for the shock those text messages might have brought. But turning off a phone, pulling the covers over our heads, or wishing our situations away won’t change the bitter chill of life’s hardest circumstances.

Even though we try, we can’t calm the storms, slow the winds, or fix the broken, so what are our options? I know . . . you know: the “right” answer is to pray and trust God. But when we’re fumbling for our footing after getting slammed—when all we want is for the pain to cease—praying and trusting isn’t always that easy.

Our despair is magnified when others misquote Scripture as “gospel truth”; for example, “God won’t give you more than you can handle.” To set the record straight, not only is that an unbiblical, terribly flawed belief; associating Paul’s teaching on temptation in 1 Corinthians with the human condition of suffering is devastating to the brokenhearted who are trying to endure life’s enormous challenges.

In fact, throughout Scripture, we are promised great suffering (Romans 5:3; 2 Timothy 2:3; Hebrews 12:7; James 1:2–3; 1 Peter 1:5–6; and more); and no Christian is entitled to an explanation why.

Isn’t it time we muster up a huge dose of humility, admit weakness, and ask for help?

Two Friends

Image from Photodune.

Clinging for Dear Life

Practically, what does that mean?

  • It means we need someone to sit with us as the dust settles, to wipe our tears and remind us of God’s strength in the midst of scattered messes.
  • It means we must cling to our Lord. To cling means to grip with fierce determination, to fix ourselves to the One who never sleeps or slumbers.

When we cling to Him, we let Him do the work because we are too weak to press on. Sometimes the hardest work we can do is to sit still and hang on. Sitting still and hanging on grows us, transforms us into people of character, of grace, of truth, of humble refinement.

I have had to CLING for dear life a time or two. In so doing, I have learned the following:

  1. Confidence replaces worry. God is sovereign. He is growing us, encouraging us to depend on Him. So we must depend on Him, call out to Him, tell Him our needs. And as we wait for His response, with His strength, we can release our worries.
  2. Love replaces anger. When we believe God is “for us,” loves us, and has a purpose in what happens to us and in us, then, instead of anger, we are able to embrace our circumstances with grace because they are rooted in His love for us
  3. Inspiration replaces discouragement. During times of suffering, we are on the front row of watching God work. His ways are unlimited, incredible, beyond description. If we were given a free front-row seat to an event that offered a display of the miraculous, we would go. So, let’s GO! There is no work as amazing as God’s.
  4. Needs replace demands. Dependence is humbling and makes no demands. Asking for help is courageous . . . a matter of the heart. God promises to provide; sometimes all that is required is to ask for help.
  5. Gratitude replaces entitlement. Clinging to Christ causes us to become acutely aware of His provision. Life is a gift. We must thank Him for everything that awakens us to His faithful care.

Let Me Hear from You

We serve a mysterious God who sometimes allows our world to crumble. It’s not our job to fix one another but to point us to the One who loves us and knows what is best. On that early morning, I prayed, called, and together we clung to Christ; the one who promises to see us through.

What keeps you from clinging to God? Worry, anger, discouragement, pride, entitlement? Friend, cling to God, He is at work. What one area of life can you release to God so that you can cling more tightly to Him?

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22 thoughts on “5 Timeless Choices When Life Sucker-Punches You

  1. Colleen, Thank you for sharing this devotion with me (and countless others). I’ve been “sucker punched, straight punched and rope a doped” more than Rocky, Ali of Frasier over the last three weeks by circumstances at home and work. The challenges have been overwhelming at times, but by God’s grace, the encouragement of a good friend, and God’s word(s) from various ministries (like Insight for Living, Special Needs Ministry, Tony Evans, etc.) I have been able to get up each morning to face another day.

    I really appreciate the authenticity and transparency of your messages that help me to know other believers struggle with the my doubt, fears and anxieties. I have some friends that are “too spiritual” to identify with my spiritual realities and so I can’t share my inner most hurts and pains with them. You are a breath of fresh air (of reality I can relate to) that picks me up when I’m down by letting me know I’m not alone.

    Love your ministry and you even more.

    • Anthony,
      I’m so sorry things have been rough lately. It’s not uncommon to hear people say many of their “friends” are “to spiritual” which is so frustrating for those of us who know life is a mess and we’re all doing the best we can. And, not to mention the facade is quite simple to see through so why try, uh. I’m also sorry you are in a “sucker punch” season…it can be the hardest AFTER it passes really because forgiveness and letting go are tough. I’m constantly reminded of Christ’s words on the cross…”Forgive them, for they don’t know…..” (in my words of course). If He could do that on the cross, then by all means, we can do that from wherever we may be. So I pray that you are able to do the same and that you get through this season with greater wisdom, depth, and intimacy with our Savior. Have a great evening. Colleen

  2. Hi Colleen, the Five Timeless Choices gives me hope to overcome defeated thinking and discouragement. I am travelling a long road and there has been little relief.

    • Madeline,
      Oh my….it is so hard to travel that road for a long time. I am so glad you found this piece a ray of hope in what you have been enduring. Sometimes taking the higher road is so hard but I encourage you to press on my dear friend. Much love to you, Colleen

  3. Goodmorning Colleen, I am so amazed by you continously! your expression through writing and speaking are such gifts , I so much enjoy your work, Gods work through you. This post of “sucker punches” speaks in volumes of how you always say you have been there a time or two, and how well you relate to these times/seasons so well, incredible to read and reflect on the Bible verses that speak volumes as well. That this is not so personal as I am the only one that experiences these “sucker punches”, it is all humans experience of life and God’s work, His amazing Work! I so cherish this thought.

    I hope that you are receiving so many good reviews of your work of book, that many are being touched and understood by reading your expression and all in such tremendous Faith and grace.
    I wanted to share this with you, read on an email that is regular to my inbox of aligning all thoughts for the Highest good of all. I realize it is lengthy, please do read when you have time. It seemed pretty on target for me this morning and what i am experiencing here. Today I can see today that it is my very “strength” by God work within me that is uplifting me from old patterns and ways,and awarenesses that are blossoming for me, and the friend is one who will not accept but will keep attempting to weaken me and God good tremendous Love. and anyone else that refuses to hear my No., etc, is not honoring this within me either.

    A Vision for Strength

    We envision ourselves living in a world where people everywhere have evolved out of their gullibility; where we can feel, in our body, when someone is lying to us; and where we know, in our heart, whether someone else has our best interests in mind when they are trying to persuade us to do what they want us to do.

    We see a world full of happy people because we have finally and fully seen through all the methods and manners of human suggestibility; where we are no longer susceptible to the power of suggestion; and where the power of suggestion is no longer consciously used in any situation, anywhere, ever – unless it serves the highest and best good of everyone concerned.

    Subsequently, all subliminal advertising, devious sales techniques, patriotic propaganda, false statistics, and fear mongering have been seen for what they truly are: efforts to do unto others as one would not want done unto themself. Now we live in a world where we can easily spot those who would play on our weaknesses because we have found our strength. We see through the motivations of those who would be predators, pirates or parasites, and we are untouched by their trickery because our gullibility has been replaced by our ability to know the truth when we see it.”.”The Intenders of the Highest Good”.
    Have a good day, I will look forward to our connection.
    With Gratitude

    • Sandra,
      You are always so affirming…thank you! I don’t know much about the book reviews but my hope is that it will bring people to know or yearn to know the real Jesus who is full of love and grace even when it doesn’t feel that way at times. I loved the reading you included…affirming as it speaks to our thinking and positive side. May you be blessed tonight. As always, it is a joy to connect with you! Colleen

      • Hello Colleen, you are welcome for me just being who I am, which is nice you enjoy me as you do, i looked up affirming and it is good to process more of how I am seen. Colleen, so much to say. The roofer that came highly recommended by the Gardener was here, he pointed out exactly where he believes leak from,and will provide me with quote via email as I requested. He claimed the multiple people i had come out to fix used only caulking as remedy in places but not a permanent fix and for that reason of caulk he would need tear up some shingles to find exact location of leak. Also he stated if the original installer by previous owner in 2012 when roof replaced, if he took 30 more minutes on where leak is to finsih correctly what installed,I would not have this leak at all as problem. Interesting.
        This individual contracter I remembered as well came highly recommended a few years back when looking at foreclosures ,he came recommended for look at cost of repairs back then so i would know what looking at in damage/repairs. Too bad I had not maybe listened to God as he was so thorough as he had been when looking for a house and those instances with his looking all over with thought maybe i would buy, and then here with the house i did buy I did not call upon him as my home inspector. I had not this information that he did home inspections as well,as builder and roofing company he does and I would have been in thorough hands that these issues would have been found by him. Maybe God was directing me to him but i did not hear or listten well enough. I had remembered his quote only that it was so high in cost for repairs, that is all I could remember, that he was out of my reach for any repairs and when foreclosure did not come into fruition, I moved forward ,maybe even ashamed I could not afford his quotes/work. I am asking Colleen to help pray for his quote to be within my very means so I will have some settlement of repairs and know someone so highly recommended as best out there. and Christian too. I met him and his wife back during looking at foreclosure ,they both came out to look and quote at that time.
        Colleen, also I did communicate by email with this friend, knowing his mother ill, i know he having difficult time and not being able to express himself will heighten the behaviors of throwing junk in office out,and using excuse to see me as another request i stop by his office to pick up another item he has which I asked him simply to mail and/or put in my mailbox if he need “remove”from his office something i had there. Knowing this dishonest request, as he really just wanted me to visit,so i clearly said why he cannot speak honestly of his feeling wanted to say hello. it really angered me and I did not speak so well. I was not able to say okay I know he is hurting, and at same time he has not been the good supportive friend in now. I told him what came across very strongly,for his not listening to soft gentle explainations for long time now, and he keeps asking same question why I could just throw away a friendship of 10 years.It came out some ugly truths and he then asked again,and asked me to be not condemning? So I recalled my xhusband as well believed I came across condemning when he did not hear or listen to me and my needs. I am an honest open individual and I will ask my therapist,however she has told me when I am not being listtened to no matter how or what I say does not matter for I am protecting my boundary in that moment ,i think it was she said.
        I know it is not communication that I understand is healthy and that i need to stay clear of, i am grateful I have this support of you and my dr,and how much I know I am so cared of. At the same time i did know this individual for a long time,and i know he too grieving at some level for he did enjoy talking with me, even thought it usually was mostly about him and his sharing information. I was a very good listener to him. For a time for earlier years he listened to me and helped me tremendously work through dynamics and when I heard his words understanding and believe it or not this individual taught me things like what i may have said about someone,not to judge that person, and many good concepts as a teacher of Reiki at this earlier time,and I did say I will say one more time that for that time we were friends, at this juncture my needs have changed and that he is not with me in the now on the path i have chosen for my wellness. That was the softer message of the two. I pretty much emphasized the uglyness in other thoughts, the trickery of his continously and his lack of feeling for having a dark heart that void of any vulnerability therefore void of love ,destructive,and destroyer of all love, those who are good hearted and loving.that he is a dangerous person for my heart and soul to be communicating with. I am sharing this with you for I am not perfect person. As my therapist stated, he will never understand,and I have no control over his behavior,as you have shared in thought as well, this is not helping me heal. And I need get back aligned with letting go of explaining and feeling pressure to not hurt someone,and then to be as hurtful in coming across too strong with thoughts where there is no awareness but where I feel I have far too much awareness and how could someone not get that what i see is most difficult thing in this situation and others where i have needed change for not being heard of who I am. Am I missing something about myself through this challenge relationally that I can better improve, so we can move on more smoothly perhaps? I am going to hand over to God and ask again What He would do with this, I continue to struggle with being kind and walking away without guilt when someone hurtful and using me without regard to my needs, nor support and happiness for my new growth and amazing relationship with our Lord, my Heavenly Father,Almighty God .
        I am working through this process. I am going to walk again today.
        With a full heart in our friendship by God’s intention and will that we have connected,

        • Sandra,
          Your final questions are great….what is it that you may need to learn or what is pulling you towards continuing conversing with someone who has become a very difficult person for you to figure out. My gut reply is that there may be a fear of walking away because there is a lot of pain in choosing to do so. If you were such a pleaser growing up, then walking away from someone who is expressing a need is very hard for you to do. I think you are at a very vital cross point here…choosing to stand up for yourself and set the boundary without exception regardless of his reaction or to allow him to manipulate you into listening or being available for whatever the need may be. If he is as you describe him to be, he will find any way to manipulate or have a need to keep his clutches on you. Yes, you are so tender hearted and that is exactly what is played upon by people who long for control. I can’t make you decide what is best for you but I can say there is a shift in your spirit when you have been exposed to this person…you have to put up a defense for protecting your heart and that will conflict with your growth. It seems you have entered a time of confusion and frustration…a lot is going on and I hope you will be able to find rest soon. Your friend Colleen

      • Hello Colleen, I did want to mention your book is ordered and I look forward to its arrival for reading pleasure. I know I will be embracing the “real Jesus who is full of love and grace” through your thoughts on pages.
        And I suddenly fell to rest today,I will say last nite first nite i had not taken magnesium i mentioned and i was up throughout nite. It may be alot to do with other issues on my plate,although i know i sleep better and skin looks better since taking this magnesium by mercola.com
        Have a good afternoon and a restful comfortable weekend of goodness, His grace and Love surrounding you and as always shared from within you outward like the warmth of the Sun that comforts, provides nurturing care for seeds to blossoms, or simply as Jesus blanket of warmth embraces us.

      • Hello Colleen. I know my last few days have been on the fence maybe with Where I have come to and so many thoughts and emotion. I was awakened tonite with a clear view of guidance from what I believe our Lord..my very Sheperd and King showing me how close I am …so much I can see in His clear view all has been for this Highesr good and I could not be more elated knowing what I can see as His brightest Light waitibg right beyond where I have come by His direction. I am determined to stay the course in following His very guidance and know letting go of all that have held me back or holding me back cannot hold me back as I feel I am arriving in our Lord plan. I seem to have the repeated thoughts of your sharimg of being on top mountain and seeing ahead mile and blossoming flower .God is so clear this morning that this is where I am and exactly where I intended to be and I cannot describe any better what he has instilled in me this morning as if I have again mOved yet closer to Him beyond the very mountain top I waivered for past few days. I am extradinarily optimistic right this moment…He is the most beautiful amazing Light of comfort and peace and so clearly I seem to be connnected to Him closer than before His showing me in full where He has taken me and has lirliterally shown me this morning a full glimpse of my future with His presence stronger and clearer than ever seen or imagined. Even if He has just shown me eternal life beyond earth I cannot wait and will continue do all to please Him only as I follow His calling. I stay my course. I do get the real idea though I am about to experience all He has bwbeen leading me to and a new flow of His amazing grace with me here on Earth.
        have a pleasant day and weekend. I sensed your back uncomfortable last few days.hoping you are able move more freely. I will let you know when get book…I read your 91st or so book as aithor? Wow. That is huge. And I will let you know about leak and contracter quote and if as unfolds if finally contracter arrive that can repair leak and bring living space into balance with helpof other repairs by same contracter with God bringing quote in my means and all flow forward
        best regards for peace and comfort in His care

      • Hello Colleen, I know you are going to have so many thoughts by me on your page. I hope you are well. I wanted to expand that being on the fence these last days have never been on the fence of my treasure of God and believing in His work deeply and knowing it was all me that on the fence with grappling what has been a process of awarenesses and my wanting to do what right and good by God and to hear clearly what His direction is for good of all and what is coming to me and what not from God. My faith overnite in an amazing way has multiplied in a way with my conversation of closeness in early morning hours seeing what is ahead of me in His arms in an amazing way? Serene Light and Peaceful embrace,amazing really what i saw in vision and could heart and soul so very close with our Lord presence.

        I wanted to share this as well. how well the timing for me to read this affirmation.Hoping your day is good and you are well.
        “Intenders of the Highest Good” 3/13/2014
        A Vision for the End of Suffering

        We see a world where suffering has ended; where all living creatures – the plants, the animals, the people – are living in a state of exaltation and joy because no one is harming anyone else, no one is in competition with anyone else, and no one is encumbering or enslaving anyone else.

        We see people feeling safe, feeling secure, feeling serene, and it is in this environment that our potentials begin to blossom. Creativity in all its wondrous forms is now expressed by all as we bring forth the gifts we came here to give. We have transcended the dark and stepped into the light of all things great and good.

        Such is the world that is inside us all, awaiting on us to let it come out.

          • Yes Colleen.I turned phone off and rested without driving out today. I did some things indoors that need organizing from moving in still here.and some yardwork as overcast with some rain and bit chilly with no sun.I know this will all pass and my very focus remains on Him….staying the course .I am going try fall asleep. Goodnite and thank you for connecting
            with gratitude…I know acting paranoid now of hyper sensitivity to motives behind peoples eyes and another reason I get quiet rest here and just not interact with really anybody but be close with God in my very own space for now

          • Hello Colleen. I awakened with thoughts I need remind myself that I cared for a 10year span without knowing the real condition of rules and more than ten years for others of same like family. so that is what I need remind self and the reality of caring for ones needs over and beyond my needs and little true care of what important to my tender heart and soul in return. It is my tenderness ignored as well as my truest needs . I would like to know where in the Old testament did you refer me to read? I would like read what you suggest ed. Also I did just receive confirmation of shipment label from plato texas….your book! Looking so very forward to reading
            thank you

          • Sandra,
            I think you touched on something very important here…you cared for people always instead of yourself. You are so tender, a rare gift in this world! However, when someone as tender and perceptive as you are is in a hostile environment, not being loved in return is so damaging. So, you learned to gain what you thought was love by caring for others; thus choosing to disconnect from ANY relationship is terrifying. Even though you know in your head it is the right thing to do; your heart still feels so afraid…terrified…horrified even as you first begin to respect yourself. Additionally, manipulative and selfish people pick up on who they can control so quickly and tender, intuitive, giving people are usually an easy target. This doesn’t mean the entire relationship was unhealthy, but it does mean you have chosen to grow, require respect, and he has not. If someone is not going to respect you, the relationship cannot go very far because trust and respect are foundational to all healthy relationships. As you begin to develop this discipline, it will ‘feel’ totally wrong and you will want to turn back…but don’t. Go forward with self respect; you will not be manipulated or spoken to in ways that are abusive, rude, harsh, blaming, and forceful…no one should. You can do this but pay attention to your gut…if you feel nervous at first, that is normal…you are probably doing what is best for you. If you fall into the old patterns, you will leave feeling put down and sad. It’s hard but you can do this; I so believe in you! I’m thrilled the book was shipped…great news. I hope you enjoy it and it brings you hope. Much love, Colleen

  4. Had a revelatory moment reading points 2 & 3, and after praying earlier today a prayer of re-confession!
    God has forgiven me already, even if He’s still remoulding me in that area. If I’m still waiting, it doesn’t necessarily mean that’s because I have to get something right first, still – that would be living by works. If I am honest with Him, repent when He makes me aware of the need, come to Him in gratefulness, that’s all an open relationship needs. How did I slip into a ‘works’ mindset like that. If I’m still in limbo, waiting, that’s because God’s time isn’t here yet – whatever that means.
    Dodgy thinking just creeps up on you sometimes, I reckon. Feeling relief just now.
    Thanks again lovely lady. Hope the back’s not tooooo bad just now. Love Gina

    • Gina,
      You are exactly right in so many ways. God’s timing is rarely what we expect it to be and often what we wish it not to be…He’s at work in each life, forming, preparing, shaping, changing…and when there is a delay in His response, it does not mean He’s out of touch, we have done something wrong, or He isn’t aware. Often, and right now I’m reminded of God’s words shortly before his son’s birth… “In the fullness of time”…He is working ‘all things together’ for a greater good than we can imagine. Yes, you are forgiven, no works are needed…it would be similar to us expecting our children with limits to do what they can never do and basing our love for them on their behavior. So it is with you and me…His love has already covered us with grace upon grace…sometimes that grace is for us to wait until His timing has been completed. Not dodgy thinking, just revelations to one who has a wonderfully tender spirit and God is working through and in you. May you be blessed today my friend. Colleen

  5. Colleen,
    Thank you for writing this post. I will be sharing it with a close friend who needs to be reminded of the “CLING” points you covered. Sometime it just difficult to say the right thing. But also, to remember to cling to those truth points myself. Actually, I think they are great reminders regardless of ones situation. I’m printing those out and keeping them close at hand.
    Thank you again for these weekly posts. I really look forward to them and it’s how I start my Tuesday morning.

    • Vicki,
      MY FRIEND…..so good to hear from you. I hope your friends are encouraged just as you were. These came from a situation I went through recently and found I had to CLING to survive. I also knew if I didn’t, my sin nature would have wanted to try and take control, seek revenge, all those human things we resort to when we want something to happen our way and in our time. Most of the time, it seems God leads us to the end of ourselves so that we are faced with our own humanity-for those daring enough to reflect like YOU- and to show us we need to choose how to respond. The higher road is most often the most difficult as it goes against all we want in our way. I also have to remind myself that God’s love for me is so abundant, He is working His plan which He promises is better than I can imagine. That helps me cling when I would prefer to knock someone or something across the room…just being real candid! = () It’s great hearing from you and I hope you are well. If you have a moment, I would love to hear if your friend was given a bit of hope to help cling to our loving God as well. Colleen
      Colleen Swindoll-Thompson
      From my IPhone

  6. Thank you for sharing from your broken places. The Lord has used your words of encouragement and your honest reflections of faith to be a blessing in my life and I just wanted let you know how grateful I am.

    • Sheila,
      It is so good to hear from you my friend. Thank you for your kind words, your tender spirit. I think we all have these places which is why it is so comforting to know we are not alone in them. I hope you continue to find this to be true right here. I would love to hear more about you and what has helped you get through those ‘sucker punched’ seasons sometime. Have a great day! Colleen