Surviving Tough Times, One Day At A Time

How to keep going when you don’t want to, One Day at a Time.

Many people have to endure challenges that not only stretch them to breaking point, but which also linger and haunt them day after day for much longer than they think they can endure.

Sickness, disability, financial hardship, abusive relationships, rejection, fear, guilt, shame, grief, addiction, imprisonment, failure, debt, inability, victimisation and many other ugly challenges are thrown at people at times, and at times unsuspecting ordinary men and women have to endure a seemingly endless and hopeless challenge.

So how do we keep going when we don’t think we can?  How are people to survive the un-survivable?

This is a look at some practical things people can do to endure the unendurable.

One Day at a Time

Jesus Christ gave a key to surviving difficult times when he instructed us to live one day at a time.  What He said was that each day has enough trouble of its own without us bringing our fears or worries about tomorrow into the issues of today.

“Take no thought for tomorrow: for tomorrow will take thought for its own things. Each day has enough evil of its own.” Matthew 6:34 (Jesus Christ – Sermon on the Mount)

This ‘one day at a time’ key to surviving life’s challenges was put into song in the early 1970’s by Kris Kristofferson and Marijohn Wilkins.  Their song goes…
“One day at a time sweet Jesus, that’s all I’m askin’ of you
Just give me the strength to do every day what I have to do”

Keeping Motivated

Not everyone is an optimist, but it is true that often when we face a new challenge we step up to it with a certain determination to see it through and a sense that if we face it with commitment we can even remedy a bad situation.  It may just be dogged determination, to not go under, or it may be a smug sense that we can handle anything, or some other source of motivation.  But which ever way we do it, there are challenges that stump us.

Our emotional tank can be drained to empty.  Our confidence can be completely wiped out by our inability to cope.  Our hope can be wrung out in the face of an endless challenge and the discouragement that comes from those around us.  Our expectation can shrivel as our best strategies prove no match for the ongoing burden.

In these situations, and there are many people who get to this stage in life, the daily challenge is to keep motivated and keep going.

Sacrificial Survival

The capacity of people to push through the ugliest challenges, day after day, despite relentless frustration, is proverbial.  Each year we celebrate the sacrificial love of mothers, who endure sleepless nights to care for sick children, or who are always there for their children, despite their own personal burdens.

Yet many others, men, women, youth and children alike, have risen to the calling to sacrifice for the good of others.  People endure an unhappy marriage for the sake of the children, or to uphold the inherent value of marriage.  People endure difficult working conditions because the bills have to be paid.  People give up all their personal hopes and dreams, spending all they have to care for a disabled family member.

This kind of sacrificial survival, sticking with the unbearable challenge because someone else needs them, is amazing and wonderful.  I commend and congratulate each of you reading this for doing what I have just described.

Just Keep Breathing

A friend of mine talks about just keeping on breathing.  He describes it as God pushing the air into his lungs and him forcing it out again in protest.

The Bible talks of those who wish it was night and then immediately wish it was morning, unable to bear either.  And most people in these kinds of challenges know what it is like to just go through the motions, as an automaton, rather than as a living soul imbibing life’s experiences.

Having a good auto-pilot, or having a bunch of must-do tasks to force you out of bed and back into action, can be the key to surviving those long dreaded months of endurance.

Alcoholics Anonymous teaches its members to just keep pushing through the next minute, and then the next one after that.  If you can get through 30 whole minutes that you never thought you could get through, then you can get through the next few minutes too.  And as you do, you keep on breathing, keep on going, keep on enduring, but also you keep on pushing through.


Think of your incredible challenge as ‘birthing’ something.  You may not be guaranteed a breakthrough or a glorious result at the end, but you are still birthing something.  You are birthing godly character.

A week ago my wife and I caught up with an amazing woman who has a most difficult marriage.  What amazed us about this gal, when we met her two years ago, is the wonderfully positive attitude she has despite her husband being quite thoughtless at times, resulting in incredible hardship for her.

When we caught up this time I asked her, “Has anything changed?”  She replied with an enthusiastic “Yes”, and then went on to say, “I’m developing more godly character.”

Wow!  What a response.  Her challenging situation has not improved, but she has grown in the process.

So see yourself birthing greater character inside yourself.  Let that be a reward in itself.  Then whatever else happens is a bonus.

The Cycle

People who endure long-term challenges note that they progress through various phases, in a cycle.  At times they have bursts of energy and enthusiasm to press through, but then they have times of exhaustion and apathy because all their best efforts have yielded no result.  At other times they seem to be able to regroup and gain renewed and refined focus, before launching themselves afresh into the fray.

Don’t be afraid of the cycle.  If you push yourself when you are beyond exhaustion you may well burn yourself out.  If you try to act with wisdom, when you can hardly remember what day of the week it is, you will not be very effective at all.

Don’t get down on yourself when you find yourself bogged down and feeling defeated.  It’s part of the cycle.  Catch your breath, rethink what you are doing (see the pointers below for how to do this) and get back into action when you are ready and able to be effective.

Rest is OK

Jesus was under immense pressure for the three years of His public ministry.  He was opposed at every turn by the religious leaders.  The devil was against him.  His followers goofed frequently.  His message offended many who couldn’t handle it.

Every day Jesus confronted human weaknesses in people, including some who wanted Him to sort out their arguments, others who misunderstood His message, others who wanted self-promotion, and so on.

In the midst of all that, Jesus personally took time out.  And He told His disciples to take a break too.

“And he said to them, Come aside into a desert place, and rest for a while. For there were many coming and going and they didn’t have enough free time even to eat.” Mark 6:31

So don’t be afraid to take a rest.  Jesus thought it was a good idea.

Keep Doing Right

Many years ago someone came to me and gave me a Bible verse which they believed was God’s instruction to me.  I looked it up and wasn’t particularly impressed.  The verse spoke of not being weary in well doing because if I endured I would reap in the end.

“And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we will reap, if we faint not.” Galatians 6:9

When this was given to me, many years ago, I didn’t have any challenges that required anything like endurance and it was hard to imagine how I would ever need such an exhortation.  In my present season, as I patiently campaign against Fraud, Injustice, Treason and Enslavement issues, toward a new day when this evil is totally removed, I now have a daily application for this verse.

Take Stock

When you are under pressure it is very important to keep the right focus.  Take time to recapture and refine your focus.

Some important questions to ask yourself in the middle of a long endurance struggle include such things as what are you doing this for, and what is God doing in all of this.

Here is a list of questions to stop and think about, with the aim of helping you recapture, and even refine the key issues in your situation.

Who are you?
What did God create you for?
What is His purpose in the present situation?
Assuming He is on your side and you will win, then what is the right response and focus for you at this time?
What are your non-negotiable responsibilities, come what may?
What are the things God has told you to do, and are you fully engaged in doing them?
At this moment are you supposed to be fighting, resting, trusting, learning, recuperating, interceding, getting support from others, helping others, etc ?
What is the enemy doing to block God’s plan for you at this time and what can you do about it?

Resist the Devil

The Apostle James told the early Christians to resist the devil.  And the Apostle Paul advised us that our struggles are not with people (flesh and blood) but with spiritual powers, such as demons and the devil.

I have often found significant improvement in my various struggles when I called my heart and mind to get on with trusting God, or when I took a stand against the spiritual enemy to stop him weighing me down.

I have also found it valuable to stop and take stock of what I am supposed to be doing.

At other times I have only had enough energy to just get on with life’s essentials while leaving other things to work themselves out in due course.

Keep Going

If you are going through tough times at the moment, let me encourage you to keep going.  If nothing else, just keep breathing.  Keep doing the right thing.  God promises that you will reap if you don’t lose heart and give up.

And keep in mind that God is on your side and will sustain you as you call out to Him.  Tell the devil to get out of your life and your situation, so you can find God’s strength to keep going.

And don’t let yourself run ahead and bring tomorrow’s troubles into today.  Today has enough of its own.

Maybe you could start singing to yourself….
“One day at a time sweet Jesus, that’s all I’m askin’ of you
Just give me the strength to do every day what I have to do”

God bless you in your ordeal.  We will win if we are on God’s side, because it’s His battle, and He always wins!

Dr Clifford Wilson Passes Into Glory

Dr Clifford Wilson, Australian Archaeologist, Author, Academic and committed Christian worker died on the evening of Wednesday April 4, 2012 just a few weeks short of his 90th birthday.

Clifford Wilson was well known and much loved internationally, having contributed widely in Christian apologetics, academia, psycholinguistics, archaeology, Christian broadcasting, publishing and public speaking.

At the same time Clifford was cherished as a father, grandfather and great-granddad, with the ability to engage in encouraging conversation with people of all ages and walks of life.
He was truly a remarkable man with tireless energy and unbounded vision.  He contributed above and beyond the call of duty, boldly stepping into issues where others shrank away.
And his many wonderful achievements would not have been possible without the capable and devoted support of his first wife, Avis, and his second wife, Barbara, who both preceded him in death.

Clifford’s achievements were listed at the Thanksgiving Service as:
*    Naval Seaman during World War II
*    Missionary to India (see comment added below with detail of his work there)
*    First Regional Director of Emmaus Bible College (see comment below for a review of the early history of Emmaus and Clifford’s involvement)
*    Hansard Reporter for the Fijian Government
*    Pastoral service in Australia and USA
*    Passionate supporter of Essendon Football Club (Aussie Rules Football)
*    Lecturer at Emmaus Bible College, Melbourne Bible Institute (MBI), New Zealand Bible School, Collumbia Bible College, Pacific College of Graduate Studies, Toorak Teachers College and Monash University (among others)
*    Named in America as an outstanding Educator of the Year
*    Academic degrees in History, Education, Theology, Divinity and Psycholinguistics  (B.A., M.A., B.D., M.R.Ed., Ph.D.)
*    Founder of the Word of Truth Ministries and Pacific Ministries
*    Radio Broadcaster in Australia, USA and internationally
*    Founding President of Pacific College of Graduate Studies and Pacific International University
*    Director of the Australian Institute of Archaeology
*    Author of approximately 100 books
*    Editor and Assistant Editor of New Life Christian Newspaper (Australia)
*    Husband to Avis for 54 years
*    Father to Bruce, Elaine, David and Lynnette and Father-in-law to Shirley, Alan, Debbie and Greg
*    Grandfather to Darren, Debbie, Phil, Michelle, Ray, Bruce, Benj, Dee Dee, Marney, Jabin, Ryan, Brianna and Geordie
*    Great grandfather to 23 children
*    Husband to Barbara for 12 years
*    Friend to ‘millions’

Dr Wilson, May 10 1923 – April 4 2012, was interred at a private burial on the morning of April 10, and a Thanksgiving Service followed at Canterbury Gardens Christian church that afternoon.

An article on the life of Barbara Wilson, who passed away in 2010, can be found at:

Additional information about Clifford’s life can be found in the comments following this article.