When the Going Gets Tough...

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash


At first glance, the statement “when the going gets tough, the tough get going” could mean:  when life is hard run to the hills, escape, do all you can to avoid the hard times!  But JFK’s father and the American coach K. Rockne, who came up with this saying, meant was “when the situation becomes difficult, strong people are able to step up and handle it.”(from English Study Online.com, March 25,2019 Article, English Proverbs)  How do you and I become one of those “strong people?”   In today’s world it is easier to run away and avoid the difficult situations we may face than step up and handle it. 

Here are at least three principles that will help you, and I step up and handle the hard times we may face. 

In tough times, rely on God’s Strength, not your own strength. 

This means when you and I encounter difficult situations way over our head, don’t depend on you. The situation may look like there is no way out.  We are going to sink unless rescued.  We can’t do it.  This is a perfect time to call out to God and ask Him to deliver, rescue, give you strength and pull you out of the crashing waves.   Remember Peter?  Christ invited him to walk on water.  “Leave the boat Peter and come to me!”  The amazing thing is Peter did!  He hopped out of the boat and was walking to Jesus!  Yet when he took his eyes off of Jesus and saw the crashing waves, the wind and the sea - he panicked and sank.  The scriptures say, “He was afraid.” (Matthew 14:30)  When Peter saw that he was sinking, he cried out to Jesus, “Lord, save me.”  This is the first key to stepping up and handling the tough situation, crying out to Jesus.  Overwhelmed by fear steals and robs us of our strength.  In the weak times of life, we need Jesus.  Jesus reached down and caught him!   Jesus will catch you too, if you cry out to Him. 

In tough times, remember God’s Promises, not what others say.  (See 2 Peter 1:4) 

We can lose our focus if we get our eyes off of Jesus and start looking and listening to what other people may say.  What they say to us may or may not agree with scripture. What is important is this - what is Jesus saying to you?  What are the promises He has spoken to you from His Word, from Scripture?   Those are what we are to remember and rely on, especially in troublesome times and situations.  For example, if I am struggling with bad thoughts about myself or about others and yet God has given me Philippians 4:8 as a promise.  Then I need to remember His Word to me and recite it repeatedly.   “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” (NIV)  Do my thoughts line up with this verse? Do they please the Lord? Then pray and ask God to help you apply this verse to your thought life.  That is relying on God’s Promises.  God’s Word will help you step up and handle the hard times. 

In tough times, retrieve God’s resources and use them. 

Don’t depend on your own ability or talent or wisdom or knowledge.  Depend upon God’s ability to work in and through you.  His gifting and enablement are available to help you. (See  2 Peter 1:3) Depend on His knowledge and wisdom to guide you.  Ephesians 6:11 tells this principle this way, “Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” (NIV)    Eugene Peterson states this verse this way, “So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way.” (The Message)   How do we step up? Stand up? By putting on and using, applying the resources that God has set out for us, His weapons.  Prayer, God’s Word, The Holy Spirit in our lives, the fellowship of believers - these resources will make all the difference. 

I may not like the difficult situations that I Am facing.  They may tempt me to run the other way and flee.  I may even allow those situations to cause me to be bitter and long for a “bed of ease.”  But if I rely on God’s strength, remember God’s Word, and retrieve God’s resources, then “when the going gets tough,” I’ll be the one God uses to step up and handle them for Christ’s glory. 

How about you?  How have you handled tough times?  Have you experienced God’s strength, promises, and used His weapons to stand against the devil’s schemes? If so, I’d love to hear about it.  Send me an email or make a comment. 

Growing Together, 


2 Timothy 1:7