I love the word overcome because it can mean so many things: You can overcome your circumstances or be overcome with gratitude, love, joy. Or both. Usually both.

John 1:5 says, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” and this says so much about how we overcome our circumstances, our struggles, our battles. It’s by digging deep for the joy, the love, the gratitude, the light that we find strength. This is not easy. It’s so much easier to be overcome with rage, overcome with guilt, or overcome with bitterness than to find these pockets of joy and gratitude.

So how do you do this?

For me, music is an awesome way to refocus on the light in the darkness. I have some artists in my music library whose songs are always encouraging. These songs help me remember that I’m not the only person feeling the way I feel, and I’m not the first person to go through what I’m going through. They help me to remember that I am not only going through a struggle, the struggle is helping me grow. Some of my favorites are Audrey Assad, Rich Mullins, and Keith Green

I also find that it helps to lean into my oldest or most reliable relationships. I often end up calling my mom and chatting for 3 or 4 hours. Even without me telling her what I’m specifically struggling with, she speaks the truth to me. I’ve definitely benefitted from being involved in Christ-centred communities, wether that’s in school, at work, or at church. Sometimes I will be talking with someone at school or work and they will spontaneously say exactly the right thing to get me back on track.

A third way is through prayer. If I’m honest, I always wait far too long before talking to God about what I’m going through. But when I do, he is always faithful to calm my anxious heart. God is always faithful to give me the hope and grace I need, so that I’m not overcome with guilt, bitterness, or despair. These prayers take different shapes, because sometimes it’s hard to know what to pray. Sometimes I will find a scripture, like one of the Psalms and begin with that. Sometimes it’s a structured prayer, and sometimes it’s just an emotional outburst.

This is not a recipe for instantly alleviating pain. But relieving the pain isn’t the point, is it? The point is to stay focused, and to remember that there is another side through the pain.