Norman Vincent Peale was no stranger to tough times, and he had an answer for them.
- Posted on Sep 3, 2013
When troubles gang up on you, there are two possible attitudes to take. One is to become discouraged, even hopeless, and to give up. This attitude is, of course, disastrous.
For if you admit even to yourself that you do not have the ability to cope with things, your personal resources will not come into action. But what if you were confident that you could change things?
Confidence is a word we all use but many of us barely think about. I will say that the surest way to live confidently is to have what I call “a big God.” Many of us at different times in our lives have a very little God. And make no mistake: It is we who have limited him.
We believe in God, but as to applying his power, his might, his love and his greatness to our lives, we aren’t always confident the idea will work. We practically disconnect from God in our day-to-day lives. We try to take on our troubles alone.
But if you think of a big God, if you pray to a big God, if you act like there is a big God, you will grow big spiritually and in every other way and big results will accrue. You will be a partner of a big God.
Saint Paul, in his letter to the Philippians, writes, “My God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Now, what is meant by “all my need”? Surely, Lord, you mean by this that you will satisfy my spiritual needs.
But the statement doesn’t specify that. It has no parenthesis or limitation. It says “My God shall supply all your need.”
He will supply your mental needs. He will supply your emotional needs. He will supply your physical needs. He will supply your material needs.
You will receive, yes, confidence. It will allow you to do big things. So don’t sit around and wail and moan that you are weak, inadequate and inferior, for that is not true at all.
The fact is that through faith in a big God you possess the know-how, strength and persistence necessary to meet any situation. In a word, you have the power to change your life. Put all of your problems into heaven’s hands and believe, positively, that God and you together can solve them.
Here are some techniques for how you can become more confident and handle adversity:
Focus on the How.
You are stronger than all your troubles put together. But when many things are going wrong, the tendency is to feel confused and overwhelmed. Have faith in your ability to think.
Remember, the mind will not function well when it is nervous or panicky. Only when it is calm and quiet will it produce those insights that are necessary to improve your circumstances.
God understands your situation. He has all the answers to get you out of trouble.
Get your mind into a state of quietness. Then say something like this: Lord, you know my troubles. I believe that, with your help, I can think my way through them. Guide my thinking and give me right answers. Help me do things your way.
Let me tell you about a man named Fred Haas. After 30 years of hard work Fred lost his business because of a crooked partner. Within a year he had gotten another business started and was doing well.
But the statement he made that really stayed with me was this: “I decided I would not be an ‘if thinker,’ but a ‘how thinker.’ ” That’s quite a thought-provoking distinction.
The “if thinker” broods over a difficulty or a setback, saying bitterly to himself, “If only I had done thus and so.... If only this or that circumstance had been different.... If others had not treated me so unfairly....” So it goes from excuse to excuse, round and round, getting nowhere.
The world is full of defeated “if thinkers.” To these people an excuse is always closer than a solution.
The “how thinker,” on the other hand, wastes no energy on postmortems when trouble or even disaster hits, but immediately starts looking for the best solution, for he is confident there is a way. He asks himself, “How can I use this setback creatively? How can I make something good out of it?”
The “how thinker” gets problems solved effectively because he knows that difficulties bring out his strengths. He wastes no time with futile “ifs” but goes right to work on the creative “how.”
The next time trouble strikes you, avoid the word if. Instead, focus on the dynamic word how. Then ask God’s help in putting know-how into the how. You will be amazed at how quickly your problems will start to become opportunities.
“Prayerize” Your Adversity.
That curious word was suggested to me by a man who decided to put spiritual techniques into practice in a difficult work situation. In his prayers, he said he received guidance to follow three principles: “Prayerize, visualize, actualize.”
By this, he meant that through prayer he grew more confident that his situation could be improved. He then practiced visualizing his goal, sharpening a concept until he knew exactly where he wanted to go.
He held the image of successful achievement firmly in mind, visualizing a positive outcome. He worked and prayed hard toward such realization, and what he sought became an actual accomplishment.
I once visited a young man in the hospital. He had been a great all-around athlete. Then some friends invited him to go mountain climbing in Colorado. He had never climbed and shouldn’t have tried without instruction.
“I fell a hundred and fifty feet and broke my back,” he said. “When I came to at the hospital I had no feeling in my legs. After a few days the doctors let me have it straight. They told me that most likely I would never walk again. That was the blackest moment in my life.
"But then something you wrote came to my rescue. It got me up and around on these canes. I found that faith power really works wonders.
“You wrote,” he continued, “about three things to do when you’re up against it: Prayerize, visualize, actualize. So I began to prayerize.
"Lying there in bed, I looked down at those motionless legs of mine and prayed, Lord, these are good legs. I’ve only had them nineteen years, and they’re good for maybe ninety-nine. Please give me back the use of them. I believe you surely will.
“Then I started picturing my legs with life coming back into them. I visualized myself moving them again, standing on them, taking steps. Each day I felt more confident that God would help me if I kept holding that picture.
"Finally the day came when I was able to get out of bed onto my feet. So, you see, I’m on my way. The next time you see me you won’t see the canes.”
Well, I stood there with my eyes blinded by tears.
Think in Terms of Opportunity.
Adopt the philosophy of successful businessman and author W. Clement Stone: “To every disadvantage there is a corresponding advantage.” No longer think disadvantage. Think advantage. Persist in this process and your mind will begin to produce the advantage inherent in the disadvantage.
Adopt a positive mental attitude, believing that with God’s grace you will, out of your own intelligence, create a better state of affairs for yourself and others.
I received a telephone call from an out-of-work executive. I listened to his story of a lost job and his futile efforts to find a new position, thinking that if he talked out the problem, he might develop his own solution, as so often happens.
He was not negative or complaining or bitter, but seemed disturbed that he had been unable to make a business connection, particularly since his savings were practically exhausted. A sense of controlled anxiety came through in his conversation.
Finally I said, “Look, you don’t know the answer to your problem and neither do I. I suggest we bring in a consultant, one whose know-how is top-notch, and put the matter directly to him. Then let’s leave it to him to point the way.”
He at once grasped the meaning of this suggestion and said, “Okay, you talk to him for us both.”
So over the telephone I asked God for guidance. On the supposition that somewhere was a job for this man, I asked that the man and the job be brought together.
“Let me know what happens,” I told him. I was rather surprised at his reply: “I’ve got a strange, but strong, feeling that something is going to happen, and soon. Thanks.”
Three weeks later, I received another phone call from this man. He had secured a position with a restaurant, a totally different occupation from any he had contemplated. This job did not pay nearly as much as his former one, but did provide enough to fill his basic needs.
When I asked how the job opportunity had come about, he replied, “Funny thing. I was eating in this inexpensive restaurant and idly got to thinking that it seemed a well-managed place. It was neat and clean and obviously operated by someone with imagination.
"Suddenly, I had a strong feeling that I would like to work for these people.” He hesitated for a moment. “It was almost as if I was meant to be there. So I asked if I could speak with the owner.
“He was a friendly guy, and I became aware that he was sizing me up. Finally, the owner said, ‘Well, maybe you have happened along at the right time. You see, my right-hand man died ten days ago. I’m lost without him. Know anything about this business?’
“I leveled with him. ‘Not a thing except general business principles,’ I said. ‘But I suppose the way to run a restaurant is to give people good food in a pleasant atmosphere at reasonable prices, and make a reasonable profit on your investment.’
"The owner grinned at that. ‘Not bad, not bad at all.’ Then he continued, ‘I have been expecting the right man to come along.’” (Much later, when they had become friends, the owner confessed that he had prayed for the right man.)
“‘Well, give me some references. Are you willing to work the long hours this business requires?’”
My friend told me that he replied, “I’ll stick with you all the way,” and then added, “I feel that this job was meant to be.” Later my friend became a partner. Then, on the owner’s retirement, my friend bought him out and ultimately added a second restaurant.
His explanation of the entire experience was succinct. “Someone,” he said, “was on my side.”
Someone is always on your side too. A big God who is ready to help you overcome your biggest challenges. Have confidence!
Download your FREE ebook, Rediscover the Power of Positive Thinking, with Norman Vincent Peale
In this new book of never-before-published writings, Norman Vincent Peale gives encouraging advice about keeping and maintaining your faith in good times and bad. “We have a big God, and if we live up to a big God, which means generosity and brotherhood and kindness and goodwill, this big God will make big and confident people and a big and confident society of people who know their God,” he writes. You can order the book at shopguideposts.org.
And you can get more positive thinking tips from Norman Vincent Peale with our new app for your iPhone, iPod touch or iPad. Go to guideposts.org/ppt to learn more.