For Part One of the Developing a family approach to adversity series.

The motto of The Boy Scouts of America is Be Prepared. In this series, I have given you God’s ways to prepare yourself and your family to handle adversity by learning to see it as a normal part of life, talking about it, processing emotions and learning to take your wayward and fearful thoughts captive to God’s way of thinking.

Some of you might be wondering, this all sounds good, but where do you actually start?

Start simply. Begin by sharing a concern or hurt and ask for prayer from your family members. When you do that, your children learn that grown-ups aren’t invincible or problem free and they learn to care about their parent’s difficulties and hurts in addition to their own. Don’t forget to follow up and share how God answered their prayers or what changed in you or how you sensed his strength, love or comfort.

Second, take some time as a family to notice what’s good in the midst of hard things or to find something specific to be thankful for. You can do this while driving in the car or sitting on their beds at night before tucking them in. Review their day and ask them, “What are you thankful for today?” Or, if they faced particular hardships that day like a bad grade, a difficult relationship, or a disappointment, you can say, “Let’s look at what’s good about this situation.” Practicing looking for the good and giving thanks in all things readies you to do it more naturally in the more difficult times.

The next step might be to work together to practice handling small trials in a godly way. Like an athlete trains for an important game or a musician practices for her concert, we too can train ourselves to be godly by practicing handling the minor irritants and disappointments of life in a God-honoring way. When you burn dinner, the washing machine overflows, or the kids spill their milk for the third time, your response reveals your theology of suffering, regardless of what you preach. As you practice handling small irritants with grace, when the harder trials happen, we’re more prepared (1Timothy 4:7).

In my book, How to Live Right When Your Life Goes Wrong, I give a five-step process called The TRUTH Principle that helps us move our faith from our head to our heart, especially during times of difficulty. Recently a young mother came up to me during a retreat I was speaking at and shared that her daughter’s teacher had taught the children how to walk through the steps of The TRUTH Principle throughout the school year, and they had been practicing the steps in school. When the woman’s husband (the child’s father) lost his job, the little girl volunteered to do family devotions that evening. She taught the entire family the steps of The TRUTH Principle and together their family moved through that difficulty in a God honoring way.

Over the past four weeks, I have given you specific strategies which can help you navigate life’s storms with greater family cohesiveness and joy. With small steps and regular practice, these tools will help your family navigate safely even when you’re thrust into the dark waters of adversity. But, like my unused emergency ladder stored in my upstairs closet in a sealed box, they will be only be useful to you in a crisis if you practice using them ahead of time.

How has your family approached adversity?

Do you have a game plan?