On Dealing with Nasty Viruses & Other Setbacks

For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again. – Proverbs 24:16a

My family and I are grateful to be recovering from a nasty flu virus. After nearly two weeks off from regular exercise, my daughter and I did a circuit workout this morning that included pull-ups.

I was not surprised that I could do far fewer than before I had the flu – but I was still frustrated and discouraged.

If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you’ll know that I’ve been working on that most challenging of bodyweight exercises, the pull-up. I started at ground zero a couple of years ago and had worked my way up to doing seven.

Not today.

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As I write this, I realize that my discouragement about such a matter is really trivial. Many people in the world are suffering because of heartbreak or serious health issues, and they have far more reason to be discouraged than I.

Along with all that is a very contagious virus, which is wreaking havoc with people’s health, the economy, and the structure of our everyday lives.


In any case, I know there are healthy ways for believers to deal with life’s setbacks, and lessons to be learned from them; below are five steps that may help with all of that.

  1. Recognize the real source of your discouragement and adjust your perspective accordingly.

A lack of pull-ups is not the true source of my frustration. Instead, fatigue of body and mind as I struggle to recover from the flu and keep up with life’s demands has robbed me of my usual energy and optimism. My perspective is skewed to the negative.

From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I. – Psalm 62:1
  1. Stop everything and rest.

It’s easy to admit we need rest, but hard to do, isn’t it? But I finally reached that point this morning, and I went back to bed after exercising. After all, exhaustion only produces more frustration and fatigue, and sleep is a gift from God to help our minds and bodies function at their best.

It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so he giveth his beloved sleep. – Psalm 127:2
  1. Cast your cares upon the Savior.

In the midst of our discouragement or despair, God is waiting to help us. I love that he desires to “succour” us; in the Greek, it implies that he will come to our aid and support us, taking hold of our problems and putting them upon himself.

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Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren…. For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted. – Hebrews 2:17-18
  1. Prioritize your tasks.

When my body, mind, and spirit are refreshed, I don’t want to become discouraged once again by re-entry into real life and all that awaits me. So, I made a list of everything that needs to be done in the immediate future, and I prioritized it according to those things that are causing me the most stress and must be done first. I’ll delegate what I can and ask for help with other things.

Let all things be done decently and in order. 1 Corinthians 14:40
  1. Appreciate that God is shaping your character.

The Holy Spirit shared something new with me today about my opening Scripture: “For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again” (Proverbs 24:16a). For the first time, I noticed the number of times that the just man fell (meaning that he experienced calamity or committed sin): seven. That’s God’s perfect number, indicating completion, maturity, and perfection.

Each time we undergo a trial or commit a besetting sin, and rise from the ashes, God uses that experience to make us more like him.

And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it. – Jeremiah 18:4

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If you’re working your way through a difficult experience, I trust that these five steps may help you on your way.


Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ. – Philippians 1:6

Are you going through a trial? What is God teaching you through it? I welcome your comments.

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