If you have been impacted this year by COVID, you may have found yourself at times asking, “Why is this happening?” “Why now?” Or “Why do some businesses get to prosper while others aren’t allowed to open?” Why?
We all are asking these types of questions today and are struggling with answers leading to frustration, anger, and sometimes hopelessness. Yes, we may know that God somehow has a purpose, but that knowledge does not negate the feelings and reality of what is happening to us.
There is help in a new book I wrote called The Power of 3: Beat Adversity, Find Authentic Purpose, Live a Better Life, just released by Tyndale House Publishers. I had no idea when I began writing this message two years ago how timely it would become.
In April 2017, I went to the club to exercise with the idea of playing golf once the snow melted. I started with planks and quickly found I was in incredible pain. After a few more reps, the pain got worse. I called the doctor and immediately started down the path of tests, scans, and referrals to various specialists. The doctors found cancer in one scan, but there seemed to be other concerns, and I was referred to Mayo Clinic.
After every test and procedure you can imagine, including a bone marrow biopsy, my wife, Pam, and I sat down with the doctor, and he showed a PET scan with my stomach and throat area almost completely red. He explained that I had not one cancer but three. My life changed that day as I started all-day chemo sessions off and on for the next four months.
Pam and I cried. We were shocked and tried to take it all in. My chances of living were not good. I sat in my home office and prayed, “Why, Lord, is this happening to me at this time?” Why? I was active in helping people, enjoying a great time with the family, and loved my work as a trusted adviser and coach.
Here is a certainty. We all face adversity and trials in our lives. Adversity can march through our doors at any time, and Scripture reveals that we should not be surprised by this. Trials test our faith, and according to James 1:2, we are to count it all joy. I can tell you that I did not see it that way at first. Managing three deadly cancers and chemo going through my veins ten hours a day was not my idea of fun.
In my twenty-five years of working with people of faith or those who are just searching, I’ve noticed that when trials come, most people struggle and ask the question “why,” which takes them down rabbit trails that are not good for themselves or their loved ones. Emotions can go wild and despair can follow when we focus on “why.” Equally hurtful are the poor decisions that arise from our “why” questions. These poor decisions compound the problem and impact those we love.
A better approach is what I have taught for the past twenty-five years to thousands of people. Rather than asking “why” questions, we can move forward to a better place with “what” and “how” questions. This portion of the Power of 3—“Ask the right questions”—is solution-based and can dramatically change how you deal with whatever issue is in front of you.
When I received my cancer diagnosis, after many tears, I started to ask the right questions. Rather than the “why” questions that made me feel helpless, I asked, “What can I do right now to take a small step forward so I can best prepare for what is going to happen?” “What can I learn?” “How can I gain some perspective right now and gain support?”
All of these led to discovering a better next step, which lifted my spirits and prepared me for the long road of recovery ahead. God totally understood my fears and used the Power of 3 to guide me.
The Power of 3 begins with asking the right questions, but it doesn’t end there. The next two parts of this simple, easy-to-use method involve activating our God-given talents and inviting advocates into our lives—connecting with our faith, family, and friends. The beauty of the Power of 3 is that it is a triangle, the strongest geometric shape. Triangles are used in bridges and trusses for a reason, and a triangle is also the foundation of our Christian faith—the Trinity.
Learning and implementing the Power of 3 can power your life when adversity comes and can keep you from getting stuck in the downward spiral that “why” questions often create. And more than that, the Power of 3 can unlock your potential in any situation as you ask, activate, and advocate.
Robb Hiller is CEO of Performance SolutionsMN. He is nationally known for his expertise in talent selection, executive coaching, team development, sales, and leadership building. He was the CEO of a high-tech company, Minnesota Business Systems, where he developed a passion for acquiring talent and solving problems that executives face. He has assessed more than 24,000 people in the past 25 years. He is a business graduate of St. Olaf College. He and his wife have three adult children and live in Minnesota.