When Life Hands You a Cluster of Difficulty

In my search for tomatoes that taste like the kind my father used to grow in the backyard, I discovered the ones that come closest are what the grocery store labels “cluster tomatoes,” the kind with the vine still attached.

Sometimes, strange things, like cluster tomatoes, speak to me about life. As I unloaded groceries, and set the tomatoes aside to wash, I thought of how we hardly ever get to do just one hard situation at a time. Often, difficulty comes in clusters, and we’re forced to deal with each while juggling anxiety and  emotions about the others.

Following are some thoughts on handling cluster difficulties:

The Approach

When selecting which tomato to pluck from the vine and eat first, the softest, ripest fruit, or the one most damaged, is usually chosen.

Something similar may be the best way to approach a cluster of difficulty. Instead of addressing challenges in the order in which they occur, tackle the one most pressing, the one most likely to have the biggest impact or cause the most damage if not handled.

Even when a cluster of problems seems impossible and overwhelming, taking those first few steps toward resolving issues eases anxiety and stimulates forward motion.

Juggling Emotions with Practicality

Emotions are always involved when multiple difficulties overpower you. It feels unfair to have so much that is unrelenting and overwhelming thrust on us at once. Making an attempt to control negative emotions like fear, anxiety, and anger allows focus on practical steps to work through issues and resolve them.

Emotions are normal when managing clusters of hardship, but don’t allow them to take control to the point they paralyze you. Despite the challenges, look for positives among the negatives. Search for and relish moments of joy.

Stay Connected

Cluster tomatoes are harvested with the vine still attached. This allows the tomatoes to continue to draw moisture and nutrients for several days and enhances freshness and taste.

Often, when facing a cluster of life challenges, we become so focused on the difficulties and the what-ifs we disconnect from others and from God. However, isolating yourself is like tying one hand behind your back. Connection to God and others provides an important source of encouragement, support, and peace as you navigate the ups and downs of multiple situations.

Gain a Broad Vision

One of the biggest challenges of wading through multiple difficulties is seeing beyond current circumstances. Clusters of challenge create tunnel vision, blocking out the ability to see hope and promise on the periphery. Gaining broad vision takes effort, but in doing so, you boost your ability to face clusters of difficulty and move beyond them.

Believe God has a broad vision for your life, a plan for your future that is beneficial and rewarding. Hold tightly to hope as you traverse challenges, work through them, and move forward.

“I am the sprouting vine and you are my branches. As you live in union with me as your source, fruitfulness will stream from within you—but when you live separately from me you are powerless” (John 15:5 TPT).


Candy Arrington is a writer, blogger, speaker, and freelance editor. She often writes on tough topics with a focus on moving through, and beyond, difficult life circumstances. Candy has written hundreds of articles, stories, and devotionals published by numerous outlets inc luding: Inspiration.org, Arisedaily.com, CBN.com, Healthgrades.com, Care.com, Focus on the Family, NextAvenue.org, CountryLiving.com, and Writer’s Digest. Candy’s books include Life on Pause: Learning to Wait Well (Bold Vision Books), When Your Aging Parent Needs Care (Harvest House), and AFTERSHOCK: Help, Hope, and Healing in the Wake of Suicide (B&H Publishing Group).

To receive Candy’s blog, Forward Motion, via email, go to https://candyarrington.com/blog/ and scroll to the bottom of the page to sign up.



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