Tag Archives: difficult times

Delayed Success

God’s plan is rarely the straightest or easiest. Following it doesn’t guarantee immediate success the way we look at it. If you look at the story of Joseph in Genesis, you’ll see a young man who was given a pair of dreams. In one dream, eleven stalks of corn, representing his brothers, bowed down to his. In his next dream, eleven stars and the sun and moon, representing his parents, bowed down to his star. He shared his dreams and was ridiculed. His brothers threw him in a pit, sold him into slavery, he was falsely accused and sent to prison where he was forgotten. It was around fourteen years before the dreams came true. Fourteen years of hardship before God’s plan came to fruition.

In Judges 20, the tribe of Benjamin had done an evil thing. The other eleven tribes joined forces to attack Benjamin. They asked God which tribe should attack first. God told them Judah. They went out to war and 22,000 died. They fasted and prayed, then asked God again if they were to go to battle. God told them yes again. They took positions the next day again. They were beaten again. This time losing 18,000. They cried and prayed to God again. A third time He told them to fight. This time they won. They routed Benjamin and nearly wiped out the entire tribe. Even though they followed God’s orders, they were defeated twice losing around 40,000 men.

2 Corinthians 4:8-9 reminds us, “We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed” (NLT). Following God’s plan will not always yield instant success, nor will it make your life easy. You may be pressed on every side, feel perplexed by what’s happening and get knocked down or back. However, we do have God’s promise that we will not be forsaken or abandoned in these times. We will not be crushed, driven to despair or destroyed. Keep going back to God seeking His will through the hardship. Keep making sure you’re following His orders and what He promised will come true. Don’t give up in the struggle. Victory is near.

Photo by Aaron Thomas on Unsplash

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The Perspective Problem

I love those photos where a person holds their hand out flat and the photographer adjusts to make it look like they’re holding the Eiffel Tower in their hand. I’ve seen it done with just about every landmark. The photos take advantage of perspective. The person is close to the camera while the giant object they’re “holding” is further away. Of course, if the two were right next to each other, you’d see just how large the Eiffel Tower is in comparison. While comparison like this in a photo is fun, when we get things in our life out of perspective, it can be dangerous.

Every one of us will go through difficult times. No one is exempt from trouble or the storms of life. What makes the difference is your perspective. When we go through difficult times, it can feel like God is far away and that He doesn’t care, while our troubles are in our face. In those moments, troubles can seem larger than God. We tend to view God Through the lens of our problems instead of viewing our problems through the lens of God. If we’re going to withstand the storms, we have to learn to change the perspective from which we view them.

Proverbs 10:25 says, “When the storms of life come, the wicked are whirled away, but the godly have a lasting foundation” (NLT). You and I must have a strong foundation of faith to withstand the storms of life. That foundation will help us keep our problems in their proper perspective. God’s desire for each of us is to trust Him no matter what comes. Problems, even when they’re relentless, should build our faith rather than tear it down. Stand firm on the foundation of God’s Word and His character. When you put your problems next to God, you’ll see how big He is in comparison. It’s time to tell your storms how big your God is.

Photo courtesy of Vincent Lock

Throwback Thursday is a feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Don’t Run

My son once asked me, “If you had been with Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, what would you have done?” I know what he was after and what he was thinking, so I answered, “I would have ran like the rest of them.” He replied, “I would have stayed.” I then explained that it was a nice sentiment, but he would have ran too. I told him that you can’t take today’s knowledge and apply it to what you would have done yesterday. However, I also explained that he can take today’s knowledge and pre-apply it to what he will do tomorrow. There will be plenty of times in his life, and ours, where things look bad, and the opposite of what we hoped would happen will come true. There will be times where we’re tempted to blame God and deny Him, but if we decide now how we will handle it, we improve our chances of staying with Him.

Job is a tough book to read. It’s hard to imagine what it would be like to lose everything in a day, including your children. It’s hard to imagine how we might respond when insult is added to injury when we then become too sick to do anything about it. I love that this book pulls back the curtains of what is often happening. Job 1:10-11 has Satan going to God against Job saying, “You have always put a wall of protection around him and his home and his property. You have made him prosper in everything he does. Look how rich he is! But reach out and take away everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face!” (NLT) Satan accuses us by saying we will run from God when bad things happen, but God knows that like Job, if you will predetermine how you will respond, you can endure anything and still worship Him.

Ephesians 6:13 says, “Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm” (ESV). We know that troubles don’t come from God, but He allows them and uses them to test us and grow us. Job had to endure a long time with no response from God as to why everything happened. God grew his endurance and his faith in the end because he didn’t run when bad things happened. He stood firm. We must remain in Him and stand firm during the most difficult times. He is our protection, our source of strength and our hope when all is else is lost. The more difficult your situation is, the more your endurance has the ability to grow. Don’t allow today’s circumstances cause you to run. God had a plan and was working things out behind the scenes for Jesus, the disciples and Job. He’s doing the same for you even though you can’t see it. Don’t run.

Photo by Nicholas Barbaros on Unsplash

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Facing Adversity

Most of us can point to a period of adversity in our lives that shaped up. Some of us look back on that time with a bit of sorrow or even bitterness because of how bad it was and where it left them. Others look back on it as a bad time that created a positive outcome in their life. It could have been just as bad as someone else’s, but because the end result was different, they change how they look at it. How do you view that time? How far had God brought you since then? It’s hard to see God’s hand in our lives the closer we are to that time. However, the farther away we get, if we look back, we should be able to see God’s hand in it carrying us or moving us into a position through it. We rarely know everything He is doing, but with some distance and perspective we should be able to see how He can work everything out for our good.

In Genesis, we find the story of Joseph. He was a man that went through 13 years of adversity without letting it make him bitter towards God or others. His own family beat him, threw him in a pit and sold him as a slave. The man who purchased him from the slave traders lived in a foreign land. Joseph was a hard worker despite his circumstances. He was given more and more responsibility until his master’s wife made a pass at him. Because he rejected her, she lied and had him thrown in prison with no parole. He was left there and forgotten even though he helped people there. After he interpreted pharaoh’s dream, he was given all authority in Egypt to make decisions as he led them for 7 years of blessings and through 7 years of famine. During those 14 years, he got married and had two kids, Manasseh and Ephraim.

Genesis 41:52 says, “He named the second [son] Ephraim (fruitfulness), for ‘God has caused me to be fruitful and very successful in the land of my suffering.’” The more Joseph looked back on that time, the more he could see the faithfulness of God who was positioning him so that the dreams God gave him as a boy could be fulfilled. He didn’t allow bitterness to grow in his heart towards God or others. In doing so, he was able to be fruitful and successful even though he didn’t understand as he went through it. Our attitude in adversity, and even after, will often affect our outcome. God is faithful and able to turn any situation around for our good, no matter how bad it was. When I’m discouraged in times of adversity, I find hope when I look at Joseph knowing that God can make me fruitful and successful no matter how bad things get, and that He will be faithful to His Word through it.

Photo by Brad Barmore on Unsplash

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

God Is Good

A friend was telling me about a lady who went to his church. Her son was in his twenties and had started serving the Lord when he passed away unexpectedly. She was devastated over it, but she still tells people how good God is. She was asked, “How can you talk about the goodness of God when you have had such heartache?” She replied, “My circumstances don’t change the goodness of God. Who know what could have happened to my son in the future? Perhaps it was the kindness of the Lord to take him home early.” Her perspective on God is right on and contrary to how so many would feel. Most of us would get bitter towards God or be ad at Him at least. Her story reminds me that o matter what comes my way, God is still good.

Job was a person in the Bible who also experienced great loss. In a matter of minutes he found out that his livestock and animals was stolen taking away his wealth and income. His workers who were planting crops were also attacked and killed taking away his future food security. Then his children were killed by a collapsed house taking away future generations. In that moment, he tore his clothes in grief and dropped to his knees. Instead of cursing God or asking Him “why”, he worshiped God. He reiterated God’s goodness and acknowledged His sovereignty. Even though he didn’t understand why it happened, but he still made sure to keep the proper perspective on things. He came into the world with nothing and he would leave with nothing. God gives and God takes. He then blessed the name of the Lord.

Romans 8:28 says, “And we know [with great confidence] that God [who is deeply concerned about us] causes all things to work together [as a plan] for good for those who love God, to those who are called according to His plan and purpose” (AMP). There are times when your circumstances don’t look good, but God still is good. Things may be a mess right now, but messes are incubators for miracles. Difficult circumstances are the things that God uses to work out His plan in our life and to grow our faith in Him. I don’t know what you’re facing today or what you’re going through, but I do know that God is good and He is working things out for your good through it. Stand on this promise as a firm footing when everything else seems to be slipping away. Be like Job and profess God’s goodness even when it may not feel good.

Photo by Hanny Naibaho on Unsplash


Filed under Uncategorized


There’s an exercise I do with people to show how our minds jump to conclusions and we assume. We observe a conversation where a lot of things are left open, and then I ask them questions about it. The group doesn’t know that I’m exposing how their brain works. As I ask the questions, they typically make assumptions. I keep asking questions to get as much detail from them as I can to see how much they’ve made up.

I keep asking questions until someone inevitably says, “I don’t know.” I then go back to what was said and ask, “So what do we really know?” I sometimes have to go through it several times before they get it. Most of the answers they give are based on their assumptions and not on what they know. I then like to ask, “How much of your life is based on what you’re assuming versus what you know?” It’s a heavy question that I usually leave several seconds of silence after while they think.

Job was a righteous man in the Bible. He honored God in all he did and even fell down to worship God when he lost his kids and his wealth. As time went on and he was struck with boils, his friends began to question his integrity. In their conversations back and forth, it’s clear that they make many assumptions about his predicament and how God is doing it to Him. They don’t know that Satan is behind the whole thing and is the one tormenting Job.

In Job 19:25, Job makes a great statement. He says, “But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives” (NLT). We may not know why we go through certain things or why things happen, but we can know that our redeemer lives. We can live with assurance that He is in control and our lives are in His hands. We need to stop our assumptions that God is behind everything bad that happens in our lives. We know that it’s the enemy who steals, kills and destroys. It’s God who brings life. So they next time things happen, don’t make decisions based on assumptions. Go with what you know.

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Throwback Thursday is a feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.


Filed under Uncategorized

Psychological Warfare

Psychological warfare has been used for thousands of years to help win wars. If you remember the first night of Desert Storm, we used shock and awe to overwhelm the Iraqi army. It was a show of strength to win the battle of the mind. I’ve seen army’s drop pamphlets behind enemy lines to disrupt their belief of what they think the truth is. If they can get the people to believe their own government is lying, they’ll fold. I’ve also seen where they used speakers to blast messages 24 hours a day trying to get into their minds. Psychological warfare is real, and it’s intended to influence emotions, thinking, attitudes and behaviors. If those are manipulated, victory is easier.

In Isaiah 36, Jerusalem was surrounded by Assyria. They were the toughest army of the day and they were undefeated. When they showed up in full force, their psychological ware fare was to make their enemies lose heart. Not only that, they would address the people instead of just the king. They understood psychological warfare. In verse 15, their emperor was talking with Jerusalem’s leaders where all could hear. He tried to undermine King Hezekiah and their faith. He said, “And don’t let him (Hezekiah) persuade you to rely on the Lord. Don’t think that the Lord will save you and that he will stop our Assyrian army from capturing your city” (GNT). He then encouraged them to surrender. Thankfully they continued to trust the Lord and God sent the Assyrian army home.

Our enemy comes against you and I the same way. He speaks lies into our minds to get us to doubt God. He’s done it since the Garden of Eden. James 4:7 says, “So then, submit yourselves to God. Resist the Devil, and he will run away from you.” The key to victory against his mind games and lies that try to get you to quit relying on the Lord begins with submitting to God. Trust that He will not fail you, abandon you or leave you to fight alone. Trust His plan and know that He will work everything out for your good. Then resist the devil’s lies. Combat them with God’s Word the way Jesus did in the desert. When we do that, he has to flee. He has to stop the attack on your life and your mind. Don’t surrender or succumb to the psychological warfare of the devil. God has given you the Helmet of Salvation and the Shield of Faith to resist.

Photo by Monstera:

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Learning From Lessons

Often times, at the end of a lesson, I like to ask the group, “What were your key take aways?” What I really want to know is what they learned and what they’ll implement once they leave. As we go around the room, several people will give the same one. It’s always cool for me when that happens because there was a moment when lots of lightbulbs came on at one moment. They had an epiphany that there is something they’re not doing that’s holding them back, and they need to make a change in that area. If we never have those moments, we’ll keep on doing what we’ve been doing, and there’s little growth in that.

When you and I go through something, I often wonder if God is asking us what our key take aways are. I believe God wants each one of us to learn and grow. We should be constantly moving in the direction He’s leading us into. Along the way, there will be lessons to learn so that we can accomplish something He has for us down the road. God has great plans for each one of us, so we must be ready to learn and adjust along the way. John the Baptist said, “I must decrease, and He must increase,” to explain the change that needs to happen.

David was another person that learned lessons as he transitioned from a shepherd to a king. Before he became king, he shared some key take aways all of us can learn from in Psalm 27:14. He said, “Here’s what I’ve learned through it all: Don’t give up; don’t be impatient; be entwined as one with the Lord. Be brave and courageous, and never lose hope. Yes, keep on waiting—for he will never disappoint you!” (TPT) Because He was able to learn these things and implement them into His life, God was able to exalt him to king. Imagine what God can do in your life if you’re willing to learn what He’s teaching you right now.

Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko:

Throwback Thursday is a feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Character Building

Have you ever prayed for patience? What happened? You probably got hit with a bunch of things that tested your patience. Why? Because God doesn’t just give you character qualities. He builds them in you and refined them through His processes. When character is given, it isn’t appreciated. When it’s earned in a fiery trial, it is etched into your being. God knows what makes us tick and what we need to grow and develop. When God builds character in us, we forget that we prayed for it and usually start praying to get out of the refinement process. Both prayers have costly consequences, but only one elevates who we are. Only sticking it out through the hard times, even when you can’t see what God, is doing will build your character.

The story of Joseph has always intrigued me. He didn’t pray for a character trait, but he would need them to fulfill the dream he was given. He was excited about the dream, but didn’t know what it would cost to build and refine his character. He was betrayed by his brothers, sold into slavery, falsely accused and put in prison where he was forgotten. We don’t read where he questioned God or asked Him to stop the troubles. What we see is a man of great character and wisdom on the other side of the process. He forgave his brothers and saved them in the famine. He would have forfeited his destiny had he exited the process.

Psalm 105:17-19 says, “He sent a man before them, Joseph, who was sold as a slave. His feet they hurt with shackles; he was put in chains of iron, until the time that his word [of prophecy regarding his brothers] came true, the word of the Lord tested and refined him” (AMP). He was tested and refined during a long season of unfulfilled hope. That’s the same process God uses with you and me. It’s not easy to keep going when you feel forgotten or when your world has fallen apart, but that’s what’s necessary. Character building and refinement are done in times when the promise is yet to be fulfilled. If you’re in one of those times, trust in God’s Word and in His process. He’s working in you and etching it into the very fiber of your being. You will be different when you come out the other side and will have what it takes to fulfill your destiny.

Thanks to Kelly Sikkema @kellysikkema for making this photo available freely on Unsplash

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized