Tag Archives: difficult times

Standing Strong

I Googled, “How do you become a Navy Seal”. One of the first returns was funny to me. Wikihow said, “Visit your local Navy recruiter, rock the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, get your Navy contract, pass the Seal Physical Screening Test, get your Navy Seal contract.” Seems easy enough except passing the Navy Seal Physical Screening Test is one of the most physically and mentally tough tests on the planet. It’s five and a half days of hell week where You get less than four hours sleep, run more than 200 miles, do calisthenics in the freezing rain, fight ocean currents and physical training more than 20 hours a day. Over 75% of people ring the bell and quit.

I bring that up because there are people who go into that test without preparing or training themselves mentally or physically. I think the same could be said of many of us when it comes to preparing for pressure in life. No one is exempt from it, but so many of us are shocked when it hits and then keeps coming. We must have a firm foundation in God’s Word, a solid relationship with Him through prayer and be surrounded by His people if we’re going to survive the high pressure times of life.

Proverbs 24:10 says, “If you fail under pressure, your strength is too small” (NLT). The good news is that we don’t have to fight these pressures in our own strength. Ephesians 6:10 says, “A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.” He then encourages us to put on the Armor of God to prepare for battle and pressure. He knew that you and I were going to go through some tough battles where we would want to give up. If we’re properly prepared with our helmet of salvation, shield of faith, breastplate of righteousness, the belt of truth of God’s Word, our shoes of peace and the sword of the Spirit, we can withstand whatever comes against us.

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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.

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Refiner’s Fire

When I was in high school, we used to sing a song called, “Refiner’s Fire”. The lyrics said, “Purify my heart / let me be as gold and precious silver / purify my heart / let me be as gold pure gold / refiner’s fire/ my heart’s one desire is to be holy / set apart for you, Lord / I choose to be holy / set apart for you my master / ready to do your will.” There’s some more to this powerful song, but this is the part I want us to focus on today. It’s a prayer giving God permission to use fire to get the junk that doesn’t belong out.

I’ve seen a couple of shows where they show how they refine gold. The fire gets so hot that the gold melts. When that happens, the impurities come to the surface. The refiner then takes it off the top so when the gold cools, it’s pure. What a great picture of how God works in our lives. Difficulties often bring the worst in us to the surface. We can choose to have these impurities removed from our lives or we can be bitter. I believe God tries to purify each one of us to help us become the person He created us to be. Don’t run from the Refiner’s Fire. God is doing a work in you through it.

Here are some verses on being purified through the refining process.

1. In the same way that gold and silver are refined by fire, the Lord purifies your heart by the tests and trials of life.

Proverbs 17:3 TPT

2. I will take action against you. I will purify you the way metal is refined, and will remove all your impurity.

Isaiah 1:25 GNT

3. I will bring that group through the fire and make them pure. I will refine them like silver and purify them like gold. They will call on my name, and I will answer them. I will say, “These are my people,” and they will say, “The Lord is our God.”

Zechariah 13:9 NLT

4. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.

1 Peter 1:7 NLT

5. Lord, you can scrutinize me. Refine my heart and probe my every thought. Put me to the test and you’ll find it’s true.

Psalms 26:2 TPT

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Be Encouraged

As I was reading about Moses delivering God’s message of freedom and deliverance to the Israelites, I came across a verse I didn’t remember. In Exodus 6:9 it says, “So Moses told the people of Israel what the Lord had said, but they refused to listen anymore. They had become too discouraged by the brutality of their slavery” (NLT). That last sentence struck a chord with me. How many of us are so discouraged with how life is going right now that we can’t hear what God is trying to tell us? How many of us are so distracted by everything that’s going wrong that we can’t see what God is trying to do?

I’ve been there. It’s a tough place to be. When you’re where you thought God told you to go and nothing is going right. In fact, things only seem to be getting worse. I understand that place because I’ve been there. Today, I want to bring you some of God’s promises that you need to hear and hold onto. Don’t be so discouraged and distracted today on the things that you miss what God is saying to you. Read these verse. Repeat them out loud if you have to. Then stand on them and believe that God is going to make all these things you’re going through work together for your good.

Here are some promises of God in the Bible to encourage you.

1. Praise the Lord, my soul! All my being, praise his holy name! Praise the Lord, my soul, and do not forget how kind he is. He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases. He keeps me from the grave and blesses me with love and mercy. He fills my life with good things, so that I stay young and strong like an eagle.

Psalm 103:1-5 GNT

2. So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

Matthew 6:31-34 NLT

3. The Lord who created you says, “Do not be afraid—I will save you. I have called you by name—you are mine. When you pass through deep waters, I will be with you; your troubles will not overwhelm you. When you pass through fire, you will not be burned; the hard trials that come will not hurt you.”

Isaiah 43:1-2 GNT

4. He gives strength to the weary, And to him who has no might He increases power. Even youths grow weary and tired, And vigorous young men stumble badly, But those who wait for the LORD [who expect, look for, and hope in Him] Will gain new strength and renew their power; They will lift up their wings [and rise up close to God] like eagles [rising toward the sun]; They will run and not become weary, They will walk and not grow tired.

ISAIAH 40:29-31 AMP

5. Energize the limp hands, strengthen the rubbery knees. Tell fearful souls, “Courage! Take heart! GOD is here, right here, on his way to put things right And redress all wrongs. He’s on his way! He’ll save you!”

Isaiah 35:3-4 MSG

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Passing The Test

Whenever I was in school, I remember one teacher who enjoyed giving tests. He would wear a “test tie” on the days he was giving a test, which was really an uncoordinated, loud tie. Some he would wear a red contact lens. Once he opened a bag of chips and started eating them and crinkling the bag during the test. Whenever he gave tests, I made sure I studied because I knew there would be distractions and the test would be more difficult than the other classes. I used flash cards and met with other students to prepare to make sure we passed.

It’s funny that we spend so much time preparing for school tests, but very little time preparing for life’s test. God had so much faith in Job’s ability to pass any test that Satan could give him that he agreed to allow him to be sent through the wringer. Satan even tried to get in his head to distract him with his wife and friends who constantly accused him of wrongdoing. However, Job was prepped for the test, In Job 23:10-11 he says, “But he (God) knows where I am going. And when he tests me, I will come out as pure as gold. For I have stayed on God’s paths; I have followed his ways and not turned aside.”

Job put something inside of him that was greater than any test he would face: God’s Word and a determination to stay on God’s Paths. When life tests us and we aren’t prepared, we may be like Job’s wife and friends who wanted to curse God and die. But if we will determine in our hearts to stick with God and trust what He’s doing in our life, we will pass any test that comes our way no matter how many distractions there are. God has enough faith in you to allow you to be tested. It’s time you trusted your faith in what you’ve been taught and pass.

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Remaining Faithful

Do circumstances determine your faithfulness to God? My mom died on a Friday morning over twenty years ago. On Sunday, we all went to church. I remember a man coming over to me and said, “Didn’t your mom just pass? Why are y’all at church? I would take this opportunity to stay home.” Honestly i was shocked by the question. We had been praying for her healing for a year, but when God didn’t answer our prayers the way we wanted Him to, it didn’t mean we weren’t going to continue going to worship anymore. I looked at him and said, “This is the only place we want to be.”

After Job passed his first test by worshipping God after losing everything, Satan went back to God for permission to take away his health. Job then got painful boils all over his body. As he sat in some ashes scraping his skin with broken pottery, his wife came up to him. In Job 2:9, she said, “You are still as faithful as ever, aren’t you? Why don’t you curse God and die?” (GNT) She couldn’t understand how he didn’t blame God or continue to worship Him when all was lost. Her faithfulness to God was dependent on circumstances rather than faith.

You and I have to learn to look beyond our circumstances to the character of God. Who has He been forever? Our circumstances don’t change who He is. I love Romans 12:12. It says, “Let your hope keep you joyful, be patient in your troubles, and pray at all times.” Every one of us will face hardship in life, and that season will pass. Be patient as you go through that time. Let it draw you closer to God and to deepen your faith in Him. If our faith is only skin deep, so is our relationship with God. He’s calling us to trust Him more and to remain faithful no matter what.

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Standing In The Struggle

On a trip to California, I went to Napa Valley because I had been told that it was beautiful. As I drove through it, I was mesmerized by the straight rows of vines going for miles. I decided to pull into a winery and take a tour to learn of their process. One of the things they shared was how good seasons don’t produce good wine. The good wine comes from the years when the vines struggle. There’s something about the fight for water, the digging into the soil and the struggle to stay alive that produces a complex flavor in the grapes, which in turn, makes for a “good year”.

As they spoke, I couldn’t help but correlate that to life. There are good seasons we go through and there are bad seasons. When we look back on our life, it’s the “bad seasons” that produce the most growth in us. That’s when we learn what we’re made of and how strong our faith is. It reminds me of Romans 8:28 that says how God works together all things for our good. The good that He works is often in our life for the long term even though that season is very painful.

In Genesis 37- 41, we read of a 17 year stretch where Joseph was betrayed by his brothers, sold into slavery, falsely accused of rape, thrown into prison and was forgotten. After he was restored, he married and had kids. Genesis 42:52 says, “Joseph named his second son Ephraim, for he said, ‘God has made me fruitful in this land of my grief’”. God is able to make you fruitful in the most painful times and places of your life. You must hold onto to His promises, stand strong in your faith and keep believing that He’s working things out for your good.

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