Tag Archives: difficult times

What’s Inside


Several years ago, my father in law was about to undergo surgery. To make sure he could handle it, the doctors gave him a stress test for his heart. He failed. They immediately called for an ambulance and sent him to the hospital. When they took a look at his heart, they found several blocked arteries and performed a bypass surgery. The doctor informed us of how serious it was, but assured us that he was better now.

Over and over I’m asked why we as Christians are allowed to endure hardships. I believe that part of it is that we are still under the consequences of Adam’s sin. If only sinners went through hard times, got sick, or died young then people would not choose God based on love. They would follow Him out of fear, and that’s not what God desires. So it rains on the just and the unjust alike. 

Another part of the answer is so we can see what’s inside of us. God already knows, but just like that stress test revealed my father in law’s heart condition, difficult times often reveal what’s inside of us. It proves what we really believe, and also shows any weaknesses we need to correct. Going through difficult times gives us a chance to truly walk out our faith so we can know how much we really trust God.

The great news is that we aren’t left in the stressful situation. Psalm 71:20 says, “You have allowed me to suffer much hardship, but you will restore me to life again and lift me up from the depths of the earth” (NLT). Like my father in law’s surgeon, God is in the restoration business. He corrects and removes the things that hold us back so we can serve Him better. He brings us back up, out of the depths, so we can share with others the faith we discovered in the hardship. 

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King Of The Hill


As a kid, I loved to play King of the Hill. There’s was something fun about standing on top of some dirt and trying to keep from being knocked off. As the others would run up the hill, you’d try to push them down as they tried to push you off the top. There were days when I couldn’t seem to hold my ground, and other days when no one could knock me down. I had no idea that I was learning important lessons during that game.

I had no idea the importance of high ground and the strategic advantage it gave whoever was the King of the Hill. It turns out that when you are on the high ground, you choose the terms of mobility and can deny your opponents from taking ground. You have the ability to use your weight and gravity together to resist while they are fighting you and gravity. Being higher up also reduces the angle of attack from below.

I say all of that because you and I are in a daily struggle with the devil. In Ephesians 6:13, Paul tells us, “So put on God’s armor now! Then when the evil day comes, you will be able to resist the enemy’s attacks; and after fighting to the end, you will still hold your ground” (GNT). As I’ve read this my whole life, I’ve imagined myself on even ground in this fight, but now I understand we have the high ground! You and I have the advantage and can hold our ground when the enemy attacks. 

When we accept Christ, we immediately gain higher ground. Our lives begin to move upward, that’s why the enemy attacks. He wants to knock us down, but we have the advantage in higher ground. We can increase our odds of holding our ground significantly if we will also put on the while armor of God. We will not only be able to resist attacks, but we will still be holding our ground as King of the Hill that God has set us on. Don’t let the enemy fool you into thinking he has the advantage. 

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Peace Through Trust

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


Life is unpredictable. It’s full of uncertainties, crossroads, and unknowns. When we are facing these things in life, our minds get consumed looking for answers and wondering what tomorrow holds. It can suck the energy right out of you if you let it. I think that’s why Jesus told us in Matthew 6:34, “Don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries” (NLT). He knew that with all of life’s uncertainties, we could easily get wrapped up in all the what if’s of life.

The truth is that even though you and I don’t know what tomorrow holds, God does. And He’s not worried. What is unknown to us is history to Him. He knows how it all plays out and He is in control. No matter what each day brings, we can trust that He has a plan for our lives and a path for us to walk down. Psalm 37:23 says, “The LORD directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives.” Not only does He direct our lives, He knows all the details that are unknown to us.

Trusting Him in those times is paramount to our peace of mind. Where worry consumes us, His peace frees us. We get peace in uncertainty when we trust that God is in control, that He has a plan for this season, and that He is directing our path. Stress and worry come from thinking we are in control, that God doesn’t care, or that He doesn’t have a plan. He gives you and I the ability to choose in this situation. Do we want to stress or do we want peace through trust? 

I’m reminded of Proverbs 3:5-6 when it comes to trusting God in uncertainty. It says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Never rely on what you think you know. Remember the Lord in everything you do, and he will show you the right way” (GNB). The word “trust”, in the original language for this verse, means to feel safe, be careless. In our most difficult times, we can feel safe and be carefree by trusting God. He will direct our path and show us the right way when the time is right. 

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Releasing Burdens


My son thinks he can do anything I can do. I was moving some heavy bags recently, and he wanted to move one. He struggled with it as he pulled and pushed on it. I offered my help, but he refused. “He said, “I got it, Dada. I can do it.” I replied, “I know you can, but I can do it more easily.” He still refused. He wanted to do it. He wore himself out trying to do it. I don’t know if it was my stubbornness or my pride that he got that compelled him to keep doing it alone. Either way, he refused my help.

As I watched him, I couldn’t help but think how often I am that way towards God. I often carry these heavy burdens. They’re not necessarily ones that God gave me. They’re just ones that I’ve picked up and have tried to carry. I’ve tried pulling them and pushing them, all the while wearing myself out. God whispers, “Let me take that,” but I refuse. “I can do it, God,” i say. I can imagine him shaking His head like I do.

It could be my stubbornness or my pride that keeps me from handing my burdens over to the Lord, but either way it’s wrong. When I refuse to give my burdens to the Lord, I’m telling Him that I don’t need Him. I’m telling Him that I can do anything He can do, and that’s a problem. We can’t do what God can do, but we’ve been trying to since Adam and Eve. We’ve got to let go of the things that weigh us down, wear us down and hold us back.

Psalm 55:22 says, “Give your burdens to the Lord, and he will take care of you” (NLT). One version says to release them. We have to be the ones who let go. God isn’t going to take them from us forcefully. He has already made the offer for us to cast them on Him. It’s now up to us to let go and to trust Him. Let God do what He does and quit trying to do His work for Him. Trust me, your life will be a lot better.

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Turbulence Is Good

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


On a recent flight, the pilot said there was turbulence ahead and that he was going to try a different altitude. We lowered several thousand feet and hit turbulence there. He lowered some more and we hit turbulence there too. He went up some and we started hitting turbulence there. On our whole flight, he was readjusting trying to miss the turbulence, but he was unsuccessful. No matter what we did, we kept hitting these bumps in our path. He finally came over the intercom and said, “As you can see, we are not going to have a smooth flight today. I’ve tried everything and we’re still finding these pockets. We won’t be able to go as fast as we wanted.”

The pilot, like many of us, tried to avoid disturbances in his path. He tried different things to get around them and couldn’t. Our first instinct when there’s a disturbance or turbulence in our path is to try to find a way around it, but is that really God’s desire for us? Are we to avoid problems and things that slow us down? I don’t think so. I dislike them as much as anyone, but I’ve learned they serve a purpose. I may not always see the purpose right away, but I’ve found that God uses them to shape who we are and to change our course. The path God has for us isn’t an easy one.

Jesus was preaching in Matthew 7:14 when He was talking about the path you and I should be on. He said, “But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it” (NLT). The Amplified version said it is “contracted by pressure”. That doesn’t sound like we are going to be able to avoid the bumps and have a smooth ride into Heaven. In John 16:33, Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble.” Jesus was pretty open to us about what life will bring as Christians. He said we would struggle, suffer and have tribulation, and also that He would not leave us in those times.

My nephew likes to say, “No pressure, no diamond.” He’s learning at an early age that pressure can be a good thing. It’s what brings out the best in us. God uses pressure pockets in our life to develop qualities that won’t develop any other way. He has us change altitude and course so we can be put into the path of someone who needs our help. There is a purpose and a plan for the turbulence in your life. To avoid it is to avoid what God wants to do in you and through you.

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Surveys And Suggestions 


I’m one of those people who loves it when a business puts a survey at the bottom of a receipt. If you’ve ever wondered who takes those, it’s me! Whether it’s for food, a flight, customer service experience, an oil change or whatever, I like to take them. Part of it is that I can get something for free usually, but the other part is that I get a say in how they conduct business. Many times I think if they would just take my suggestion, they’d be so much better off.

I have a friend who owns a business, and one time I started to give him a suggestion, “If I were you, I’d…” He stopped me and said, “You’re not going to think of something we haven’t. We’ve been doing this every day for years.” Part of me was hurt that they didn’t want an outside set of eyes. The other part of me understood. They know their business inside and out. Who am I to try to tell them how to run it? 

The bigger problem comes in when we try to tell God how things should be. Have you ever tried that? “God, if you would have just done this, that wouldn’t have happened.” We love to tell God how things should have happened, especially when we aren’t happy with the outcome. We love to tell God how to do things as if we know better. Yes, if He had done it our way, we would have missed out on a lot of pain. But do we really know better?

Job 21:22 says, “But who are we to tell God how to run His affairs?” (MSG) Do we really know better than He does? He sees the whole picture, and we see a small part. Like a good parent, He does what’s best for us even if we don’t like it. He sees the outcome before anything happens. Like a child, we may not understand why things happen or what He’s doing, but we have to trust Him even when it upsets us. He’s always working for our good. 

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Assumptions 


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. 

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