Tag Archives: difficulties

Abandoned

To abandon someone is to quit supporting them or to give up on them. If you’ve ever been through some of life’s toughest circumstances, you know what it’s like to be abandoned by some of your family or friends. You find out that there are people in your life that you can count on, and there are people that you can’t. When you’re looking for advice, a place to regroup, or just a shelter from the storm, some people that you seek out will abandon you. Some of the ones who you thought would support you through thick and thin give up on you.

David was a person who knew a thing or two about being abandoned. He was forgotten by his father, disrespected by his brothers, shamed by his wife, chased by the king, and dishonored by his son. The people in his life that he should have been able to count on, turned their backs on him at some point in his life. He knew a thing or two about rock bottom. He looked for those he could count on in times of trouble.

In all of his searching, there was one who never abandoned him: God. David wasn’t a perfect man either. He cheated on his wife, had a man murdered, and did some unthinkable things. Yet when he sought after God, he knew that no matter what he had done, God would not abandon him. He knew that there was nothing he had done that God couldn’t or wouldn’t forgive. When others gave up on him, God never did. In fact, God said he was a man after His own heart.

You may have walked David’s shoes. Maybe you’ve been abandoned by those who love you or you’ve abandoned the things you know are right. Either way, if you will seek God, He won’t abandon you. Psalm 9:10 says, “Those who know you, Lord, will trust you; you do not abandon anyone who comes to you” (GNT). It doesn’t matter what’s been done to you or what you’ve done to others, you can find shelter, hope, and forgiveness in God when you seek Him out.

Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

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.

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Your Greater Purpose

In the early 2000’s, all the life groups in our church did the same curriculum for one semester. There was a brand new book out that everyone was talking about and reading, so our pastor decided to have the whole church go through it together. It was based on the book “The Purpose Driven Life”. Since it’s release in 2002, it has sold more than 50 million copies. Whether you like the author or not, that many copies sold of any book tells you that it struck a nerve with people worldwide. People want to know that their life has purpose and meaning and this book helped them find it. Many people in the Church have listed this book as the most influential in their life outside of the Bible.

One of the things I’ve learned is that God uses the pain of our past and the struggles that we’ve faced in life to prepare us for our purpose. There are many times I’ve prayed, “God, why do I have to go through this?” Years later, I will come a Ross someone who is struggling as they go through something very similar. I’m able to connect with their pain and help them through it. God doesn’t waste your pain. It has purpose in your mission. In fact, as you continue to go through difficulties, it means there’s still greater purpose for your future. The deeper the pain you go through, the greater grace you receive and are able to impart that grace to others.

In John 15, Jesus was talking to His disciples just before His crucifixion. What He told them applies to you and me. In verse 16 He said, “You have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you and I have appointed and placed and purposefully planted you, so that you would go and bear fruit and keep on bearing, and that your fruit will remain and be lasting” (AMP). God has chosen you and put you right where you are for a reason. It’s not by accident that you’re reading this today and that you are going through whatever circumstances you’re facing right now. It’s part of God’s purpose for you. One of my daily prayers is, “God, help me to have the strength to endure today. Give me your all sufficient grace and help me to give your grace. Open my eyes to see those whom you’ve placed in my path that need to know and feel your love. Give me the courage to step out in faith where you lead as I fulfill your purpose for my life.” Your life has been purposefully created by God for such a time as this. Go make a difference today.

Photo by Tomas Sobek on Unsplash

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Troubles, Pressure And Pottery

Have you ever watched a potter with their wheel? It’s truly magnificent. They take a lump of clay, and with wet hands they begin to shape it into whatever they’re making. Then, they stick their scalpel in the middle that begins to follow it out. After that, they begin shaping the outside by removing more clay with the scalpel. If they want to, they add lines and other designs the same way. Once it is what they are looking for, they place it in the fire so it can be usable. After it cooks, they paint it and glaze it to continue the process of bring beauty out of what was once a lump of clay. Every part of that process must seem to the clay that the potter doesn’t love it, or is even against it, but the potter knows what the clay needs to go through to bring out its full potential.

I’ve never met anyone who loves going through tough times. We all enjoy good times and pray our lives are filled with those. However, God allows us to go through troubles and extended periods of pressure to produce in us things that can’t be produced any other way. He is constantly looking out for our good and will use whatever means necessary to form and shape us into the people He created us to be. Like the potter, He’s not afraid to use His scalpel or to put us in the fire for extended periods of time. Even when it doesn’t feel like it, God is working in our lives to create something beautiful. Most of the time He’s doing that though, it can feel painful and like He’s picking on us. Hang in there. He’s working things out for your good and turning your life into a thing of beauty.

Here are some Bible verses on how trouble can be good.

1. When things are going well for you, be glad, and when trouble comes, just remember: God sends both happiness and trouble; you never know what is going to happen next.

Ecclesiastes 7:14 GNT

2. Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.

James 1:2-4 MSG

3. Blessed [gratefully praised and adored] be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort, who comforts and encourages us in every trouble so that we will be able to comfort and encourage those who are in any kind of trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

2 CORINTHIANS 1:3-4 AMP

4. We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

Romans 5:3-5 NLT

5. Yet, as God’s servants, we prove ourselves authentic in every way. For example: We have great endurance in hardships and in persecutions. We don’t lose courage in a time of stress and calamity.

2 Corinthians 6:4 TPT

Photo by SwapnIl Dwivedi on Unsplash

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The Jonah Syndrome

I’ll never forget a minister who came to work at our church when I was younger. They felt that God had called them to our town and our church. Not long after they had uprooted their family from their hometown and moved to ours, things started to go wrong. Their car broke down, the AC in the house went out, etc. It seemed that for a year nothing went right and everything was against them. They concluded that they missed God and weren’t supposed to be there. They resigned and moved back to where they lived before.

I remember talking to them about it, and decided to label it Jonah Syndrome. They believed if bad things were happening, they must have missed God or disobeyed Him. My response was that bad things happen, and that it could be an attack to try to make them ineffective at what God had called them to do. To this day, I believe they didn’t think that bad things happen to people who are in the will of God. Unfortunately, there are a lot of us who believe that. The truth is that we need to get rid of the Jonah Syndrome.

All of the early disciples, and most of the Early Church, suffered hardships. Paul was beaten, shipwrecked, left for dead and had disagreements with the leadership of the Church. Bad things happened to him constantly in the New Testament. He even had one nagging problem that he said was a “thorn in his flesh”. He asked God to resolve and remove the problem, but God didn’t. Instead, in 2 Corinthians 12, He replied to Paul, “My grace is sufficient” (AMP).

I like how Psalm 34:19 says, “Good people suffer many troubles, but the Lord saves them from them all” (GNT). You and I are going to go through suffering and have our own thorns in the flesh. It doesn’t mean we are not in God’s will, it means that we need to learn to trust His grace. Jonah was running from his calling. That’s why he suffered. If you’re trying to do what God called you to and you’re running into troubles, ask God for His grace to help you endure. It could be that you’re on the edge of a breakthrough and the enemy is trying to stop you. Above all, seek God’s wisdom in the matter and trust His answer.

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God Is Still On His Throne

I’m counting down my most popular post for the year. This was my second most popular post written in 2017.

I once knew someone who had an interesting answer for the question, “How are you?” No matter what was going on, after he told you, he would say, “But God is still on His throne.” He could have lost his job, he could have been sick, or was going through a bad time in his life. No matter what it was, he would always add, “But God is still on a His throne,” to the sentence. It was always a peculiar answer to me, but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve begun to understand it more.

For him, it was about keeping things in perspective. He could wallow in the negative things happening in his life or he could admit they were happening, and then remind himself and others that God was still in control. He knew that God was aware of what was happening in His life, and that phrase would encourage himself and others when he said it. I’m begging to think he picked it up from King David.

In Psalm 102, David is talking about all the things happening to him. For 11 verses he speaks of wasting away, pain in his body, insomnia, being taunted by others, uncontrollable crying, and being depressed. He speaks of all the things going wrong in his life, then he changes his tune in verse 12. He says, “Yet you, God, are sovereign still, always and ever sovereign” (MSG). He was saying, “But you God are still on your throne.”

It’s a good practice to get into especially if you’re going through a difficult time right now. If things aren’t adding up in your life or happening as quickly as you’d like, remind yourself that God is still on His throne. All is not lost. He is working things out for your good. He will give you the strength to endure as he develops character in you. Nothing has the power to completely overtake you as long as He is on His throne.

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Enduring The Storm


Several years ago I lived in Cairo, Egypt. At certain times I would be about my business when I would notice people begin to scurry and panic a bit. I would then turn around to look at the dessert to see a dust storm coming. It would look like a huge brown wall from ground to sky getting bigger as it approached. I was given a warning when I first moved there. I was told that if I ever saw that, take cover and wait it out in a building. If I got caught in it, I wouldn’t be able to see and could get lost or possibly die.

Some storms that come into our lives are like that. They come when we least expect them and they’re blinding. If we don’t act quickly, we can lose sight of where we are going, lose our way, or feel like we’d rather die. These storms that pop up out of nowhere can be very dangerous if we don’t take shelter from them. You never know how long they’ll last, but if you’ve taken shelter in God, you can weather any storm.

Most of the early chapters of Isaiah are about the Lord’s wrath against cities and countries. It’s about destruction that God is going to bring on the ungodly. But in chapter 25, Isaiah begins to praise the Lord for His awesome power and ability to destroy. In verse 4, he reminds us who God is in the storm. He wrote, “But you are a tower of refuge to the poor, O LORD, a tower of refuge to the needy in distress. You are a refuge from the storm and a shelter from the heat” (NLT).

Just like I was able to run into a building when a dust storm was coming, we can find our reprieve in Him. Too many times though, we try to fight the storm in our own strength. We try to weather it on our own. I can tell you that’s very tiring and will wear you out. I’ve tried that strategy. I ended up laid out on my living room floor exhausted from the battle before I cried out to the Lord for shelter. In our own strength we can’t endure very long, but we are stubborn and try.

It takes humility to admit you can’t do it. You can choose to humble yourself and seek God for shelter or the storm can humble you. God would rather we admit up front that there’s nothing we can do on our own to fight the storm. He would rather we admit we can’t do it in our own strength, and that we go to Him for His. Don’t let pride stand in your way and keep you from praying, “Lord, I need you to shelter me from this storm. I can’t endure it on my own. I need your help.” When we humble ourselves, He us faithful and His grace is sufficient to cover you and to help you endure.

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The Law Of God’s Grace

  
One of the things I like to tell people is that the greater the grief, the deeper the sorrow, or the harder the trial, the greater amount of God’s grace you will experience. God gives us grace sufficient for our trials. When Paul was faced with a trial that God wouldn’t remove after much prayer, God spoke to him in II Corinthians 12:9. He said, “My grace (My favor and loving-kindness and mercy) is enough for you [sufficient against any danger and enables you to bear the trouble manfully]” (AMP).

God gives grace, favor, strength, and mercy according to our need. He knows what we are facing and what we need in order to bear the weight of our situation. You’ve heard of Newton’s Third Law, “Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.” To me, it is the Law of God’s Grace. For every force or trial that comes against you, there is an equal amount of Grace to support you. God gives you enough grace to enable you to stand in times of sorrow and tests.

Paul wrote about this Law of God’s Grace in Ephesians 4:7. He said, “Yet grace (God’s unmerited favor) was given to each of us individually [not indiscriminately, but in different ways] in proportion to the measure of Christ’s [rich and bounteous] gift.” Each of us receive a different portion and type of God’s grace according to our need. It is proportionate to our circumstance and is given as a free gift to us. That grace that God gives is tailor made for us because He knows what we are facing and cares for us.

The greater the trial, the greater the grace. I’ve hit rock bottom in my life, but I’ve never found the bottom of God’s grace. It is deeper than anything you or I will ever face. It will always be sufficient to your need. When you go through deep struggles, you get a glimpse of God’s grace that few people ever do. The longer you endure hardship, the longer you can remain in the crucible, the deeper your knowledge of God will be and the firmer your trust in Him will be. The Law of God’s Grace proves He will not fail you when you need Him most.

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