Tag Archives: divorce

Surviving The Dark Valley

In one of the darkest times of my life, I felt like everything was crumbling around me. I couldn’t sleep or eat for days. I laid in bed at night and would repeat Nehemiah 8:10. “The joy of the Lord is my strength.” Over and over I would say it. Then I started singing it through the tears. It became my mantra. Because of that, even though my world was crumbling around me, I found a place deep within that gave me hope that I would make it through it. Some days I couldn’t see past a minute in front of me, but i knew if God would help me survive that minute, then I could survive the next. God would remind me of Scriptures to hold on to or He would have someone give me one out of the blue. Life was hard, but God provided a way through it and gave me strength to endure.

Psalm 84:5-6 says, “How enriched are they who find their strength in the Lord…Even when their paths wind through the dark valley of tears, they dig deep to find a pleasant pool where others find only pain. He gives to them a brook of blessing filled from the rain of an outpouring” (TPT ). This promise is to those who find their strength in the Lord first of all. Every one of us goes through the dark valley of tears. What I love is that God says, “Pick up your shovel during that time and start digging. Beneath all that pain is a pool where you can find strength and refreshment.” We’ve got to dig deeper than the way things appear on the surface. We’ve got to dig deep into God’s Word. We’ve got to dig deep into His promises, and put our roots there. If they’re on the surface, we’ll be blown over like a tree in a hurricane. Our roots cannot remain at surface level in the dark valley of tears.

You can either be defeated in that valley or you can find the brook of God’s blessing. God is pouring out blessings all the time, but we don’t see them because we get too focused on the things going on around us. Lamentations 3:21-25 says, “Yet hope returns when I remember this one thing: The Lord’s unfailing love and mercy still continue, Fresh as the morning, as sure as the sunrise. The Lord is all I have, and so in him I put my hope. The Lord is good to everyone who trusts in him” (GNT). You can have hope in the dark valley of tears when you focus on God’s unfailing love to get you through it and His mercy to remind you that this is a season and there are mountain tops still ahead. Trust and hope in the Lord and draw your strength from Him.

Photo by Julian Villella on Unsplash

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Times Of Rain

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.

Rain is something we need, but don’t really want. We’ve given it a negative connotation too. It started when we were children singing the song, “Rain, Rain, go away. Come again another day.” Rain disrupts the times of sunshine and happiness that we feel. When it’s rainy outside, we say it’s gloomy. We think of the gray clouds and associate them with depression. Rain changes our path, our timing and our plans. It messes things up for us so we resist it. We forget that rain is a necessary part of life. We forget all the good that it does.

I’ve got several friends right now who are experiencing rain in their lives. Several friends have had loved ones pass away unexpectedly. I’ve got a couple of friends who can’t seem to find a job. I’ve got a few friends whose lives have been turned upside down because of choices their spouse made. For them, it seems like the rain just keeps coming. It feels like their lives are being flooded with only negative things. As I’ve thought about all their situations, Matthew 5:45 came to mind. It says, “It rains on the just and the unjust.”

I’ve read or heard that scripture my whole life. I was always under the impression that it meant that bad things happen to Christians and non Christians alike because I associated rain with bad times. When I read it in context and then in several versions and interpretations of the original Greek, the Message Bible stood out. It said, “This is what God does. He gives His best – the sun to warm and the rain to nourish – to everyone regardless.” The times of rain in our lives are meant to nourish us. Just like our yards, lakes and crops need rain for nourishment, so do our lives. 

When bad things happen, it usually pushes us closer go God. We spend more time in prayer. We take the time to talk to God and to read His Word to try to find answers. Days of sunshine rarely push us to spend time with God, but rain does. When we go a long time without rain or without spending time with a God, we go through a drought and that isn’t healthy. If you’re going through times of rain in your life right now, don’t pray for it to go away. Instead thank God for the nourishment and for the shelter He provides

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Losing To Win


Several years ago, when things were going downhill in my life, I started to get upset at God. I was losing everything. Several friends had abandoned me during the process. I lost my business, had a vehicle repossessed, lost my business, and had to file for bankruptcy. I cried out, “God, where are you?!? Why are you letting this happen to me? Have you abandoned me? Don’t you care that I’m losing everything?” I didn’t get an answer and I continued to lose more until I had nothing left to lose.

I didn’t think God was there in those moments. Every once in a while though, my friend and Sunday School teacher, would say, “Chris, I believe God wants me to say this to you…” While those messages were encouraging, and I believed they were from God, I wasn’t personally hearing from Him. I was doing my best to keep from getting bitter towards Him because I felt abandoned and was upset over everything I had lost. What I couldn’t see, was what I was really losing though. 

I realized later that I didn’t just lose a bunch of material things and relationships, I lost my pride. God used that time to strip me of pride that was keeping me from a deep relationship with Him. I also lost my dependence on my self. Somehow I thought that everything I had in life, I had earned on my own. I forgot that God was my source and Jehovah Jireh. Through all of that, I gained a deeper faith and a dependence on God to be who He wanted to be in my life. I just couldn’t see it when I was losing the things that I thought mattered.

I Peter 4:12-13 says, “Friends, when life gets really difficult, don’t jump to the conclusion that God isn’t on the job. Instead, be glad that you are in the very thick of what Christ experienced. This is a spiritual refining process, with glory just around the corner” (MSG). God uses difficult times to refine us. When they come, the dross in our life floats to the top and is skimmed off by God. What’s left over is pure gold. If you’re in the thick of it now, don’t quit or think God doesn’t care. He’s refining you and cleaning out the things in your life that are keeping you from Him.

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Responding To Distress


If you were to take a piece of pottery and a stick of butter into the oven, you’d get two different results. While the pottery would harden, the butter would melt. Even though it’s the same fire, things react differently to it. The same goes for us. Each one of us go through the fires of tribulations and troubles here on earth. Not one of us are exempt from it, but we each respond differently. Even though we have the same physical properties, those fires produce different results in us.

For me, those fires nearly wiped me off the earth. They destroyed everything in my life and left me with nothing. My response was to shut down and check out. I thought, “If I don’t have anything left to live for, why should I live?” Other people who have been through similar fires used it as fuel to get stronger, tougher, and better. They didn’t let it get the best of them. I don’t know that there’s a right or wrong way when it comes to how you respond to distress in your life except when it comes to your spiritual life.

Fires, tribulation and distress should push us closer to God, not away. Those are really the only two options spiritually. You can run to God and become totally dependent on Him or you can turn your back on Him wondering why He let this happen to you. II Corinthians 7:10 says, “Distress that drives us to God does that (produces all gain, not loss). It turns us around. It gets us back in the way of salvation. We never regret that kind of pain. But those who let distress drive them away from God are full of regrets, end up on a deathbed of regrets” (MSG).

In my life, the distress pushed me toward God in the end. It wasn’t until I had nothing left that I told God, “I give up. I can’t do this without you.” That moment sparked a change. Life didn’t get better immediately and not everything was restored right then. It took years, but God has been faithful to me and I don’t regret the pain I went through because it caused me to run back to God. I started off like that butter in the fire, but ended up like the pottery. You can too. Whatever you’re going through, it’s not too late to let it push you to God instead of away.

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Finding Healing


Several years ago, I went through some very dark times in my life that I wasn’t sure I’d make it through. They left some very deep scars that I thought would never heal. Instead of going through a true healing process, I decided that it was best to treat that portion of my life as if it were a dream. I covered the wounds and vowed to never speak of them again. I thought that if I pretended it never happened, then I wouldn’t feel the pain of it. That seemed to work for a while until Dave Roever spoke at our church one Sunday. 

Dave is a Vietnam veteran who had a phosphorus grenade blow up in his hand near his head as he was throwing it. He survived the explosion, but as a result of the explosion, he has a very disfigured face and hand. He told his story of his recovery and how God has used that terrible event to help him reach so many vets for Christ. Then he wrapped up his sermon by saying, “Don’t hide your scars. For in them, others will find their healing.”

I knew at that point it was time to unwrap my wounds to let them heal. I had to dig down inside, bring up all that hurt again to deal with it properly so God could use my story to help others find their healing. That’s how this site began actually. It was a way for me to process the hurt, but also a way for others to find their healing too. II Corinthians 1:4 says, “He (God) comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us” (MSG).

I don’t know the pain you’ve been through or are going through, but I do know that God has never left your side. He wants to help you heal your wounds so that He can bring others along side you who are going through something similar. He wants to use your scars to bring healing to others if you’re willing to let Him. Their situation may not be identical to yours, but the pain is the same and so is the healing process. Don’t hide your scars. Let God use them to help someone else who desperately needs your story.

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Healing Scars

  
If you’ve followed my site for a while, you know September 25th holds a special place in my heart. It’s the day I reached rock bottom in my life and decided to make changes necessary to move forward. After dealing with months of perpetual loss, I decided I couldn’t take it anymore. I cried out to God that day and said, “I quit!” I couldn’t bear the pain anymore. I couldn’t live with the disappointment either. I was embarrassed at what had happened to me and I lacked the strength to fight anymore.

After deciding I would no longer accept moving backwards, I chose to forget that part of my life ever existed. I thought if I changed jobs, changed friends, and never spoke of it again, I could convince myself it was just a dream. A really bad dream. So I spent years never speaking of it and letting people know it was off limits. I became defensive when anyone asked about it. Instead of dealing with the pain, I covered it up.

Around ten years later, Dave Roever spoke at our church. In Vietnam, he survived a phosphorous grenade blowing up by his head. He told the story of how he was in the hospital waiting for his wife to arrive. He was afraid she would leave him because of how bad he looked. He shared the struggles he has had with the way people look at him now. When God called him to preach, he argued that no one would listen to someone who looked like him. He thought of covering up the scars, but God said, “Don’t hide your scars, for in them, others will find their healing.”

When he said those words, it was as if God was speaking directly to me. I had spent a decade hiding my scars, pretending that they weren’t there. My emotional inside looked like his physical outside. I was riddled with the scars of a divorce, a failed business, a life running from God, and sins too many to count. I knew that day that I had to pull back the layers I had placed on top of my scars so that I could find healing myself. I had to expose them to God and to others and allow them to scab over and eventually heal, leaving the scars.

The things I most wanted hidden in my life are now what God uses to speak to others. If He did that in my life, He wants to do it in yours. Your failures and pain have not disqualified you from being used by God. He can use your scars to bring healing to others, but you’re going to have to find healing for yourself first. I found mine by opening up about them and talking with others. I wrote out everything I went through so that it could be exposed. Once it was out in the open, God brought healing. 

God wants to heal your emotional scars too. He wants to forgive your failures and shortcomings. He wants to put the pieces of your broken life back together. It won’t look like it did before. It will be a beautiful mosaic that points to the only Artist who can make beauty from ashes. Isaiah 61:3 best sums up what God wants to do for you. He wants “To grant [consolation and joy] to those who mourn in Zion–to give them an ornament (a garland or diadem) of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, the garment [expressive] of praise instead of a heavy, burdened, and failing spirit–that they may be called oaks of righteousness [lofty, strong, and magnificent, distinguished for uprightness, justice, and right standing with God], the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified” (AMP).

If you would like to read more of my story, I recommend reading these posts:

Free From Walls Of Hurt

Dead Ends

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Building Up Your Inner Self

One thing I know is for certain: Life happens. The comedian Mark Lowry asked the question, “What is life?” He then responded, “Life is a series of emotions, a mountain after a valley, a wife to feed, a husband to clothe, children to raise, a boss to put up with, car notes, taxes, April 15th. Life is life. Christ said, ‘I’ve come to give you life…. more abundant!” He shared that as believers, we aren’t exempt from the things life brings. In fact, we might experience more of it. Our mountains seem to be higher and our valleys lower. It’s important in those times that you have the inner strength to endure what life throws at you.

Jude 1:20-21 says, “But you, dear friends, carefully build yourselves up in this most holy faith, by praying in the Holy Spirit, staying at the center of God’s love, keeping your arms open and outstretched. (MSG)” Jude knew we would experience life and he told us to pray in the Holy Spirit. Building your self up to withstand what life brings starts with prayer because prayer keeps us centered with God. It keeps our eyes off of how big our problems are and on how big our God is. In those times, we can keep our arms stretched out in prayer for balance instead of pulled tightly to our side ready for the fall.

Another thing we can do to strengthen our inner man is to have others pray for us. Letting others know that you’re struggling is not a sign of weakness. There are times when we lack the fortitude to face alone what life throws at us. We need other believers who can pray like Paul did for the Ephesian Church in Ephesians 3:16. He said, “I pray that from His (God’s) glorious, unlimited resources He will empower you with inner strength from His Spirit. (NLT)” Have other believers pray that God would give you strength to endure. When you don’t have the strength to lift your head to Heaven, others do. Allow them to stand in the gap for you.

Finally, remember what God has done for you in the past. Thinking of the times that God has brought you through already will build up your inner strength to get through life’s problems. In Psalm 42:6, the psalmist said, “My soul is downcast within me; therefore I will remember you. (NIV)” He then finishes the Psalm talking to himself saying, “Put your hope in God.” He is the source of our inner strength and in times of weakness, His strength is made perfect. He hasn’t failed you yet and He won’t start now. 

You may not be able to see past what life has in front of you right now, but God can. You may not have the strength to endure it, but God can give it to you. When the waves keep crashing against you, when the valley seems too dark and you’re emotionally drained, God is right there with you. His Word will be a lamp to your feet and light to your path. His presence will surround you in the chaos and give you peace where there is none. You can be centered in Him in the middle of life’s biggest storms because of prayer and hope. Don’t let go. Remember the God you serves I’ll give you strength to endure. 

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