Tag Archives: going through hard times

Going Through The Valley

I’ll never forget the first time I climbed up the side of a mountain. I was somewhere in Washington State a month or two after my mom passed away. I remember the climb up was more difficult than I imagined. When I got halfway up, I sat down to take break. As I looked down on the valley, I was struck by its beauty and lush vegetation. I remember thinking that while I couldn’t stay in the valley, I could at least grow while I was in it. What had seemed dark and dry from below, now looked like fertile soil from higher up. God used that climb to speak to me and to bring healing. I wasn’t meant to stay in the valley, but just because I was walking through one, it didn’t mean God couldn’t grow me through it. What seemed like a dry time in my life was really God planting seeds in fertile soil.

When we go through some of the darkest times in our life, we refer to it as going through a valley. David famously wrote in the 23rd Psalm, “Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me” (NLT). God doesn’t leave us when we go through the valleys of life. He’s close to you even when you can’t feel Him, and He’s given you tools for protection and comfort. He then prepares a table for you there representing that you will be taken care of and that you can thrive even in the darkest times of your life.

I like the promise given in Psalm 84:6-7. It says, “As they pass through the dry valley of Baca, it becomes a place of springs; the autumn rain fills it with pools. They grow stronger as they go; they will see the God of gods on Zion” (GNT). Your dry, dark times will become a place of life that you will look back on the rest of your life to draw strength from. It doesn’t feel like it in the moment, but when you get more perspective as you move forward up the mountains in your life, you will see that God never left you and He uses these times to make us stronger. Keep pushing forward through what seems like a dark and dry time, trust the promises in God’s Word and know that what you’re walking through is preparing you to make a difference in the lives of others. What seems like an end is truly a new beginning.

Thanks to Sohaib Ghyasi @sohaibghyasi for making this photo available freely on Unsplash

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Walking Freely In The Fire

To me, one of the coolest stories in the Bible is the one where Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were thrown into the fiery furnace. As you know, they refused to bow to the god King Nebuchadnezzar built and set up. When the king confronted them, they didn’t back down from their beliefs knowing it would mean their death. In Daniel 3:17-18, they said, “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up” (NLT).

Their response visibly angered the king. He ordered that the furnace be heated up seven times hotter than normal. He then had the boys bound up, hand and feet, dragged to the furnace, and thrown in. It was so hot that the men who dragged them there died. The king then noticed something odd. In verse 25, he said, “Look! I see four men, unbound, walking around in the fire unharmed! And the fourth looks like a god!” He then called them out of the fire and promoted them to higher positions.

When you look back on your life, when was God most evident? Where can you see Him most clearly? For me, it’s in the hardest times. You could say it was when I was walking through the fires of life. When we are cast in the fire, we don’t always know if we will survive. We know God is able, but there is no guarantee He will get us out of the fire. Even still, we are required to endure and to be willing to be subjected to the fires of life.

Remember, it was in the fire that they were freed from the ropes that bound them. But even before that, God was with them. He’s not always visible leading up to the fire, but I know He was standing there with them as they refused to bow. It was only in the fire that He was revealed. God is most evident in the hardest times of our lives because those are the times we trust Him the most. When we walk through the fire, our faith is deepened, our character is strengthened, and God’s love for us is proven.

You and I don’t have to fear the flames. We can walk freely in them with the Son of God beside us. I don’t know if the three Hebrew boys saw the Son of God in the fire with them or not, but He was there. We don’t always see God walking in the fire with us until we look back on it. So if you’re in the furnace now, look around. God has not abandoned you. He is there walking with you. He may not be visible now, but He’s there growing you, preparing you, and making you more like Him. Don’t give up in the furnace. Walk freely in the fire.

Photo by Ricardo Gomez Angel 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.

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Hope In Hardship

Going through hardships is part of life, but lately it seems a higher percentage of people are going through them. Financial hardship is one so many of us are facing as the world faces record unemployment. I’ve been to visit several people in recent weeks delivering food and money through our church’s benevolence ministry. I’ve seen the financial hardships up close. As financial hardships increase, so do relational hardships. Couples are struggling being cooped up together 24 hours a day with little to no money and stress is high. Single people face relational hardships and are feeling alone now more than ever.

One thing I’ve learned about hardships in my own life is that they give God an opportunity to shine as we become less independent and more dependent on Him. They produce in us faith that can’t be produced in good times. Also, hardships only last a season. After that, God is able to restore us as we have learned to trust Him more. He has not forgotten you or abandoned you in your hardship. He’s giving you a greater opportunity to experience a depth of His grace as of yet unknown to you. Trust in His strength during your time of hardship and in the sufficiency of His grace. He has never failed you, and He’s not going to start now.

Here are some Bible verses on hardship.

1. 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. You will restore me to even greater honor and comfort me once again.

Psalms 71:20-21 NLT

2. Many hardships and perplexing circumstances confront the righteous, But the LORD rescues him from them all.

Psalms 34:19 AMP

3. And not only this, but [with joy] let us exult in our sufferings and rejoice in our hardships, knowing that hardship (distress, pressure, trouble) produces patient endurance; and endurance, proven character (spiritual maturity); and proven character, hope and confident assurance [of eternal salvation]. Such hope [in God’s promises] never disappoints us, because God’s love has been abundantly poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

Romans 5:3-5 AMP

4. You find God’s favor by deciding to please God even when you endure hardships because of unjust suffering.

1 Peter 2:19 TPT

5. Instead, in everything we do we show that we are God’s servants by patiently enduring troubles, hardships, and difficulties.”

2 Corinthians 6:4 GNT

Photo by Ahmed Hasan on Unsplash

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Patient Endurance Video

Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised.

Hebrews 10:36

If you have trouble watching the video, click here.

Throwback Thursday is a 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.

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Missing Pieces

One of the things my family loves to do is puzzles. The more pieces and more difficult, the better. We can sit at the table each evening and pick away at a puzzle for weeks. Our favorite brand is Ravensberger because of the uniqueness of the pieces, the quality of the puzzle and the stunning pictures. It’s an honor to be able to be the one who puts in the last piece. Sometimes, as we start getting close to completing one, I like to hide a piece so that I get to be that person. There’s nothing more frustrating though than to get to the end, and a piece nor two is missing. An incomplete puzzle is no fun at all.

I believe God has a plan for each of our lives. It’s often like a puzzle that we piece together. Many times we’re digging and sorting through unrelated pieces trying to find two parts that fit together. As time goes by, we start to see the bigger picture of what God would like to do with our life. To be honest, once we get a glimpse of the picture on the box, it can be scary to us. We wonder how we can accomplish that or how could a God make something so amazing out of our life. Our natural inclination is to hide some of the pieces, especially the ones that aren’t as beautiful as the others. It’s for God to complete His plan when we keep some of the pieces of our lives from Him.

Psalm 18:20 says, “God made my life complete when I placed all the pieces before Him” (MSG). You see, the pieces we’re ashamed of or think are imperfect and ugly are the very ones that give the picture of our life depth. They’re the ones that show our scars and the struggles we’ve been through. It’s been my experience that those are the ones that God uses the most in completing His plan for our life because those are the ones people relate to. God allows us to go through struggle because it builds our faith and provides edges where our puzzle can connect with others to make their life complete. That only happens when we let a God use all the pieces of our lives.

Photo by Ryoji Iwata on Unsplash

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Free In The Fire

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.

One of my favorite Bible stories when I was a kid had to be of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. The King ordered that everyone bow down to his golden statue when they heard the music played. Of course the three Hebrew boys refused to do it. The king summoned them and ordered them to bow or to be thrown into a furnace. They told him to his face that they wouldn’t do it. He got so angry, he heated up the furnace seven times hotter than normal, bound their hands and feet and had them thrown into it,

The fire was so hot that the men who were throwing them into it died. When the men didn’t return right away, the King went to look. He turned and asked the people around him, “Didn’t we throw three into the fire?” The people around him said, “That’s right.” He replied, “But look! I see four men walking around freely in the fire, completely unharmed. And the fourth one looks like the son of the gods!” He then called out to them to come out of the fire. When he examined them, not a hair was singed nor did they smell like smoke.

Many times in this life you and I will feel like we are bound up. There are times when we feel like we are in prison. Our hands and feet are shackled. We feel like we aren’t going anywhere and we can’t do anything. Being physically tied up is bad enough, but to be mentally or spiritually tied up is worse. It’s a real feeling of helplessness. When you couple that with walking through the fires of life, it can make things feel hopeless. Even in those times, we are to trust in God and His plan.

These three guys were not alone in the fire. In fact, it was in the fire that they were set free from their bondage. The scripture says they were walking around freely in the fire. God did not abandon them in the worst of times. He was standing there with them. It reminds me of the promise He makes to you and I in Isaiah 43:2. He said, “When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you. When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down. When you’re between a rock and a hard place, it won’t be a dead end – because I am your God, your personal God.”

That’s a promise you can hold into when you’re walking through deep waters, between a rock and a hard place or in the fire of oppression as the New Living Translation puts it. That version says, “You’ll not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.” It goes on to say He won’t let any of these things destroy you because you are precious to Him. He gave His all for you. He loves you and will not let these present circumstances destroy you. He says you can walk freely in the fire. Trust in Him. He will not let you down. When you come out on the other side, you won’t be burned.

Photo by Ihor Malytskyi on Unsplash

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