Tag Archives: hard life

Words Of Comfort

Life can be very unpredictable. Things can be going well and then the rug gets pulled out from under us. I heard someone say, “All people are in one of three places: in a trial, coming out of a trial or heading for one.” Life is a series of ups and downs. No one gets to stay on top of the mountain forever, no matter what they say on social media.

In my own trials and tests, these scriptures have brought me comfort; I hope they do the same for you.
  
1. From the ends of the earth, I cry to you for help when my heart is overwhelmed. Lead me to the towering rock of safety, for you are my safe refuge, a fortress where my enemies cannot reach me. 

Psalm 61:2-3 NLT

2. May the Lord himself, who is our source of peace, give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with you all.

II Thessalonians 3:16

3. When I walk into the thick of trouble, keep me alive in the angry turmoil. With one hand strike my foes, With your other hand save me. Finish what you started in me, GOD. Your love is eternal—don’t quit on me now. 

Psalm 138:7-8 MSG

4. When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears, and delivers them out of all their distress and troubles. 

Psalm 34:17 AMP

5. Be brave. Be strong. Don’t give up. Expect GOD to get here soon. 

Psalm 31:24 MSG

6. God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. 

Psalm 46:1 NASB

7. I sought (inquired of) the Lord and required Him [of necessity and on the authority of His Word], and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears. 

Psalm 34:4 AMP

8. The righteous person faces many troubles, but the LORD comes to the rescue each time. 

Psalm 34:19 NLT

9. Call to me when trouble comes; I will save you, and you will praise me. 

Psalm 50:15 GNB

10. My mind and my body may grow weak, but God is my strength; he is all I ever need. 

Psalm 73:26 GNB

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Changing Your Pity Part Perspective

As things in my life went downhill over ten years ago, my brother helped me to keep things in perspective. Over the course of a few months an employee of mine died in a crash with her husband and one of their children, I got pulled into the legal fight for the remaining child, my now ex-wife had an affair while I was distracted by the legal battle, she then left me for another man, my business went under and I filed bankruptcy. While I was having a pity party one day, my brother looked me in the eye and said, “Believe it or not, someone else has it worse than you do. You can be thankful you’re not them.”

No sooner than his words hit my ear, they pierced my heart. I had been feeling like my life was worse than what Job had experienced and the truth was that my life wasn’t as bad as it could have been. When my thoughts of pity changed, my perspective changed. I quit trying to find others to feel sorry for me and started to find reasons to be thankful. When I started doing that, my situation didn’t change. In fact, it continued to get worse. What did change was how I saw myself in the storm and the purpose of the storm.

Instead of asking, “Why me, God”, I began to ask, “What am I to learn from this?” Being thankful changed me from being a victim to a student. Even in my darkest hour, God had something to show me. It turns out He was desperately trying to get my attention. I had been stubbornly ignoring His call and not living how He wanted me to. I had ignored His gentle warnings and signs to change and now He was getting louder and louder in His attempts to get my attention. God wasn’t content to let me live my life my way. He wanted me to live it His way. I’m thankful now that He didn’t leave me in the life I was living.

The theologian Albert Barnes said, “We can always find something to be thankful for, and there may be reasons why we ought to be thankful for even those dispensations which appear dark and frowning.” In my life I’ve always remembered that someone always has it worse than anything I will ever face. I can always be thankful for that. When times are tough and life isn’t going the way I think it should or I feel I’ve been dealt a bad hand, I no longer pretend I’m the victim. I now know that even when things appear bad or that they can’t get worse, God is there in the storm with me. He hasn’t left me or forsaken me. He’s there enduring it with me and wants to use the experience for His glory.

If you’re in the middle of a storm in your life where you feel like things can’t get worse, I challenge you to find something to be thankful for. Are you still breathing? Then you have something to be thankful for. Your life isn’t over and God can rebuild your life from the ruins of where you are now. Lose the victim mentality and become a student of what God wants to show you. To change your perspective, you have to change your mindset. A changed mindset begins with a thankful heart. Things may not get better right away, but being thankful will give you a purpose in hard times. That purpose, combined with a thankful heart, will pull you through.

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Mr. Irrelevant

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Does the name Lonnie Ballentine mean anything to you? If not, don’t worry. Most people don’t know him and odds are they won’t. He was the last person picked this year in the NFL draft and is given the title “Mr. Irrelevant”. They name the last person drafted Mr. Irrelevant because odds are that they won’t make the team they were drafted to. While they get the honor of being drafted, they may never step foot onto a professional football field. The last person picked is just a formality. It’s a pick that means nothing. There are hundreds more that didn’t get drafted that feel irrelevant too.

It reminds me of school yard basketball, dodgeball or anything team related. Two people pick teams. Little by little the crowd is whittled down until one remains. The one team captain says, “You can have them.” The other one sees them as a disadvantage too and says, “No. You take them.” Neither one wants to take the last one there and care very little for their feelings. It’s tough feeling irrelevant. It hurts when that label has been applied to you. Sooner or later, you start to believe it and start acting that way.

What you may not know is that through the years, there are a number of people that were drafted as “Mr. Irrelevant” that made the team. There were several that had great careers and even one who went with his team to the Super Bowl. These men chose not to let the label define them. They didn’t look at the odds, the circumstances or history and decide to fall in line. They chose to be relevant. They chose to work harder, do more and make the team. They didn’t let a label placed on them choose their destiny.

You may be reading this today with the mindset that you’re irrelevant. Maybe you weren’t picked for the job. Maybe no one remembered it was your birthday. Maybe no one appreciates all you do to make ends meet. The enemy wants to come in and tell you that your life is irrelevant. He wants nothing more than to kill, steal and destroy you. Don’t listen to the lies that say you are irrelevant. That your life is worthless. That no one wants you. That your life has no meaning. You mean more to God than you can ever comprehend. Your dark times are the very thing that will make you relevant.

There are so many people who are and will go through something similar to your circumstances. God needs someone who’s been there, walked in those shoes and dealt with the pain of feeling irrelevant in order to help them. He needs you to draw on your experiences to give hope to those who have none. Being picked last is a blessing. It means that God can use you to reach others who will be picked last. He makes beauty from ashes. He has to let your life be torn down sometimes in order to build it back up. He can take a life that seems irrelevant and make it relevant. It’s up to us to not give up during those times so He can make what you’re going through relevant.

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Led Into The Desert

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Have you ever been to a desert? I used to live in Egypt and got to experience the Sahara firsthand. There was sand as far as you could see. The ground was covered with rocks. When the wind would blow, you’d get sand in your eyes. There were very few signs of life when you got out there in it. The desert part of Egypt wasn’t where you wanted to be for very long. That’s why a majority of Egyptians live in the Nile valley near the water source. I started to think about living in the desert when I read Hosea. Chapter 2 verse 14 caught my eye. God said, “I will lead her into the desert.”

He was talking about Israel at the time, but I believe it applies to you and I as well. He was talking of how Israel had strayed from Him. In order to win her back, He was going to lead her to the desert and speak tenderly to her. A desert is a place we usually don’t want to go to. When we are experiencing a spiritual drought, we often say that we’re in the desert. But here, God said He was going to lead them to the desert so He could speak to them. I think that He does that to get us away from all the distractions that keep us from hearing Him.

Our lives are so full of noise from meetings, technologies, TV’s, video games and music that it’s hard to hear God. He desperately wants our attention and to speak with us. To get our attention, sometimes He has to take us to the desert. Instead of listening for His voice, we whine and beg Him to get us out of that place. Instead of understanding there’s a purpose for being in the desert, we try to find our own way out of it. Instead of looking for Him, we complain to others about how hard our life is and how everything is going wrong. The thought never entered our minds that it was God who led us to the desert.

He wants to use those dry times in our lives to speak tenderly to us. When things are going wrong in your life, He wants you to look for Him as a shelter not as a complaint hotline. There is a lot to learn in the desert. Most importantly, there can be growth and the start of new life. In verse 15, God says, “I will return her vineyards to her.” What you’ve lost by going to the desert will be restored to you. It may not be exactly how you expect it. It will be better. What seems like the death of one life is really the birth of a new one. What you lost in the old one, will be restored in the new one. God leads us to the desert to destroy the things that hold us back and then restores the things that will renew our love for Him.

Maybe you’re in that desert today thinking God is punishing you. Maybe you’ve been complaining because of how tough things are. Maybe you’re at the point of giving up. If you’re there, consider that God has led you to this desert to remove what needed to be gone and to restore what He wants in your life. Yes, the removal part hurts. It’s a long, drawn out, painful process at times. Your day of restoration is coming. I want to leave you with the last words of verse 15. God said He would “transform the Valley of Trouble into a gateway of hope.” Your restoration and transformation are on the way.

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Looking for Rainbows

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I was driving east this morning through some rain. When I finally got to turn to the south, I looked back over my right shoulder to check for cars and I saw a rainbow. My mind went back to Genesis 9 where the Bible records the first rainbow. God gave it as a sign to Noah and his family as a symbol of the covenant He had made with him. Then in verse 16, God said, “When I see the rainbow in the clouds, I will remember the eternal covenant.”

I always knew it was for us to remember the covenant, but I don’t remember reading that it was for God too. I think it’s interesting that God placed it as a reminder for Himself. It makes me think that God goes around looking for rainbows so He can think of the promise He made to us. I don’t think He forgets. I think He’s just looking for a reason to think of me and you.

We get so caught up in the storms of our life that we lose sight of Him sometimes. When the rain is relentless and won’t stop, when all of the mountains that we’ve climbed are covered by the waters and when the floods won’t dissipate, we can remember God’s promises to us. We can remember that He has not forgotten us or left us. Even though it rained in Noah’s life and He was stuck on that boat for over a year, what happened beforehand was important.

God spoke to Noah and prepared him for the flood. He told him that it would rain for forty days and forty nights. He also gave him the instructions for building the ark. He didn’t have him go into the storm unprepared. He had given him everything he needed to survive the storm. God does that for us too. He gives us what we need and prepares us for the rain in our lives. He provides a way to get through it.

I wonder what Noah was thinking after the rain stopped and he was still in the lifeboat ten months later. God told him how long it would rain, but didn’t tell him how long he would have to drift along. Even after the storms and rains in our lives, we tend to drift along looking for dry land. When we eventually do find it, it’s a different place than where we were. God uses the rain and the drifting to get us to a place where He wants us. We, like Noah may have to start over too.

Wherever your dry land is, know that God will remain true to His promises to you. He’s out putting rainbows in the sky to show you He hasn’t forgotten or forsaken you. He’s painting the sky to remind you when future storms come that He’s not going to let you be destroyed. He has prepared you for what you’re going through and is preparing you for your future. If it’s raining in your life right now, you’re drifting along or if you have found dry land, take time to look for rainbows. God is.

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