Tag Archives: hard times

We Win

If you like baseball, then you probably watched the 2017 World Series between the Houston Astros and the Los Angeles Dodgers. It was one of the greatest series in the history of baseball. The two best teams this year went back and forth in the games and in the series. As a lifelong Astros fan, it was stressful to watch. At times, I was ready to throw in the towel. Some nights I couldn’t sleep because this series was so intense. The Astros ended up winning the series in game 7.

Last night, I was able to go to the world premier of the documentary that chronicles the series. It went game by game showing highlights and the drama that unfolded throughout the series. The crowd in the auditorium cheered each time we scored. It was an incredible experience. At one point, I heard the person behind me say, “I wish it had felt like this during the series. We’re only like this because we know how this is going to end.”

It reminded me of you and I in this life. We live through some stressful times and real life drama plays out in front of us every day. Some days we don’t want to watch. Others, we are so keyed up about things that we can’t sleep. Life can be very difficult to get through at times, but I have great news. (Spoiler Alert!) Revelation 20:10 says, “Then the devil, who had deceived them, was thrown into the fiery lake of burning sulfur, joining the beast and the false prophet. There they will be tormented day and night forever and ever” (NLT).

We win! We know how this is all going to end. Those who follow Christ will be victorious when all this is over. Will the drama still all unfold? Yes, but now you know that it’ll all be worth it. I know this won’t take away the pain or all the stress of what you’re facing, but if you keep in mind the final outcome, you can have hope to get through it. You can trust God with whatever you’re going through because in the end, we win.

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Starting Over

Have you ever wanted to get a fresh start? Have you ever said, “If only I could do it all again”?Sometimes it would feel nice to get to wipe the slate clean and start over. You would get the chance to do things differently. A fresh start would let you change how people perceive you as well. There are a lot of benefits to getting a fresh start. The problem is that most of the time, a fresh start happens because things didn’t work out the way we planned.

I grew up playing Atari. While I’m not much of a gamer now, a lot of my childhood was spent trying to “flip” games. On certain games, there were levels and your goal was to get to the end. When I would fail at a level, I would try again over and over. I learned to try different strategies to get past certain things. What worked on one level didn’t work on another. I never really thought about it, but each time my game was over, I was getting a fresh start to try again.

Life isn’t much different. I’ve been to the “game over” screen before. I’ve burned through everything and come to the end of the line. I remember being upset that I was having to start over, but I was also thinking of how I would do things differently. I had to change my choices and my behaviors if I was going to get a different result. I did not, and do not, want to end up in that place again.

Psalm 145:14 says, “GOD gives a hand to those down on their luck, gives a fresh start to those ready to quit” (MSG). If you’re at the game over screen in life, don’t quit. Look at it as an opportunity to get a fresh start. You may feel like you’re down on your luck and your life to this point has been wasted, but you didn’t lose your experience. God gives us fresh starts with the wisdom we’ve learned through experience. It gives us the opportunity to make better decisions and to be more successful. What looks like “game over” is really a fresh start.

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Remember God’s Faithfulness

Do you ever sit around and remember the good old days? I’ve found that I do it from time to time. I’ve also noticed that it’s usually when I don’t like the present. Depending on what’s going on in your life or the world, that can be pretty often. I remember living over seas and we would sit around and reminisce about food we missed. Doing that often helped us get through some days when we would have rather been here.

Our memories are powerful. They can invoke physical responses like laughter, tears or pain. God gave us memories because He knew that we would need them to remember His goodness. He knew that we would need to know that He’s been faithful to us and will continue to be. If you’re struggling with the present, go back to the past and remember what God has done for you.

Here are some Bible verses on using remembrance to help us.

1. I remember the days gone by; I think about all that you have done, I bring to mind all your deeds. I lift up my hands to you in prayer; like dry ground my soul is thirsty for you.

Psalm 143:5-6 GNT

2. Seek the LORD and His strength; Seek His face continually [longing to be in His presence]. Remember [with gratitude] His marvelous deeds which He has done, His miracles and the judgments from His mouth,

1 CHRONICLES 16:11-12 AMP

3. “Moses said to the people, “Always remember this day. This is the day when you came out of Egypt from a house of slavery. GOD brought you out of here with a powerful hand.

Exodus 13:3 MSG

4. My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips, when I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night; for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.

Psalms 63:5-7 ESV

5. Peace has been stripped away, and I have forgotten what prosperity is. I cry out, “My splendor is gone! Everything I had hoped for from the Lord is lost!” The thought of my suffering and homelessness is bitter beyond words. I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss. Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.

Lamentations 3:17-23 NLT

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A Successful Failure

By now, you’re probably familiar with the story of Apollo 13. The space capsule was supposed to do a “routine” landing on the moon and bring back rocks. Two days into the flight, there was a problem with the oxygen tank and it limited their ability to do anything. Instead of a lunar landing mission, it became a rescue mission. As they tried to figure out how to rescue them, Gene Kranz uttered the famous saying, “Failure is not an option!”

He was reminding his people that no matter how hard things got, they were not going to give up. They faced so many obstacles and hit a lot of dead ends. Instead of letting them give up, he sent them back to the drawing board to figure out another way. Many times the crew, and the people at NASA, didn’t know what to do next. While the Apollo 13 never accomplished their goal of landing on the moon, the mission was counted as a success because they found a way to get them back.

Giving up is to resign to failure. I can’t tell you how many times in life, I’ve felt like giving up. I felt like a failure, so I thought I might as well give up. I failed at life. I failed at love. I failed at work. It was easier to give up. I lacked the strength to try again. I thought I was out of options other than to give up. I had to remind myself that failure wasn’t an option. I had to tell myself to get back up. I had to pray like my life depended on it because it did.

Psalm 142:3 says, “When I am ready to give up, he knows what I should do” (GNT). When you’re at the point that you don’t know what to do next, pray that God would show you what to do. Ask Him to open the right door, to illuminate the right path. Be still, listen to His voice and look for the next step. Whatever you do, don’t ever give up because failure is not an option. Success is not earned by the outcome. It’s earned in not giving up.

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Until Victory Is Won

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.


My son always wants to help with whatever I’m doing. If I’m shopping in the store, he wants to be the one to get the item off the shelf. He says, “Here, let me help.” When I’m bringing in the groceries, he wants to carry a bag. Every once in a while he gets one that’s more than he can handle. He’ll say, “It’s too heavy. Help me, Dada.” I’ll reach down and carry the bulk of the weight, but still let him do his part. I’ve been in his shoes before. I’ve had baggage that was too heavy for me to carry on my own. I’ve just haven’t been as eager to ask for help as he has. I think there are many who are in the same boat.

In Exodus 17, the Israelites were traveling from Egypt to the Promised Land. On their way, they were attacked by the Amalekites. Moses had Joshua recruit some men to go fight the Amalekites while he stood on top of a hill holding the staff. As the battle raged on, Moses, Aaron and Hur noticed that as long as Moses had his hands raised, they were winning. When his arms were lowered, they were getting beat. They encouraged Moses to hold his hands up, but after a while he couldn’t do it anymore. He needed help.

It doesn’t say if Moses asked for help or not, but it does say that Aaron and Hur acted on his behalf. They saw a need and improvised to help him out. They grabbed a stone for him to sit on so they could hold up his arms. They stood there until the sun went down and the Amalekites were defeated. Moses named the place Yahweh Nissi which is God My Banner. God gave the victory, but it was won because two people saw another who needed help and lifted him up. They sacrificed their comfort for those who were engulfed in a battle. 

If you look around at the people God has placed in your life, there are those who are fighting battles and they’re growing tired. They can’t hold their hands up anymore. They’re struggling and losing the war. God is looking for people like Aaron and Hur who will go to those who need help, hold them up in prayer and sacrifice until their battle is won. By helping them, in turn you are helping others that they are holding up. When Aaron and Hur helped Moses, they had a direct affect on the army fighting below. We never know how far our help really goes.

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Be Thankful


I Thessalonians 5:18 says, “Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus” (NLT). It’s one of those verses we can quickly read over. Paul was wrapping up his letter and was writing several commands for these new believers. He was wanting them to take these instructions and ingrain them in their new lives early on so that they would become a habit long term. Each of the things he said were important, but this one always jumps out at me.

He said, “Be thankful in ALL circumstances.” He didn’t say we had to thank God for our circumstances, but that we need to find something to give thanks for. In my most difficult time. I was living minute to minute. I would watch the clock and tell myself, “If I can survive this minute, I can get through this problem.” When the minute would pass, I would thank God for helping me to survive that minute, then the process would start over. I didn’t thank God for the mess I was in. I thanked Him for keeping me alive in it.

Paul, the writer of Thessalonians, had gone through some pretty dark days himself. He learned that if you focus on your problem, despair sets in. If you focus on finding something to be thankful for, praise fills your heart. That’s how he and Silas could praise in prison. I’m sure it started out as a conversation on things to be thankful for that turned into singing praises to God. It was in those praises that God moved the earth and set them free from their chains.

Don’t miss that powerful truth. When you praise, God frees you from your chains. Praise comes from a heart that is thankful. A thankful heart comes from a person who looks for the good in every situation. If you’re breathing, you’ve got something to be thankful for. If you have a bed to sleep in, you’ve got something to be thankful for. Your world may be falling apart, but God has not abandoned you. Give thanks for that. When you learn to give thanks in all circumstances, you’ll learn to praise in all circumstances. 

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Unfazed And Unafraid


This year, I’ve had both a family member and a coworker get diagnosed with breast cancer. Their stories of sitting in the doctor’s office and hearing the news were very similar. They described getting tunnel vision. Sound seemed to go away. Fear immediately brought tears as it showed them a world where their child would grow up motherless. Then both immediately asked for prayer from those who know God.

One shared with me how after prayer they had clarity of how to fight, and they were no longer reeling from the news. The other shared with me about the peace that came over her. She said, “After people started praying, I haven’t been able to shed a tear. This peace won’t let me.” Both received news that no one ever wants to get, but both knew where to turn when they got it. While they still have treatments to go through, knowing God is in control has made the difference. 

In Psalm 112, the writer discusses the blessings of the man (or woman) who fears the Lord with reverence and worships Him with obedience. Each verse pronounces blessings or discusses the outcome for such people. In verses 7-8, it says, “They do not fear bad news; they confidently trust the Lord to care for them. They are confident and fearless and can face their foes triumphantly” (NLT). This verse perfectly describes what both of these women shared with me.

This verse doesn’t just apply to cancer though. It applies to any bad news that may come your way. You don’t have to fear the outcome when you get it. Just like these ladies, you can give the news to God through prayer, and His peace, which passes all understanding, will guard your thoughts. Fear does not come from God, but peace does. Whatever you’re facing today, you can face it with confidence because you are a child of the King of Kings. He is in control, and will work out His plan for you.

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