Tag Archives: hard times

What’s Inside


Several years ago, my father in law was about to undergo surgery. To make sure he could handle it, the doctors gave him a stress test for his heart. He failed. They immediately called for an ambulance and sent him to the hospital. When they took a look at his heart, they found several blocked arteries and performed a bypass surgery. The doctor informed us of how serious it was, but assured us that he was better now.

Over and over I’m asked why we as Christians are allowed to endure hardships. I believe that part of it is that we are still under the consequences of Adam’s sin. If only sinners went through hard times, got sick, or died young then people would not choose God based on love. They would follow Him out of fear, and that’s not what God desires. So it rains on the just and the unjust alike. 

Another part of the answer is so we can see what’s inside of us. God already knows, but just like that stress test revealed my father in law’s heart condition, difficult times often reveal what’s inside of us. It proves what we really believe, and also shows any weaknesses we need to correct. Going through difficult times gives us a chance to truly walk out our faith so we can know how much we really trust God.

The great news is that we aren’t left in the stressful situation. Psalm 71:20 says, “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” (NLT). Like my father in law’s surgeon, God is in the restoration business. He corrects and removes the things that hold us back so we can serve Him better. He brings us back up, out of the depths, so we can share with others the faith we discovered in the hardship. 

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Fighting With New Strength


Growing up, I spent countless hours playing Mike Tyson’s Punch Out on the Nintendo. The goal was always to go through the progression of fights so you could fight Mike Tyson. At times in the game, I would swing away at the characters hoping to connect a knock out punch. All of a sudden, my guy would drop his hands and start panting. All of a sudden, he became vulnerable in those fights, and I had to dodge punches to keep from getting knocked out. After a few seconds, his strength would return and I could start fighting again.

To be honest, I never beat Mike Tyson. I got to the point where I could get to him every time, and could even go several rounds with him. At some point, my character would get tired and Mike would knock me out. I would get so frustrated because the guy would get winded at the worst times, and there was nothing I could do about it. I actually can relate to that guy a lot more now that I’m getting older. Battles seem to get more difficult, and I seem to get winded more quickly. 

There’s a famous portion of Scripture in Isaiah 40 that speaks to this. Israel had begun to think that God had abandoned them in their battles, and they were tired. God spoke and asked how they could think that. Then in verses 29-31, He said, “He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint” (NLT).

If you’ve been getting winded in your battles, and you’re starting to wonder where God is, these verses are for you today. Don’t get anxious and swing away, which only wears you out. Wait on and trust in the Lord. He will give you the strength you need to endure, and He will help you knock out your biggest opponent. Whatever your Mike Tyson is in life, God is there with you to help you fight it without growing weary. He is the everlasting God. He never grows weary or weak. 

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Peace Through Trust

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.


Life is unpredictable. It’s full of uncertainties, crossroads, and unknowns. When we are facing these things in life, our minds get consumed looking for answers and wondering what tomorrow holds. It can suck the energy right out of you if you let it. I think that’s why Jesus told us in Matthew 6:34, “Don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries” (NLT). He knew that with all of life’s uncertainties, we could easily get wrapped up in all the what if’s of life.

The truth is that even though you and I don’t know what tomorrow holds, God does. And He’s not worried. What is unknown to us is history to Him. He knows how it all plays out and He is in control. No matter what each day brings, we can trust that He has a plan for our lives and a path for us to walk down. Psalm 37:23 says, “The LORD directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives.” Not only does He direct our lives, He knows all the details that are unknown to us.

Trusting Him in those times is paramount to our peace of mind. Where worry consumes us, His peace frees us. We get peace in uncertainty when we trust that God is in control, that He has a plan for this season, and that He is directing our path. Stress and worry come from thinking we are in control, that God doesn’t care, or that He doesn’t have a plan. He gives you and I the ability to choose in this situation. Do we want to stress or do we want peace through trust? 

I’m reminded of Proverbs 3:5-6 when it comes to trusting God in uncertainty. It says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Never rely on what you think you know. Remember the Lord in everything you do, and he will show you the right way” (GNB). The word “trust”, in the original language for this verse, means to feel safe, be careless. In our most difficult times, we can feel safe and be carefree by trusting God. He will direct our path and show us the right way when the time is right. 

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The Empty Gym


A couple of years ago, I read about a high school basketball team that went to play another school. When the game started, they noticed that the other team had no fans. The gym was empty. It didn’t feel right. The next time they played this team was going to be in their own gym, so the boys put a plan together. They asked all of their fans to show up and cheer for the other team. When the other team showed up, they were surprised to find signs encouraging them and fans who rooted loudly for them to win.

I’ve loved that story from the moment I read it, and I’m proud that it took place in my home state of Texas. I love it because there are times where all of us feel like that other team. It can feel like there is no one on our side. No one to cheer us on. Oh what we would give to have someone encourage us. It’s a difficult thing to be in a position where no one is on your side. It’s tough to keep going to be honest. 

I’m sure all of us have felt that way at one point or another. I know I have. David felt that way too. He had been anointed king, but Saul was still on the throne and was out to kill him. Instead of being in the palace, David was hiding for his life in a cave in one of the most inhospitable places on earth. But then, in Psalm 56:9, he reminded himself of something important. He wrote, “I know this: God is on my side” (NLT). When it feels like no one else is on your side, remind yourself that God is. 

As Romans 8:31 puts it, if God is for you, who can be against you? No matter what you’re going through in this life, no matter how badly things look, know that God is on your side. He’s cheering for you to succeed. He’s giving you the tools you need to make it through. Even if no one is there to help, God is. I’ve always heard that you plus God equals a majority. You have the King of the universe in your corner rooting for you. This too shall pass, and you will be victorious. 

If you’d like to read about the story I referenced, here’s the link.

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Releasing Burdens


My son thinks he can do anything I can do. I was moving some heavy bags recently, and he wanted to move one. He struggled with it as he pulled and pushed on it. I offered my help, but he refused. “He said, “I got it, Dada. I can do it.” I replied, “I know you can, but I can do it more easily.” He still refused. He wanted to do it. He wore himself out trying to do it. I don’t know if it was my stubbornness or my pride that he got that compelled him to keep doing it alone. Either way, he refused my help.

As I watched him, I couldn’t help but think how often I am that way towards God. I often carry these heavy burdens. They’re not necessarily ones that God gave me. They’re just ones that I’ve picked up and have tried to carry. I’ve tried pulling them and pushing them, all the while wearing myself out. God whispers, “Let me take that,” but I refuse. “I can do it, God,” i say. I can imagine him shaking His head like I do.

It could be my stubbornness or my pride that keeps me from handing my burdens over to the Lord, but either way it’s wrong. When I refuse to give my burdens to the Lord, I’m telling Him that I don’t need Him. I’m telling Him that I can do anything He can do, and that’s a problem. We can’t do what God can do, but we’ve been trying to since Adam and Eve. We’ve got to let go of the things that weigh us down, wear us down and hold us back.

Psalm 55:22 says, “Give your burdens to the Lord, and he will take care of you” (NLT). One version says to release them. We have to be the ones who let go. God isn’t going to take them from us forcefully. He has already made the offer for us to cast them on Him. It’s now up to us to let go and to trust Him. Let God do what He does and quit trying to do His work for Him. Trust me, your life will be a lot better.

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Turbulence Is Good

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.


On a recent flight, the pilot said there was turbulence ahead and that he was going to try a different altitude. We lowered several thousand feet and hit turbulence there. He lowered some more and we hit turbulence there too. He went up some and we started hitting turbulence there. On our whole flight, he was readjusting trying to miss the turbulence, but he was unsuccessful. No matter what we did, we kept hitting these bumps in our path. He finally came over the intercom and said, “As you can see, we are not going to have a smooth flight today. I’ve tried everything and we’re still finding these pockets. We won’t be able to go as fast as we wanted.”

The pilot, like many of us, tried to avoid disturbances in his path. He tried different things to get around them and couldn’t. Our first instinct when there’s a disturbance or turbulence in our path is to try to find a way around it, but is that really God’s desire for us? Are we to avoid problems and things that slow us down? I don’t think so. I dislike them as much as anyone, but I’ve learned they serve a purpose. I may not always see the purpose right away, but I’ve found that God uses them to shape who we are and to change our course. The path God has for us isn’t an easy one.

Jesus was preaching in Matthew 7:14 when He was talking about the path you and I should be on. He said, “But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it” (NLT). The Amplified version said it is “contracted by pressure”. That doesn’t sound like we are going to be able to avoid the bumps and have a smooth ride into Heaven. In John 16:33, Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble.” Jesus was pretty open to us about what life will bring as Christians. He said we would struggle, suffer and have tribulation, and also that He would not leave us in those times.

My nephew likes to say, “No pressure, no diamond.” He’s learning at an early age that pressure can be a good thing. It’s what brings out the best in us. God uses pressure pockets in our life to develop qualities that won’t develop any other way. He has us change altitude and course so we can be put into the path of someone who needs our help. There is a purpose and a plan for the turbulence in your life. To avoid it is to avoid what God wants to do in you and through you.

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Because I Said So


Because I said so. I have never liked that phrase. Has anyone ever given that to you as an answer when you wanted to know why? I got it all the time as a kid, and it drive me nuts. I’m a person who needs to know why, and that doesn’t give me sufficient information. I probably got a lot of spankings over it too. Eventually I learned to obey my parents without understand why, even if I didn’t like it. 

As an adult, not much has changed I still like to know why. When God asks me to do something I don’t understand or if something happens that I don’t like, I still want to know why. I don’t always get an answer though. I guess that’s better than, “Because I said so,” but at least I don’t get whipped for asking. God is big enough to handle my questions, my frustrations over not understanding and my emotional outbursts. 

Ecclesiastes 7:13-14 says, “Accept the way God does things, for who can straighten what he has made crooked? Enjoy prosperity while you can, but when hard times strike, realize that both come from God. Remember that nothing is certain in this life” (NLT). It’s taken me a while to learn to accept not always knowing why. On those times where I don’t understand, I let my trust lie in the fact that God is good and sees a bigger picture than I ever could.

We may not always get the answers we seek from God. When He’s silent, I try to recall all the times in my life when I didn’t understand His plan. When I look back, I can see that He’s always had a plan, and that what He does in my life is bigger than me. If I’ve surrendered my life to Him, then I’ve given Him permission to use it in any way that He sees fit. That includes good things and bad things that I don’t understand. I’m still learning to accept the way He does things, even if He says, “Because I said so.”

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