Tag Archives: hard times

Redeemed From The Pit

Yesterday was the 19th anniversary of the lowest point in my life. I had been through six months of having the bottom fall out from under me. I went through the death of a friend, a divorce, a repossession, loss of friendships and a lot more. One thing after another seemed to crumble. Everything I held dear was being taken from my life as a result of decisions I had made. Then, on September 25, 2003, my business failed and I was out of a job. It felt like my life was over as I laid down on my living room floor that night. I cried out to God in surrender as the life I built was destroyed by this storm. However, I still had my foundation in Him. I told God I was ready to end my life because I couldn’t do it anymore.

I felt the voice of God remind me that i had built my life with my desires instead of His. I vowed that if He helped me out of that hole, I would build my life His way. I marked my calendar with the words, “The Bottom”. Getting back to where I felt I was at ground level took over a decade. Now it’s almost a decade past that and I can look back and see how far God brought me. It wasn’t easy and the progress has felt slow and minimal. Yet, when I look back, I can see where I’ve been, and now look forward to where He is taking me. It’s not an easy thing to look back, but it’s necessary for all of us. When it feels like we’re on a treadmill going nowhere fast, God is actually working in our life and helping us along the way.

Psalm 103:2-5 says, “Bless and affectionately praise the Lord, O my soul, And do not forget any of His benefits; Who forgives all your sins, Who heals all your diseases; Who redeems your life from the pit, Who crowns you [lavishly] with lovingkindness and tender mercy; Who satisfies your years with good things, So that your youth is renewed like the [soaring] eagle” (AMP). God is in the process of redeeming your life from the pit. No matter how deep a hole you feel like you’re in, He can get you out. Remember all the things He has done, knowing He will continue to work out all things for your good. He will satisfy your life with good things once again. Trust in Him no matter how dark it seems. Your pit may be deep, but His grace is deeper still.

Photo by James McGill on Unsplash

7 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Passing The Test

Whenever I was in school, I remember one teacher who enjoyed giving tests. He would wear a “test tie” on the days he was giving a test, which was really an uncoordinated, loud tie. Sometimes he would wear a red contact lens. Once he opened a bag of chips and started eating them and crinkling the bag during the test. Whenever he gave tests, I made sure I studied because I knew there would be distractions and the test would be more difficult than the other classes. I used flash cards and met with other students to prepare to make sure we passed.

It’s funny that we spend so much time preparing for school tests, but very little time preparing for life’s test. God had so much faith in Job’s ability to pass any test that Satan could give him that he agreed to allow him to be sent through the wringer. Satan even tried to get in his head to distract him with his wife and friends who constantly accused him of wrongdoing. However, Job was prepped for the test, In Job 23:10-11 he says, “But he (God) knows where I am going. And when he tests me, I will come out as pure as gold. For I have stayed on God’s paths; I have followed his ways and not turned aside.”

Job put something inside of him that was greater than any test he would face: God’s Word and a determination to stay on God’s Paths. When life tests us and we aren’t prepared, we may be like Job’s wife and friends who wanted to curse God and die. But if we will determine in our hearts to stick with God and trust what He’s doing in our life, we will pass any test that comes our way no matter how many distractions there are. God has enough faith in you to allow you to be tested. It’s time you trusted your faith in what you’ve been taught so you will pass this test.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema 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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Choose Joy

I’ve been a sales trainer for a few years, and one thing has been consistent. When some people show up for training, they’re not happy. They want to know if class is really going to take the full time. By the end of class though, many of them change their attitudes. They’ll walk out and say, “Thanks. I didn’t think I needed this, but I learned something.” Our attitude towards training is much like our attitude towards troubles in life. We don’t want them or see a need for them. However, when we’ve made it through them, we find ourselves stronger.

I think James was trying to make that same correlation for us in James 1:2-3. He wrote, “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow” (NLT). Joy is usually the last emotion that I pair with troubles and trials, but James says they’re an opportunity for us to have it.

I’ve said before that joy is not dependent on your circumstances, happiness is. Joy comes from deep within. It looks at your big picture, while happiness looks at the little one. Joy is something you choose to have no matter what. Each of us choose our attitude in our circumstances. If we don’t, our circumstances will choose our attitude for us. In most cases, it chooses the wrong attitude. Choosing Joy gives you the strength to endure whatever comes your way.

The second part of that verse is where we get our Joy from. We don’t look at the current trouble, but the end result. What do trials produce in us? Endurance. Verse 4 says, “So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” If you can train yourself to keep the end in mind, you will learn to handle troubles a lot better. Don’t waste your times of trouble. Use them for what they’re for: growth and endurance. By choosing the wrong attitude, you prolong your time in them, and miss what God has for you. Keep the end in mind, and choose Joy.

Photo by Jackson David 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.

4 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Finding Joy

Corrie Ten Boom and her sister Betsy were sent to a German concentration camp during World War II for hiding and smuggling Jews. They were taken to Ravenbruck and faced some pretty inhumane conditions. Women were packed in their barracks stacked on three high bunk beds where they used rotten hay for cushion. The conditions were so unsanitary that it was overrun with lice. Betsy reminded Corrie to be thankful in all circumstances, but Corrie said she’d never be thankful for the life. Her tune changed not long after when her tormentors refused to come in their barracks because of the lice. This provided them the opportunity to pray, read the Bible and share the Gospel. Corrie found a way to be thankful even for lice.

I Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, “Be joyful always, pray at all times, be thankful in all circumstances. This is what God wants from you in your life in union with Christ Jesus” (GNT). This trifecta seems impossible at times, especially when we’ve been given life shattering news. However, God isn’t asking us to be thankful for all circumstances. It’s to be thankful in all circumstances. Thankfulness is always possible. It just matters how we look at our circumstances. A thankful heart looks for the goodness of God despite what the current outlook is. It clears all the confusion and the distractions when we turn our focus to God. He is the only one who can give us strength and grace in every circumstance. That is what allows us to pray at all times.

Finally, don’t confuse happiness with joy. Happiness is dependent on your circumstances, joy is not. Happiness is a reaction while joy is a lifestyle born from possessing inner peace that passes all understanding. Joy is your strength to endure whatever you face (Nehemiah 8:10). It is critical in this life and why the author mentioned it first. If you lose your joy, you’ve lost your strength to pray and be thankful because you’ve quit trusting in God. Joy trusts God even when the outcome is unsure and looks unfavorable. God holds your life in His hands. No matter what you face, it will never separate you from His love (Romans 8:38). Joy gives us an eternal perspective in temporary bodies. Because of it, we can keep our eyes on Jesus, pray at all times and find a way to be thankful.

Photo by Ante Hamersmit on Unsplash

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Leaving The Valley Of Weeping

Every one of us will go through valleys. They’re those dark periods in our lives that are created by the loss of a loved one, the consequence of sin, being hurt by someone we love, an illness or something else. In the valley, it’s natural to want to push everyone away and face it alone, but that’s not God’s plan. That’s when you need those who love you the most to carry you, walk with you and encourage you. Having been there and tried that, I know the reasoning and the lies that get you to believe it. I’ve found that Psalm 84:5-7 give us a blueprint to endure the valley.

Verse 5 says, “Blessed and greatly favored is the man whose strength is in You, In whose heart are the highways to Zion” (AMP). The first thing we have to realize is we shouldn’t try to walk through this time in our own strength. When our strength is weak, His is made perfect in us. We need to rely on God, and the people He’s placed in our lives, to get through this period of darkness. We also need to focus on Him rather than the issue. If we’re not careful, we can go further down into a darker place than we are.

Verse 6 says, “Passing through the Valley of Weeping ( Baca), they make it a place of springs; The early rain also covers it with blessings.” I love this because it’s up to us what we make of the valley experience. Will it be a dry, desolate place or will it be a place of refreshing springs? Are we just trying to push through it or are we learning as we go? God has blessings in the valleys of life if we’re looking for them and we’re turning those times into learning and growing experiences.

Finally, verse 7 says, “They go from strength to strength [increasing in victorious power]; Each of them appears before God in Zion.” There is light at the end of the valley because victory is ours when we do these things. You are not alone in this. God sees you, He gives you strength daily and you are on His mind. Don’t push Him or others away on this journey. They provide the strength you need to gain the victory over this period and place in life. The valley isn’t permanent. Weeping in the valley may last for a while, but joy is on the way when we do these things.

Photo by Vangelis Batsikostas 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.

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Becoming Better

You can’t have the promises of God without going through the processes of God. Some processes are giving of tithes and offerings. Other processes can be difficult seasons. Those to me are the hardest ones to go through. They’re not as simple as give and it shall be given unto you. Many times these seasons are something God walks us into without asking us. There’s also no time limit to them or clear outcomes. However, when God takes us through these seasons, we can be sure He is with us and will produce something in us that makes us better.

David was a young shepherd when he was anointed king. He at least knew what the promise was before going through the process. For the next 15 years, he would go through more downs than ups. He would be forced to live in caves surrounded by outcasts. He would face many sleepless nights fearing for his life. For a while he even had to live in the country of his enemy. His wife and kids were kidnapped along with the wives and kids of his army. He faced a mutiny after that. After years of struggling, he finally became king. The process changed him from one who could watch a few sheep into one who could lead millions.

Psalms 66:12 says, “You’ve allowed our enemies to prevail against us. We’ve passed through fire and flood, yet in the end you always bring us out better than we were before, saturated with your goodness” (TPT). What God allows to happen in our life is often part of His process. He uses the darkest most painful times to either change us, push us closer to Him or to help us be able to empathize and connect with another person. God is always working in our lives to make us more like Him. When going through the hardest times, we can hold onto Romans 8:28 which reminds us that ALL things work together for our good. Keep going through the process. His promises are on their way.

Photo by Mahdi Dastmard on Unsplash

3 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

A Confident Warrior

One of the misconceptions many of us believe is that when God is with us and for us, we won’t experience bad things. It can be quite a shock when we go through a very long season of difficulties. We question our faith, we question what’s going on and we question God. Almost every time, there are no answers. I remember crying out, “God, where are you? If you’re with me, why is this happening?” I didn’t get any answers, but I did find out that God’s Grace is deeper than any trouble I went through. It was sufficient to carry me through the darkest times.

In Judges 6, Israel was constantly being attacked by the Midianites for seven years. When Israel’s crops would start to grow, the Midianites would come destroy them. They stole their livestock as well so that Israel was without food and became impoverished. Israelites lived in constant fear because of it. That’s when the Angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon and called him a mighty warrior saying God was with him. In verse 13 he replied, “‘Sir, if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? And where are all the miracles our ancestors told us about? Didn’t they say, ‘The Lord brought us up out of Egypt’? But now the Lord has abandoned us and handed us over to the Midianites’” (NLT). He didn’t get answer, but he did get a mission to deliver Israel.

Even when we face the longest, darkest struggles, we have God’s promise to never leave us. Deuteronomy 31:6 says, “Be determined and confident. Do not be afraid of them. Your God, the Lord himself, will be with you. He will not fail you or abandon you” (GNT). It’s hard to be confident in those times. Gideon wasn’t, but God called out the confident warrior in him. There’s a confident warrior in you too. You are able to face any struggle, fight every battle and survive any difficult season because God is with you. His strength is made perfect in our weakness. Don’t back down or lose hope now. Be determined and confident in Him. He will not fail you or go back on His promises.

Photo by Aaron Thomas on Unsplash

4 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Blessing God No Matter What

Have you ever had to make a volcano for school? It’s a pretty simple project to do. I like to use a small jar and then build the volcano around it. Once you’re done with that, it’s time to create the lava. The simplest thing to do is put baking soda in the jar, add a few drops of red food coloring and then pour in some vinegar. It’s not a crazy explosion, but what’s in the jar will come out. The same is true when we go through a difficult time. What on the inside of you will come out. How do you react to difficult situations? What do you say when you’re hurting mentally, physically or emotionally?

In Acts 16, Paul and Silas cast a demon out of a girl who had taunted them for days. When the demon came out, so did her ability to tell fortunes and her ability to make money for her owners. They became angry, got some soldiers and a crowd and made accusations against Paul and Silas. Without a court hearing their case, the guards stripped them, beat them and put them in a dungeon. Their shackles were placed around their arms and legs, holding them in a painful position that prevented them from sleeping. Instead of cursing or demanding that they were innocent, they began to pray and sing praises to God. Verse 25 says the prisoners were listening intently to them when God sent an earthquake that unlocked every prisoner’s shackles.

Psalm 34:1 says, “I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth” (AMP). Like Paul and Silas, we have a choice to seek sympathy, to demand we were wronged, or we can bless God knowing He’s in control. Other people around us are intently listening to us and our reaction when bad things happen. How you react could set them free or keep them bound up. It’s not easy to bless and praise God in the midnight hour when you’re bound up and in pain, but it is the appropriate response as a believer. He has the power to heal you, to restore you and to vindicate you. It may not happen immediately like it did for Paul and Silas, but it will happen.

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Provision In The Desert

In the Bible the desert was used as a place for refinement, testing and growth. Matthew 4:1 tells us that the Holy Spirit led Jesus into the desert. In Exodus the glory of God led the Israelites into the desert. If you find yourself wandering through a dry season in your life, take heart. God is doing something in your life to make you more like Him or to have you learn to depend on Him more. He hasn’t abandoned you or left you there forever. Instead, just like He did for others in the desert, He makes it a place where He provides and does the miraculous.

Here are some Bible verses on God’s provision in the desert.

1. I will open up rivers for them on the high plateaus. I will give them fountains of water in the valleys. I will fill the desert with pools of water. Rivers fed by springs will flow across the parched ground.

Isaiah 41:18 NLT

2. They were not thirsty when he led them through the desert. He divided the rock, and water gushed out for them to drink.

Isaiah 48:21 NLT

3. God reveals himself when he makes the fault lines quake, shaking deserts, speaking his voice.

Psalms 29:8 TPT

4. He found him in a desert land, In the howling wasteland of a wilderness; He kept circling him, He took care of him, He protected him as the apple of His eye.

Deuteronomy 32:10 AMP

5. I took care of you in a dry, desert land.

Hosea 13:5 GNT

Photo by Benjamín Gremler on Unsplash

3 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Too Much To Handle

I saw a lady this weekend wearing a shirt that said something to the effect of, “If God doesn’t give us more than we can handle, He must think I’m Wonder Woman.” She’s being a bit facetious, but also a bit snarky. When we’re facing circumstances that we can’t handle and it seems to be a constant barrage of things, it’s normal to wonder what God’s doing and if He even cares. It can lead us to wonder if He’s even aware of what we’re facing, what we did to make Him mad at us and what do we gotta do to get His attention to make it stop. I believe this is what this woman’s shirt was conveying and what many of us feel in similar circumstances.

Job felt this way. Yes, when he lost everything, he bowed in worship. However, the rest of the book is him trying to get God’s attention. Here’s a sample of Job speaking of his anguish in Job 30, “I cry to you, O God, but you don’t answer. I stand before you, but you don’t even look. You have become cruel toward me. You use your power to persecute me. You throw me into the whirlwind and destroy me in the storm” (NLT). He didn’t understand what was going on behind the scenes. He didn’t know that God was allowing him to be tested to prove his faithfulness. Yet he spoke out wondering if God even knew what was going on. It’s the same feelings we feel in difficult times, but we must trust God’s Word over our feelings.

Psalm 31:7 says, “I will be glad and rejoice in your unfailing love, for you have seen my troubles, and you care about the anguish of my soul.” David made a choice to be glad and to rejoice in God’s unfailing love despite his circumstances or feelings. He understood that God is aware and active in his circumstances. He was also aware that there are things he can’t see or know, but trusted in God’s plan despite what he was facing. It’s a lesson each of us need to remember when we’re facing more than we can handle. The Bible never says that God won’t give you more than you can handle, but it does say that He sees what you’re going through, He cares about the anguish you’re feeling and that His grace will be sufficient. Trust His Word instead of your feelings and circumstances.

Photo by Luke Porter on Unsplash

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized