Tag Archives: hard times

Abandoned

To abandon someone is to quit supporting them or to give up on them. If you’ve ever been through some of life’s toughest circumstances, you know what it’s like to be abandoned by some of your family or friends. You find out that there are people in your life that you can count on, and there are people that you can’t. When you’re looking for advice, a place to regroup, or just a shelter from the storm, some people that you seek out will abandon you. Some of the ones who you thought would support you through thick and thin give up on you.

David was a person who knew a thing or two about being abandoned. He was forgotten by his father, disrespected by his brothers, shamed by his wife, chased by the king, and dishonored by his son. The people in his life that he should have been able to count on, turned their backs on him at some point in his life. He knew a thing or two about rock bottom. He looked for those he could count on in times of trouble.

In all of his searching, there was one who never abandoned him: God. David wasn’t a perfect man either. He cheated on his wife, had a man murdered, and did some unthinkable things. Yet when he sought after God, he knew that no matter what he had done, God would not abandon him. He knew that there was nothing he had done that God couldn’t or wouldn’t forgive. When others gave up on him, God never did. In fact, God said he was a man after His own heart.

You may have walked David’s shoes. Maybe you’ve been abandoned by those who love you or you’ve abandoned the things you know are right. Either way, if you will seek God, He won’t abandon you. Psalm 9:10 says, “Those who know you, Lord, will trust you; you do not abandon anyone who comes to you” (GNT). It doesn’t matter what’s been done to you or what you’ve done to others, you can find shelter, hope, and forgiveness in God when you seek Him out.

Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

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.

6 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Purposing To Trust

In February of 1998, my mom went into the hospital with some crazy symptoms. She thought it was a reaction to the chemo, but it wasn’t. The cancer had spread. On March 1st, she slipped into a coma of sorts. After a week or two of that, they took us into a side room to let us know they were sending her home and hospice would be assisting us for her final days. Our heads were spinning. We had fasted and prayed for healing, and it looked like our prayers were going unanswered. After the doctor left the room, we stayed behind still in shock. My dad spoke up and said, “We will keep believing and praying for a miracle, but be prepared in case He doesn’t answer the way we want Him to. I want each of you to purpose in your heart right now that you won’t be bitter at God if He chooses not to heal her.” She passed away on April 17th that year. Even though it hurt, because we had purposed in our hearts beforehand, we remained faithful to God.

The Early Church believers suffered more than most throughout the centuries of the Church. Each of the 12 disciples were martyred for their faith. Rome fed Christians to the lions for public sport. Nero used the heads of Christians as torches throughout the city. Yet somehow, these believers stayed faithful to God and encouraged each other with words of faith. The New Testament is full of Paul’s letters to these believers facing these issues. Many of them were written from jail. I’m sure that fear was doing its best to silence believers and to question their faith. However, because of their determination and they purposed in their hearts to follow God no matter what, our spiritual ancestors endured, stayed faithful and passed down a heritage of rock solid faith to you and I.

Psalms 116:10-11 says, “Even when it seems I’m surrounded by many liars and my own fears, and though I’m hurting in my suffering and trauma, I still stay faithful to God and speak words of faith” (TPT). This is the determination that each of us must make in our hearts. Our faith can not be dependent on our circumstances. Our trust in God’s goodness cannot be eroded by prayers that aren’t answered the way we think they should. Our suffering and trauma is not a reflection of His love. It’s a result of sin in the world. We must determine in our hearts and minds that no matter what happens in this life, we will stay faithful to Him. We will still speak in faith. We will still trust in Him. Even when things are happening here that we don’t like or understand, God has a plan and is able to work it out for our good. Don’t stop trusting in Him during the hard times. This earth and these sufferings are only temporary.

Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Becoming More Fruitful

In the 90”s, one of the t-shirts that was popular said, “No Pain No Gain”. They were referring to working out, but I believe that’s true in a lot of areas in life. People like complacency and they don’t like pain. Because of that, we often find ourselves in ruts doing the same thing day in and day out. The problem is that the processes in our lives can only produce so much, and many of us have been in a rut so long that we have reached a plateau and we’re coasting. The greatest motivator for change is pain. It’s not until we’re faced with pain of some sort that we change. When you change how you do things, you change the results you’re getting in life. Sometimes we get the choice to make the change, and other times God forces the change in our lives.

Joseph, in the Old Testament, is one of the most intriguing people in the Bible to me. When he was 17 years old, his brothers beat him up and threw him in a pit with the intention of killing him. Instead, they sold him as a slave where he was taken to a foreign land. There he made the most of his situation and became the highest producer in the household. The owner’s wife took a liking to him, but he held to his integrity even though life had dumped on him. He was thrown in jail where he was forgotten, but he continued to persevere in the pain. 17 years after his brother’s sold him, he became a free man, and then became second in command of the nation. He was a man who went through much pain, suffering and affliction, but you never read where he questioned God or doubted Him.

After he was married, he had two sons. Genesis 41:52 says, “He named the second [son] Ephraim (fruitfulness), for ‘God has caused me to be fruitful and very successful in the land of my suffering’” (AMP). God has a plan for our lives that contains suffering, but with that suffering comes the potential of fruitfulness and success. How do you respond to times of pain and suffering? I believe our response is what determines the extent of that fruitfulness. God will do whatever He needs to in our lives to get us to a place where we can be fruitful for Him and His purposes, but along with that comes the potential for greater things. Some of the most successful people you know have endured some of the hardest times. If you’re going through a season of pain and suffering like Joseph, take courage. God is working in your life to produce some amazing fruit. Ask Him for the strength to endure and the wisdom in how to make the most of it.

Photo by Dailos Medina on Unsplash

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

God’s Got You

There have been times in my life where I’ve felt like I was slipping through God’s fingers. My life was in free fall and nothing was going right. This past year has felt that way for so many. I can think of a few friends who left secure jobs and income to chase dreams they’ve had their entire lives only to have the world shut down shortly after they did. I’ve had friends who received a diagnosis that changed everything. I also know people who have been hit with one thing after another and have been under a complete barrage of bad news and things happening to them. When these things happen, it can feel like you’re sinking or free falling, and you wonder if God has forgotten you. Panic can quickly set in and start making decisions for you. When I see friends going through these times, I usually pray for peace, wisdom and the assurance that God is in control.

I often think of the night that the disciples were told by Jesus to go to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. They heard Him clearly and did what He asked. It didn’t stop the storm from coming. It didn’t stop the boat from taking on water. They were in His will and they were fighting for their lives. I love that in the middle of all that chaos, Peter had the courage to get out of the boat. I also love that he began to sink as he quit looking at Jesus and became distracted by everything going on. Why? Because it gave a great opportunity to show the heart of God. As Peter went into a free fall sinking, Jesus reached out and grabbed him. I don’t know what he was thinking, but I’m pretty sure it was, “Please don’t let go!” Jesus didn’t and they got into the boat.

In Isaiah 41, God was speaking to Israel, but I believe it’s for us as well. Verse 10 says, “Don’t panic. I’m with you. There’s no need to fear for I’m your God. I’ll give you strength. I’ll help you. I’ll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you” (MSG). If you’re distracted by everything that’s going on all around you and in your life, be like Peter, put your eyes back on Jesus and reach out to Him. He’s saying, “Don’t panic. I’ve got you and I’ve got a firm grip too.” You are not forgotten. God sees through the storm that has been surrounding you and threatens to sink you. He won’t let go no matter how bad things might get. God very often uses devastation to create new life. Just because things aren’t happening the way we think they should, it doesn’t mean He’s let go. He’ll help you and hold you steady through it all. Trust in Him, have peace, make wise choices and know He is in control.

Photo by nikko macaspac on Unsplash

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Restoring Your Joy

Remember that song, “I’ve got the joy, joy, joy down in my heart”? If you just said, “Where,” and responded, “Down in my heart,” then you’re going to have this song stuck in your head today. I truly hope you do too. Joy is something God gives us that’s based on what He’s done for you and not what you’re going through. Circumstances steal happiness, but they can’t touch joy. The Bible says that we will be led with joy and that the joy of the Lord is our strength (you’ll be singing this one too!). Joy is what helps us endure whatever comes our way. Even in the hardest of times, we can ask God to give us joy so we can push through when our mind tells us we can’t.

While every one of us go through hard times at some point, others live hard lives where it seems to be one thing after the other. Joy helps us to keep our eyes on Jesus through it all knowing that He has a plan and that all those hard times are producing His qualities in our life. When we lose sight of that, it’s good to pray what David did in Psalm 51 even though his words were from repentance. Pray, “Lord, restore to me the joy of your salvation.” I’ve had to pray that prayer many times and God has always given me His joy so that I could have the strength to keep going. I believe that God will restore your joy too.

Here are some Bible verses on joy.

1. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you.

Psalms 51:12 NLT

2. You love him, although you have not seen him, and you believe in him, although you do not now see him. So you rejoice with a great and glorious joy which words cannot express, because you are receiving the salvation of your souls, which is the purpose of your faith in him.

1 Peter 1:8-9 GNT

3. So you’ll go out in joy, you’ll be led into a whole and complete life. The mountains and hills will lead the parade, bursting with song. All the trees of the forest will join the procession, exuberant with applause. No more thistles, but giant sequoias, no more thorn bushes, but stately pines— Monuments to me, to GOD, living and lasting evidence of GOD.

Isaiah 55:12-13 MSG

4. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people. For this day in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord (the Messiah).

Luke 2:10-11 AMP

5. If you keep my commands, you will live in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands, for I continually live nourished and empowered by his love. My purpose for telling you these things is so that the joy that I experience will fill your hearts with overflowing gladness!

John 15:10-11 TPT

Photo by Preslie Hirsch on Unsplash

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Your Greater Purpose

In the early 2000’s, all the life groups in our church did the same curriculum for one semester. There was a brand new book out that everyone was talking about and reading, so our pastor decided to have the whole church go through it together. It was based on the book “The Purpose Driven Life”. Since it’s release in 2002, it has sold more than 50 million copies. Whether you like the author or not, that many copies sold of any book tells you that it struck a nerve with people worldwide. People want to know that their life has purpose and meaning and this book helped them find it. Many people in the Church have listed this book as the most influential in their life outside of the Bible.

One of the things I’ve learned is that God uses the pain of our past and the struggles that we’ve faced in life to prepare us for our purpose. There are many times I’ve prayed, “God, why do I have to go through this?” Years later, I will come a Ross someone who is struggling as they go through something very similar. I’m able to connect with their pain and help them through it. God doesn’t waste your pain. It has purpose in your mission. In fact, as you continue to go through difficulties, it means there’s still greater purpose for your future. The deeper the pain you go through, the greater grace you receive and are able to impart that grace to others.

In John 15, Jesus was talking to His disciples just before His crucifixion. What He told them applies to you and me. In verse 16 He said, “You have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you and I have appointed and placed and purposefully planted you, so that you would go and bear fruit and keep on bearing, and that your fruit will remain and be lasting” (AMP). God has chosen you and put you right where you are for a reason. It’s not by accident that you’re reading this today and that you are going through whatever circumstances you’re facing right now. It’s part of God’s purpose for you. One of my daily prayers is, “God, help me to have the strength to endure today. Give me your all sufficient grace and help me to give your grace. Open my eyes to see those whom you’ve placed in my path that need to know and feel your love. Give me the courage to step out in faith where you lead as I fulfill your purpose for my life.” Your life has been purposefully created by God for such a time as this. Go make a difference today.

Photo by Tomas Sobek on Unsplash

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Be Courageous

When I was a teenager, the scouting program I was a part of gave us a code to live by. Today, we would call them values statements or core values. One of the eight values was courageous: he is brave in spite of danger, criticism or threats. I didn’t realize then how important that particular one was as a teenager, and even more so as an adult. It taught me to be strong in the face of things when they weren’t going my way or even against me. Being courageous means you don’t run away in those moments. You do what’s right no matter what going on around you.

In the last several chapters of John, Jesus was talking to the disciples on the night before His crucifixion. He was telling them what was about to happen to Him, and also what would happen to them going forward. He wanted them to have peace in the chaos, and to let them know that He was going to send the Holy Spirit as a helper who would live inside of them to combat the outside pressures against them. Then, just before He prayed and went to the Garden of Gethsemane, He said, “For in this unbelieving world you will experience trouble and sorrows, but you must be courageous, for I have conquered the world!” (John 16:33 TPT)

He reminded them, and us, that we are going to experience times when the world is against us. We are going to have troubles and things not go our way, but we are to be courageous. He said these things because He wanted us to look past our current problems knowing that He has already won. We can be brave because whatever we’re facing is not the end and it won’t conquer us because He is in us. We have to keep reminding ourselves of this verse when things look bad or like there’s no tomorrow. We can be courageous in spite of what we’re facing by trusting His promises.

Photo by Jason Strull on Unsplash

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

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. At that point, 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.

Photo by Clay Banks 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

Reshaped Into His Image

A friend of mine has a ministry called Know The Fight. He understands that people feel misunderstood, unwanted and unloved, so he began helping them to tell their stories. What he found was that as he helped them tell their stories, he helped them bridge the gap between them and others. The more people revealed about their hidden wars, the more that others realized they weren’t fighting alone. He creates and shares some amazing videos. On his personal social media, he posts things from hilariously absurd memes to quotes and reminders that will sometimes hit you between the eyes. He posted one of these recently and I wanted to share it here. He wrote, “My anxiety drops when I realize that everything that’s happening to me is to make me more like Christ.”

The more I thought about that, the more I realized how true it’s been in my life. God used some dark days in my life to purge me and to make me more like Christ. When things happen that I don’t understand, I remind myself that He is the potter and I am the clay. I’m sure that the clay doesn’t understand when chunks are taken out of it, when it gets crushed and out back in the middle of the wheel or when it gets hollowed out. I know that I don’t, but looking back on those times in my life, I can see that God was making me more like Himself, removing parts of my life that were holding me back and rebuilding my life to make me more Christ-like. Did those times hurt? More than you may know. When I look back from where God has led me, I’m thankful that He took the time to do those things, painful as they were, so that He could bring me here.

In the Early Church, they faced mass persecution and Paul addresses it a lot reminding people that God was using it to grow them and the Church. In one such exhortation in 2 Thessalonians 1:5, he wrote, “All this trouble is a clear sign that God has decided to make you fit for the Kingdom “ (MSG). I don’t know the hidden war going on within you today, but God does. He gave us the promise in Romans 8:28 that He works all things out for your good. No matter what it is that you’re facing, know that God can use it to make you more Christ-like. You may feel like you’re the only one going through it and no one can relate. While your circumstances may be unique, the pain, the battle and the loneliness are shared by others. God sees you and He is using this time to reshape you more into His image.

Photo by Road Trip with Raj on Unsplash

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Yet I Will Praise Him

If you’ve ever read the book of Job, you may have found yourself feeling sorry for him. There may have been times in your life when you’ve even related to him too. I know I have had those moments. When you go through periods of loss or continuous disappointment, Job is a great book to read. You will find that there’s always someone who has it worse than you, there is purpose in pain and that you can endure anything. I don’t know how many times I’ve read the book, but I can tell you that I’m still amazed when I come to the end of the first chapter. After Job has lost all his livestock, his riches and his children, he doesn’t curse God. He doesn’t cry out, “Why me?” Instead, it says he fell to his knees and worshipped God. He recognized that everything he had came from God, and if God took it all back, he was good with it.

I can honestly say that during my times of great disappointment and loss, that was not my attitude. To stand on rock bottom in life, look up from the hole you’re in and bless God seems unfathomable, yet Job was able to. If he was able to, you and I are to. He made the choice to worship instead of to whine. He chose to bless God instead of to curse Him. He made the choice to recognize everything he had belonged to God and wasn’t a result of His own work. The perspective he had challenges me to readjust and calibrate how I see God and how I react in the bad times. It’s easy to worship when things are going well, but can we worship when everything seems to be going wrong? Can we praise Him when our prayers are unanswered? Can we thank Him when we don’t see a way forward? Can you say, “Even though I’m broken, yet will I praise you”?

Habakkuk 3:17-18 says, “Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!” (NLT) There’s a very similar picture here to the attitude Job had and that we are to have. Joy is not something that is circumstantial. It doesn’t rely on what’s going on around you. Joy looks at where your strength comes from. It looks at who your hope is in. It is defiant in the face of any circumstance you may face, and it says, “My hope is not in al, these things. My hope is in God. No matter what comes my way, I know that my God is able to do exceedingly and abundantly more than I can ask or pray for. Even though things look bad now, yet will I praise God! He is my rock, my fortress and my salvation.” You and I have that same spirit of joy within us. In tough times, activate it and worship. Remind yourself that God is in control, He has a plan and that no matter what happens you will continue to trust and to praise Him.

Photo by Amaury Gutierrez on Unsplash

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized