Tag Archives: hardship

Keep Moving Forward

2020 was a difficult year for so many. Resolutions that were made were forgotten. Goals that were set were thrown out the window. People’s worlds were turned upside down with the loss of family members, the loss of jobs and the lack of true human connection. It was a year of loss for so many, but I believe that God has a plan and is able to take a year like that and to make something good out of it. The world sees times like that and it produces fear that prevents them from moving forward. As Christians, even if life hits us in the face, knocks us down or blindsides us, we get back up and move forward because we are driven by God’s purpose and led by His Spirit.

I can’t help but think of Job and all he went through. In one day he lost his fortune, his livestock, his servants and his kids. He took a knock out blow from life, but instead of staying down, he worshipped God and kept moving forward. He was then attacked with a terrible skin disease. His wife told him to curse God and die. His friends told him it was a punishment from God because of hidden sin. Even though he wished he would have never been born, he still worshipped God. In Job 17:19, he told his friends, “The righteous keep moving forward, and those with clean hands become stronger and stronger” (NLT). He knew that things happening to him were not because of sin, so he kept getting back up and moving forward.

How do you respond to tough times? Do you let it keep you down or do you get back up? The easy choice is to stay down and to submit to it, but that’s not what God calls us to do. Proverbs 24:16 says that the righteous get knocked down seven times, but they get up again. No matter how many times life knocks us down or what it throws at us, we must get back up and move forward. God has the ability to make all things (including 2020) work together for our good. We have the righteousness of Christ around us that helps us to move forward and to grow stronger through adversity. At all times, in all circumstances, find a way to worship God. It will give you the right perspective and the strength to get back up so you can move forward.

Photo by Wade Austin Ellis on Unsplash

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Hope In Hardship

Going through hardships is part of life, but lately it seems a higher percentage of people are going through them. Financial hardship is one so many of us are facing as the world faces record unemployment. I’ve been to visit several people in recent weeks delivering food and money through our church’s benevolence ministry. I’ve seen the financial hardships up close. As financial hardships increase, so do relational hardships. Couples are struggling being cooped up together 24 hours a day with little to no money and stress is high. Single people face relational hardships and are feeling alone now more than ever.

One thing I’ve learned about hardships in my own life is that they give God an opportunity to shine as we become less independent and more dependent on Him. They produce in us faith that can’t be produced in good times. Also, hardships only last a season. After that, God is able to restore us as we have learned to trust Him more. He has not forgotten you or abandoned you in your hardship. He’s giving you a greater opportunity to experience a depth of His grace as of yet unknown to you. Trust in His strength during your time of hardship and in the sufficiency of His grace. He has never failed you, and He’s not going to start now.

Here are some Bible verses on hardship.

1. 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. You will restore me to even greater honor and comfort me once again.

Psalms 71:20-21 NLT

2. Many hardships and perplexing circumstances confront the righteous, But the LORD rescues him from them all.

Psalms 34:19 AMP

3. And not only this, but [with joy] let us exult in our sufferings and rejoice in our hardships, knowing that hardship (distress, pressure, trouble) produces patient endurance; and endurance, proven character (spiritual maturity); and proven character, hope and confident assurance [of eternal salvation]. Such hope [in God’s promises] never disappoints us, because God’s love has been abundantly poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

Romans 5:3-5 AMP

4. You find God’s favor by deciding to please God even when you endure hardships because of unjust suffering.

1 Peter 2:19 TPT

5. Instead, in everything we do we show that we are God’s servants by patiently enduring troubles, hardships, and difficulties.”

2 Corinthians 6:4 GNT

Photo by Ahmed Hasan on Unsplash

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The Jonah Syndrome

I’ll never forget a minister who came to work at our church when I was younger. They felt that God had called them to our town and our church. Not long after they had uprooted their family from their hometown and moved to ours, things started to go wrong. Their car broke down, the AC in the house went out, etc. It seemed that for a year nothing went right and everything was against them. They concluded that they missed God and weren’t supposed to be there. They resigned and moved back to where they lived before.

I remember talking to them about it, and decided to label it Jonah Syndrome. They believed if bad things were happening, they must have missed God or disobeyed Him. My response was that bad things happen, and that it could be an attack to try to make them ineffective at what God had called them to do. To this day, I believe they didn’t think that bad things happen to people who are in the will of God. Unfortunately, there are a lot of us who believe that. The truth is that we need to get rid of the Jonah Syndrome.

All of the early disciples, and most of the Early Church, suffered hardships. Paul was beaten, shipwrecked, left for dead and had disagreements with the leadership of the Church. Bad things happened to him constantly in the New Testament. He even had one nagging problem that he said was a “thorn in his flesh”. He asked God to resolve and remove the problem, but God didn’t. Instead, in 2 Corinthians 12, He replied to Paul, “My grace is sufficient” (AMP).

I like how Psalm 34:19 says, “Good people suffer many troubles, but the Lord saves them from them all” (GNT). You and I are going to go through suffering and have our own thorns in the flesh. It doesn’t mean we are not in God’s will, it means that we need to learn to trust His grace. Jonah was running from his calling. That’s why he suffered. If you’re trying to do what God called you to and you’re running into troubles, ask God for His grace to help you endure. It could be that you’re on the edge of a breakthrough and the enemy is trying to stop you. Above all, seek God’s wisdom in the matter and trust His answer.

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Restoration From The Depths (Video)

“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.”

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭71:20‬ ‭NLT‬‬

If you’re having trouble viewing this video, click here.

  

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You Are Not Out Of The Fight

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Last night I got to watch “Lone Survivor”. It was a moving experience like I haven’t had in a movie in a long time. When the movie was over, everyone just sat in their seats in silence. You could hear the sniffles from people crying. No one said a word as they exited. It was a very humbling thing to experience that movie. The mental and physical toughness that it took to survive was incredible. Marcus Luttrell, the lone survivor, left me with one phrase from the movie: You are not out of the fight.

I think that’s something each of us can adopt. We are each faced with hardships in our lives. Some are physical, some are mental and some are relational. We reach our breaking point because of our situation. We get pushed to our limits and feel like we can’t go on. We question if we really should, if it’s even worth it. Our faith falls through our hands like sand and we wonder where God is in our problems. We cling to what little hope we can find to survive the next go around. Just when we think we’re free, we start getting hammered again.

If you are breathing, you are not out of the fight. You have the ability to survive. God placed in you a spirit of power, love and a sound mind. You’ll need all three to make sure you are not out of the fight. You need power to stand when that’s all you can do. You need power to push forward when everything in life is trying to pull you backwards. God’s strength is made perfect in your weakness. When you realize you can’t do this on your own, His power, His strength will come in to help you make it.

You need love to give you a reason to live. There are things left in this life for you to experience. There is a new life out there waiting for you and it will only happen if you make it through. Going through hard times helps us to know what’s important in life. All the fluff, the temporary things and the things that don’t matter seem to disappear when hard times come. When all the things that don’t really matter in life are gone, you’re left with those who love you and you can start fresh with things that matter.

Finally, you need a sound mind to stay in the fight. Mental toughness and the will to survive are required. You must win the battle of the mind. That’s why God gives you a sound mind. Control the thoughts that come in and want to talk you into giving in. Bring every thought captive. Put God’s Word in so you have something to meditate on rather than everything that’s going on. If you look at the battle with your own eyes and mind, you’ll give up. If you look at it with the sound mind God gives, you’ll never be out of the fight.

On a side note, I’d like to say, “Thank you” to each of you who have served, are serving or have family in the military. I know thank you will never be enough, but it carries deep weight.

If you’d like to check out the review my friend Wade Bearden wrote on “Lone Survivor” for “Christianity Today”, click here.

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When I Look at a Penny

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I never want to get to the point in my life that I’m too good or have too much that I won’t bend down to pick up a penny. I especially make sure that I pick them up when I’m going through a difficult time. There’s a lot to learn from a penny when you stop and look at it, but most of us toss them aside as worthless. When I look at a penny, I see things in it that help me through tough times.

One of the first things I recognize in a penny is that it costs more to make a penny than it’s worth. The government keeps producing them because they are an integral part of our monetary system in giving back exact change. There are times in my life when I don’t think I’m worth much. When I think of the cross and the price that was paid for me, I realize that it cost more to save me than I’m worth. I then realize that God sees me as worth it and as an integral part of His plan.

I also see on the penny the words “In God We Trust”. Those words are words of comfort in difficult times. They remind me where I need to place my trust when things are too hard to handle on my own. I try to face each trial in my own strength to prove to God that I can handle it. In reality, I feel the trials and tests are there not to test my strength, but my reliance on Him. In difficult times, I can trust in God.

The president that is on the front of the penny is Abraham Lincoln. There’s probably not another president who went through something as difficult as leading a nation divided by civil war. He relied on God to help him navigate that difficult period. One of the quotes I heard that was attributed to him was, “My concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God’s side.” He knew that God’s plan was more important than anything. I can learn a lot from that.

Another thing that stands out to me on the penny is the date. One of the things I like to do when I see the date on a penny is to think back and remember one thing that God did for me that year. When I recount the blessings of what God has done in my past, it gives me hope and strength that He’ll do it again. God has been faithful in my life. I just need to take the time to remember it. When I do that, my confidence in Him is bolstered and I know with Him I can face whatever comes my way.

I know there’s a lot more on a penny than what I mentioned here. You may not have looked at a penny the way I do. I see a lot of value in it beyond what it’s worth because of what it reminds me of. When God looks at you, He sees the same thing. He sees value beyond what you think you’re worth. He sees someone worth dying for. He sees someone worth spending eternity with. He sees what no one else sees, smiles and picks you up when others have discarded you. That’s what I see when I look at a penny. What do you see?

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