Tag Archives: pain

When It Rains

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.


A friend of mine, Jonas Woods, recently put out an independent CD called “Tales of the Bittersweet”. It chronicles his faith and struggles over the past couple of years as his wife battled cancer. As I’ve listened to it a couple of times now, I find there’s a lot of honesty in the lyrics he’s written. It’s very relatable to anyone who’s walking through difficult times. In the song “Walking The Line,” it starts off, “I’m trying to connect, trying to make sense of all this mess, trying to get back to a sense of harmony.” It’s normal for each of us to try to make sense of a mess when we are in it. I think it gives us hope if we feel we know the purpose, but rarely do we find out the purpose while we are in a struggle. 

God’s design for our lives is that we walk by faith. If we knew the purpose behind the struggle, we wouldn’t be walking by faith. God expects us to trust Him in the mess and to rely on Him for our strength and hope. However trusting in His plan when we can’t see the outcome is so hard. It’s very much like the way Jonas’ song “When It Rains” puts it, “When you’re running a million miles straight into nothingness, and you only find out the truth when you arrive.” The journey seems long and pointless. It’s hard to keep running when you won’t find the answers until later. It’s hard to keep your head up when it’s raining and few seem to care. 

The chorus of that song is how we should respond. It says, “If you lead me I will follow, you’ve been faithful and true, through all my fear and sorrow, I’ll fight through all the pain, to figure out the reasons that it rains.” God has been faithful throughout each of our lives. When you stop and reflect on the goodness of God, you will see how far He has brought you. You will see that He has never left you in a mess. He has been your sustainer, your provider, your healer, and your guide. It’s not in Him to abandon you in a struggle. It’s not in Him to allow rain in your life without purpose. 

He has given you the tools you need to survive any rain that comes into your life. He has given you the ability to trust Him. When you get more than you can handle (and that happens), it’s your opportunity to rely on His strength. If He only allowed things to come into your life that you could handle, you would never have an opportunity to trust Him. If you had the strength to face each struggle, you would never know what it’s like to fully trust His strength. God allows each of us to experience more than we can handle, and He closes doors without opening windows so that we can grow our faith and trust in Him.

We have to learn to trust in the sufficiency of His grace. The only way we learn that is when we come to the end of our rope and let go. When we give up trying to face struggles and situations in our own strength, we learn how strong He truly is. When we quit relying on our abilities to guide us through problems, we learn what walking by faith is. When you look into the future and can’t see the end to your struggle, learn to look at it from His perspective. There is a purpose to what you’re going through, but it may take years to get the perspective to see it. In the mean time, trust His strength in your weakness when it rains. 

To hear Jonas’ song “When it Rains”, click here

You can also check out more of his music here

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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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Restoring The Broken


Being a father of a boy with toys means that I have to always have superglue on hand. I can’t tell you how many times he’s handed me toys that were broken in pieces. With tears in his eyes, “Can you fix this please?” Sometimes I can do it, and other times I have to tell him that it’s beyond my ability to repair. He doesn’t understand why there are some things that are just too broken and superglue just won’t work.

Like him, many times we have to take the broken pieces of our lives to God and ask Him to fix it. I don’t know if God has some kind of spiritual superglue or what, but I do know that He’s pretty good at taking our broken pieces and putting them back together again. In fact, there’s no life so broken that it’s beyond His ability to repair. He specializes in putting our shattered pieces back together and making our life better than it was. We just have to be willing to hand Him the pieces.

Here are some Bible verses on God repairing our broken pieces and making us whole again.

1. GOD made my life complete when I placed all the pieces before him. When I got my act together, he gave me a fresh start. Now I’m alert to GOD ’s ways; I don’t take God for granted. Every day I review the ways he works; I try not to miss a trick. I feel put back together, and I’m watching my step. GOD rewrote the text of my life when I opened the book of my heart to his eyes.
Psalm 18:20-24 MSG

2. He heals the broken-hearted and bandages their wounds.
Psalm 147:3 GNT

3. A Message from Israel’s GOD -of-the-Angel-Armies: “When I’ve turned everything around and brought my people back, the old expressions will be heard on the streets: ‘ GOD bless you!’… ‘O True Home!’… ‘O Holy Mountain!’ All Judah’s people, whether in town or country, will get along just fine with each other. I’ll refresh tired bodies; I’ll restore tired souls.”
Jeremiah 31:23-25 MSG

4. But because of our sins he was wounded, beaten because of the evil we did. We are healed by the punishment he suffered, made whole by the blows he received.
Isaiah 53:5 GNT

5. For a child has been born—for us! the gift of a son—for us! He’ll take over the running of the world. His names will be: Amazing Counselor, Strong God, Eternal Father, Prince of Wholeness. His ruling authority will grow, and there’ll be no limits to the wholeness he brings. 
Isaiah 9:6 MSG

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Consequences 


When I was little, my mom said, “Don’t touch that. It’s hot.” What did I do? I touched it and got burned. When I got a little older, she said, “Don’t eat mushrooms in the back yard.” What did I do? I fed them to my younger brother and I got spanked. A few years later, she said, “Don’t talk that way.” What did I do? I said a few choice words and got my mouth washed out with a Ivory soap. Each time I disobeyed, I suffered the consequences of those actions whether it was through her punishment or the physical result of disobedience.

In the Garden of Eden, God said, “Don’t eat of that tree in the middle.” What did they do? They ate from the tree and were kicked out of the garden. God gave the Israelites the Ten Commandments. What have we done since? We’ve broken them and suffered the consequences. In my own life, I’ve known what God has said, and I’ve lived in violation of the way He has said to live and I’ve suffered the consequences.

Several years ago, while suffering with the consequences of my choices, God was using them to try to bring me back into right relationship with Him. The more I pushed back, the more it seemed I suffered. I eventually surrendered, but had to live with the consequences. The pain of that time has been a constant reminder to me to follow God’s will and plan. Do I do it all the time? No. I still disobey at times, but those times are getting fewer and I’m learning to repent faster.

All of us face the consequences of our sins. It’s designed to help us remember to obey much like my punishments when I was younger. Psalm 119:71 says, “My suffering was good for me, for it taught me to pay attention to your decrees” (NLT). We don’t like the suffering from our consequences, but it helps us remember in the future to walk in obedience to what God says. God sets life and death before us. Oh that we would obey His Word and choose life. It’s a much less painful route.

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Fruitful In Affliction


Joseph’s adult life was marked by many afflictions and sufferings. His brothers turned on him to kill him. They decided to sell him as a slave, and he was taken to Egypt where he was sold. He worked as a slave until he was falsely accused of raping his master’s wife. After spending many years in prison, he interpreted the dreams of Pharaoh’s cupbearer and baker only to be forgotten. For 13 years his life spun out of control and seemed to be going away from the dream God gave him. 

What he didn’t know was that God was setting him up to fulfill that dream. Through it all, he developed the character necessary to be a leader that would lead a nation through a crisis. We don’t know about the dark nights he must have questioned God. We don’t get to read how hopeless he felt at times. We don’t even get to find out the depth of his affliction, but we know it was there. He went through these things because he was human like us.

We get a sense of it by the names of his children after being made second in command of Egypt. His first son was named Manasseh which means “God has made me forget all my troubles.” The name of his second son is even more telling. Genesis 41:52 says, “And the second he called Ephraim [to be fruitful], For [he said] God has caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction” (AMPC). Not only did God help him to leave the past behind him, He helped him to become fruitful where he suffered.

Whatever pain or suffering that you have endured or are enduring, know that God has not forgotten you. He is fulfilling His plan in your life and will cause you to be fruitful and prosper because of what you are enduring. Even if the pain is unbearable, in time God can help you to forget these troubles like a mom forgets labor pains. The joy that comes after is greater than the pain you endured because life is born. Just as God developed Joseph, He is developing you so you can be fruitful in the land of your affliction.

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Responding To Distress


If you were to take a piece of pottery and a stick of butter into the oven, you’d get two different results. While the pottery would harden, the butter would melt. Even though it’s the same fire, things react differently to it. The same goes for us. Each one of us go through the fires of tribulations and troubles here on earth. Not one of us are exempt from it, but we each respond differently. Even though we have the same physical properties, those fires produce different results in us.

For me, those fires nearly wiped me off the earth. They destroyed everything in my life and left me with nothing. My response was to shut down and check out. I thought, “If I don’t have anything left to live for, why should I live?” Other people who have been through similar fires used it as fuel to get stronger, tougher, and better. They didn’t let it get the best of them. I don’t know that there’s a right or wrong way when it comes to how you respond to distress in your life except when it comes to your spiritual life.

Fires, tribulation and distress should push us closer to God, not away. Those are really the only two options spiritually. You can run to God and become totally dependent on Him or you can turn your back on Him wondering why He let this happen to you. II Corinthians 7:10 says, “Distress that drives us to God does that (produces all gain, not loss). It turns us around. It gets us back in the way of salvation. We never regret that kind of pain. But those who let distress drive them away from God are full of regrets, end up on a deathbed of regrets” (MSG).

In my life, the distress pushed me toward God in the end. It wasn’t until I had nothing left that I told God, “I give up. I can’t do this without you.” That moment sparked a change. Life didn’t get better immediately and not everything was restored right then. It took years, but God has been faithful to me and I don’t regret the pain I went through because it caused me to run back to God. I started off like that butter in the fire, but ended up like the pottery. You can too. Whatever you’re going through, it’s not too late to let it push you to God instead of away.

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Motivated To Change


What do you think is a more powerful motivator, pain or pleasure? If you think pleasure, let me ask you why you’re going to work today instead of going on vacation? It’s because the threat of the pain of losing your house, car, and belongings. The thought of that pain will motivate you to go to work instead of going to the beach. Pain has been proven to be a powerful motivator in humans, and it often causes us to do things differently.

At one point in my life, I wasn’t living how I knew God wanted me to. I did things that He considers evil, and I lived my way on my terms. I received several messages from God through scripture and from others, but I ignored them. I knew the things I was doing were wrong, but lacked the will power to stop. I kept pressing forward against God disregarding the consequences of my actions.

Then, one day, everything in my life started to crash down and implode. God started removing the things in my life to get my attention. If you don’t know, I’m a pretty stubborn person. I was a lot like Jonah. I kept going in the wrong direction despite the raging storm. I waited until all was lost before I decided to toss my selfishness overboard, admit I was wrong, and ask for forgiveness. It’s was very humbling, but effective in getting me to turn my life around.

Proverbs 20:30 says, “Sometimes it takes a painful experience to make us change our ways” (GNT). For me, that’s what it took. God broke me by sending me through so much pain I wanted to end it all. In the end though, I changed paths and now listen when He speaks. I don’t wait for the painful experiences to change the parts of my life He wants changed. Each of us have a choice when God speaks. We can change or we can keep on doing what we are doing. Like a good parent though, He will use whatever is necessary to get us to change our ways depending on how much motivation we need.

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