Tag Archives: problems

Finding Peace In Problems

I remember growing up in church watching people equate hardships to being out of God’s will. There was a family that joined our church’s ministry staff, and they seemed to run into problem after problem. Their car broke down, their house had issues and so on. I remember standing in their living room hearing the father say, “We must have missed God. He’s trying to tell us this isn’t where we’re supposed to be. Otherwise we wouldn’t be having so many issues.” I was shocked. I thought they were a perfect fit for what we needed. They used Jonah as an example of why things were going badly. I could have bought it if they had gone the opposite of where they felt God calling them. I tried to explain that hardships and problems don’t mean you’re not in God’s will.

David was a person whom God had anointed to be king. He was in God’s will as he waited to ascend to the throne. He didn’t try to kill Saul and take it before God gave it to him. Yet, somehow, he was on the run for years. He fled Israel to get away. He had to pretend to be insane so the Philistine king wouldn’t kill him. He then ended up in the cave of Adullum. It was a dark time in his life. 1 Samuel 22:2 says, “Everyone who was suffering hardship, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was discontented gathered to him; and he became captain over them. There were about four hundred men with him” (AMP). Instead of being sent angels or people to comfort him, God sent people who were going through the same thing. That’s not what he pictured when he thought of being king, but that’s what God had in mind to prepare him for the throne.

In that cave, David wrote Psalm 34. Verse 19 is one of my favorites in this chapter. It says, “Many hardships and perplexing circumstances confront the righteous, But the Lord rescues him from them all.” You and I are not promised sunshine and rainbows in God’s will. We’re going to face difficulties. We’re going to be in some dark caves so to speak. God doesn’t promise us a life without hardship and pain. Instead, He promises to rescue us from the cave and those problems. Also, the answer may not look like what you think it should. God knows where we are, what we’re facing and what we need. Cry out to Him, listen for His voice and follow where He leads. His will isn’t a place of perfect peace. It’s a place where we have peace no matter what we’re facing.

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Joy In Pain

In the darkest time of my life, I was so upset and angry I couldn’t eat or sleep for days. In the night, I would lay down, but I couldn’t sleep. As tears rolled down my face, I began to sing a couple of songs I learned as a kid. The first one was “The Joy of the Lord is My Strength,” and the other one was “Rejoice in the Lord Always”. As depression and bitterness we’re trying to make theirselves at home in my mind, I could only combat them with these songs. I knew that I was in a bad situation and that adding in those two things would make things worse. I tried to remember that God knew what I was going through, even if He wasn’t stopping it, and that joy would give me strength to endure anything.

When I was younger, someone once told me that there’s a difference between happiness and joy. Happiness is based on circumstances so it comes and goes based on my condition. Joy is internal and not based on any external situation. It comes from understanding that no matter what my condition is, I’m still loved by Jesus and there is nothing that can separate me from it. When you learn to look at your life through the lens of Jesus’ love rather than your current circumstances, you learn to have a joy that gives you strength no matter what you’re going through.

Psalm 31:7 says, “I will be glad and rejoice because of your constant love. You see my suffering; you know my trouble” (GNT). God is very much aware of your pain, your suffering, your stressful situation or whatever you’re facing, and He knows how to work it our for your good. Even though you can’t see how anything good can come from it right now, keep trusting in His plan and resting in His love. Let joy spring up from within you and turn the ashes of what used to be, or what could have been, into fertile soil for God to do something new and unexpected. His joy will strengthen you and His love will sustain you through whatever comes your way. Keep trusting in His plan.

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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.

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Running To God

What do you do when you’re stressed, under attack or when everything seems to be going wrong? We all have a fight or flight switch in our brain. When it’s to for flight, where do you go? What do you normally do? I tend to close up, get quiet and go to bed early. My body and brain run through every scenario of how to get out of it or resolve the conflict. I expend lots of energy and brain power thinking about it to the point that it consumes me. I know some people whose response is to complain about it looking for sympathy. Others will try to express it in art to help them process everything. We all go to something to help us cope with the situation. Sometimes that thing we run to is a bad habit or an old sin that we just can’t seem to beat.

When David was under attack, he went on the run to other cities and caves. I’ve been to the area in Israel where he would run to. It’s hot there and there’s not much in that area to sustain life. Every time we go through that area, I look up into the mountains looking for caves wondering, “Is that one that David stayed in? Why would he come here?” However, God used his time on the run to refocus his attention back to where it belonged. A mighty warrior like him could easily think his own might was good enough to save himself, but God reminded him that He was his rock, fortress and sure salvation. David’s faith and trust in God grew while he was on the run because he learned to trust in God’s character during those times.

Proverbs 18:10 says, “The name of the Lord is a strong fortress; the godly run to him and are safe” (NLT). The word “name” here actually translates to “the character of God.” Instead of blaming God for our situation, we need to be trusting in His character. To do that, I think about Lamentations 3:22-23. It says, “The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.” I draw comfort from those words knowing that God is not the source of my problems. He’s the source of my refuge and strength from them. He is faithful to grow me through them and to deliver me when the time is right. When troubles come your way, don’t run away from God. Instead run to Him remembering His character that has always sustained you.

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Applying God’s Word

Every once in a while, I’ll see an equation pop up that looks something like 6-1(20+2)÷2=? for people to solve. I like to read the comments to see the heated exchanges of what people think the answer is. You can’t simply work this from left to right. You have to use the acronym PEMDAS (parentheses, exponents, multiplication, division, addition then subtraction) to do it. You can try any number of methods and come up with a lot of different answers, but only one answer is right. The only way to get it is to remember the acronym, “Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally,” and apply it.

Every one of us have problems that show up in our lives. Whether they are complicated or easy, we must approach them through the lens of Scripture. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve made things worse by trying to do it my way instead of God’s. The Bible gives us principles on how to live, how to handle your finances, how to treat others, how to act in a relationship and so much more. If we would apply those principles, we would be more successful in each of them.

2 Timothy 3:14 says, “But you must remain faithful to the things you have been taught” (NLT). Paul was reminding Timothy that it’s not enough to know the right way to do things. You must faithfully apply them. If you’re struggling in an area today, or going through a problem, I want to encourage you to see what God’s Word says about it. Take His Word and faithfully apply it to your situation. You’ll find that it is good for teaching us what is true, showing us what needs to be corrected in our lives and for training us in righteousness (verse 16).

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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.

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Purpose In Problems

It’s easy to believe that God is working things in your favor when things in your life are going right. When things aren’t going according to your plan, it becomes more difficult to believe that. We often see problems and road blocks in our lives as hindrances to God’s plan, but I believe God uses all of them to grow us and to put us on the right path so His plan for our life can be accomplished. God’s plan for our lives rarely takes the path of least resistance.

In the hardest times of my life, I couldn’t see God’s hand working. I was so focused on the pain and the problems that I questioned if God even knew what was going on. I cried out constantly for Him to make it all go away, but He knew what He was doing. He created a raw dependence on Him which led to a deeper, more fulfilling relationship with Him. He understands that hard times bring us closer to Him and make us stronger. In fact, some of His greatest work in our lives happen when we see His hand the least.

Romana 8:28 says, “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them” (NLT). He doesn’t just cause some things to work together. He causes everything in our lives to work together for our good. There is a purpose in problems. There is hope in uncertainty. God is behind the scenes working on your behalf even when we’re blinded by our situation. His plan for our lives will come to pass, and it will be to our benefit. We just have to trust even when we can’t see what He’s doing.

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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.

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Comfort In The Chaos

To me, one of the most comforting promises of God is found in the first two verses of Isaiah 43. God says, “Do not be afraid—I will save you. I have called you by name—you are mine. When you pass through deep waters, I will be with you; your troubles will not overwhelm you. When you pass through fire, you will not be burned; the hard trials that come will not hurt you” (GNT). I can know that whatever mountain I’m facing, trial I’m going through, or difficulty I’m having, God will not let me go through it alone.

This verse reminds me to get rid of fear first. Fear takes my eyes off of my savior and puts them on my problems. Fear makes my problems appear to be bigger than God. It can cripple me and prevent my progress in the middle of a trial I’m called to walk through. It makes me want to give up because the struggle is so difficult. But God does not give me a spirit of fear. He gives me a spirit of power and a sound mind so I can advance through whatever I face.

The next part reminds me that I’m His child. When my own child gets in danger, the first thing I do is shout his name to get his attention. God does that to us. In the midst of our chaos, God calls our name to get us to look to Him. When we’re facing uncertainty and feel like we’re drowning in sorrow, it’s His voice we need to listen for. He reminds us that we are His, and He will not leave us nor abandon us in our times of desperate need.

When I feel like I’m overwhelmed and I can’t seem to find the light of day, I have the promise that God is with me. He is the rock that’s higher than I am when those floods come in and wash me down stream. When everything I’m standing on appears to be sinking sand, He is the rock of my foundation. I know that my life is built on Him, and even though everything else seems to be lost, I can trust that my foundation is sure.

Finally, I can rest knowing that my trials will not hurt me in the long run. I know that God works in all things for my good. Set backs, unanswered prayers, times of darkness in my life, and fiery trials all make me stronger and purify my faith. When I feel like giving up, I remember that there’s no fire great enough to burn me when God is with me. I know He leads me by still waters while protecting me with His rod and staff. I can find comfort in the chaos because He sees me, knows me, and walks through fire with me.

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Throwback Thursday is a 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.

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1 VS. 100

Do you ever get to the point where your problems become overwhelming? There are times and periods in life when I just can’t seem to shake free of a cycle of problems. It depletes my energy and saps my spirit. To stop and look at everything in front of me and see a never ending line of things coming at me can easily leave me feeling depleted. It feels like I’m on that show “1 vs. 100” sometimes, except there’s no cash prize at the end of the line of things I’m facing. What I usually forget during those times is that I’m not facing it alone.

In II Kings 6, the king of Aram was trying to attack Israel, but God kept showing Elisha their plans and Israel averted them. The king was angry and wanted who in his army was the traitor. When someone told him that it was Elisha who was giving away their position and plan, he mobilized his entire army and went to attack Elisha. That next morning, Elisha’s servant woke up and went outside. When he saw an entire army camped against them, he panicked. He was overwhelmed and didn’t know what they would do.

I love Elisha’s response to him in verse 16 when he comes outside and sees the army. He said, “Don’t be afraid! For there are more on our side than on theirs!” (NLT). Then Elisha asked God to open his servant’s eyes, and he saw an army of horses and chariots of fire. The army didn’t defeat Elisha that day because God was on his side. Elisha remained calm under the pressure of being in a 1 vs.100 type situation because he knew that God was with him. He didn’t panic, but instead trusted.

When facing those insurmountable odds, instead of panicking, we need to remember that greater is He who is in us than he who is in the world (I John 4:4). In those moments when I feel overwhelmed and outnumbered by my problems, my prayer is that God would open my eyes to see He’s on my side. I need to know that I’m not going to be defeated and that God has everything under control. It doesn’t matter if it’s 1 vs 100 or 1 vs 1,000,000, when God is on our side, there are more on our side than on theirs!

Photo by Menglong Bao on Unsplash

Throwback Thursday is a 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.

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The Perspective Problem

I love those photos where a person holds their hand out flat and the photographer adjusts to make it look like they’re holding the Eiffel Tower in their hand. I’ve seen it done with just about every landmark. The photos take advantage of perspective. The person is close to the camera while the giant object they’re “holding” is further away. Of course, if the two were right next to each other, you’d see just how large the Eiffel Tower is in comparison. While comparison like this in a photo is fun, when we get things in our life out of perspective, it can be dangerous.

Every one of us will go through difficult times. No one is exempt from trouble or the storms of life. What makes the difference is your perspective. When we go through difficult times, it can feel like God is far away and that He doesn’t care, while our troubles are in our face. In those moments, troubles can seem larger than God. We tend to view God Through the lens of our problems instead of viewing our problems through the lens of God. If we’re going to withstand the storms, we have to learn to change the perspective from which we view them.

Proverbs 10:25 says, “When the storms of life come, the wicked are whirled away, but the godly have a lasting foundation” (NLT). You and I must have a strong foundation of faith to withstand the storms of life. That foundation will help us keep our problems in their proper perspective. God’s desire for each of us is to trust Him no matter what comes. Problems, even when they’re relentless, should build our faith rather than tear it down. Stand firm on the foundation of God’s Word and His character. When you put your problems next to God, you’ll see how big He is in comparison. It’s time to tell your storms how big your God is.

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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.

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Purpose In Problems

It’s easy to believe that God is working things in your favor when things in your life are going right. When things aren’t going according to your plan, it becomes more difficult to believe that. We often see problems and road blocks in our lives as hindrances to God’s plan, but I believe God uses all of them to grow us and to put us on the right path so His plan for our life can be accomplished. God’s plan for our lives rarely takes the path of least resistance.

In the hardest times of my life, I couldn’t see God’s hand working. I was so focused on the pain and the problems that I questioned if God even knew what was going on. I cried out constantly for Him to make it all go away, but He knew what He was doing. He created a raw dependence on Him which led to a deeper, more fulfilling relationship with Him. He understands that hard times bring us closer to Him and make us stronger. In fact, some of His greatest work in our lives happen when we see His hand the least.

Romana 8:28 says, “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them” (NLT). He doesn’t just cause some things to work together. He causes everything in our lives to work together for our good. There is a purpose in problems. There is hope in uncertainty. God is behind the scenes working on your behalf even when we’re blinded by our situation. His plan for our lives will come to pass, and it will be to our benefit. We just have to trust even when we can’t see what He’s doing.

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