Tag Archives: struggles

Sudden Storms

I love the story of Jesus in Mark 4. He had been teaching all day sharing spiritual insights through parables with crowds of people. When He was finished, He told the disciples to get in a boat and head to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. After they had been going a ways, a sudden storm blew in and threatened to sink the boat. In the midst of the chaos and fear, someone realized they needed Jesus and He wasn’t on deck. Verse 38 says, “But Jesus was calmly sleeping in the stern, resting on a cushion” (TPT). In the middle of the storm, Jesus was able to rest because He trusted God.

Most of us aren’t that way. When things are going downhill quickly and everything we hold dear is being threatened to sink, we struggle to rest. Sleep eludes us as our minds think of everything bad that can happen and what we will do if everything heads south. Yet, in this story, we find that Jesus is able to rest. I believe that the rest He was given is a rest that belongs to us. We have to learn that our perception of things is not His reality. Where we look up at the storm in fear, He speaks to it in faith. When we let fear dictate our emotions and steal our rest, we lack the faith to trust His providence for our lives.

Psalm 116:7 says, “Now I can say to myself and to all, ‘Relax and rest, be confident and serene, for the Lord rewards fully those who simply trust in him.’” If you’re uncomfortable speaking to your storms, then speak to yourself. Worry robs us of the strength and rest that God wants us to have. Just because you’re surrounded by turmoil, it doesn’t mean you have to live in it. God gives His children rest and peace, but many times, we have to take hold of it and tell ourselves to take it. Sudden storms that pop up are not a surprise to God. If you will simply trust in Him, He will guide you safely to shore.

Photo by Michael Dam on Unsplash


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Keeping Bitterness Away

I’ve combed through the book of Jeremiah looking for things to learn and grow from. What I found was a man who obeyed God, said what he was supposed to say and was rejected because of it. He was beaten, thrown into a public prison, dumped into a cistern to die, dragged off against his will and called a liar when people didn’t like the messages God gave him. Before he even gave the messages, he knew that the people were going to reject the messages. He even tried to keep quiet at one point, but he said the word of God felt like a fire trapped in his bones until he spoke it.

I can only imagine what he felt. In Lamentations 3:16-19, he described some of it for us. He wrote, “He has made me chew on gravel. He has rolled me in the dust. Peace has been stripped away, and I have forgotten what prosperity is. I cry out, ‘My splendor is gone! Everything I had hoped for from the LORD is lost!’ The thought of my suffering and homelessness is bitter beyond words. I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss” (NLT). Powerful words describing a bitter time.

Even though this period of life was bitter for him, he didn’t become bitter. For me, that’s been one of my goals in life. When times get tough and all hope is lost, find a way to not get bitter through the process. When we have to endure bitter times in our lives, we have a choice. We can dwell on our losses, our disappointments, our failures and our suffering or we can choose to dwell on God’s faithfulness through it all. One choice will make you as bitter as your circumstances and one will give you strength to endure.

Jeremiah chose the latter. In the next few verses he wrote, “Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the LORD never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.” No matter what you’re having to go through, God has been faithful to you and He loves you. Today, concentrate on who He is and what He’s done for you throughout your life instead of your present situation. A smooth life isn’t guaranteed to any of us, but the faithfulness of the Lord has been.

Photo by Greg Rakozy on Unsplash


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The Law Of Grace

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.

One of the things I like to tell people is that the deeper the sorrow or harder the trial, the greater amount of God’s grace you will experience. God gives us grace sufficient for our trials. When Paul was faced with a trial that God wouldn’t remove after much prayer, God spoke to him in II Corinthians 12:9. He said, “My grace (My favor and loving-kindness and mercy) is enough for you [sufficient against any danger and enables you to bear the trouble manfully]” (AMP).

God gives grace, favor, strength, and mercy according to our need. He knows what we are facing and what we need in order to bear the weight of our situation. You’ve heard of Newton’s Third Law, “Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.” To me, it is the Law of God’s Grace. For every force or trial that comes against you, there is an equal amount of Grace to support you. God gives you enough grace to enable you to stand in times of sorrow and tests.

Paul wrote about this Law of God’s Grace in Ephesians 4:7. He said, “Yet grace (God’s unmerited favor) was given to each of us individually [not indiscriminately, but in different ways] in proportion to the measure of Christ’s [rich and bounteous] gift.” Each of us receive a different portion and type of God’s grace according to our need. It is proportionate to our circumstance and is given as a free gift to us. That grace that God gives is tailor made for us because He knows what we are facing and cares for us.

The greater the trial, the greater the grace. I’ve hit rock bottom in my life, but I’ve never found the bottom of God’s grace. It is deeper than anything you or I will ever face. It will always be sufficient to your need. When you go through deep struggles, you get a glimpse of the depths of God’s grace that few people ever do. The longer you endure hardship, the longer you can remain in the crucible, the deeper your knowledge of God will be and the firmer your trust in Him will be. The Law of God’s Grace proves He will not fail you when you need Him most.

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

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Enduring The Storm

Several years ago I lived in Cairo, Egypt. At certain times I would be about my business when I would notice people begin to scurry and panic a bit. I would then turn around to look at the dessert to see a dust storm coming. It would look like a huge brown wall from ground to sky getting bigger as it approached. I was given a warning when I first moved there. I was told that if I ever saw that, take cover and wait it out in a building. If I got caught in it, I wouldn’t be able to see and could get lost or possibly die.

Some storms that come into our lives are like that. They come when we least expect them and they’re blinding. If we don’t act quickly, we can lose sight of where we are going, lose our way, or feel like we’d rather die. These storms that pop up out of nowhere can be very dangerous if we don’t take shelter from them. You never know how long they’ll last, but if you’ve taken shelter in God, you can weather any storm.

Most of the early chapters of Isaiah are about the Lord’s wrath against cities and countries. It’s about destruction that God is going to bring on the ungodly. But in chapter 25, Isaiah begins to praise the Lord for His awesome power and ability to destroy. In verse 4, he reminds us who God is in the storm. He wrote, “But you are a tower of refuge to the poor, O LORD, a tower of refuge to the needy in distress. You are a refuge from the storm and a shelter from the heat” (NLT).

Just like I was able to run into a building when a dust storm was coming, we can find our reprieve in Him. Too many times though, we try to fight the storm in our own strength. We try to weather it on our own. I can tell you that’s very tiring and will wear you out. I’ve tried that strategy. I ended up laid out on my living room floor exhausted from the battle before I cried out to the Lord for shelter. In our own strength we can’t endure very long, but we are stubborn and try.

It takes humility to admit you can’t do it. You can choose to humble yourself and seek God for shelter or the storm can humble you. God would rather we admit up front that there’s nothing we can do on our own to fight the storm. He would rather we admit we can’t do it in our own strength, and that we go to Him for His. Don’t let pride stand in your way and keep you from praying, “Lord, I need you to shelter me from this storm. I can’t endure it on my own. I need your help.” When we humble ourselves, He us faithful and His grace is sufficient to cover you and to help you endure.


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Consistent Christianity 


One of the things I love about the book of Job is that it goes into depth about his thinking during his suffering. So much of the book is him conversing with his wife and friends about his situation. You can feel the pain this man went through as you read it. After his children died and his possessions were stolen, he became very sick. He was covered from head to toe with sores. He felt like trash and that’s just where he went, to the dump.

In Job 6:2-3 he said, “If my misery could be weighed and my troubles be put on the scales, they would outweigh all the sands of the sea” (NLT). He was struggling with the loss of his family, the loss of his stature, and the loss of his health. He was weighed down by everything that had happened in his life, but he was determined not to let it affect his relationship with God. He refused to let his external circumstances dictate what His thoughts about God were.

For me, that’s one of the greatest lessons of Job. Choose to serve God anyway. Don’t let circumstances determine the depth of your faith and trust in God. We cannot be fair weather Christians. We cannot only serve God when things are going well and it’s convenient for us. We also can’t let the only time we run to God be in the bad times. God wants consistent Christianity out of us. He wants us to be in communion and fellowship with Him no matter what is going on in our life.

Consistent Christianity is more than going to church. It’s more than performing rituals and memorized prayers. It’s about taking the time to know who God is for yourself. It’s about having a daily time set aside where you pray and meditate on what God’s Word says. It’s about living your life the way you say you believe. It’s not about being perfect, but holy. It’s not about being a Christian in name only, but in our lifestyle and through the words that we speak. Consistent Christianity is a daily choice to live a life that is different than the world lives.

I Peter 1:15 says, “But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy.” It doesn’t say to only be holy between 9-12 on Sunday’s. It’s a command to be holy in every area of our lives. When we live that way, we can survive what Job survived and more. We can fall to our knees and worship God the way he did because our relationship with God is deeper than any struggle. That’s how we were intended to live.

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Your Victory Has Been Won

We sang a song at church yesterday by Planetshakers. The words are still ringing in my mind this morning. It says, “Hallelujah! You have won the victory. Hallelujah! You have won it all for me.” As we sang it yesterday, I began to wonder, “How many Christians out there need a victory that has already been won for them?” Think about that for a minute. The victory many of us are looking for has already been won. Why do we still walk around defeated?

I see so many Christians who walk around with a defeated attitude. They aren’t walking in the victory that they are supposed to. Everything is doom and gloom. Nothing is going their way. They hang their head down and drudge along. They’ve allowed a culture of defeat to come reign in their life. That is not the life God intended Christians to live. That is not how someone who has had the war won for them should act.

Yes, we go through battles, trials and struggles. We aren’t going to be victorious in every one of them. We may even lose a lot in a row. Don’t confuse losing battles with losing the war. Battles are what we fight through to get to the end of the war. If you knew you were going to win the war in the end, wouldn’t you keep on fighting no matter how bad things looked now?

The person who has never lost a battle has not learned as much as those who have. It’s in our losses and failures that we find better ways to strategize and to grow. It’s in our losses that we get the determination to get back up. Proverbs 24:16 says, “The godly may fall seven times, but they will get up again.” It doesn’t say the godly won’t fall. We will. It’s part of life. It’s part of growth. Its part of what makes us who we are.

When I’m going through a time of multiple defeats, I hang on to Romans 8:37: Despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours (mine) through Christ who loves us (me). I change it a little to personalize it. I make it my own promise from God. You should too. If you’re feeling defeated today, read that scripture again. Out loud. Proclaim it. Louder! Overwhelming victory is yours through Christ who loves you. You are not defeated. You are victorious in Jesus’ name.

You don’t have to walk around with your head down. You don’t have to keep your head down just because you’ve failed or lost a few battles. The war has already been won by Jesus. No matter how bad things get, keep that in mind. You can and will survive this and will be victorious in the end. Walk in victory today through Christ because He has won the victory for you. Hold your head up, child of God. You are victorious.

Click here to listen to that Planetshakers’ song on YouTube.


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Freedom Through Perspective

A co-worker of mine has a drawing on his desk of a bird eating a frog. You can’t see the frog’s head because it’s in the bird’s mouth. With one of his legs that is still outside of the mouth of the bird, the frog grabs the bird by the throat to prevent it from swallowing him. The caption reads, “Never give up!” It’s a funny drawing, but there’s a great message in it too. Most people in that situation would have given up. They can’t see the light of day. They’re being swallowed by their problems. All hope seems lost.

Paul the Apostle was in a similar situation. He was in jail often. His life was always being threatened. He was beat up, stoned, ship wrecked and had to face judges. When things seemed at their worst, he still found a way to praise God. One of my favorite stories of him was when he was in the dungeon of the prison. He was shackled with no hope of getting out. At midnight, he was singing praises to God.

If you’ve never been in a prison before, I can tell you there’s not much reason to be happy. There’s no joy there. Our prisons today have power, sewer, water, air conditioning, TV, food and more. Back then, prison was prison In every sense if the word. There was no hope for anyone that was there. Paul’s hope didn’t rely on his external circumstances though.

He understood that the things that happen to us are only temporary. As he sang, an earthquake shook the prison and the shackles that held him physically released him. His physical body became as free as his spirit. Not only did his shackles come off, but so did those of everyone in the prison. Praise is powerful enough to not only free you, but to free those around you who do not have the strength to praise.

We studied in church this week from the book “Love & Respect” by Dr. Emerson Eggrichs. The chapter we studied was called, “My response is my responsibility”. Even though the book deals with marriage, the principle that was shared applies to all areas of your life. Other people do not control your response. You do. You choose how you respond to situations created by others. They can’t make you do anything. How you react is your responsibility.

Paul’s response to troubles, persecutions, prisons and trials was never one if despair. It was always of hope. In II Corinthians 4:16-18 he says, “So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without His unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times.” He understood, as we should, that the thing we are going through right now is temporary even though it doesn’t feel like it.

When you compare the situation you’re in with eternity, it’s small potatoes. When you compare it to your life and what is temporary, it’s huge. God doesn’t want you to compare your struggles to the things of this world. You’ll lose your perspective and ultimately your joy. Keep your eyes on eternity and what is to come. Your perspective will change and your praise will rise to free you from those chains.

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