Tag Archives: Trials

Times Of Rain

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.

Rain is something we need, but don’t really want. We’ve given it a negative connotation too. It started when we were children singing the song, “Rain, Rain, go away. Come again another day.” Rain disrupts the times of sunshine and happiness that we feel. When it’s rainy outside, we say it’s gloomy. We think of the gray clouds and associate them with depression. Rain changes our path, our timing and our plans. It messes things up for us so we resist it. We forget that rain is a necessary part of life. We forget all the good that it does.

I’ve got several friends right now who are experiencing rain in their lives. Several friends have had loved ones pass away unexpectedly. I’ve got a couple of friends who can’t seem to find a job. I’ve got a few friends whose lives have been turned upside down because of choices their spouse made. For them, it seems like the rain just keeps coming. It feels like their lives are being flooded with only negative things. As I’ve thought about all their situations, Matthew 5:45 came to mind. It says, “It rains on the just and the unjust.”

I’ve read or heard that scripture my whole life. I was always under the impression that it meant that bad things happen to Christians and non Christians alike because I associated rain with bad times. When I read it in context and then in several versions and interpretations of the original Greek, the Message Bible stood out. It said, “This is what God does. He gives His best – the sun to warm and the rain to nourish – to everyone regardless.” The times of rain in our lives are meant to nourish us. Just like our yards, lakes and crops need rain for nourishment, so do our lives. 

When bad things happen, it usually pushes us closer go God. We spend more time in prayer. We take the time to talk to God and to read His Word to try to find answers. Days of sunshine rarely push us to spend time with God, but rain does. When we go a long time without rain or without spending time with a God, we go through a drought and that isn’t healthy. If you’re going through times of rain in your life right now, don’t pray for it to go away. Instead thank God for the nourishment and for the shelter He provides

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How To Fight Impossible Battles


In II Chronicles 20, a huge army invaded southern Israel. The king and all the people were terrified because they defeated several strongholds easily. He begged God for help and asked others to pray with him. It sounds a lot like any one of us when we are facing something that seems impossible to beat. Fear is our first response, then we beg God for help. I believe what follows in this story is something we can all learn from in these moments in life. 

The first thing that happened was King Jehoshaphat got like minded people together, fasted and prayed. We are not to fight these battles alone. Fear’s goal is to intimidate you and to push you into seclusion. Don’t let it! There is strength in numbers and in fasting. Get a group of people around you who can fight on their knees and touch God for you. This first step is critical if you’re going to win an impossible battle.

In verses 15-17, God answered those praying. The Word of the Lord came back saying, “Do not be afraid! Don’t be discouraged by this mighty army, for the battle is not yours, but God’s” (NLT). Things only seem impossible when God is not in the equation. The battles we face are not our own, but they are God’s. We don’t have to be afraid or discouraged at the sheer impossibility of anything that comes our way because God goes before us.

As the army of Israel approached the battlefield, Jehoshaphat spoke in verse 20 and reminded them, “Believe in the Lord your God, and you will be able to stand firm. Believe in His prophets and you will succeed.” Faith will help us to stand firm when standing is all we can do. We can trust in God, and in His Word, to get the courage to keep standing in the face of impossibilities. Sometimes we have to remind ourselves to continue to trust God and His Word so we can see the victory.

Finally, the king appointed singers to praise God and he sent them out in front. At the very moment they began to sing, the Lord gave victory. We need to be able to praise God in advance of victory. We need to honor Him when all else seems to be going wrong. Praise is powerful. It activates our faith and moves our God. If you can’t find it in you to praise, play praise music until you do. Victory is dependent on God, not us. We can praise Him for that. Our impossible battles are no match for a God who says all things are possible. 

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Know Peace


When I was younger, there was a bumper sticker that was pretty popular among Christians. It read, “No God, no peace. Know God, know peace.” I loved the word play there, but I loved the message even more. So many of us struggle trying to find internal peace. We want our chaotic lives and busy minds to find peace. We want the rest that peace brings because a lack of peace in our lives is tiresome.

Each night, I pray over my family that God would give us peace in our hearts and in our minds. I pray that our home would be a place where peace dwells. I know personally the importance of having that peace and a place of peace. I’ve found that we can have peace in our storms, our trials, and in chaos. It starts with knowing God and trusting that He is in control. Once you arrive at that place, you will find peace.

Here are some Bible verses on peace.

1. But give great joy to those who came to my defense. Let them continually say, “Great is the LORD, who delights in blessing his servant with peace!”
Psalms 35:27 NLT

2. Don’t worry about anything, but in all your prayers ask God for what you need, always asking him with a thankful heart. And God’s peace, which is far beyond human understanding, will keep your hearts and minds safe in union with Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6-7 GNT

3. Peace I leave with you; My [own] peace I now give and bequeath to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. [Stop allowing yourselves to be agitated and disturbed; and do not permit yourselves to be fearful and intimidated and cowardly and unsettled.]
John 14:27 AMPC

4. I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.
John 16:33 NLT

5. But the fruit of the [Holy] Spirit [the work which His presence within accomplishes] is love, joy (gladness), peace, patience (an even temper, forbearance), kindness, goodness (benevolence), faithfulness, Gentleness (meekness, humility), self-control (self-restraint, continence). Against such things there is no law [that can bring a charge].
Galatians 5:22-23 AMPC

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Losing To Win


Several years ago, when things were going downhill in my life, I started to get upset at God. I was losing everything. Several friends had abandoned me during the process. I lost my business, had a vehicle repossessed, lost my business, and had to file for bankruptcy. I cried out, “God, where are you?!? Why are you letting this happen to me? Have you abandoned me? Don’t you care that I’m losing everything?” I didn’t get an answer and I continued to lose more until I had nothing left to lose.

I didn’t think God was there in those moments. Every once in a while though, my friend and Sunday School teacher, would say, “Chris, I believe God wants me to say this to you…” While those messages were encouraging, and I believed they were from God, I wasn’t personally hearing from Him. I was doing my best to keep from getting bitter towards Him because I felt abandoned and was upset over everything I had lost. What I couldn’t see, was what I was really losing though. 

I realized later that I didn’t just lose a bunch of material things and relationships, I lost my pride. God used that time to strip me of pride that was keeping me from a deep relationship with Him. I also lost my dependence on my self. Somehow I thought that everything I had in life, I had earned on my own. I forgot that God was my source and Jehovah Jireh. Through all of that, I gained a deeper faith and a dependence on God to be who He wanted to be in my life. I just couldn’t see it when I was losing the things that I thought mattered.

I Peter 4:12-13 says, “Friends, when life gets really difficult, don’t jump to the conclusion that God isn’t on the job. Instead, be glad that you are in the very thick of what Christ experienced. This is a spiritual refining process, with glory just around the corner” (MSG). God uses difficult times to refine us. When they come, the dross in our life floats to the top and is skimmed off by God. What’s left over is pure gold. If you’re in the thick of it now, don’t quit or think God doesn’t care. He’s refining you and cleaning out the things in your life that are keeping you from Him.

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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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The Greatest Gift


Since it’s Christmas time, I have a question for you. What’s the best gift you ever received? Some of you might say a ring, or a car, or a bike, or a child. Each of us will have different answers depending on where we are in life, but I’m pretty sure that none of you said that going through difficult times was the greatest gift you ever got. However, looking back on your life, and seeing how that dark time made you into who you are today, you might want to reconsider. Yes, I’m suggesting your darkest days could be the greatest gift you’ve ever received. 

Most of us think of those times, and try to put them behind us, or pretend that they never existed. But I believe God uses those times to move us into position for our future, to develop in us the qualities of character necessary for the future He has for us, and to grow our faith in Him. James 1:2-4 says, “Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way” (MSG).

Those final sentences are tough for us to hear. When we are in a trial or test, we want them to end quickly. We pray and beg God to get us out of them. When we do get out of them early, the work is unfinished that He was trying to do. In Max Lucado’s book “The Anvil”, he writes that of God has you in these times, rejoice. It means He still thinks you’re worth reshaping. He hasn’t discarded you as useless and put you with the other tools the He no longer uses.

If you happen to be going through one of these times right now, I’d like you to look at the next verse in James. It says, “If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get his help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it.” God will be there to help you through instead of out of it. Pray for His help, but also pray to ask Him to develop in you what He needs to during this time. Right now it may not seem like a gift, but what God does in us during the hardest times is often one of He greatest gifts He gives. 

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How To Keep 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 Lamentations 3:21-23 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. 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 love and faithfulness of the Lord is.

Sing this hymn to yourself today to help you remember:

Great is Thy faithfulness! 

Great is Thy faithfulness! 

Morning by morning new mercies I see. 

All I have needed Thy hand hath provided,

Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

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