Tag Archives: trouble

Hard Knocks University

When people ask where I went to school, I often say, “Hard Knocks University.” For the longest time, it seemed that life kept knocking me down. No matter what I did, I couldn’t gain ground. In fact, it felt like the bottom kept falling out from underneath me. I learned that the only way to fail Hard Knocks University is to quit. I also learned that the only way to graduate was to get closer to God. The troubles we face in life can either make us bitter or better. We get to choose by how we respond when we keep getting knocked down.

For me, I let it push me closer to God. I found myself praying more asking God for the wisdom to make better decisions. I also started reading the Bible more. I knew there were principles in it that could help with the things I was facing, so I began to consume the Bible looking for answers. What I got was a deeper relationship with God and the promise that He wouldn’t abandon me in my troubles. I began to put my focus on Him instead of my problems, and then I began telling my problems about Him instead of the other way around.

The Psalmist must have graduated Hard Knocks University too. Psalm 119:71 says, “My troubles turned out for the best – they forced me to learn your textbook” (MSG). If you’re in the toughest school around, let it draw you closer to God and His textbook. He probably won’t take the troubles away as quick as you like, but you are guaranteed that He will walk through them with you. Failure can’t be an option, and you don’t want to keep taking the same course. If you want to graduate, you’re going to have to read the textbook. I recommend you start with a chapter in Proverbs each day to get the wisdom you need.

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

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Facing Trouble


Have you ever been in a period of life where nothing went right? No matter what you did or where you went, troubles followed you. I’ve had times like that, so my heart goes out to people who just can’t seem to catch a break. Sometimes it’s just the result of many decisions they’ve made along the way. Other times it’s just the result of Murphy’s Law. Either way, God cares, He wants to rescue you and He wants to grow you.

David seemed to go through these periods often. If you read the Psalms, there are a great many of them where he’s feeling down because of everything that’s going on. In those times, he made sure he prayed for help from God, and he reminded himself to keep trusting God no matter what. Even if we pray about our situation, sometimes we need those mental reminders that God hears us and He’s on His way to help us.

Here are some Bible verses on going through trouble 

1. The righteous person faces many troubles, but the Lord comes to the rescue each time.
Psalms 34:19 NLT

2. The righteous is rescued from trouble, And the wicked takes his place.
PROVERBS 11:8 AMP

3. Disciples so often get into trouble; still, GOD is there every time.
Psalm 34:19 MSG

4. 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. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.
James 1:2-4 NLT

5. We also boast of our troubles, because we know that trouble produces endurance, endurance brings God’s approval, and his approval creates hope. This hope does not disappoint us, for God has poured out his love into our hearts by means of the Holy Spirit, who is God’s gift to us.
Romans 5:3-5 GNT

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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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Storm Survival

  
When I was in high school, one of my teachers was trying to help us understand the difference in the speed of light versus the speed of sound. He used a storm as an example. We see lightening flash and then a few seconds later, we hear the thunder. By our calculations, if there were 5 seconds between the lightening and the thunder, the lightening was a mile away. The closer the sound was to the lightening the closer it was.I still find myself counting the seconds between them during a storm.

Storms can be scary. The flashing lightening, the thunder, the wind, the rain, and possible floods. The storms of life can be scary too. They can knock us off our path, disorient us, confuse us, challenge our faith, and be relentless. For most of us, that’s when we seek God the most. Our prayers are quick like lightening, but God’s answers seem slow like thunder. It seems the farther we are away from Him, the longer it takes to hear His answer.

While we are waiting for an answer from God, we begin to think we are in the storm alone. The longer it takes, the more our faith takes a hit. It can be terrifying to be in a storm that doesn’t seem to end. As we watch everything we’ve worked for get swept away by rising waters, we wonder where God is. We wonder why has He abandoned us or forgotten us. The truth is that He hasn’t abandoned you. He hasn’t turned away from you.

Psalm 81:7 says, “When you were in trouble, you called to me, and I saved you. From my hiding place in the storm, I answered you” (GNT). This verse reminds me that God is in the storm with me. I may not be able to see Him. I may not be able to feel Him. His answers may seem slow, but He is there with me and He will save me. This verse helps me to get my thoughts off of my abandonment issues and onto the truth that God is there with me.

It’s important to win the battle of the mind in a storm. We must remember Philippians 4:8 that tells us to think on things that are true. What’s true is God has not abandoned you. God did not bring you into this place to let you drown. God is working things out for your good even when it doesn’t look like it. Storms always end at some point. You are more than a conqueror through Him. So don’t get discouraged. Get your mind right, call out to God in the storm, and He will answer you from within it.

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Choose Joy

  
I’ve been a sales trainer for a few years, and one thing has been consistent. When most 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 be 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 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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Fight Or Flight

  
When things go wrong and your world starts to fall apart, it seems everyone is full of advice on where to go and what to do. David faced something similar in Psalm 11. His response was, “I trust in the Lord for protection” (NLT). They thought he should take flight to the mountains for protection. They painted a picture of a world that was collapsing and wanted him to trust in something else for protection instead of God.

David again responded in verse 4, “But the LORD is in his holy Temple; the LORD still rules from heaven. He watches everyone closely, examining every person on earth.” He knew that no matter what comes our way, God is still on His throne in Heaven. He is still in charge of everything, and nothing happens without His knowledge. David didn’t allow the circumstances around him to move Him from a place of security with the Lord.

When things get hairy, if we don’t take flight, our other natural instinct is to fight. David found his peace in knowing that the Lord provided his protection and that kept him from making the mistake of fighting or taking flight. He knew that God would fight on his behalf. Verse 6 says, “He (God) will rain down blazing coals and burning sulfur on the wicked, punishing them with scorching winds.” The Lord vindicates the righteous and fights for them.

The next time you find yourself in a situation where you want to fight or take flight, find your peace in trusting God for your protection. Don’t listen to those who would coax you out of that secure place. The only real protection we have is in the Lord. Other options may sound like a good idea in the heat of the moment, so decide now that you won’t take flight from the Lord’s protection or fight a fight that is His.

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Building Up Your Inner Self

One thing I know is for certain: Life happens. The comedian Mark Lowry asked the question, “What is life?” He then responded, “Life is a series of emotions, a mountain after a valley, a wife to feed, a husband to clothe, children to raise, a boss to put up with, car notes, taxes, April 15th. Life is life. Christ said, ‘I’ve come to give you life…. more abundant!” He shared that as believers, we aren’t exempt from the things life brings. In fact, we might experience more of it. Our mountains seem to be higher and our valleys lower. It’s important in those times that you have the inner strength to endure what life throws at you.

Jude 1:20-21 says, “But you, dear friends, carefully build yourselves up in this most holy faith, by praying in the Holy Spirit, staying at the center of God’s love, keeping your arms open and outstretched. (MSG)” Jude knew we would experience life and he told us to pray in the Holy Spirit. Building your self up to withstand what life brings starts with prayer because prayer keeps us centered with God. It keeps our eyes off of how big our problems are and on how big our God is. In those times, we can keep our arms stretched out in prayer for balance instead of pulled tightly to our side ready for the fall.

Another thing we can do to strengthen our inner man is to have others pray for us. Letting others know that you’re struggling is not a sign of weakness. There are times when we lack the fortitude to face alone what life throws at us. We need other believers who can pray like Paul did for the Ephesian Church in Ephesians 3:16. He said, “I pray that from His (God’s) glorious, unlimited resources He will empower you with inner strength from His Spirit. (NLT)” Have other believers pray that God would give you strength to endure. When you don’t have the strength to lift your head to Heaven, others do. Allow them to stand in the gap for you.

Finally, remember what God has done for you in the past. Thinking of the times that God has brought you through already will build up your inner strength to get through life’s problems. In Psalm 42:6, the psalmist said, “My soul is downcast within me; therefore I will remember you. (NIV)” He then finishes the Psalm talking to himself saying, “Put your hope in God.” He is the source of our inner strength and in times of weakness, His strength is made perfect. He hasn’t failed you yet and He won’t start now. 

You may not be able to see past what life has in front of you right now, but God can. You may not have the strength to endure it, but God can give it to you. When the waves keep crashing against you, when the valley seems too dark and you’re emotionally drained, God is right there with you. His Word will be a lamp to your feet and light to your path. His presence will surround you in the chaos and give you peace where there is none. You can be centered in Him in the middle of life’s biggest storms because of prayer and hope. Don’t let go. Remember the God you serves I’ll give you strength to endure. 

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