Tag Archives: hard times

May 4; Momentary, Light Affliction

Psalm 44, 60, 108, 124; 2 Samuel 8:9-14, 23:18-19; I Chronicles 11:20-21, 18:9-13

Why do bad things happen to good people? Why aren’t all Christians living long and healthy lives in the lap of luxury? Does God abandon His people, even those who love and obey Him? Are there times God goes on vacation, or sleeps, and isn’t aware of what His children are going through? It may seem that way to some.

It seemed that way to David. But we are wrong to judge God according to how we feel. We are to trust Him for who HE IS.

If Jesus had gone to the cross in order to make our lives comfortable, bad things would never happen to Christians. Do you think that was Jesus’ motivating factor for enduring the awful beatings and painful death? When He was hanging there, do you think He thought, “Well, at least Suzie will get that job promotion in 2019, and Johnny will get that house on the ocean, and Ellen won’t get cancer?” Was His goal to make His children healthy, wealthy, successful, and happy?

Of course not!

Then why do we get upset with God when we go through hard times? He never said we wouldn’t. Why do we blame God for a cancer diagnosis, or the loss of a job? If anything, Jesus promised life would be hard for us. Do we think He was talking about everyone BUT us?

David gives us a bit of insight as to why God allows those hard times, unfair treatment, suffering. “Yet for Your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” (Psalm 44:22)

Jesus died on the cross to save sinners. And His power can be seen in the lives of His children, even when those children struggle. Maybe especially when His children struggle.

Consider what Paul had to say on the subject. Take a minute and read 2 Corinthians 4. Paul, who suffered more than most of us, considered the beatings, imprisonment, exhaustion, and persecution, “momentary, light affliction…” for the privilege of knowing Christ. Wow.

God doesn’t want us to love Him because He can make us comfortable. God wants us to love Him because HE IS. And God wants to reveal Himself through each of us in a way that will draw people to Him. Is how you are going through those devastating circumstances making people want God in their lives, too?

I’m sure we all know people who are living this truth. I have a friend whose husband was paralyzed years ago in a motorcycle accident. The faith and love of God in this couple is powerful. I have another friend whose husband had a debilitating stroke a year ago. She shines Jesus every day. There is a blogger friend of mine who has lived with ALS for 20 years. He continues to minister to people all over the world in Jesus’ name. Real life people, struggling in this lifetime, and still allowing God to use them for His glory.

Are you struggling? I pray you can embrace the struggle. James tells us to consider it joy when we face trials. Can you do that? Understand that God wants to show off in our circumstances. He wants everyone around you to see His strength and power and love through you. What we are facing is momentary and light if we know Jesus as our Savior. Because we have an eternity with God to look forward to.

And we have the privilege of being His light to a very dark world. Even in our struggles. What are you willing to endure for His sake? What was Jesus willing to endure for yours?

 

March 23; Make It Count

Psalm 90; Deuteronomy 32

What are you doing today? Myself, I am cleaning my house. My nephew and his sweet family are coming for a visit next week. So today I’ll be scrubbing floors, cleaning bathrooms, changing sheets, and dusting about an inch of dust from my shelves. If my back makes it through today, I’m gonna sleep pretty good tonight!

So, what are your plans? What did you do yesterday? I trust you plan to go to church tomorrow. What about tomorrow afternoon? How are you going to fill your day?

Reading Moses’ prayer in Psalm 90 and his song in Deuteronomy 32, I am challenged to make today count. Moses doesn’t sugar-coat it. Life is not easy. Death is inevitable.

The length of your days is seventy years – eighty if we have the strength; yet their span is but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away. (Psalm 90:10)

I’m closer to that “span” than I care to admit. Oh, I’m reminded every day I’ve put a lot of miles on this body the past six decades. But my mind is a bit slower to accept the fact I am no longer young. Years have gone by without me even realizing it. Then I read what Moses says in verse 12:

Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

He didn’t say number our years. Number our days. Every day. I’ve heard it said we should learn to live in the moment. I kind of think that’s what Moses is talking about here. Every day counts for something. God is working in our lives every day. Why would we want to miss seeing that? There must be wisdom in recognizing the importance of each and every day.

Moses tells us life is full of trouble and sorrow. But he also says:

Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days. (verse 14)

ALL our days. Not just the days of our youth. Not just the good days. All of them.

Listen to the next verse:

Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us, for as many years as we have seen trouble.

Doesn’t that seem like an odd request? Make us glad for the bad times? Does Moses suggest we be glad when we struggle, when we hurt, when we are beat up and exhausted? Why would he say that?

May your deeds be shown to your servants, your splendor to their children. (verse 16)

I bet you know what he’s talking about. Those times when you were hurting, and at the end of your ropes, feeling hopeless and lost. Then God shows Himself in that amazingly personal way of His. Or when you were going through that difficult situation, but continued to be filled with the joy of the Lord. What did your experience say to your children about God?

Moses reminds us to be thankful for the opportunity to let God show off through our circumstances. When we are weak, He is strong. The battle is the Lord’s. He promises to never leave or forsake us. And we can know that He does all things well.

God has given us this day, March 23, 2019. We are not promised tomorrow. Let’s determine to make today count for eternity.

May the favor of the Lord our God rest upon us; establish the work of our hands for us – yes, establish the work of our hands. (verse 17)

 

 

January 21; Something Amazing

Genesis 22-24

I’m going out on a limb here. Scripture doesn’t tell us what Abraham was thinking as he and Isaac made their way up the mountain where God had ordered Abraham to sacrifice his son. Was Abraham sad, resentful, confused, panicked? We don’t know for sure.

Except there is a bit of a hint into Abraham’s heart. At some point, Abraham told his servants to stay put, that he and Isaac were going ahead to make the sacrifice, then “we will come back to you.” (21:5) It sounds like Abraham fully intended to sacrifice his son, then return with his son.

So here’s the limb I’m speaking from today. I wonder, as Abraham and Isaac were heading for the mountain, with all the emotions flooding Abraham’s soul, was there a bit of excitement and anticipation?

Here’s what we know: 1) God promised Isaac would be the father of a great many people, 2) At this point Isaac had zero children, 3) Abraham believed God.

I’m sure Abraham had no idea how God was going to accomplish this. But I think Abraham might have been excited to see God do His thing. Would God raise a dead Isaac to life right in front of his eyes? Would Isaac be sacrificed and somehow not die? Abraham couldn’t be sure about the details. But Abraham was sure he’d be taking a living Isaac home with him when all was said and done. (my thoughts only. Scripture does not say)

Sometimes God asks us to do the impossible. Some of you are going through very tough, impossible circumstances, and God is asking you to trust Him. God might be nudging some of you to change careers, teach a Sunday School class, report a crime, take a stand, and you think it’s too much. He might as well be asking you to sacrifice your only son.

Here’s what I think God would have us consider today: be excited, knowing you are about to see God do something amazing. You can’t see how. But, doesn’t Scripture tell us ALL things work together for the good of those who love God? (Romans 8:28)

ALL things?

What about the debilitating stroke the husband of my friend had last summer? What about the cancer diagnosis another friend has received the second year in a row? What about an unfaithful spouse, or a wayward child, or the loss of income, or the death of a loved one? How can any of that come out for the good?

I don’t know.

But God said it, and if you are His child you can trust it. ALL things.

If you are going through a difficult situation, I’m not going to tell you how to feel. Well, maybe I am. Go ahead and feel afraid, or angry, or hurt, or whatever you have to feel. That’s between you and God.

But here’s my challenge: in the midst of it all, allow yourself to be excited, too. Because you are in a position to see God do something truly amazing.

Heavenly Father, I want to pray for any who are reading this today who are facing those tough situations. I pray for hurting people, people who are mourning the loss of a loved one, people who are sick, weary, alone, afraid. I pray that they will look to You, look forward to whatever it is You are going to do in their trial, because Your Word tells us You work out everything for the good of those who love You. I pray that, even while carrying their burden, they will look forward with excitement, knowing You are going to do something amazing in their lives.

January 8; Ask Away

Job 11-14

I don’t think it’s a sin to ask God “why” when bad things happen or when things happen we don’t understand. I think crying out, “Where are you, God?” is often a natural response to grief. Job had a lot of questions of God. Some of which I’ve asked God myself.

But remember, this book is not just about suffering. It’s about worship. And in the midst of pleading with God for answers, Job said:

“Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him; I will surely defend my ways to his face.” (13:15)

Job knew where to place his hope, even when the answers weren’t coming.

In fact, in chapter 14, Job declares that even if he doesn’t get his answers in this life, this life is not the end. And Job would rather place his hope in the Righteous Judge, than in the wisdom of his friends.

Do you have questions for God? Ask away. Then remember, you can do something Job could not do. Open your Bible. Read what Job longed to hear – the Word of the Lord. I know without a doubt, every answer you need to know is in there. And if you have a question God doesn’t answer this side of heaven, worship Him anyway. Love Him anyway. Obey Him anyway.

He is God. He is fair, and right, and good. And if He doesn’t think you need to know the “why” of something, trust Him anyway. You might not get the answer you think you need. But He will give you Himself. Sometimes that’s all you need to know.

January 5; What Is Your Answer?

Job 1-3

Job was the George Bailey of the ancient world. He was “the richest man in town.” Sure, he had wealth. But he was also rich in family, friends, prestige, reputation. He had it all.

And he lost it all.

The book of Job has many lessons for us concerning suffering. Who hasn’t wished at some time or another, that they’d never been born? Life is hard. Loss is painful. And sometimes things happen that we’re convinced we just don’t deserve. Job will have a lot to say about that in the next few days.

But I don’t think suffering is the main theme in this book. If you look at chapter 1, Satan is suggesting that people only worship God when they are blessed by Him; only when the bills are paid, and they get a good report from the doctor. Satan is still suggesting that.

And sadly, we often equate health and wealth with God’s blessings yet today.

Not that God doesn’t sometimes bless us with those things, but I think the main theme in the book of Job is worship. The issue at hand is, “Is God worthy of worshiping even when times are hard and we feel abandoned by Him? Or, is God only worth worshiping on good days?”

You probably know Job’s reaction to the news that his livestock and slaves were gone, and all his children were dead. He heard of one disaster after another, then another, and another. It was too much. He fell to the ground and said these words:

Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised. (1:21, emphasis mine)

In the first throws of unimaginable grief, Job praised the Lord. And we will find that…

In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing. (1:22)

I think the main theme of Job is the question, “Is God worth it?” And that’s the question I’d encourage you to answer for yourself today. Does God deserve your worship regardless of your situation or your feelings? Does He deserve your worship when you aren’t getting the answers you think you need? Do you use worship as a bargaining tool to get what you want?

Friend, the truth of the matter is, God deserves our worship for the simple fact that HE IS.

Job won’t be happy about his situation. Job will ask some hard question of God. Job probably didn’t “feel” like worshiping God in the midst of his pain. But in all this Job will not sin, he will not turn His back on God or deny God. Job will worship God despite his circumstances.

And so should we. Because God is worth it. Do you believe that?

What is your answer?

Habakkuk; Wait For It…

The prophet understands that God must punish sin. “But come on, God. How long? How long are You going to let me cry out, and You not answer? How long are you going to make me look at the evil in this world, the unfair treatment of Your people while the wicked go on their merry way, and prosper?”

God answers Habakkuk: “Wait for it! You’re not even going to believe what I’m going to do.”

Then Habakkuk replies, “Ok. If You say so. I’ll stand my watch.”

God continues to talk to the prophet and gives him a glimpse at what is ahead for the wicked. There is a series of “Woe to’s” that reaffirm that God’s got this. In God’s timing, evil will be addressed, severely addressed. No one is getting away with any wrong-doing. So Habakkuk takes God at His word. (which probably is a good idea for all of us)

But Habakkuk asks God for one thing: “Lord, while you are allowing your people to go through this storm – have mercy.” (3:2) And then this:

Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights. (3:17-19a)

We should not be surprised when we are faced with trials. We deserve much worse than anything we’ve had to face, or will face in this lifetime. We can let those hard situations break us, cause us to turn from God and make us bitter. Or we can take God at His word… Wait for it.

Wait for Him.

I imagine many of you can attest to times when God gave you supernatural strength to face a tough thing with confidence and joy. I imagine you can share times when God lifted you above the situation and gave You peace in the storm, when He gave you the “feet of a deer” to keep you moving through the valley of the shadow of death.

God uses difficult times to refine His children, to drive us to our knees so that we depend only on Him and find He is all we need. God uses difficult times to discipline His children, to punish the sin of the wicked, to reveal Himself through our examples.

May God show us mercy by being our Comfort and Strength when life seems unbearable. And may we, like Habakkuk, rejoice in the Lord, in God our Savior.

Then, wait for it. You’re not even going to believe what He has in store.

 

 

Psalms 56-61; Praising in the Pit

How do you pray when life seems unbearable? Or do you?

We all know David’s life was hard. I mean, he lived for years in caves, hiding from Saul who pursued him relentlessly in order to kill him. David never knew who he could trust. He was alone and tired, frustrated and discouraged. In 57:4 he describes his life like this:

I am in the midst of lions; I lie among ravenous beasts — men whose teeth are spears and arrows, whose tongues are sharp swords.

But then, in the very next verse David says these words:

Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth.

Is that your experience? Or on those days when you feel like you’re lying among ravenous beasts, do you stop praying and just focus on the beasts? Do you sit in your cave and feel sorry for yourself? Do you watch other people who don’t have your problems and ask yourself, “Why me?”

Why not take a suggestion from David’s example?

When I am afraid, I will trust in You. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me? (56:3-4)

O my Strength, I sing praise to you; you, O God, are my fortress, my loving God. (59:17)

For great is your love, reaching to the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies. (57:10)

You may be in the pit of despair, but God is worthy of praise. Praise Him! You might feel like there is no hope, but God is our hope. Praise Him! You might think you are alone, but God promises to never leave or forsake His children. Praise Him!

Praise Him just because He is, and He deserves it. Then trust Him with the details of your life.

Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth!