Christian growth · trials

Bumpy Roads Lead to Beautiful Destinations

“Just because the path you’re on is bumpy
doesn’t mean you’re on the wrong road.”

I read that quote yesterday and thought of a hike my family once took. We headed up a mountain road that started out kind of gravely. As we continued upward the road bumped more and more. We were looking for the fire tower and were unsure of its exact location. At times the road bumped so much I thought our van’s shocks would never be the same. We climbed and climbed and bumped and jostled our way up the mountain.

The question of whether or not we were on the right road was asked more than once. We finally came to a blocked road where we parked the car and got out and walked a mile or more up a rather steep incline. There ahead of us was the fire tower! We climbed up the forsaken steps and when we got to the second and third landings the view was spectacular! It was worth all the bouncing and jolting just to see the sight before us! We indeed had been on the right road. If the bumps had discouraged us and we would’ve turned around, we would have missed this sight!

Life gets bumpy, doesn’t it? We begin to question ourselves. We also question God.

“Is the Christian life supposed to be this way? Shouldn’t things be much smoother than this? Is my marriage supposed to have this jostling? Why are my children creating such havoc after all my godly instruction?”

The temptation is to turn around and go the other way – our own way – a way we feel would be smoother. But the absence of bumps doesn’t mean it’s right.

But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you. I Peter 5:10 

The road will smooth out eventually and you’ll find the view is wonderful – it’s called Christ-likeness. Because He is the God of all grace, you and I have the grace we need to endure the bumps. Don’t doubt you’ve chosen the right road (“why did I trust Christ, anyway? He’s a mean God that’s out to get me.”) Keep traveling on. He’s there with you. He’s not forsaken you. He knows the bumps are there and He’s waiting at the end of the road. Keep on driving. It will be worth the view!

Denise

trials · trust

A Trial More Than I Can Bear

 

More than I can bear

Do you ever think that God sends a trial your way because you are weak and He wants to make you strong? People often repeat the quote,

God will never give me more than I can bear,

but that’s not true! He gives us situations that are more than we can handle so we’ll depend on His strength instead of our own! Let me tell you how He revealed that to me just recently. Continue reading “A Trial More Than I Can Bear”

Responding to trials

Fruitful in Affliction

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Many years ago a group of people brought false charges against my husband.  It was shockingly unthinkable to me.  I couldn’t believe people would deliberately do things to harm another’s reputation.  I was (obviously) very young to be so naive.  All I needed to do was look in the book of Genesis to see what man will do to promote themselves and destroy another.

In Genesis 37 we begin to read about the seeming decline of Joseph, a son of Jacob, who was favored by his father and therefore hated by his brothers.  After telling them of a dream he had whereby the brothers were bowing to him, the brothers couldn’t wait to help Joseph’s dream and his life get snuffed out.

They sold him to a group of men who would sell Joseph as a slave.  Things continued to go downward as he was thrown into prison after being lied about by a woman whose motives were evil.  He was also forgotten by friends who could have helped his prison time to have been shortened.

When you get to chapter 41, we read how Joseph summarized these hard years of his life:

And the name of the second called he (Joseph) Ephraim: For God hath caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction.

FRUITFUL in his affliction!!  When I remember the time of our affliction, I don’t know I can actually say I was fruitful.  Maybe I’d call it, In survival mode. I remember how often my thoughts stayed on those hurting us and their evil deeds. Their words and actions  replayed in my mind like an LP with a scratch. Over and over, I’d rehearse the same lie, the same ugly dispositions before me.  How I wish I could have had Joseph’s response instead so that I might have bore fruit instead of fatigue, spirituality instead of sighing, growth instead of grumbling!

How did he do it and how can you be fruitful in the time of your affliction?  I found the answers recently as I was rereading Joseph’s story.

  1. Stay near to God.  Genesis 38:3 And his master saw that the Lord was with him, and that the Lord made all that he did to prosper in his hand. Joseph was keenly aware that the only way he could survive any/all of this was to draw strength and wisdom from the Lord.  That’s the only way we can, too.
  2. Obey immediately anything God says to do.  He submitted to any that were over him in an attitude of obedience and humility.  He came when he was to come.  He stayed when he was to stay.  Obedience is key.
  3. Don’t focus on self.  It amazes me that while Joseph is in prison, he sees two faces before him – the butler and baker who had gotten on the wrong side of Pharaoh and were now sharing Joseph’s prison cell.
    When Joseph woke up one morning, he noticed they both looked sad and he inquired as to why their countenances were downcast.  Instead of pitying his own situation, he took pity on these two who had had a fitful sleep, due to their odd dreams.  Wow.  That is  a slap in the face to me.  It’s so easy to zero in on my problem and never realize that someone right in front of me is dealing with something hard.
  4. Give the glory to God. Joseph said to Pharaoh, It is not in me: God shall give Pharaoh an answer of peace. He was quick to remind himself and others that he could do nothing without the Lord’s help.  This one is key as to how you and I can handle our trials in a wise way and end up like Joseph did.  Always point others to God – that’s our responsibility and privilege.

I’m not looking for another conflict, but I’m old and wise enough to know injustices and trials will continue to come my way.  This will now be a prayer request for myself when it happens –

Oh, Lord, help me, like Joseph, to be fruitful in the land of my affliction.

Are you in a difficulty right now?  I’d urge you to ask God to help you to respond like Joseph so this time will be a fertile, fruit-bearing time in your life.

Which of these four principles is hardest for you when you’re in a time of trial?

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Christian Life · Encouragement · eternal · trials

Change Your View

wp-1516731367120-1058527903.jpgBecause my husband had a birthday this week, we took a couple of days to go on a trip to Hot Springs, Virginia to celebrate!  Oh, the blessing this change of view has given our busy lives! We loved the gorgeous setting of the Homestead Resort, sitting in sun-filled lobbies, window seats, and also the love seat in our own room.  The change of view has been a blessing.

There are times that our spiritual eyes need a change of view, too.  Discouragements come to all of us.  It’s part of living in a sinful world with sinful words, responses and actions.  Sometimes those all belong to our own heart; sometimes they come from others.  I’m never surprised at my own wrong actions/reactions, but though I shouldn’t be surprised when it comes from others (because others are sinners, just like me), it does come as a blow.

Have you been there?

Someone does or says something that you just weren’t expectitng and it’s a hard pill to swallow.  But as a believer of the Lord Jesus Christ, we are reminded that we don’t wrestle with flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers, against rulers of the darkness of this world.  My enemy is deeper than the person from whom the blow came. Ephesians 6 reminds of this truth. It’s no surprise to me that after having recently hearing my husband preach on these verses, and after having taught this passage afterwards in my Adult Bible Fellowship, that soon after the battle became very apparent.  Then, oh, the wrestling in my own heart through the night!  The “Why?”  “How could they” thoughts pierced my sleep, leaving me to toss and turn in the darkness of the room and also in my mind.

But when morning came, I went to that very passage in Ephesians 6 and repeated the armor that I wear –

  • The Belt of Truth – What Truth would I meditate on today?
  • The Breastplate of Righteousness – How would I respond towards this that would show a righteous heart?
  • Feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of Peace – Would I be ready today to share the Gospel, or will I dwell on the war around me instead?
  • The Shield of Faith – What promises of God’s Word could I claim today?
  • The Helmet of Salvation – Will I remember all I am in Christ because I’m His child?  How will this change the way I respond?
  • The Sword of the Spirit – What verses will I meditate on to remind myself (and my enemy, Satan) of the victory Christ has won for me? 

Choosing to meditate on that passage gave me a whole different view!  It was like the sunshine that was pouring into the library in which I was blessed to sit! It refreshed me in the battle because I was dressed properly to fight it!

If discouragement is your view today, do yourself the blessing of changing your view to all that is yours if you are a child of God.  It will give you an eternal perspective that will equip you to live in victory today!

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Christian growth · Christian Life · trust

This Trial Is Killing Me!

Not long ago I had the blessing of a lovely summer afternoon in the swimming pool. I grabbed a pool noodle, sat on top of it and floated and drifted a couple of hours away. Had I worn a device to track my exercise, it would have only marked my steps into the water. There was little effort or difficulty in my afternoon. It was leisure that I loved, though it had little bodily profit!

A day later I saw a You Tube video of a woman showing how to make the pool a place of exercise. With the guidance of a coach, she did several kinds of swimming strokes, making long, difficult laps the length of the pool. She kicked, bobbed, and pushed her way through a regime that literally took her breath away. She did everything the coach was telling her to do. At one point she said to him, “You’re killing me!” It was hard work but it was truly profitable to her!

The contrast of those two pool adventures reminds me of how life is for the believer. There are times when we float along, enjoying the refreshment of God’s grace, yet we aren’t stretched or changed by those careless hours. It’s in the time of trial when we find ourselves kicking, bobbing and pushing; clinging to God’s instruction and listening to His voice that change really comes. When the bodily movements are not resisting the Lord and what He wants to do, it will truly benefit our Christian life!

Proverbs 12:28 says,

In the way of righteousness is life; and in the pathway thereof there is no death.

God knows that we need seasons of difficulty to strengthen our prayer muscles. Our heart muscles of faith in His Word may need to be greater. The very breathing in of our knowledge of His character may require stretching, so He brings resistance and difficulty. We may cry out, “You’re killing me!” because we’re tired. We want the straining and hardship to be over. We would rather be floating on a raft, gazing up at the clear sky, than being splashed in the face of our own weakness. But when we call out to the one in charge, our sovereign God, who loves us and wants us to grow and change, He comforts. He marks out a pathway of life – deep, strong, eternal life that is far better than the weak one we would choose if we might.

If you’re in the midst of the hard laps of trial right now, look beyond the poolside and see the change that will result if you listen to the One who is guiding you. He’ll know when it’s time to allow you to float again. And when you see your reflection shining back at you in the water, you can be sure that it will look so much more like Christ!

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Christian Life · Encouragement · God's character

When God Seems Far Off

airplane 1

When my husband and I were dating, we had many miles between us. We missed one another desperately, so we did whatever was necessary to eliminate the distance!

One summer I was in Kentucky and he was in South Carolina – not exactly next door! Then to make matters even more difficult, I had planned to travel with my family to Michigan. Knowing that even more miles were getting ready to separate us was an unpleasant thought, so he found a way to make the trip north with us! Being separated from one you love is rough business!

Have you ever felt that the Lord was very far away? That’s worse than feeling distant from any human being. In Psalm 13:1 the psalmist said,

“How long wilt thou forget me, O LORD? forever?
how long wilt thou hide thy face from me?” 

 He was wondering if God had just plain forgotten him, and he wondered why he couldn’t see His face. However, an omniscient God can never forget and an omnipresent God can never be removed from us!

In verse two he said that he has sorrow in his heart daily. Do you feel that way right now? Does it seem like every day you wake up and that sorrow is staring you in the face? Have you discovered the happy device by which you can escape trouble? The answer is in verses five and six.

“But I have trusted in thy mercy; my heart shall rejoice in thy salvation. I will sing unto the Lord, because he hath dealt bountifully with me.” 

 The mercy seat refreshes the weeper. Remembering that fact that God took care of the greatest trouble a soul can face – eternal damnation in hell, reminds me that He is able to take care of every other need that comes into my life. He has truly dealt bountifully with us!

Joys remembered sweeten present sorrows.

Remember what the Lord has done for you.
Has he saved you?
What prayers has He answered in the past?
Has He comforted you in other trials?
Has He worked in the hearts of those you’ve prayed for?
What special blessings has He allowed you to enjoy?

Let those joys sweeten your present sorrow and encourage your heart!

God hasn’t forgotten you; He is very near.

When do you feel most removed from God?

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Christian Life · trials

Stayed On Christ

vacation a.jpg

If someone asked you where you were staying, what do you think they’re asking? You might be away on vacation and you assume they want to know what motel you’re staying in. Those “stays” are  usually short-lived. You can’t live at a resort after your week’s reservation is over (sad, huh?). As much I always hate leaving a place of rest and vacation, I eventually must go home. My stay is over.

One morning his week I studied Isaiah 26:3 –

Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee, because he trusteth in thee.

I thought on the verse all day and then that night I heard a message from a godly pastor from this same verse. He had shared with the congregation that his adult son has cancer. Then he said, “Where are you staying? Right now, I know where I’m staying – I’m staying on Jesus!” He shared that he was having to rest on the Lord heavily and think upon Him while going through this trial. He was keeping his mind, his thoughts stayed on the Lord. Only then can peace saturate our hearts.

The trial won’t last forever, and even after it’s over, we can keep on staying on Jesus, keep on thinking on Him, keep on trusting in Him. As a matter of a fact, when it’s all said and done, you’ll find it easier to “stay” on Him because you’ve seen the benefits and the joy of remaining with Him!

So, today – right at this moment, where are you staying? Are you fretting and worried, or are you staying on Jesus and enjoying the peace that only comes when you trust in Him?

Your reservation is never over! Stay!

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