The Real Struggle

We just recently started Priscilla Shirer’s Armor of God study with the ladies at our church and the timing has been perfect—it has served as a much needed reminder at this time when everyone is panicking over and bemoaning the election. People claiming one candidate or the other is the answer we need and the other is the devil incarnate. Arguing amongst family and friends on which candidate is or isn’t the answer to our country’s problems. Unkind, thoughtless things spewing out of mouths toward anyone who doesn’t agree or who is struggling with their decision and hasn’t made up his/her mind yet. Attacks on character because of who one is voting for or not voting for. Huge division is taking place in our country because of this, even among Christians, especially among Christians when we’re the ones that ought to be the light in the midst of all this, not taking sides against one another.

So, the reminder I needed from the Armor of God Study? Our battle is NOT against flesh and blood.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. ~Ephesians 6:12, NASB

We battle not against flesh and blood, but how many of us have been acting like we believe that this election season? How many of us haven’t lashed out at someone as if they are our enemy?

We won’t win this battle with physical weapons, with hurling unkind words at each other, with putting each other down, with degrading each other. Our real enemy is behind the scenes—quite possibly gleefully enjoying the attitudes we’ve exhibited this year, the terrible things we’ve spoken to or about each other, the freaking out like God’s not in control, letting fear or anger make our decisions for us when the reality is our God is bigger. Our God has greater power, greater resources, greater everything than the enemy.

We will only win the battle we are facing through God, through His power, through recognizing our true enemy and changing our tactics to fighting him through prayer, through spiritual warfare. What we’re doing now, what we’ve been doing—that’s only going to cause more division, more problems, more hate to be spewed. We win this battle on our knees, truly trusting in and relying on God and His power, not some person. This is a reminder for myself, for me to remember where my focus really needs to be, that I need to rely solely on God for the answers this country needs. No man or woman is the answer our country needs.

I’m writing this as a reminder to myself not to forget where my hope lies, where my trust needs to be, and who the real enemy is.

I realized as I was processing all this that I can say that I am actually thankful for this crazy election season! Why? Because it’s served as a teaching tool in reminding me where my trust really needs to lie. It’s served in taking me another step further in trusting God, in remembering who is really in control and setting my sight on Him. It’s bringing me to a place of trusting Him in a different way than I have before. I’ve seen how often I may say I trust in God where our country is concerned, but then I don’t actually act like it. I’ve seen how I’ve treated others poorly because of my own opinion in the past or because I haven’t really trusted God and I’ve acted out of fear or anger towards people when the Bible is clear on who my true enemy is. I know I will probably still struggle with this at times, but without the struggles, my faith wouldn’t change and wouldn’t have an opportunity to grow deeper.

Not only is our battle not against flesh and blood, but we, as Christians, ought to be the ones pointing to God as the answer, the ones not freaking out or panicking, but rather realizing God is almighty and nothing happens that He is unaware of, nothing causes Him to panic or worry. I recently saw a Facebook post by Steven Curtis Chapman that served as yet another reminder of who God is and what this is really all about. I’ll share it here with you because I think what he writes in the post and what he says in the video is worth the read and listen.

For some reason unknown to my not tech savvy self, it’s only showing the video here and not what he wrote to go with it. If you click on the Facebook icon in the bottom right corner of the video, it will take you to the whole post where you can read what he wrote. It’s worth the read.

Where Was God When I Was Hurt?

Why do bad things happen? That’s a question that many of us desperately want an answer to, but we often don’t like the possible reasons that bad things happen so we don’t allow ourselves to think that there could actually be a reason. We’d rather believe there isn’t one. But the reality is, there are reasons.

One reason is that we live in a fallen world, one where sin entered through the first man and woman and has continued to run rampant. Not all things that happen to us are a direct result of our own sin. Yes, at times, the things we face are consequences of our own sin, but not everything hurtful thing we face is because of that. Sometimes it’s a result of someone else’s sin that, in one way or another, happens to affect us; and sometimes, it’s a result of the fact that sin entering the world changed the world, changed the dynamic of the way things work now. The world no longer functions in the perfect form God created it in. Evil has been allowed in, and through that evil, disease, destruction, and decay have followed. It’s something we have to deal with in this world we live in. It’s a consequence of allowing sin into this once perfect and whole world. But we don’t like to think that way, to admit that sin is the reason for our fallen and changed world. But the Bible is clear on that and we can’t ignore it and pretend it’s not true just because we don’t like it.

Not only do we not want to face the idea that we live in a broken world and that because of the sin that caused it, we now experience pain and heartache, we also don’t want to believe that God could allow the bad things in this world to happen. But the reality is, He has and He does. I can’t help but think of Job. If you read the first chapter of Job, you will quickly find that God did indeed allow bad things to happen to Job. In fact, God Himself is the one who brought Job and his upright standing with Him up to Satan. Did you get that? GOD asked Satan if he had noticed His upright servant Job! AND THEN, He put everything Job had (all the blessings and good things God had given him) in the hands and power of Satan, essentially giving Satan the power to do with it whatever he wanted (which happened to be taking it away). I also think of Simon Peter. In Luke 22, Jesus tells Simon Peter that Satan has asked to sift him as wheat—and God allowed it.

It’s not easy for us to accept this idea—that God would allow sifting, that He would allow bad things to happen, that He has given His permission for them to happen. It doesn’t sit well with us, but it’s truth. It is a reality. And there is actually a hope that comes with it.

After Jesus tells Simon Peter about Satan’s desire to sift him as wheat, Jesus goes on to say, “But I have prayed especially for you [Peter], that your [own] faith may not fail; and when you yourself have turned again, strengthen and establish your brethren.” ~Luke 22:32, AMPC

You see, while God may allow these bad things to happen in our lives, He does not allow them to be without purpose. We have that promise from God—And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. ~Romans 8:28, NASB

God can and does take those horrific events and situations in our lives and He redeems them by bringing purpose to them, by not letting them be for nothing. God does not waste a hurt. Instead, He uses it to our benefit.

Yes, I’ve been through some events and situations that I did not want to go through—things that were painful, situations I did not enjoy in any way, shape, or form. But I also know that I would not be the person I am today nor would I have the faith that I do today if I had not gone through those tough things, through those trials that God ultimately redeemed by using them to change me. There have definitely been times when I felt torn apart, times when I felt like the enemy just might get his way in destroying me and I didn’t see how good purpose of any kind could come from what I was going through. But God!—God had other plans for what the enemy meant for evil. He refashioned and repurposed those times, using them to draw me to Him, to help acquaint me more intimately with Him and His love and His power. He brought me out on the other side stronger and with more faith and more trust in Him. And with each event that happens, He only draws me closer and gains more of my trust. I am who I am today because of God’s work in my life, because of Him taking what the enemy meant for evil and giving it a purpose and using it to shape me and change me. And I am so thankful that He’s done that—that I am not the same person that I was, that I’ve grown and changed and am being made new.

And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulation, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope. ~Romans 5:3-4, NASB

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of you faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete lacking in nothing. ~James 1:2-4, NASB

(You should] be exceedingly glad on this account, though now for a little while you may be distressed by trials and suffer temptations, So that [the genuineness] of your faith my be tested, [your faith] which is infinitely more precious than perishable gold which is tested and purified by fire. [This proving of your faith is intended] to redound to [your] praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One) is revealed. ~1 Peter 1:6-7, AMPC

What an incredible God!—to know that He can take those painful things, those things that seem to us to happen without reason and repurpose them. Things the enemy meant for evil, God repurposes to use for our benefit to mold us and shape us to be more like Him, to let the Holy Spirit grow in our lives and have more control over us, to let us learn from those things. What the enemy intended to destroy us, to bring us down, God can actually use to strengthen us, to draw us closer to Him, to show us who He is, to bring glory to Himself, to exhibit the power of His redemption.

God has the power to redesign, to reshape, and to make the pain, the hurt, the bad, and the ugly in our lives worthwhile. He is sovereign. Nothing happens outside of His knowledge—He sometimes allows Satan to poke and prod us to bring us to a place where we can be refined. And He already knows how He’s planning to use the next storm you face to bring you closer to Him; to change, shape, and mold you into being more like Him; to give you a glimpse of who He is and who He wants to be to you. Can’t you just picture our mighty God looking at Satan and saying, “Do your best, but what you intend for evil I have the power to turn around for good, to make it work for My purpose, My will, and My glory.” How frustrating that’s got to be for the enemy! And what a blessing it is for us!

Not only do we have this promise of God using even evil for ultimate good, but we can also know that the Holy Spirit Himself is interceding on our behalf just as Jesus told Simon Peter that He had done for him. In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groaning too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. ~Romans 8:26-27, NASB

God does not promise us a life without conflict or pain or hurt. Those things will happen because we live in a sinful, fallen world. We may hurt someone else or someone else may cause us pain, but those things can be redeemed with purpose. Those afflictions we face, the trials, the struggles, the pain, the temptations can all be turned around for our benefit and for His ultimate glory.

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time (this present life) are not worth being compared with the glory that is about to be revealed to us and in us and for us and conferred on us! For [even the whole] creation (all nature) waits expectantly and longs earnestly for God’s sons to be made known [waits for the revealing, the disclosing of their sonship]. Fo the creation (nature) was subjected to the frailty (the futility, condemned to frustration), not because of some intentional fault on its part, but by the will of Him Who so subjected it—[yet] with hope. That nature (creation) itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and corruption [and gain an entrance] into the glorious freedom of God’s children. ~Romans 8:18-21, AMPC

Just an Update

You may have noticed that my blogs have been hit and miss over the last few months. Well, really a lot more miss than hit. The reason is actually some good news! We are going to have another baby! Which is very happy news! 🙂 However, as with most of my pregnancies during the first trimester, I have been pretty miserable. 😦 Nausea 24/7, tired, weak, and just overall feeling bleh. Which is why I have been pretty much miss and no hit with the blog recently. I have not felt well and have not been up to blogging much. I am now 16 weeks and past the first trimester, but I am still not feeling great. I am having some better days, but the nausea still hasn’t completely gone away. Hopefully, soon the good days will outnumber the yuck days, and as I feel better, I will be able to get back to blogging more. Of course, we’ve also started back to school (we homeschool) which means I am teaching 5 kids and chasing a toddler while being pregnant, so I have to admit to myself that even though I plan to be more consistent with blogging, I might not be able to get one out each week like I had been trying to do before I started feeling sick. I just wanted to give those of you who read my blog a heads up about what’s going on and why I haven’t posted much. Thank you for reading, and if all goes well, I hope to have a new blog post next week.

I would greatly appreciate your prayers about a few things.

~I’m having better days, but there are still many days where I don’t feel well and getting school done on the days I don’t feel well can be tough sometimes. But I know that we need to keep moving with it if we’re going to get much done before the baby comes in February. Prayers for strength to do school even when I feel awful and prayers for cooperative kids would be appreciated.
~I have also felt a little more emotionally off-kilter this pregnancy which concerns me about after the baby is born and how my emotions and hormones will be then. After I had Juluia (our 5th), I experienced some intense postpartum depression and it’s a concern that it could happen again. Please pray that whatever comes, the Lord will prepare me for it and be with me through it, whether it’s major or nothing at all.
~I am also a little overwhelmed at the idea of homeschooling 5 children while chasing a two year old and taking care of an infant after the baby arrives. We plan to take several weeks off right after the baby arrives, but we will eventually have to start back up to finish up the school year. Prayers in advance for that would be appreciated as well.

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog and thank you for your prayers.

Needed Encouragement

I don’t have a long post today. This last week was kind of rough for us in some ways and I just wanted to share a couple of things that God used to encourage me in my struggles this week, things He used to remind me of His power and His might as well as His love and the fact that He never leaves me. God is always at work even when I can’t always see what He’s doing.

First is a song that I heard on the radio while driving this week. I’d heard it before, but hadn’t really paid close attention to the lyrics. The link to the video is below. I hope it encourages you and points you to the Savior as it did for me.

 

The other thing I want to share with you is a video of a couple telling the story of their struggle with infertility and eventually adoption. It. Is. POWERFUL! Please take the time to watch it.

Chloe

Maybe you haven’t seen God work in your life in quite this way, but there was a time when this couple hadn’t either, a time when they questioned God’s goodness. Maybe you’re in the eye of the storm right now, you’re in the spot where you’re questioning God’s goodness because you just can’t see how what you’re going through can be turned around for good. We have His precious promise to us as His children—

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good tho those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28, NASB

There are some precious, humbling truths in this video. Great reminders of how God cares for His creation. He is always at work even when we question it. He has this great big aerial view that allows Him to see all at once, from the beginning of time to the end. Nothing catches Him off guard and He’s always moving, working, orchestrating things to show His great love and His mercy and grace toward us. God loves you just as much as He loves the couple in this video and their sweet Chloe. Never doubt that you are planned for and cared for by a loving Father.

My prayer and heart for you today is that, if you’re struggling, you will be lifted up and encouraged by these things as they encouraged me.

Remember God is with you always. He loves you deeply. You are not alone. He has the power to carry you through anything you face and He will do it. He wants to be your shelter in the storm. Let Him be and worship Him today for His goodness and never failing love.

Send Me

Do you ever wonder what you’re purpose is or if you even have one? Have you ever felt called to do something, but then doubt crept in about your ability to actually do it so you backed away and chose not to do it? Do you ever wonder if you’re effective at the things you do or if people are really listening to you?

I know I’ve wondered what the point is in my blogging at times. Are people really listening? Am I influencing anyone with what I do? It seems like everyone blogs now, so why should I keep blogging when there are so many other voices to listen to? There are many bloggers out there even saying the same thing I’m saying in my blogs and probably saying it better than I could. But as I contemplated these questions and asked God why He had called me to blog, He showed me two things.

One, I have a unique realm of influence that no one else has. There are people who will read my blog that might not read a similar blog written by someone else just because they know me and don’t know the other person. And as far reaching as the internet is, those other blog posts by other people will only come into the paths of certain people who happen upon it or see it shared in their newsfeed, just as mine will. We each have our own sphere of influence, a unique realm that no one else has. Just like what shows up in my Facebook newsfeed is completely unique (no no else has the exact combination of friends and liked pages as I do, so what shows up in my newsfeed is specific to me), the realm of people I have the potential to influence for His kingdom is unique. If I don’t do what God has called me to do, I’m missing out on the opportunity to reach those people.

Two, God reminded me that I am blogging because He called me to, and really, ultimately, for no other reason than that. And He’s more than capable of doing what He wants with it, of making it into what He desires, and influencing whoever He wants with it. So I’m leaving it in His hands to get it to the eyes that need to read it.

Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send? And who will go for Us? Then said I, Here am I; send me. Isaiah 6:8, AMP

Isaiah, in gratefulness, deep gratitude for what God had done for him, that He had cleansed him and forgiven his sins, said, “Here am I! Send me!”

We can praise God with words for what He’s done for us and simply for who He is and we are supposed to do that. But there’s another aspect of honoring him—what does bringing honor and glory to His name look like in action rather than words?

What does “send me” look like for you? What has He been laying on your heart to do, but you’ve been hesitating to do it? What has He called you out to do?

Maybe there’s a friend or co-worker He’s been prompting you to tell about what He has been doing in your life. Maybe there’s some way He’s been calling you to give of yourself, your time, or your resources. Maybe He’s put a desire in your heart to go on a mission trip. Whatever it is, once you know it’s Him telling you to do it, then start taking those steps of faith toward doing it.

Just be willing to go where He sends you, and He will make the path straight.

In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths. Proverbs 3:6, AMP

I assure you, you definitely have a purpose. Your Creator made you for a reason. He desires for you to know Him intimately and for you to be a vessel through whom He can reach others for His kingdom and His glory. Our purpose is to love Him, to serve Him, to bring glory and honor to His name. But sometimes we back away from the things He’s laid before us because we believe the lies of the enemy that say we don’t matter, that no one is listening to us, that we don’t really have any influence over anyone. Sometimes we look at what people around us are accomplishing and we think, why should I even bother?

Yield to Him, step out, and let Him use you the way He wants to.

His work through you will not be in vain.

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be firm (steadfast), immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord [always being superior, excelling, doing more than enough in the service of the Lord], knowing and being continually aware that your labor in the Lord is not futile [it is never wasted or to no purpose]. 1 Corinthians 15:58, AMP

Don’t give up. Keep moving forward. He is calling all of us who belong to Him out into the world to be His hands and feet.

Remember: You have a unique realm of influence that no one else has. And He will equip you to do what He has called you to do. Leave it in His hands. He’s planned from the very beginning to do the work through you. He’ll reach exactly who He wants to reach through you if you just surrender it all to Him.

He calls us out upon the waters—He calls out to take HUGE steps of faith, to do HUGE things, trusting Him to deliver and keep us afloat.

I know I don’t want to miss out on the incredible things God has in store for me. I don’t want to live a mediocre life because of fear or because I believed the lie that I don’t influence others or that it’s not worth it.

It is SO worth it to surrender to Him. He will bless you abundantly. He will make it all worthwhile. He only wants to do the best things for you.

The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows). John 10:10, AMP

Don’t let fear keep you from following Him, from saying, “Send me!” I promise it will be good in the end. No matter the hardships you face as you surrender to Him, He will make it worth your while.

Be strong, courageous, and firm; fear not nor be in terror before them, for it is the Lord your God Who goes with you; He will not fail you or forsake you. Deuteronomy 31:6, AMP

God’s Goodness

This past Sunday, we took communion at church. As I slowed down and stepped away from all the busyness to focus on Jesus and what He did for me, I was just in awe and I feel like we need to take some time here to proclaim the goodness of God and exalt Him. To tell of His works.

Last week I mentioned praising God even when I am overwhelmed. This turns my eyes back to my source of hope when my eyes have strayed. It helps begin to put my sometimes chaotic, or fearful, or overwhelmed mind to rights. It reminds me of who God is and the power He has, and it reminds me of who I am and that I belong to Him. Offering praise to God, especially when we don’t feel like we can, when we feel overwhelmed, is a powerful thing. It turns our eyes to the source of our power and defeats the enemy and sends him running.

My eyes are ever toward the Lord, for He will pluck my feet out of the net. Psalm 25:15, AMP

I call on the Lord, Who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies. 2 Samuel 22:4, AMP

God is worthy of our praise. Even if He never did another thing for us, He is worthy. Just for the incredible fact alone, that He sent His only Son to die for us so that we could be with Him, so that we could be set free, He is worthy.

Think about what that means for a minute. If you are a Christian, He pursued you, He chose you to be His. For that wonderful blessing alone, we should be praising Him, honoring Him. He didn’t give up on us. He didn’t walk away. Instead He took the time to pursue us, to woo us, to show us the depths of His love. How incredible is that! Are you His and is He yours? Then you have something to praise Him about.

Even beyond that is the reality that He deserves our praise no matter what we perceive He has done or not done for us, just because of who He is. He is God alone!

Give to the Lord the glory due to His name; worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness or in holy array. Psalm 29:2, AMP

God calls on us to exalt His name, to tell of His wondrous works, the things He has done for us. Let’s praise Him. Let’s focus on praising Him, on His goodness, specifically to us.

Oh, how great is Your goodness, which You have laid up for those who fear, revere, and worship You, goodness which You have wrought for those who trust and take refuge in You before the sons of men! Psalm 31:19, AMP

He IS the Great I Am. He is everything we need. He is our rock. He is our shepherd. He is our provider. He is our comfort. He is our guide. He is all that we need. Who has He been to you when you needed Him most?

Sometimes it’s not easy to praise Him. Sometimes we feel lost or overwhelmed, but that doesn’t change the fact that He’s worthy. And sometimes we offer distracted, unfocused praise. We need to choose to praise Him. To be purposeful, intentional about it. He is so deserving and worthy of our praise. Turn your eyes upon Him. Give Him honor and glory. Think about the things He’s done for you. Think about how you are praising Him. Don’t let it be some haphazard, unfocused thing that you don’t really mean.

God’s Word is a powerful tool in helping us to praise Him. Read through the Psalms and intentionally praise Him through the words you read that bring glory and honor to Him, to His name.

We take refuge in Him by praising Him and allowing His presence and His glory to surround us. He lifts our heads for us when we praise Him. Consciously choose to praise Him, to turn your eyes on Him. Let His goodness wash over you as you praise Him.

But You, O Lord, are a shield for me, my glory, and the lifter of my head. Psalm 3:3, AMP

So, let’s tell of His glory, His might, His power, His strength! Let’s declare to the world His goodness and His good works! Share in the comments below what He has done for you, who He has been to you, how He has met your greatest need, how He has lifted you up. Share verses of scripture that declare His goodness and His wonderful works.

I WILL bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. My life makes its boast in the Lord; let the humble and afflicted hear and be glad. O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together. I sought (inquired of) the Lord and required Him [of necessity and on the authority of His Word], and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears. Psalm 34:1-4, AMP

Hope Dweller

When I think about some of the things I’ve walked through in my life and how different, how heavy the burden would have been if I had not had the hope Jesus offers as I walked through those things, I realize just how much He’s helped me, and I’m reminded of the amazing hope He offers. There have been situations in my life that were tough, things that hurt, and had I not had God to bring me through, had I not had Him to place my hope in, I cannot imagine how I would have ever made it through.

A while ago, I was reading during my quiet time in Acts and I came across this verse:

“Therefore my heart rejoiced and my tongue exulted exceedingly; moreover, my flesh also will dwell in hope [will encamp, pitch its tent, and dwell in hope in anticipation of the resurrection].”   ~Acts 2:26 AMP

I was blown away as I contemplated the idea of dwelling in a state of hope—setting up camp, pitching a tent, not going anywhere kind of camping in the HOPE of His resurrection, lingering and abiding there. Putting my eyes on that, keeping focus on that. I thought, “Wow! I want to do this. I want to be a hope dweller.” So, I prayed and asked the Lord to help me be a true hope dweller.

Some days, it’s “easy” to pitch my tent and hope and stay there, but other days things happen to test my hope dwelling status. In those moments, it seems like my flesh is chomping at the bit to move, and sometimes, it feels like before I even really know what has happened, my flesh has ripped up the stakes, rolled up the tent, and said, “Let’s move, lady!” (Here I realize that I am no better than the Israelites as they begged to go back to captivity in Egypt instead of continuing through to the promised land.)

And so begins the march toward old land, unhealthy land, the land of fear and worry where my flesh quickly sets up camp and hammers in stakes. Before long, it’s as though I have forgotten that I ever had intentions of continually dwelling in hope. My campsite in fear and worry begins to feel heavy and overwhelming and I struggle under the weight of it. Then God finds a way to remind me of what He showed me, of how how I wanted to pitch camp in hope.

As I wonder if it’s possible to get back to and camp in hope again, He reminds me gently of the practical steps I need to be taking that will take me back to hope. Taking thoughts captive-not dwelling on things that want to cause me to worry or fear. AND choosing to praise Him even when I feel overwhelmed which means I am taking my thoughts away from the trouble area and turning them towards the source of my hope.

If I’m honest with you, I will tell you that I have failed many times at dwelling in hope. Some days feel like the whole day is a failure. Others there are glimmers of hope while still others are bursting with hope. But I have come to realize that if I am never tested in this area, I will never learn how to change it and I will never really grow to the point where I really, deeply dwell in hope, to the point where the stakes are driven so deep it’s impossible to uproot them. I am so thankful for a Savior who walks beside me and guides and teaches me if I’ll listen. A Savior who reveals truth to me and then allows a way for me to learn to actually WALK in that truth.

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.   ~Romans 5:3-5, NASB

A friend recently shared a vision he’d had as he had been struggling and trying to find some answers. In this vision, he was standing at the top of one mountain, and could see himself at the same place on the next mountain. In between the two mountains was a valley. As he watched, it was as if God said, “Be prepared—you are going to go through this valley, but I will be with you and you will come out on the other side. It will be an easier path if you go through the valley with Me than if you try to do it on your own.”

As Christians, we are not exempt from the valleys, the pain in life, but we have a choice about how we go through them. Are going to go through them with the Lord and His easy yoke, the one that redeems the pain or are we going to struggle through them our own way, on our own terms? Will we go through kicking and dragging our feet and making the pain in the trial that much worse and quite possibly making the time in the valley last that much longer? Or do we stop, rest, and abide in Jesus and place our hope in Him to get us through? Do we focus on the overwhelming length of the deep valley that we can’t see our way out of or do we focus on the One who walks beside us and let Him guide our steps through?

Everyone faces valleys in life. I am not promised a life without them, but God hasn’t let go of me yet and I have His trustworthy promise that He won’t.   My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.   ~John 10:27-29, NASB

Those valleys have the potential to produce “perseverance, proven character, and hope” in us. And I can tell you it’s true. Each step/trip through the wringer has made me stronger on the other side and even more confident in God and His grace and new every morning mercies. These battles have taught me who God is and who He wants me to be. What the enemy meant to tear me apart has only served to strengthen my relationship with the Lord though in the midst of it it may not have felt like that.

Have you pitched your tent in hope? Or are you dwelling elsewhere at the moment? Let the Lord show you what steps you need to take to get back to dwelling in hope. Each trip through a struggle, a valley has the potential to make your next stay in hope a little longer, to make you a little stronger if you’ll let God be the one to guide your steps through.