Enduring Trials, Hardships and Trials, Video Devotion

Choosing to Endure Through the Hard

I’m great at finding escape routes. First sign of trouble, before the flames have begun to roar, I’m grabbing the fire extinguisher, my stash of tootsie rolls, and I’m racing toward the emergency exit.

I’m incredibly trial adverse. When there’s even a hint of difficulty, I launch into fix it mode, and before I can catch my breath—made all the more challenging by my hyperventilation—I’ve strategized numerous game plans and have already started to seek them out. Like all of them. All at once, in case the first five don’t pan out.

But my frantic attempts to remain comfortable leave me stunted, broken, and immature. Perhaps that’s why God allows me to continually land in the eye of the storm, urging me to stay. To endure.

To trust, to lean into Jesus, and to grow.

In James chapter one, Jesus’ brother wrote the words that make many of us cringe. Consider it joy, my brothers and sisters, when trials and temptations come. Because the testing of our faith develops perseverance.

The ability to hold tight, undeterred, unswerving, to our call to know Christ and make Him known, even when we have every reason to cave.

This enduring hinges on one easily overlooked, three letter word: Let. “Let perseverance finish it’s work,” James said. Don’t run away. Don’t crawl out from under it. Instead, plant your feet, grit your teeth, and lean as hard as you must on your Savior, because though it hurts now, this is how God is making you perfect, complete.

Emotionally and spiritually whole.

Few, if told they had an abscessed tooth would habitually avoid the dentist. Those with cancer intentionally seek treatment, knowing full well how difficult that journey will be.

Do we seek spiritual and emotional health with the same passion and focus? Or are we distracted by our never-ending search for an escape route.

Life’s going to hit. Hard.

Trials and temptations aren’t optional, but how we face them is. We can feed our fight or flight response until it grows stronger and we weaker, or we can fix our feet and our thoughts on our Savior as He chisels and molds, stretches and grows us.

The next time life squeezes you and leaves you searching for the emergency exit, drop to your knees instead. Hold tight to Jesus, asking Him to give you the strength to endure, as you learn to live Wholly Loved.

Hardships and Trials

God’s Favor–The Gift of Presence

If God’s favor meant great health, I’d missed it. If it meant worldly success, happiness, prestige and an expanding ministry, God had abandoned me. But if favor—if grace—meant a vivid revelation of my Father’s heart and a deepening intimacy with Him, then even as I lay in bed sick and fatigued, I rested squarely in my Daddy’s hands. Right where He wanted me to be.

Image of a light with quote from blog post

It just took me a while to see it, cherish it. In fact, it wasn’t until my body started to recover that I saw the precious gift God had given all those mornings months before.

Sometimes it takes a crisis—an illness, a tragedy, having one’s life tilted upside down—to grab hold of what really matters. In 2011, after a lifetime of great health and athleticism, after nearly two decades of walking closely with Jesus and two years of surrendering to His call, colitis knocked me flat. Shifted my identity and for a while, left me grasping for answers.

If I could no longer run, who was I?

If I couldn’t push through this physical obstacle, was I still a woman of strength? An overcomer?

Why would God allow this? I’d been serving Him, writing for Him, speaking for Him, but now I was reduced to a tired, thin woman who often couldn’t make it to the bathroom on time let alone serve outside the home. Wasn’t I more effective when well?

I was failing. I wasn’t using the gifts God had given me. I wasn’t tending to my family as I felt called to do. I hadn’t touched my keyboard in months and wasn’t sure I ever would again.

I wasn’t any good for the body of Christ. I wasn’t any good for my family.

This was an incredibly painful time. A period of refining and stripping. A year I will always remember. The time when, as I read my Bible each morning and I clung to God’s Word lovingly preserved through the ages, He drew me to Himself and held me close to His heart. Those moments between us, when all the rest of the world faded from view, are precious beyond what I can express.

… there’s nothing so precious, nothing that can soothe the heart, quite like being held by the One who knows and loves you most.

There’s nothing so precious, nothing that can soothe the heart, quite like being held by the One who knows and loves you most.

verse image of James 1:2 with a sunrise in the backgroundPerhaps this is, in part, what James meant when he said, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds …” (James 1:2, NIV). Though in context, he’s referring to the joy of knowing God has a purpose in our pain. But this points to an even bigger truth–God loves us always. In our times of health and pain.

I’ve known joy. Not the momentary elation our world teaches us to chase after, but the deep, unyielding, persevering joy of knowing God, truly knowing Him, and being known by Him.

If favor is found in what I can do or the wealth I attain, if it’s found in prestige and accolades, I failed. And I’ll gladly fail again–to gain something much more enduring and fulfilling.

Time with Christ. To be held and to know His hands are strong and firm and ever-present, that’s joy. And that’s the greatest gift Christ died to give us—unhindered access to Himself. He’s always there, always reaching, always loving. But sometimes He needs to help us see that, rest in that. Sometimes that help comes through pain; a pain with the sweetest of dividends.

Let’s talk about this! When has God turned a difficult time into an enduring blessing? Share your thoughts here in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

When life hits hard and we feel used up, it’s easy to think we’re somehow less valuable or perhaps overlooked by God. But our value is immutable, and we can live out our purpose in every season, if we choose. Join us for our next Wholly Loved Conference on January 20th hosted by Beautiful Savior in LaVista, NE to learn how to discover and live out your purpose.

Then, join us in February for our Bold and Brave Conference, hosted by St. Paul’s United Methodist in Papillion. You can check out all our conference dates and register HERE.

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Hardships and Trials

Hardships — When They Feel Anything But Light and Momentary

by Chaka Heinze

Sometimes hardship levels us. Leaves us broken and struggling to find the strength to face each new day.

My family has recently come through a season of trial. Just typing that made me smile. I’d be more honest to say the past few months have been such an uncertain time regarding our youngest son’s health, I’ve spent many a night battling fear and anguish, watching him struggle with pain and a tangible fear of imminent death.

Much of this hardship left me wrestling with the purpose of pain in our lives. But when I opened my Bible for Verse image 2 Cor. 4:17 written in inky blue cloudscomfort, I was smacked in the face with scriptures like Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 4:17. The NIV says, “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.”

Light and momentary? Surely, he wasn’t referring to a situation such as ours. Paul would never dismiss the severity of a child’s illness as the family endures hospitalizations and sleepless nights, grappling with issues of life and death.

If you know anything about the Apostle Paul, you know he meant every word he wrote. He was a man who faced floggings, imprisonment, shipwrecks, persecution, rejection, and ultimately death, for his calling. And he was writing to an audience whose reality included the possibility they and their families might be mistreated, imprisoned, or even murdered for their faith in Jesus. When Paul wrote the Greek equivalent of “light and momentary troubles,” he knew exactly who he was talking to and what he was saying.

And yes, he was talking to me, too.

The truth that enabled Paul to overcome all obstacles, that empowered him to sing after being beaten and thrown in prison, and to rejoice while in chains, was the knowledge that no pain he endured could compare to the glory waiting for him in heaven. For Paul, every suffering brought him not closer to death, but closer to God.

All suffering for the Christian in this present age is meant to thrust us toward our heavenly Father.
Chaka Heinze

All suffering for the Christian in this present age is meant to thrust us toward our heavenly Father. No other purpose is big enough to touch the wound when a parent loses a child, or when one receives a cancer diagnosis, or when one spouse leaves another.

In the middle of our hardship, there was little solace to be found in the fact others saw our family as strong, or learned a lesson from our pain, or got the chance to serve us. Such a poignant level of loss needs the supernatural relief of knowing there’s something greater on the other side of hardship. It feels almost disrespectful to think a God of love would allow our family to suffer for anything less than our greatest good—to bring us closer to Him.

Pain still wounds. Loss must still be mourned. And God promises to walk with us through our trial. The truth doesn’t remove the need to process, but it can fill us with hope for the future promised to those who believe in Jesus Christ for salvation.

Our exquisite pain, when weighed on the scale of eternity, can help put our troubles into proper perspective. Light and momentary. The sting of suffering on this earth will be forgotten when we’re basking in the coming glory with our Lord.

This truth helps our family face an uncertain future with hope. This understanding helped Paul look beyond his trials to the eternity God had planned for him. He encourages us to “fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18 NIV).

God provides comfort during trials. And, through Paul, He offers the best perspective of our most difficult circumstances. Every pain reminds us life here is a temporary condition, and the “light and momentary troubles” we’re asked to endure will be nothing in comparison with all God plans to lavish on us.

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18 NIV).

Let’s talk about this. How does Paul description of troubles as “light and momentary” make you feel? For the Christian, all hardship is meant to lead us closer to God, what ways have trials helped you in your relationship with Him? How can changing our focus from the trials in front of us to the unseen, the eternal strengthen us?