Tag Archives: circumstances

Taught by Trouble

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance.
Romans 5:3, NLT*

When trouble comes, or something goes wrong, how often do we respond this way? Or do we react instead, taking it personally? Like it’s one more thing to fight.

Paul writes these words in the midst of teaching about the right relationship and peace with God that we’ve received, the “undeserved privilege (verse 2)” we’ve been given through Christ. He highlights God’s great love for us, and our hope of salvation.

In this context, it’s easier to see that he’s not asking us to somehow celebrate hardship.

He’s giving us a different perspective on what’s happening, and showing a healthier response than our natural one.

If salvation life is all about relationship with God, then problems and trials are opportunities to practice depending on Him. They keep us from drifting back to trusting our own strength. They develop our faith by letting us prove His faithfulness and power.

They may be meant for harm, but God can use them for good. I’m learning to pray “use this” or “help me pass this test” – when I can notice what’s going on before instinctively reacting in battle mode.

God our Rock and our Refuge, grant us spiritual sight to recognize the deeper realities in the trials and difficulties that You allow in our lives. Help us choose to rely on You, so that You can grow our endurance, our character, and our hope. Draw us deeper into relationship with You, for our joy and for Your glory.

Hillsong United’s song, “Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)” reminds us where to place our hope.

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Finding Courage in God

And David was greatly distressed; for the people spoke of stoning him, because all the people were bitter in soul, each for his sons and daughters. But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God.
1 Samuel 30:6, RSV*

The King James Version says “David encouraged himself in the Lord his God.” While David (not yet crowned king) and his men were away on a mission, enemies had sacked their town and taken captive all the women and children. No wonder he was “distressed”!

But he found courage – and strength – in the Lord his God.

How can we do that?

Stop, instead of jumping into action or into despair.


  • at who God is
  • at what He says
  • at what He has done in the past

Listen: to what He says. Then, by faith, we can choose to obey Him, whether that’s in action or in waiting.

God our Refuge and our Strong Tower, help us trust You even when everything has gone wrong. Help us rely on You as our source of courage, strength, and hope. Quiet us to know Your presence. Work in our circumstances and in our hearts, to Your glory.

Our song is from Austin Stone Worship: “You Never Change

*Revised Standard Version (RSV) Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1946, 1952, and 1971 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Darkness has Limits

Then I heard two holy ones talking to each other. One of them asked, “How long will the events of this vision last? How long will the rebellion that causes desecration stop the daily sacrifices? How long will the Temple and heaven’s army be trampled on?”
Daniel 8:13, NLT*

This is from one of Daniel’s visions, and in it, everything looked disastrous. Verse 12 says “The army of heaven was restrained from responding to this rebellion.”

Daniel saw evil winning – permitted to win – but even then the heavenly beings knew this was only for a time. God had allowed it for a purpose.

When things seem out of control, when God seems absent or not working… He still has the ultimate authority and He will work even this into His redemptive plan.

There are things God allows as a consequence of our sin-soaked world, things that should never happen and that we wouldn’t allow if we had His power. The people living in these circumstances are suffering greatly.

Knowing His goodness and the other aspects of His character helps us choose to trust Him even in the worst of times.

At the Lord Jesus’ return, when everything is made new, when His glory is fully revealed and all tears cease, somehow He will make everything right.

God our Creator and our Saviour, Your ways are beyond our understanding, and You are good. Help us trust You when we can’t see. Strengthen our faith to hold onto You. And we thank You that You will work everything out according to Your plan, and that it is a good plan, involving our salvation and our rescue. Thank You that Your glory will ultimately be revealed and Your people comforted, and that the enemy of our souls will be forever overcome.

A song of comfort for me when I don’t understand is Steven Curtis Chapman’s “God is God.”

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Living for God’s Glory

Do everything without complaining and arguing, so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people.
Philippians 2:14-15, NLT*

In Canada, we’ve recently seen what looks to many like another travesty of justice. And we see legislation in the making that has frightening possibilities.

The US political scene has sent me to read the Book of Daniel.

Around the world, terrorists spread hate and fear, innocent people are victimized, and the list could go on.

What’s a Christian to do?

We can echo Randy Stonehill’s plea, “Stop the World, I Want to Get Off,” but there’s nowhere else to go. And Jesus didn’t call us to hide, to sulk, or to turn nasty.

He told us to go and make disciples, and to teach them to obey His commands. (Matthew 28:19-20)

I’m not sure what that should look like in my life. But when I think of living for God’s glory, and what that looks like: God didn’t write us off and turn away in frustration. He didn’t get bitter or resentful. In His anger at our sin, He remained righteous – and He made a way to restore us.

As His followers, we don’t have the luxury of reacting to this world in the way that comes naturally – the way we think it deserves. We need to bring our hurt, anger, confusion, disappointment, fear, and the rest, to Him who judges justly (1 Peter 2:23). To the One in ultimate authority, whose plans will be fulfilled in His perfect timing. To the One who loves not only us but those still lost in the darkness.

Anchoring our confidence in His character, His power and His purposes, we can conduct ourselves with hope and in a manner worthy of His name. Not by denying or ignoring what’s happening, but by remembering that this isn’t over yet, and that God is with us in the midst of it.

God is our security. Whatever happens, He will be there.

Our God, You see the darkness rising in our world, and yet You are at work behind the scenes to bring Your Kingdom purposes to pass. Give us the faith and the courage to rely on You and to shine Your light. Thank You that somehow You will work all this out for good and to reveal Your glory to the nations.

Let Matt Redman’s song, “Shine,” be our prayer.

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Guest Post: Can You See the Positive in the Negative?

Can You See the Positive in the Negative?

by R.A. Giggie

Whenever I go through hard times, even if it seems it can’t get any worse, I try to look at the good things I have. Nine times out of ten, it helps and lifts my spirits up. For example, if I see rain instead of the sun, I thank God for the food I eat, the cozy home that keeps me warm and dry, the clothes on my back, and the comfy bed I sleep in. This said, it doesn’t mean I don’t have trials and tribulations.

I’m blessed beyond belief to have good health, even with osteoarthritis which isn’t as severe as that of others. My pain is minimal compared to some who take pain killers on a daily basis in order to function properly. Many people live with different pains and burdens, like emotional, mental, and spiritual.

I don’t know who said, “There’s always somebody worse off than you are,” but I believe it. If we look at the positive things in our lives, we’ll see the hope, the light at the end of the tunnel.

Years ago, our six-year-old son was viciously attacked by a jealous dog who wanted undivided attention from her master. As a result, Terrence now bears a huge scar in the shape of an upside down L on his cheek. He nearly lost his eye. The way the dog shook him like a rag doll, he could easily have been killed. Yes, it could have been worse. One day, in his late teens, he came home upset because people made fun of his scar. It broke my heart all over again that others would point the finger or give him “the look.” I reminded him that the owner had told us his dog was very possessive. His wife was pregnant when the attack took place, and the dog was put down. To this day, I believe had it not attacked Terrence, more than likely it would have attacked, and killed, their newborn infant.Emma's Prayer, by R.A. Giggie

There are so many other hurts in the world. That’s why when I write, I ask God to give me words of hope to reach people who are suffering, and those who are lost. I want to help them see things could be worse.

Stella’s Plea is about the disappearance of a three-year-old deaf child from the local playground and her mom’s struggle to find her. While her husband’s serving in the military overseas, Stella faces this all alone. Will she turn to God in her time of need?

Emma’s Prayer deals with a teen mom who put her son up for adoption but soon regrets it. Has he been placed with adoptive parents yet? Is it too late for her to get him back?

My novels are fiction, but the events they depict CAN happen in real life.

Have you been down lately? Can you see the light at the end of this road called LIFE? Look around you and remind yourself. It could be worse.

R.A. GiggieRenee-Ann Giggie’s desire to write came to her at a very young age. Her vivid imagination won her first place in her schools’ second grade composition contest. Later, the poetry she wrote as a teen found its way among the articles and columns of Le Progrès, the local newspaper where her mother worked as a reporter. The desire to write, however, remained nothing more than a hobby until just a few years ago when she wrote her first novel, Stella’s Plea, (2012) and her second, Emma’s Prayer, (2016). She is now working on her third, Charlie’s Plight.

She was also published in OakTara’s anthology, Falling in Love With You (October 2012), a compilation of true love stories.

She’s a member of, and very active in, several writing groups, and no stranger to Christian writers’ conferences where she thrives on learning everything she can about the craft, puts her newfound knowledge into practice, and then looks forward to the next conference.

She and her husband live in New Brunswick, Canada.

Connect with Renee-Ann online:

Facebook: facebook.com/ragiggie

Twitter: twitter.com/ragiggie

Website: reneeanngiggie.com

When the Times Scare Us

How great are [God’s] signs,
how powerful his wonders!
His kingdom will last forever,
his rule through all generations.
Daniel 4:3, NLT*

Current political trends in Canada and the US frighten me, and they’re mild compared to some of what’s happening around the world. Because they’re closer to home, I have a greater sense of impending doom – my loved ones and I will have to live in the middle of what comes.

Humanly speaking, it’s going downhill fast. And not in the fun “sledding in the snow” way.

But God is bigger. Stronger. Wiser than our foolishness and sin. What He sees likely offends and saddens Him, but it’s not unique. Nor is it a surprise.

The great and merciful God who spoke the universe into being, who devised a miraculous way to rescue people from our destructive path, will not be defeated by human leaders or the people who exalt them. His plans will come to fruition.

When His chosen people wouldn’t stop turning away from Him, He did finally give them over to captivity in Babylon for 50 years, as He had warned. This does not comfort me.

But read the whole Book of Daniel. Look at how God shook up these heathen kings. Look at how He revealed His glory. And read on in the Bible to see how He faithfully brought His people back to the promised land… as promised.

God is faithful. We, as a planet full of people, are not. When we turn (or drift) away, He needs to bring us back or we’ll miss everything He wants to give us. Today, every day, let’s pray for spiritual renewal and revival: for ourselves, our loved ones, our leaders, and our enemies.

God our Creator, our Judge, and our Rescuer, we confess our fear and our helplessness. We look to Your mercy and grace. Because of Your love, draw men, women and children to Yourself. Reveal Your glory, Your relevance, and our need. Forgive our faithlessness and grant us the faith to fully believe. Raise up leaders who will be wise, and give those in power wisdom in their decisions. Open blind eyes, unstop deaf ears, and intervene in ways that will show Your power and Your glory.

Let Todd Agnew’s rendition of “God Undefeatable” reassure our spirits today.

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

How do You Handle Suffering?

So if you are suffering in a manner that pleases God, keep on doing what is right, and trust your lives to the God who created you, for he will never fail you.
1 Peter 4:19, NLT*

Peter’s writing to Christians who are being persecuted for their faith, reminding them that this can go with the territory. He says there’s no value in suffering for doing wrong, but if they hold up under attacks on their faith, it’s pleasing to God and it may help others see the truth.

The context is persecution, but I think it applies to any form of suffering that we don’t deserve. Peter does warn them there’s no value in suffering as a criminal, etc.

Christians are risking – and losing – their lives for Jesus in parts of the world today, and it’s horrible. Here in North America, the most “suffering” we do for our faith is putting up with snide comments, misunderstanding, and a culture bent on denying our God.

But we’ll all face other forms of suffering, too. Sickness, financial crises, broken relationships, worry… it’s a long list. How do we handle these things as Christians, in a way that shows others who God is?

Peter says we’re to “keep on doing what is right, and trust your lives to the God who created you.”

What’s our confidence to do this? “He will never fail you.”

That means we guard our words and our actions, and keep our attitudes pure before God, because we trust Him. Proverbs 15:1 says, “A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare.”

It means we repeatedly choose to trust God instead of giving in to the fear and the pain. It means we make time to care for the person beside us in the hospital waiting room. (Sometimes I think God allows us to end up in those places just because there’s someone else there He wants to reach.)

It means… even when we “deserve” some self-pity, we need to ask God how He wants to use the situation.

And it means “if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it (1 Peter 3:15)”. Gently, not pushy. Tell the story of how He’s made a difference and strengthened us to endure.

It’s all about Jesus, and we sort of forget that in our daily routines.

Mighty and loving God, You saved us and called us to live for Your glory. Help us learn to walk with You each moment, living in response to You instead of reacting to our circumstances. Show us how to live in our relationships and our responsibilities with hearts turned to You and with spirits depending on You. Give us faith to know that You will never fail us.

A good song to keep us focused on the Lord’s care is “Your Faithfulness,” by Brian Doerksen.

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Opportunity or Threat?

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.
James 1:2, NLT*

Do you see troubles as an opportunity?

Maybe I’m still too much of a child inside, but I have the child’s response (mentally) of cowering and shrinking. Of thinking the trouble is too big, and fearing it will overwhelm me. Of seeing a threat.

Another part of me raises my defenses. It’s a win-or-lose struggle, and I can’t afford to lose.

James gives us a much broader perspective. Of course the pain and risk of trouble is great. (In verse 12 he talks about how “God blesses those who patiently endure.”) But he reveals a higher level of stakes.

Trouble isn’t one more bout with a larger danger that will eventually overcome us, as if life is really out to get us.

Trouble is one more opportunity to grow spiritually and to deepen our relationship with the God who loves us. (click to tweet)

It’s not a case of “fight until you can’t get up.” James says trouble tests our faith. To that he adds:

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 1:3-4, NLT*)

How can we reach a perfect state of needing nothing? By becoming fully reliant on our God, who we’ve discovered is all-sufficient for any trouble that threatens us. Will that happen this side of Heaven? Maybe not, but we can grow toward it.

God who loves us and redeems us, please open us to see opportunity where our natural selves see only threats. Help us to allow the troubles in our lives to help develop our endurance. Give us the faith to trust You, so we can experience Your all-sufficient care for us.

We have another Matt Maher song this week, because it fits perfectly: “Everything is Grace.”

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Pain and Endurance

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance.
Romans 5:3, NLT*

Most people’s natural reaction to problems and trials is a plea to get us out of there. We don’t like pain, and it’s often a signal of danger (think about touching a hot stove, or feeling symptoms of a health problem).

In a fallen world, pain is inevitable. Nobody wants it, but God can use even this. Let’s not waste it.

Today’s verse can remind us to invite God to work in our problems and to “help us develop endurance.” It shifts our focus from the trouble itself to God. Not that it diminishes the pain, but it restores perspective. We’re not alone. The God of the universe is with us. He cares for us, and He is our best and only hope.

Instead of slipping into self-defense mode, can we learn to ask what will God do here? Can we look for His help in anticipation and trust instead of watching fearfully for disaster?

The Message actually uses the words “alert expectancy” as we look “for whatever God will do next.” (Romans 5:3-5, MSG) That’s a challenge I can’t live up to, most days. But I want to.

God our Strength and our Shield, when You let us go through trials, help us remember that You are there with us. Help us keep our eyes on You. Teach us to look in alert expectancy for “whatever You will do” and to remember that however huge the crisis, You can give us what we need to endure it.

When I looked for an “endurance” song, I couldn’t get this one out of my head, so perhaps God wants to speak to someone through it… it’s definitely a good prayer for each of us: Matt Maher‘s “A Future Not My Own.” (See the background to the lyrics.)


*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Take Heart

I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.
John 16:33, NLT*

If we look around, there is plenty to discourage us. Although MacLean’s shares the encouragement that “humans have never been better off” (Scott Gilmore: Believe it or not, this is the best time to be alive), people still suffer. And many of us live in cultures that are increasingly open about their godlessness. It reminds me of Paul’s words to the Romans about how, when people turned away from God, He let them have what they wanted.

Closer to home, there may be financial pressures. Health, employment, relationship concerns. For me, it’s my church, which has been bleeding out for the past year.

Each one of us likely has at least one thing pressing heavily. Through it all, we need to keep ourselves rooted in Jesus, depending on Him.

That’s hard, though. Over time, the weight seems to increase and we may not see the Lord doing anything. We can believe the suffering more than the Saviour. (click to tweet that)

Life is truly “a long obedience in the same direction,” and the closer we are to Jesus, the better off we’ll be. For me, that means I need to spend more time in worship, remembering who God is and how much He loves me. Reminding myself what He’s done in the past, to reassure my faith that He’s still at work. Waiting for His timing.

Our God, so often we strain to see the end of the story when You’re still working in the middle of it. Help us trust You in the waiting. Help us worship. Remind us who You are, and give us the faith we need. Grow the fruit of the Holy Spirit within us, including patience and faithfulness. Enable us to conduct ourselves in a manner worthy of the Gospel.

When circumstances start weighing me down, Brian Doerksen‘s song, “You Shine,” is a good antidote.

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.