Tag Archives: hardship

1 Kings 2; 1 Chronicles 29; 2 Corinthians 11; Psalm 95

It is the end of David’s life, and he gives final instructions to Solomon. He advises him on future, and he reminds him of betrayals of the past. David started as a hard-working shepherd in the fields. He died a king.

26 So David son of Jesse reigned over all Israel. 27 He reigned over Israel for forty years, seven of them in Hebron and thirty-three in Jerusalem. 28 He died at a ripe old age, having enjoyed long life, wealth, and honor. Then his son Solomon ruled in his place (1 Chronicles 29:26-28, NLT).

Solomon had a kingdom to rule. His reign would not be without testing. First Kings 2 includes details of some of Solomon’s challenges, and how he established his rule.

Paul was Saul before his encounter with Christ. A man who once persecuted followers of Jesus, now devotes his life to truth–whatever the cost. While this passage speaks of Paul’s hardships, it is a boast of God’s faithfulness in Paul’s weakness.

I have worked harder, been put in prison more often, been whipped times without number, and faced death again and again. 24 Five different times the Jewish leaders gave me thirty-nine lashes. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea. 26 I have traveled on many long journeys. I have faced danger from rivers and from robbers. I have faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles. I have faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on the seas. And I have faced danger from men who claim to be believers but are not. 27 I have worked hard and long, enduring many sleepless nights. I have been hungry and thirsty and have often gone without food. I have shivered in the cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm (2 Corinthians 11:23-27, NLT).

I pay attention to these stories. I note the challenges, the hardship, the betrayal, the legacy. But central to it all, all these stories and struggles, is the Lord.

Come, let us worship and bow down.
    Let us kneel before the Lord our maker,
    for he is our God.
We are the people he watches over,
    the flock under his care (Psalm 95:6-7, NLT).

Lord, I am grateful for truth. It is worth protecting and preserving and honoring.

Courtney (66books365)

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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan

Deuteronomy 18; Psalm 105; Isaiah 45; Revelation 15

When I read these verses, I don’t think of Cyrus the Great and a massive empire. I think of a farm field that shines golden from a sunburst through the clouds; I think of a flock of birds in flight–that look like a sheet shaken in the wind; I think of a woman who’d gotten bit by a dog in front of a (former) house whose knock at my door brought  a word of encouragement from God; I think of a good cup of coffee and socks on my feet.

And I will give you treasures hidden in the darkness—
    secret riches.
I will do this so you may know that I am the Lord,
    the God of Israel, the one who calls you by name. Isaiah 45:3 NLT

I didn’t know how people could thank God for trials that came their way–not when it felt crushing and oppressive … not when the waiting was accompanied by doubt and a growing depression … or when it seemed the bottom dropped out in a numbing free fall. I didn’t know how to thank God for that. But I sought him daily, for any sign that he was there–and it was the closest I had ever walked with him. Each of these little things, gratitude in the every day, secret riches–treasures hidden in darkness.

I am the Lord, and there is no other.
    I create the light and make the darkness.
I send good times and bad times.
    I, the Lord, am the one who does these things. Isaiah 45:6b-7 NLT

I would understand what it meant to be hated. What it meant to be powerless. What it meant to be lonely. What it meant to be mocked. What it meant to surrender. What it meant to persevere. And how would I learn any of that in only good times? I would learn how to walk by faith, to trust in God, to hope. And in my weakness, he would reveal power.

“What sorrow awaits those who argue with their Creator.
    Does a clay pot argue with its maker?
Does the clay dispute with the one who shapes it, saying,
    ‘Stop, you’re doing it wrong!’
Does the pot exclaim,
    ‘How clumsy can you be?’
10 How terrible it would be if a newborn baby said to its father,
    ‘Why was I born?’
or if it said to its mother,
    ‘Why did you make me this way?’”

11 This is what the Lord says—
    the Holy One of Israel and your Creator:
“Do you question what I do for my children?
    Do you give me orders about the work of my hands?
12 I am the one who made the earth
    and created people to live on it.
With my hands I stretched out the heavens.
    All the stars are at my command.

I am years away from that time. Healing didn’t come overnight, but rather as a result of painful steps forward in a spiritual rehab. I am still (and often) thankful for a good cup of coffee and socks on my feet. And while it took time, I learned to be grateful for the trial.

Father God, those dark days were full of you. I am closer to you and know you in such a personal way, that I otherwise wouldn’t. Your word comes to life to me in ways that go deep. I am so thankful.

Courtney (66books365)

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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Isaiah, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, Old Testament

Ex. 18; Luke 21; Job 36; 2 Cor. 6

Job’s friend wants to paint a rosy picture for God followers–if you aren’t prosperous and your life isn’t pleasant, you must be doing it wrong. But today’s readings all point out that following God is no cake walk. Moses had a long, hard journey leading people out of slavery. Job, who was titled as God fearing and blameless, experienced heartache and loss magnified. Paul lists his hardships one after the other. And Jesus tells this,

“But before all this occurs, there will be a time of great persecution. You will be dragged into synagogues and prisons, and you will stand trial before kings and governors because you are my followers. 13 But this will be your opportunity to tell them about me. 14 So don’t worry in advance about how to answer the charges against you, 15 for I will give you the right words and such wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to reply or refute you! 16 Even those closest to you—your parents, brothers, relatives, and friends—will betray you. They will even kill some of you. 17 And everyone will hate you because you are my followers.” Luke 21:12-17 NLT, emphasis mine.

Job’s friend credits himself as knowledgeable. His observations reach for truth, but fall short. And this is something everyone is capable of. Well-meaning friends, however smart and sincere, can mix the truth into false concoctions. Who hasn’t thought their own advice sounded good and true?

I turn to the Bible.

I sit around the table with Moses’ father-in-law, Paul and Jesus. I write down what they say.

  • Lead by example: teach God’s decrees, give His instructions, show (them) how to conduct (their) lives.
  • We live in such a way that no one will stumble because of us, and no one will find fault with our ministry. In everything we do, we show that we are true ministers of God. We patiently endure troubles and hardships and calamities of every kind. We have been beaten, been put in prison, faced angry mobs, worked to exhaustion, endured sleepless nights, and gone without food. 6 We prove ourselves by our purity, our understanding, our patience, our kindness, by the Holy Spirit within us,and by our sincere love. We faithfully preach the truth. God’s power is working in us. We use the weapons of righteousness in the right hand for attack and the left hand for defense. We serve God whether people honor us or despise us, whether they slander us or praise us. We are honest, but they call us impostors. We are ignored, even though we are well known. We live close to death, but we are still alive. We have been beaten, but we have not been killed. 10 Our hearts ache, but we always have joy. We are poor, but we give spiritual riches to others. We own nothing, and yet we have everything. 2 Corinthians 6:3-10 NLT, emphasis mine.
  • 28 So when all these things begin to happen, stand and look up, for your salvation is near!” … 34 “Watch out! Don’t let your hearts be dulled by carousing and drunkenness, and by the worries of this life. Don’t let that day catch you unaware, 35 like a trap. For that day will come upon everyone living on the earth. 36 Keep alert at all times. And pray that you might be strong enough to escape these coming horrors and stand before the Son of Man.” Luke 21:28, 34-36 NLT, emphasis mine.

Thank you, God, for words I can trust. I pray for grace and strength “to live in such a way”, “in everything (I) do”, to serve you.

Courtney (66books365)

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Filed under 2 Corinthians, 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Exodus, Job, Luke, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, New Testament, Old Testament

Joshua 4; Psalms 129-131; Isaiah 64; Matthew 12

I have a friend who keeps a prayer journal, and she marks off each answered prayer as the Lord responds. Not like it’s a wish-list that the Lord fulfills, but as a memorial to him to see his work in her life and the lives of others. Her testimony of his power is an impressionable witness. I think the Lord always wants us to remember what he has done, and to tell people about him and his work.

He said to the Israelites, “In the future when your descendants ask their fathers, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them, ‘Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’ Joshua 4:21-22.

Some prayers are answered immediately. Some prayers are the hope-link during a trying time. I think of families I know who face draining circumstances … my own troubles shame me in that light.

Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him

Prayers that humble and plead, that seek and find, prayers that rise up from the depths of a human heart and have since ancient times–we can find hope, both the righteous and the sinner.

You come to the help of those who gladly do right, who remember your ways. But when we continued to sin against them, you were angry. How then can we be saved? Isaiah 64:4-5

The God who found the how to part waters and defeat armies and grow kingdoms … and answer shaky, whispered prayers … he made the way to save all who call on his name.

Sweet, sweet Jesus.

If you, O LORD, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness; therefore you are feared. Psalm 130:3-4

I don’t have a prayer journal, but the pages of my life are inked in his blood.

He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the LORD is powerful and so that you might always fear the LORD your God. Joshua 4:24

And I offer up shaky, whispered prayers and thanks.

Courtney (66books365)

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Filed under Joshua, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, Old Testament