Tag Archives: trial

Psalms 40-42

I waited patiently for the Lord;
    he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
    out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
    and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth,
    a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear the Lord
    and put their trust in him. (Psalm 40:1-3, NIV)

Yesterday’s reading emphasized, for me, that our only hope is the Lord. The verses today put my thoughts to deliverance and blessing–a blessing that is born from hardship. Not only that, but how through situations likened to pit, muck and mire, the Lord’s deliverance magnifies his glory for all to see.

I proclaim your saving acts in the great assembly;
    I do not seal my lips, Lord,
    as you know.
10 I do not hide your righteousness in my heart;
    I speak of your faithfulness and your saving help.
I do not conceal your love and your faithfulness
    from the great assembly. (Psalm 40:9-10, NIV)

I’ve usually been one to want a way out of a hardship, and not a way through it. I am not alone in a hardship–there are others who either walk alongside or who walk away. Those who stay–do they know they are blessed?

Blessed are those who have regard for the weak;
    the Lord delivers them in times of trouble.
The Lord protects and preserves them—
    they are counted among the blessed in the land—
    he does not give them over to the desire of their foes.
The Lord sustains them on their sickbed
    and restores them from their bed of illness. (Psalm 41:1-3, NIV)

I haven’t always looked for the blessing from or the honor due to God in a trial. In fact, I may have been more preoccupied with the details of the pit and the muck and mire. Certain events this year have caused me to look at life differently. One being, on a lighter note, a self-imposed (inflicted!) challenge (75 Hard) that I had to restart several times. I ended up getting a copy of the book (originally I was just going off the checklist), which was key in reframing the purpose of the challenge: to develop mental toughness. In what could be a long story, God used the purpose of mental toughness and paired it with my walk with him in a situation where I not only needed his guidance and kindness, but also needed the mental toughness to step into conflict with maturity and composure.

Why, my soul, are you downcast?
    Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
    for I will yet praise him,
    my Savior and my God. (Psalm 42:11, NIV)

Life really does have a lot of conflict, hardship and trial. Lord, I want to handle the “little” situations in a way that honors you. These little things prepare me for the bigger things. Again I ask, “How do I want to show up in the world?” The answer unchanged: like I am the Lord’s.

Lord, you know I’ve made a lot of excuses. I’ve whined and complained. I’ve avoided hard situations out of my own fear and discomfort. All of these things have kept me dull, weak and ineffective. Thank you for being with me the other day when I picked up the phone. Thank you for putting scripture in my mind to hold my focus. Thank you for putting a new song in my heart.

Courtney (66books365)

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Job 12:13-16:10

I recently caught up with a friend who has been going through severe and mysterious health ailments. Tentatively she shared a detail, then another. I don’t have the full picture of what she’s been through these past months, but I recognized a holy privilege to be invited into any space of her journey. (Oh, the awe of holy ground. I do not want to mar it with an impulsive or incomplete response!) As I listened to her, I heard the natural bubble of her voice. She has always been joyful. And even in this, she waits with joy and patience and confidence.

“I have heard many things like these;
    you are miserable comforters, all of you!
Will your long-winded speeches never end?
    What ails you that you keep on arguing?
I also could speak like you,
    if you were in my place;
I could make fine speeches against you
    and shake my head at you.
But my mouth would encourage you;
    comfort from my lips would bring you relief
.” (Job 16:2-5, NIV, emphasis added)

I wonder if it is the deep lows in life that allow one to speak comfort to another. Empathy. Compassion. Sincerity.

I don’t know all that she’s experienced in this trial, but I know she still walks by faith on this dark path. She looks at me and shines her light. She is in the deep lows, and yet when our conversation was over, I felt hope, comfort, and relief because of her joy and confidence.

As I read through Job’s story, I think on his friends and their responses. They speak in judgment. They speak judgment of God. But God wasn’t penalizing or punishing Job–God called Job faithful. Maybe someone carries a heavy burden because of mistakes they’ve made, or from actions made by others. And maybe someone was appointed by God to carry a heavy burden, because God knew he could.

Lord, I hope I always remember the person’s heart who walks through heartache and trial. I pray that you would give me guidance how to comfort, encourage, or even to be still as I bear witness the journey. I pray that in my own walk, that you would send me support to encourage me for burdens I might carry. I give thanks for my friend, Lord, and your presence with us.

Courtney (66books365)

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Genesis 37:25-40:8

A brother betrayed by his siblings and abandoned for profit … A wife widowed and a promise left unfulfilled … Lies and accusations spoken and believed send him to prison. I’ve always focused on the injustice, malice, and deceit of these verses. Today, I notice the passing of time.

Joseph’s father mourns: 34 Then Jacob tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and mourned for his son many days. 35 All his sons and daughters came to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted. “No,” he said, “I will continue to mourn until I join my son in the grave.” So his father wept for him.” (Genesis 37:34-35, NIV). Judah moves off, marries, and fathers several sons (years). Joseph is sold as a slave and gains Potiphar’s trust over his household–that doesn’t happen overnight. Judah’s son, Er, dies and his widow (Tamar) is passed down to his brother, who dies, and she then is told to wait for the youngest brother to grow up. Years. And then a mention of “after some time” that Joseph was in prison, and then another mention of “after some time” when he is about to interpret dreams. These are stories of endurance.

How does one wait well when there’s no end date? Tamar didn’t know when a promise would be fulfilled, so she took action. Joseph went from slave to prisoner (two sides of the same coin) with his very freedom and life held in someone’s hand. How did they endure this for so long?

Tamar’s story in the wait lacks detail, but Joseph’s story tells of God’s favor in his life. Favor that even though he was betrayed, abandoned, accused by those around him, he was held by God.

But while Joseph was there in the prison, 21 the Lord was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden. 22 So the warden put Joseph in charge of all those held in the prison, and he was made responsible for all that was done there. 23 The warden paid no attention to anything under Joseph’s care, because the Lord was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did. (Genesis 39:20b-23, NIV)

When stressful circumstances arise, I immediately think, “How do I make this work?” I’ve waded through uncomfortable situations I wasn’t sure I could bear for long. I’ve wondered if I was supposed to find a way through or a way out. These chapters have me focus on endurance and action in trial.

Lord, help me to know when to take action and when to wait patiently. Please comfort me with your presence when I have to endure difficult situations.

Courtney (66books365)

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Daniel 10-12; John 20

Then he said, “Don’t be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day you began to pray for understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your request has been heard in heaven. I have come in answer to your prayer. But for twenty-one days the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia blocked my way. Then Michael, one of the archangels, came to help me, and I left him there with the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia. 

Now I am here to explain what will happen to your people in the future, for this vision concerns a time yet to come.”

While he was speaking to me, I looked down at the ground, unable to say a word. Then the one who looked like a man touched my lips, and I opened my mouth and began to speak. I said to the one standing in front of me, “I am filled with anguish because of the vision I have seen, my lord, and I am very weak. How can someone like me, your servant, talk to you, my lord? My strength is gone, and I can hardly breathe.”

Then the one who looked like a man touched me again, and I felt my strength returning. “Don’t be afraid,” he said, “for you are very precious to God. Peace! Be encouraged! Be strong!”

As he spoke these words to me, I suddenly felt stronger and said to him, “Please speak to me, my lord, for you have strengthened me.” Daniel 10:12-19

I have been holding on to God, holding tight to what I believe He’s told me; and yet there is a battle going on for the break through. I believe that it’s a battle, not against flesh and blood, but in the spirit…the enemy desiring the breakdown of family, bitterness, and a turning from faith. Most of the time the enemy isn’t succeeding, but here and there my resolve to be strong in the circumstance weakens for a time and I am left frustrated and bewildered.

My husband and I got married in India in February 2010. I was born and raised in the US and he is an Indian citizen, and through a series of events – a long story for another time – we were brought together, a marriage arranged by God.

For the past year and a half we’ve been following procedure to acquire the visa that will allow our family to be reunited in this country – a process that can typically take up to 8 months. Through all this time apart, my husband has continued ministering to the orphans, widows, lepers, and poverty stricken. Meanwhile, I am stateside nurturing our family, educating our children, and praying for a miracle.

There have been minor roadblocks throughout the process – illness, a baby born, waiting on finances, etc. But a few months ago we hit a major obstacle that requires a miraculous breakthrough. Because I have been on and off the mission field since 2008, I have not held a paying job for any length of time. Needless to say, the income of a non-paid volunteer* is well below poverty level, and I do not financially qualify to be considered the sole-sponsor for my husband, a requirement for the next step in the process. In order for my husband’s visa to be granted, we need a co-sponsor who is able to team up with our family, and so far the search for that person is proving to be difficult.

This recounting in the book of Daniel, strengthens my hope and encourages me. It helps me remember that just because I pray hard with expectancy, I may not hear the answer right away. But that doesn’t mean that God hasn’t heard my prayer; it doesn’t mean that He hasn’t already put the answer in motion. God loves me and calls me precious to Him.

Even when I am most frustrated, I believe God already knows who will join with our family in this crazy adventure. I believe that person’s heart is being prepared even as I write this. I believe that God didn’t bring us together from worlds apart to allow the barricades the enemy sets up to tear us down and steal our family’s hope. I hold onto the peace He gives that surpasses understanding. I hold onto the encouragement He sends my way through His Word, through music that honors Him, through family and friends. I hold on to His strength. I hold on to the truth that God knew we’d experience this trial and that He already knows the solution; and I trust that He will give me the wisdom to know where to walk and through this journey, He will transform me more into His image.

Yesappa, Thank You in advance for the answer. Thank You in advance for making it possible for our family to be reunited. Thank You in advance for leading me to the person who will partner with us in this adventure. Thank You for Your peace and Your strength in my weakness. Help me walk out each day in this journey in a way that displays Your glory, and help me glean from the lessons this trial is teaching me. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Blessings – Julie

 

 

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the 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.

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Ruth 1-2; Acts 3

All she saw was against her. Her husband died. Her sons died. She was returning to her former land. She was bitter, and she changed her name to reflect it. She said a tearful goodbye to her daughters-in-law. She had nothing but her story.

But Ruth clung tightly to Naomi. 15 “Look,” Naomi said to her, “your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods. You should do the same.”

16 But Ruth replied, “Don’t ask me to leave you and turn back. Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. 17 Wherever you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord punish me severely if I allow anything but death to separate us!” 18 When Naomi saw that Ruth was determined to go with her, she said nothing more. Ruth 1:14b-18, NLT.

Naomi’s story is transformed by love. Word of the two women traveled.

11 “Yes, I know,” Boaz replied. “But I also know about everything you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband. I have heard how you left your father and mother and your own land to live here among complete strangers. 12 May the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge, reward you fully for what you have done.” Ruth 2:11-12, NLT.

Their story is still told. It speaks of bitterness turned joy; death to new life; love, loyalty, provision. God took what seemed barren, empty and final, and he wrote a new story.

A beggar is carried to the gate.

As they approached the Temple, a man lame from birth was being carried in. Each day he was put beside the Temple gate, the one called the Beautiful Gate, so he could beg from the people going into the Temple. Acts 3:2, NLT.

The disciples had no money, but they gave him something else.

Peter and John looked at him intently, and Peter said, “Look at us!” The lame man looked at them eagerly, expecting some money. But Peter said, “I don’t have any silver or gold for you. But I’ll give you what I have. In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, get up and walk!”

Then Peter took the lame man by the right hand and helped him up. And as he did, the man’s feet and ankles were instantly healed and strengthened. He jumped up, stood on his feet, and began to walk! Then, walking, leaping, and praising God, he went into the Temple with them. Acts 3:4-8, NLT.

The beggar had been crippled since birth. The begging life was all he knew. God took what likely seemed permanent and wrote a new story–one that the beggar probably never imagined could happen outside of dreams.

If our very breath matters to the God who formed us, our stories matter too.

How have I perceived and reacted to situations with short-range focus instead of an eternal and kingdom view? God, I never want to forget who you are: provider, father, healer. You are capable of things I can’t even imagine.

Courtney (66books365)

https://youtu.be/eKcImiTxqKg

 

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