Going through Hell?

“If you’re going through hell, keep on going. Don’t slow down. If you’re scared, don’t show it. You might get out before the devil even knows you’re there.”

Songs have a way of encouraging us in the darkest, weirdest moments of life. The Lord uses lyrics to drive encouragement right into our hearts.

If You’re Going through Hell by Rodney Atkins is one of those encouraging songs. It reminds us to keep on moving through the hard times of life.

BUY If You’re Going through Hell at Amazon

If you’re going through a hard time, keep on moving. Don’t slow down. Unfortunately, hard times are a part of life. Difficulties have a way of creeping into life. Fortunately, they only last for a season, and it is a season the Lord is with us. We can keep moving during those times with the confidence the Lord is our shelter and refuge.

We may be scared, but the Lord says we can take courage because he is with us.

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes,” encourages Ephesians 6:10-11.

The Lord personally goes before us in uncertain times.

Don’t be afraid. God will personally go ahead of you.

Israel was about to go into Canaan. This was the land the Lord had promised to them, and it was time to enter the land. Many barriers still stood in the way.

For the Israelites, this may have been an uncertain time. What was going to happen? How would they move forward? What challenge would they face tomorrow? These are questions everyone seems to ask in uncertain times, and Moses reassured the people.

Moses says in Deuteronomy 31:6, “So be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid and do not panic before them for the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.”

Moses reminded the people the Lord would personally go ahead of them. The Lord would create the path, and he would show the way to go. So, the people of Israel could walk into uncertain times with the confidence the Lord would be with them.

In the same way, we can have confidence the Lord is with us. He will personally go ahead of us. He will create the path and show us the way to go. We can have confidence following the Lord’s leading will get us through uncertain times.

We are living in a time and place which may be unsure, uncertain, and fluctuating, but the Lord is constant. He is never changing.

Hebrews 13:6 says, “So we can say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper, so I will have no fear.”

You and I can have confidence in the Lord; he is personally traveling ahead of us. He is creating the path and will show us the way to go.

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a stack of folded newspapers

The Constant in an Ever-Changing Crisis

Everything around us may be swirling and tossing, but the Lord is staying.

The current landscape is ever-changing. Society is amid a health crisis, which is rapidly evolving. Information is changing daily, perhaps even every few hours, and we must adjust our approach at a breakneck speed. It can certainly be overwhelming as everything is changing around us, but there is one constant.

Hebrews 13:8 says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”

The Lord is our constant in an evolving time. Everything around us may be swirling and tossing, but the Lord is staying. He is the same today as he was yesterday, and he will be the same tomorrow as he is today. And, the Lord has already displayed his power over everything.

He calmed a storm and overpowered demons in an evening’s work. Mark’s Gospel records this eventful night.

Power on display.

Power to calm the storm.

After Jesus wrapped up a day of preaching, he and the disciples were crossing a large lake, and a fierce storm developed. The Bible says the wind was howling and waves were crashing over the boat filling it with water, but Jesus was asleep.

The panicked disciples woke him, but Jesus didn’t panic. He calmly rebuked the storm and it obeyed. The disciples were amazed and pointed out even the wind and the waves obey the Lord.

What caused the disciples to panic, Jesus calmly controlled? He was their constant in a storm, and he was constantly in control.

Power to free the man.

The excitement continued across the lake. A man, who was possessed by demons, ran to meet Jesus. He was screaming. Jesus overpowered the demons. He freed the man from their bondage and sent them over the cliff into the water. All were amazed at Jesus’ power.

What caused everyone difficulty and stress, Jesus calmly controlled. The demons were no match for Jesus.

The evening from the disciple’s perspective.

What a night the disciples experienced. Their trip across the lake was interrupted by a strong storm. They were panicked and anxious. They finally get across the lake, but their hopes of having a calm moment are interrupted by a screaming man in the dark.

Either of these events would be enough to unnerve the disciples, but they experienced both in one night. Panic, uncertainty, and anxiety may describe the disciple’s emotions that night, but Jesus met the night with calmness and constant control.

Relating to the disciples.

Right now, you and I may feel like the disciples felt on that night. Panic, anxiety, and uncertainty may be emotions we are feeling today. The days and weeks ahead have us in suspense. Everything is rapidly evolving around us, but we can take courage in the fact the Lord is constant. In an ever-changing world, the Lord is never changing.

“So, we can say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper, so I will have no fear…,” says Hebrews 13:6.

3 Benefits to Staying Calm in Overwhelming Situations

Clear thinking helps us get through the heaviest of situations.

It was a sunny Saturday morning, and the van made several turns before stopping. The driver said, “Let the training begin. Get out. I’ll see you back at the training facility.” The team with their guide dogs got out. They were lost.

What street were they on? What direction did they need to go? They were faced with a choice. They could panic or stay calm.

Staying calm awards, you and I benefits in overwhelming circumstances.

1. Staying calm keeps us thinking clearly.

Our minds are not fogged by panic, so we can process the situation. We can clearly see the event and any options available to us. Clear thinking will help us ask appropriate questions and develop strategies for moving forward.

2. Staying calm helps us respond rather than react to the situation.

Often reacting to a situation makes it worse. Our reaction is not thoughtful, so it doesn’t solve the problem. Responding with a thoughtful strategy can propel us forward even in the heaviest of situations.

3. Staying calm helps us communicate clearly.

One of the best resources we have in overwhelming situations is each other. Working together will help us create a better path out of the situation than we can make on our own. Staying calm helps us communicate in a more effective way.

Calm communicators think before they speak. They are not irritable and are less likely to drive teammates away by the things they say. Calmness fosters clear communication.

You and I will be placed in overwhelming situations. No one knows what tomorrow holds. The recent Corona pandemic is a good reminder we need to be ready for anything. There are benefits to staying calm when we feel overwhelmed. Staying calm will help us develop and execute a plan to get through the situation.

The lost team made it back to the training facility with no issues. We stayed calm and started walking in what we believed was the right direction. We found someone from the neighborhood, and she gave us more thorough directions. We made it back and had the confidence to stay calm if the events of the training exercise ever occurred in a real-life situation.

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This was originally posted on The Good Men Project.

 

 

3 Keys from Psalm 16 for OverpoweringCircumstances

Here are 3 keys from Psalm 16 to help in the storms of life.

1. The Lord is a place of refuge during overwhelming times.

David’s life had its share of overwhelming situations. He faced down Goliath. He found himself being surrounded by his enemies and being chased through the wilderness. During these times, David found his refuge in the Lord.

David says in verse 1, “Keep me safe, O God, for I have come to you for refuge.”

Life creates moments when we need the shelter of the Lord, and we can seek refuge from him. He will rescue us.

Psalm 17:7 says, “By your mighty power you rescue those who seek refuge from their enemies.”

When the pink slip arrives, the bank account hits negative numbers, and we’re not sure what tomorrow holds, the Lord shelters us. When the loved one leaves and we are heartbroken, we can enter the sanctuary of the Lord. Life’s storms will hit, but the Lord will keep us safe and give us refuge.

2. The Lord will guide us in overwhelming times.

David says in verses 7-8, “I will bless the Lord who guides me. Even at night my heart instructs me. I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken for he is right beside me.”

The Lord will prompt our steps and guide our direction. He will help us navigate overwhelming situations. We need only to trust him.

Proverbs 3:5-7 advises, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways, submit to him and he will direct your paths. Do not be wise in your own eyes. Fear the Lord and shun evil.”

The direction we go may seem strange, but we must remember the Lord will not lead us astray nor will he leave us. He will pilot us through the darkest of times.

3. Victory comes in the Lord.

At the end of all the struggles, David knew victory comes in the Lord.

He says in verses 10-11, “For you will not leave my soul among the dead or allow your holy one to rot in the grave. You will show me the way of life granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever.”

Acting

The next time a storm comes in your life, apply these points and allow the Lord to go with you through the storm.

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a mountain range under a beige sky

Faith Overcomes Barriers

They told the man, “It can’t be done.” Climbing the mountain would be difficult, and there were giant obstacles standing in the way. “It can’t be done,” they continually repeated. Sound familiar?

There are barriers in life that seem like mountains. The goal is huge, the dream is enormous, and the calling seems impossible. We believe we know our purpose, but fulfilling it is overwhelming. So, we become disheartened. If this is you, the Bible offers encouragement.

Caleb was able to overcome a mountain.

The Bible records the story of Caleb. He faced much adversity on his path to fulfilling his purpose. Caleb kept hearing the phrase “it can’t be done,” but he was able to overcome the barriers thought to be disabling.

They said, “It can’t be done.”

Caleb was among the 12 spies who explored the land promised to Israel. Most of the spies came back with an unfavorable report. They did not believe it was possible to take possession of the land. They said, “It can’t be done.”

This is a disheartening statement.

“It can’t be done” is a short statement but has the power to demoralize the recipient. It did in Israel’s day; they heard the words causing panic and a lack of faith. Unfortunately, the same happens today.

We take steps to fulfill our purpose, and we are met with resistance; “it can’t be done,” we are told. Odds are we won’t be successful because of our background, socioeconomic status, or we have a disability. Society creates a stereotype deeming you and me unsuccessful, so we are instantly told, “it can’t be done.”

Hearing this phrase is discouraging. Our desire is to overcome barriers and fulfill our purpose, yet attempts are cut short by a few words. In turn, placing another barrier on the path. Caleb shows us how to respond when this occurs. He responded to the statement with faith.

Caleb was able to overcome the statement.

Caleb responded to the “can’t” statement with faith.

“If the Lord is pleased with us, he will let us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us,” Caleb says in Numbers 14:8.

Caleb remembered the Lord had already helped Israel, and he knew the Lord would help them again. Caleb had faith, which is the most important key to be an overcomer.

Caleb had a proper understanding of his own abilities. He understood his own capabilities and limits. We too need to have a proper self-image. We have limits, and it’s in our weaknesses God does some amazing work.

More important than a proper self-image, Caleb believed in the limitless power of the Lord. If the Lord was with Israel, Caleb knew they would be victorious. The same is true for us. If the Lord is with us, we will be victorious.

Caleb’s faith propelled him past doubt to knowing the Lord would help Israel accomplish the purpose.

His faith allowed him to take a mountain.

Caleb remained faithful as life continued. Israel had to stay in the desert 40 years because of their disbelief. Caleb continued living the life of an overcomer, and when he was 85 years old, Israel had taken possession of the land, and there was a mountain needing conquered.

This was no ordinary mountain. Its inhabitants were giants. Caleb faced some barriers in taking this portion of land, but he believed he could. Again, Caleb’s faith propelled him past doubt to knowing the Lord would help him.

Caleb was not someone satisfied with the average or commonplace. His goals and dreams were big. His purpose was important, and his faith was strong. There were barriers standing between Caleb and fulfilling his purpose, but Caleb’s faith helped him overcome the barriers.

Our faith needs to propel us past doubting to knowing.

Our goals and dreams are big. Our purpose is important, so we need our faith to be strong. There will be barriers standing in our way. Some may seem as large as a mountain occupied by giants, but we can overcome them. The Lord will be with us as we accomplish the purpose, he has given us. Like Caleb, our faith needs to propel us past doubting to knowing the Lord will help us.

Acting

Faith is like muscle. The more it is used, the more it builds. Build up your faith by taking steps to accomplish your purpose. Identify one or two steps you can take in the next week, and in faith, take them. See what happens.

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An Overcoming Character

The twists and turns of life often create barriers and hurtles needing overcome. The path to success is blocked by any number of obstacles forcing you and me to take a different route. The challenges posed by finding an alternate route can overwhelm and discourage us.

Thankfully, we are not alone. Many have overcome obstacles and barriers to find their way to success. Their stories can serve as encouragement to you and me. The Bible gives us examples of people who overcame life’s difficulties to fulfill their purpose.

Ruth went into the unknown.

Ruth is one of those overcomers. Her life seemed to be ordinary. A native of Moab, Ruth fell in love with a young man from Bethlehem. He and his family moved to Moab to escape a famine, and he was smitten by Ruth’s beauty and character. The two were married, but it wasn’t long before life challenged Ruth.

Her husband, brother-in-law, and father-in-law died leaving Ruth and her relatives as widows. Naomi, her mother-in-law, decided to return to Bethlehem, and Ruth had to decide what she was going to do. Ruth had to decide which direction to go; stay in Moab or go with Naomi into the unknown.

Stay or go?

For Ruth, this was a pivotal moment. The choice she made here was going to chart the course of her future. This was a big decision. It could have easily been overwhelming and discouraging. Can you relate?

Life is going well, but suddenly, it changes. You and I are pushed into a moment of change and required to make decisions charting our future. It is an overwhelming feeling and can be discouraging, especially if we thought the path to success was clear. Ruth illustrates the best approach for us.

Ruth allowed character to determine her direction.

To spite being overwhelmed, Ruth allowed her character to determine her direction. She was unselfish and loyal, so she went with Naomi into the unknown. Naomi was at an age where she was going to need help and Ruth believed she could be of assistance, so she went to Bethlehem. Her character propelled her into the unknown.

The unknown soon became familiar.

Bethlehem soon became familiar to Ruth, and she developed a relationship with Boaz. The two were married and had a son. This put Ruth in the lineage of Jesus.

The same will be true for us. If our character pushes us into unknown territory, it will soon become familiar.

Ruth’s secret to success was character.

Ruth was able to overcome barriers in life and find success. Her secret was character. Ruth allowed her unselfishness and loyalty to move her into the unknown.

Acting

Cultivate a character that’s ready to overcome barriers. Allow your character to determine your direction rather than feelings. A properly cultivated character will help us find the path to success.

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a mountain range under a beige sky

3 Take-Aways from Psalm 121

It was a dangerous road. Traveling the road was nerve-racking, and most travelers were filled with anxiety as they made the journey up this road. It was the road going up to Jerusalem, and there were many obstacles which could interrupt a pilgrim’s trip. The road was filled with twists and turns. Cliffs and caves lined the road adding to the danger.

Accidently stumbling could send a traveler head-first over a cliff. The caves made wonderful hiding places for wild animals and robbers to await an unsuspecting victim. The road was dangerous, but it was an essential passageway in Israel.

Does it seem like life is the road to Jerusalem? It is filled with twists and turns; there are many obstacles waiting for the opportunity to interrupt our journey. Financial struggles, losing a job, being forced to move, or navigating through life with an ever-changing eyesight may all be on our journey. Anxiety and lack of confidence may be ever-present struggles on our journey as we wake each day wondering how we will get through that day. Yet the Lord is with us just like He was with the Israelites traveling to Jerusalem. We can find great confidence in the timeless truth of Psalm 121.

This Psalm was written for the Israelites to recite as they traveled the road to Jerusalem and offers us great encouragement. Here are 3 take-aways from the Psalm.

1. Our help comes from the Lord.

We are reminded to look past the obstacles interrupting life to the source of our help.

Verses 1-2 say, “I lift my eyes to the hills. Where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of Heaven and earth.”

2. The Lord never takes a break.

The Lord is willing to help us 24/7. He doesn’t take a break.

Verse 4 says, “Indeed, he who watches over Israel never slumbers or sleeps.”

3. The Lord will still be with us tomorrow.

The Lord doesn’t help us today, then walk away. He will still be with us tomorrow.

Verse 8 says, “The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go. Both now and forever.”

Acting

The road of life is filled with twists and turns. There are many obstacles waiting to disrupt our journey; they desire to overwhelm and discourage us, but Psalm 121 reminds us the Lord is on the journey with us. The next time life is interrupted, try reciting this Psalm.

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storm clouds

Courageous Fishermen

Deep water, tall waves, and a fierce wind made for an interesting night on the boat. The boat swayed from side to side as it was tossed by the waves, but the crew stayed hard at work. It was commonplace to be caught in a storm.

The wind would sweep down from the mountains and cause a severe storm to pop up on an otherwise good night for fishing. Catching fish meant risking being caught in a storm, so fishermen were accustomed to this situation. Much courage was required to hold fishing as your occupation.

Fishermen would go into deep water, survive a treacherous storm, and repeat the process the next night. They courageously viewed storms as a normal part of their lives. They did not lack courage, which is one of the reasons Jesus called fishermen to be his first disciples.

Jesus knew it would take courage to travel the road ahead, so he called courageous people. The same is still true today.

Traveling life’s road requires much courage. With all the twists and turns, no one is sure what tomorrow may bring, and a storm may pop up at any time. But, as Christians, we can take courage in the Lord.

Psalm 46 says, “God is our refuge and strength; always ready to help in times of trouble. So, we will not fear when earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea. Let the oceans roar and foam. Let the mountains tremble as the waters surge.

A river brings joy to the city of our God, the sacred home of the Most High. God dwells in that city; it cannot be destroyed. From the very break of day, God will protect it. The nations are in chaos, and the kingdoms crumble. God’s voice thunders, and the earth melts. The Lord of Heaven’s armies is here among us. The God of Israel is our fortress.

Come see the glorious works of the Lord: see how he brings destruction upon the world, he causes wars to end throughout the earth, he breaks the bow and snaps the spear, he burns the shields with fire…. The Lord of Heaven’s armies is here among us. The God of Israel is our fortress.”

We can courageously take the next bend in the road because the Lord is with us. The Psalmist reminds us that our refuge, fortress, and strength travels with us.

Around the bend may be natural disaster, family emergency, economic strain, lost job, or health concerns, but we can take the corner courageously. The Lord is with us, and saying, “Take courage. It is I.”

Some form of the words “do not fear” appears in the Bible 365 times; that is, one time for every day of the year. Each day the Lord encourages us, “Do not be afraid. Take courage.”

 

Firm Foundation

“The house don’t fall when the bones are good.”

The Lord’s truth often shows up in song lyrics. Our ears are hearing and our hearts absorbing valuable truth that can help in life.

Maren Morris’ The Bones packs a valuable truth into a cool song. The story has love holding a romantic relationship together in adversity, but the idea of having a firm foundation can help all aspects of life.

The Bible tells a parable about two men who built houses. One man built his house on the sand, while the other dug through the sand to place his foundation on the rock. A storm came, and the plain flooded. The house sitting on the sand was wiped away, while the house resting on the rock remained standing. It stayed in place because of its foundation; its bones were good.

Life has its storms. They are unavoidable. The difficulties of life will strain our marriages, families, friendships, and business partnerships; however, those relationships will stay intact if they are built on a solid foundation.

The Bones reminds us to build on a solid foundation. Where are you building?

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