Hope

No matter how hard we try to avoid it, tragedy will strike us all. Even Christians are not immune to the trials and sufferings that life presents us. In fact, the Apostle Peter says we should expect it.

So what is a Christian to do when faced with tragedy and loss?

On today’s episode of the Great Stories podcast, Charles Morris speaks with author and pastor Robert J. Morgan about the themes covered in his bestselling book The Red Sea Rules: 10 God-Given Strategies for Difficult Times. Using the Israelites’ story in Exodus 14, as well as several real-life examples, Morgan shares how the Bible offers several effective strategies to help us go from fear to faith.

It is our prayer that this episode will remind you that the same God who walks with you into hardship will also guide you out.


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Sometimes it seems that tragedy strikes when life is going well. I experienced this firsthand when traveling with Pastor John Dickerson, author of I Am Strong.

Before I boarded the plane for New Mexico, news broke about the terrorist attacks in San Bernardino, CA, which is about 15 miles from my house. My mind raced to remember if my family might be home or out shopping. Would there be more attacks? Praying for San Bernardino and my family, I boarded the plane while sending a quick text to my wife and was relieved to hear they were all safe.

Later that afternoon, as John and I drove from Albuquerque to Taos, we listened to more of the breaking news and talked about how pain and suffering often come out of nowhere. It was a timely conversation to say the least—especially since we were on our way to meet and interview Joy Veron.

In 1999, Joy was on vacation with her family in Pogosa Springs, CO. On the last day of the trip, her kids ran ahead and jumped into the family SUV. Then the vehicle began to roll in the direction of a nearby cliff. In the blink of an eye, Joy and her dad raced toward the vehicle.

Joy’s body acted as a speed bump, slowing the vehicle enough for her father to leap into the SUV and brake just before they went over the cliff. But Joy’s heroic act cost her the use of her legs, and for the moment, her eyes.

Thankfully, her eyesight came back, but despite numerous surgeries, she was told that she would never walk again.

Even after 16 years, Joy is still moved to tears when she talks about that day. The event is still real. It still affects her every day. But when asked if she had the opportunity to not go through the accident, she quickly replied, “No.”

Joy is not a glutton for punishment; she has learned and continues to learn that relying on God while suffering is far greater than living without God in the so-called best of times. As Psalm 84:10 joyfully proclaims, “Better is one day in Your courts than a thousand elsewhere.”

Christians who rejoice in their suffering are not masochistic. The pain is real and it hurts! But as Charles Spurgeon so aptly put it, they have “learned to kiss the wave that throws [them] against the Rock of Ages.”

For those who are followers of Jesus, there is sweetness in suffering because He draws near to us in our pain. There is closeness with God in suffering that we don’t often experience when things are going well.


We can also take comfort in trials knowing that God will use it for many purposes. Romans 8:28 reminds us that God is using everything we experience in life – triumphs and trials – for our good if we are truly lovers of God.

Towards the end of John’s interview with Joy, she explained how God had not only used her suffering to draw her closer to Him, but to encourage others who were going through hard times. It reminded me of Paul’s words to the Corinthians: “God comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (2 Corinthians 1:4).

It was a pleasure to meet Joy on that cool, clear day in New Mexico. The sun was setting on the distant mesas while John and I drove back to the airport. As we reflected on the interview with Joy, we were encouraged that the promises of God for His people are always true. He will never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).

Troy Lamberth is the executive producer of HAVEN Today. On the side, he teaches film at Providence Christian College, produces documentaries, and often teaches at his church. He enjoys discovering how Jesus is involved in all aspects of our lives—from faith to film to family—and how our relationship with him shapes the way we live. He and his wife Melissa have three young children.

“No love of the natural heart is safe unless the human heart has been satisfied by God first.” –Oswald Chambers

If you looked at the surface of her life, everything was perfect. Juana Mikels was married to a handsome man, Terry. They had good jobs, a brand-new 2,200-square-foot house, nice cars, friends.

And yet, as she says, “Saturday mornings were the worst for me. … The sun would be shining and Terry would be preparing to wash his car and get ready to play golf, and I would be idle and sad.”
At 26, after three and a half years of marriage, Juana was so unhappy with her life that she left her husband, convinced that he was the problem.
She quickly found that living the single life and dating other men didn’t satisfy. For answers about how she could be happy, she tried three counselors and two churches. It was at the second church where a pastor told her, “You’re trying to make a decision about your marriage, Juana. But you’re making the wrong decision. You need to decide what you are going to do with Christ.”
Soon after, her church hosted a marriage conference. Thinking that she hadn’t tried putting counseling and church together, Juana attended. She had never heard the kind of advice that was offered, and it clicked for her.

“I was beginning to get the inkling that a good marriage was not something you found, but something you made. It wasn’t so much about finding the right person, it was being the right person.”

Six months after leaving her husband, Christ took hold of Juana’s life, and she tried to then reconcile with Terry. But he had been so badly hurt that he didn’t want her back.

She knew she couldn’t force Terry to take her back. And she knew that if he didn’t, she might not ever marry again. Nothing was guaranteed except that her life was safe and secure in Jesus’ arms.
Juana had to learn the hard way that choosing her husband all over again really meant choosing Him, Jesus, for the first time.
Juana’s story does end happily, though. After dating each other all over again, and after Juana moved back into their house, the two finally reconciled. Years later, Christ took hold of Terry’s life, too, and today they have four children.
Their story offers hope for marriages that aren’t thriving or are barely surviving. And there’s hope for marriages that are already broken. There’s even hope for those who feel their marriage is beyond repair.
But you need to look in the right place.
We all have an internal need for something greater in our lives, but we can’t expect our spouse to fill that void. Look to Jesus, instead. Only He can fill your deepest need—the need for Him.
Then, you can work on your marriage with hope, knowing that no matter the outcome, God knows what’s best for you and will see it through.
 


Checkpoints to Refresh Your Marriage

Juana offers 10 practical tips that will help make your marriage better—because there’s always room for growth.

1. I will say, “I love you” to my spouse every day (at least once).
2. I will not bring up my spouse’s past failures today.
3. I will put from my mind any weak points of my spouse, which I cannot change, and concentrate on my spouse’s good points.
4. I will seek to bring laughter into my spouse’s life today.
5. I will give my spouse some little gift today, whether a tangible one, or a word or deed.
6. I will not end this day angry with my spouse.
7. I will practice loving patience.
8. I will practice courtesy towards my spouse.
9. I will seek unity of interest.
10. I will pray for my spouse before the day ends.

You can find all of these checkpoints, as well as more ways to refresh your marriage, in Juana’s new book Choosing Him All Over Again. In it, she tells her story and offers tips on how to bring Christ into the center of your marriage.
 
 

Lindsey M. Roberts spent years writing exclusively for secular journalism, including such outlets as The Washington Post, Architect, and Gray magazine, before she first tried to write about Jesus. She’s thrilled to explore in words how everything from cleaning the kitchen three times a day to delighting in the maritime history of Nantucket is an opportunity to meet and glorify God. Lindsey lives with her husband, a pastor and U.S. Army Reserve chaplain, and son in Virginia.

 

At 2:58 PM on July 14, 2009, Andy McQuitty officially entered the valley of the shadow of death with these words from his doctor, “Andy, you have a massive tumor that has broken through the wall of your colon. It’s cancer. It’s serious. Get in here now.”
Since then, Pastor Andy has been on a journey of discovery, prayer and purpose. Watch as he reads a blessing someone wrote for him when he was going through one of the darkest times of his life.

Pastor Andy included this blessing in his new book, Notes From the Valley: A Spiritual Travelogue Through Cancer. In it, Andy records much of what he discovered as he lived in the valley of the shadow of death. He takes time to sensitively answer questions like, “Why did I get cancer?” “Does God still love me?” and “Can any good come of this?”