Using Faith to Overcome Adversity

Faith is the strength by which a shattered world shall emerge into light Helen Keller

A Personal Story of Overcoming Adversity

Adversity challenges all of us. It seems to pinpoint our weaknesses and swallow our dignity until all we are left with are two choices: to cry out to God deeper than ever before or throw in the towel.

Nearly ten years ago, adversity struck our family in a moment when we least expected it. My normal routine flipped upside down when I received a call from my husband as he was on a ministry trip. He calmly yet firmly told me the doctors received the results from his biopsy. He had cancer. My husband, a dad, a Pastor, an evangelist, a man of God, my best friend, had cancer. Not just any cancer, but metastasized melanoma. The kind of cancer that has no cure and spreads rapidly in the bloodstream. In that moment, I was faced with those two choices. I chose to do what I had done for years and trust in God that His position has and will always be higher than any adversities we face in life.

My husband battled six years of horrific clinical trials and treatments until there was nothing left for the doctors to do. We stayed steadfast when there was no hope in the future. We prayed. When others told me to have a drink or take medication to calm the nerves, I chose to cling to Holy Spirit and listened to His voice for direction.

My husband passed away on March 9, 2014. Seven months later, I received the news that our only son had passed away from an overdose in his apartment. Can you imagine my agony as a wife and mother? The pain I experienced after losing the love of my life AND my son? I literally could not stop crying, I used my tears to cry out to God and asked Him to take my tears of loss and turn them into tears for the lost. I wanted to see His plan in all this and He was so faithful to let me know He wasn’t out to hurt me, but wanted to use what I had been through to touch others.

I literally could not stop crying, I used my tears to cry out to God…

As I was reading the Word, a story in 2 Kings, chapter 4 became alive to me. It’s the story about a widow and what was left in her house after her husband died. She began to tell Elisha that she had nothing left since her husband was gone, but what she didn’t realize was there was something in the house. There was oil. I came to a point in my grief when I cried out to the Lord and said, “I have nothing left!” But He quickly reminded me that I was full of oil of the Holy Spirit. God gave me two beautiful daughters and two son-in-laws full of oil of the Holy Spirit. He left me with the ministry that Steve and I began together years ago. He left me with people who loved us. I had oil in my home and that’s what would help me overcome these tragic, life-altering events.

So, how do we overcome adversity? Just as David said in Psalm 77:11, “I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.” I remind myself of where He brought me from, how He saved me and set me free from a life of sin. He took a girl who was born from a rape, never knew my biological father, don’t remember my mom’s first husband, then she was a single mom with three children on welfare and food stamps. Life had dealt her hand that she didn’t know how to play. She married again, an alcoholic, a very abusive man verbally and physically. I let hate & bitterness fill me which lead me to start drinking & smoking at age 12, which continued to escalate until I was 18 and in jail for selling drugs.

Going to church Easter and Christmas didn’t give me much of a foundation. I didn’t think anyone could understand the Bible and change. My mentality was that you had to be born into a Christian home to be able to have a good life, so I thought my lot in life was a life of sin. But then something happened, my mom got saved watching a Billy Graham crusade on TV. She started reading the Bible, praying for God to do SOMETHING in her family. An Assemblies of God pastor came to our house and invited us to church. My mom wanted to go but my stepdad wouldn’t let her. This pastor wouldn’t give up, he came back every Saturday for two years, even when my stepdad threatened to call the police on him and I told him we weren’t interested. He kept telling me that Jesus loved me and had a plan for my life. I didn’t believe him, I told him and God I wasn’t worth it and they might as well give up on me. It took two years of his persistence for God to wear me down to a place where I would say, “Okay God, I am sorry. Have your way in my life, forgive me, cleanse me, make me new.” And He did!

I went into a program called Teen Challenge where they taught us the Word of God and to memorized it. to pray and have a love relationship with Jesus. For the first time in my life I thought there was hope and that if God could change me, He could change anyone. My heart’s desire was to let God use me to reach others.

I met Steve in Bible School. He had been touched, changed by God and wanted to share Jesus’ life changing power with others as well. I loved serving Jesus alongside Steve for 35 years. Now he is with his first love and I am still serving my first love.

I am still serving my first love.

How do we overcome adversity? Cling to the Word of God, holdfast to His voice, and never allow the enemy to diminish your purpose in Christ. I will never allow fear or grief to water-down God’s plan and purpose for my life. The enemy lies to us telling us we aren’t worth it or life isn’t worth it, but when we decide (And I believe it is a decision) to believe in God, His Son, Holy Spirit and let our thoughts be taken over by the Word of God, we can overcome any adversity that comes our way.

Today’s story was written by Jeri Hill and is shared from the following website: https://godtv.com/overcoming-adversity/

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Trusting in the Lord

Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God Corrie Ten BoomPeople going through tough times often wonder, Why is God letting me go through this? Is there a point?That was me in seventh grade. At the time, I thought it was the worst year of my life. Anybody who knows me has heard me say that. But now I know better.

Without that year, I would not be who I am today.

I am a missionary kid (or MK). I have lived in the Czech Republic, the second most atheistic nation in the world, since I was 4-years-old. I’m naturally shy so it’s tough for me to make friends. But to make matters worse, I was growing up in a foreign country, where I didn’t fully know the language and where every kid I met thought Christianity was the dumbest thing on the planet. Let’s just say I felt like there was no hope for a close friend.

And then it all got worse. We moved to California for a year before returning to the Czech Republic. I had no idea what living in America was like, and now I had to attend seventh grade there. Sure, I’d been to America once during our missionary service. But it was for four months. Now, I was going to go to school there. I had no idea what Abercrombie was, who Rihanna was, or even how to relate to American kids.

I knew from the very first day at school that things were very different from the Czech schools. People talked differently, dressed differently, acted differently, and even thought differently. I did not fit in, and I didn’t know how to fix that. I was doomed to be the class outcast, the weirdo of seventh grade. And I was. The many insults that I received hurt deeply.

I had been taught all my life about God and Christianity. But before my seventh grade year, God was kinda just there—not really doing anything. He was like wallpaper. But now, I was broken. I was spiritually hungry and thirsty. I thought that if God couldn’t help me, no one could. One day, I opened my Bible and Psalm 31 stared back at me: “For I hear the slander of many; there is terror on every side; they conspire against me and plot to take my life. But I trust in you, O Lord. … In the shelter of your presence you hide [those who fear you]; in your dwelling you keep them safe from accusing tongues. … You heard my cry for mercy when I called to you for help” (NIV).

I knew it was no coincidence my Bible fell open to this psalm. I devoured the passage and literally felt a hunger for more. Through his Word, God showed me that I was not alone, and that I just had to trust in him to make the best of it. When I gave him my whole heart, my life opened up. He gave me joy for each new day. He helped me find a few friends around the school and taught me how to let him be my Best Friend. He gave me many opportunities to live out the instruction to turn the other cheek. Life was still very hard. I still cried myself to sleep a lot. Some of what the kids at school said still wounded me badly. But, still, things were different.

I knew that God had a plan, that he had a reason for all the pain and strife I was going through. I didn’t know what he was planning, but who am I to argue with the God of the Universe? I couldn’t see it then, but as I look back now, God has revealed how he used me that year. For instance, there were several students in my class who came from a different country or whom nobody liked. I realize that, with my experience with living in a different culture and being the social outcast, I was the ideal person to reach out and relate to them.

I noticed lessons of that year when we moved back to Czech. I began eighth grade in yet another new school and I had to make new friends all over again. In America, I’d learned how to stand up for myself, how to make a good yet truthful impression, how to laugh at my mistakes, and how to overcome most of my shyness.

Needless to say, I had a very enjoyable eighth grade year. Since then, too, my life has been much more rewarding. With less shyness, I have been able to act in my school’s plays and participate in more group activities. God has blessed me with close friends who encourage and strengthen me. He has shown me how to be a better friend.

Most importantly, he used that year to draw me closer to him. I could have never imagined this relationship with him two years ago. God surely used the bad for good. James says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance” (James 1:2-3, NIV).

Today’s post was written by Jessica Dagen. Jessica is currently attending high school in the Czech Republic. Today’s article was shared from the following website: https://www.christianitytoday.com/iyf/truelifestories/ithappenedtome/bestandworstyear.html?start=2

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We All Need Help…

Never assume that you can make it alone You need the help of the Lord Never hesitate to get on your knees in some private place and speak with him Gordon B. HinckleyA Pastor’s Act of Kindness Saves Three

The following story is told in more detail by Ilene Wright. Here is my abbreviated version:

Years ago, Ilene’s preacher noticed the family standing in front of him at a New Orleans convenience store did not have enough money to pay for their few items. He tapped the man on the shoulder and said, “You don’t need to turn around, but please accept this money.” The man took the money without ever seeing the preacher.

Nine years later, the pastor was invited to speak at a church in New Orleans. After the service, a man walked up to the preacher and shared this story about how he had come to faith in Christ: “Several years ago, my wife and our child were destitute. We had lost everything, had no jobs, no money and were living in our car. We also lost all hope, and agreed to a suicide pact, including our child. However, we decided to first give our son some food, so we drove to a convenience store to buy him some food and milk.”

“While we were standing in line at the store, we realized that we did not have enough money to pay for these items, but a man behind us asked us to please take the money from his hand and not look at him. This man told us that ‘Jesus loves you.’”

“We left the store, drove to our designated suicide site, and wept for hours. We couldn’t go through with it, so we drove away. As we drove, we noticed a church with a sign out front which said, ‘Jesus love you.’ We went to that church the very next Sunday, and both my wife and I were saved that day.”

He then told the pastor, “When you began speaking this morning, I knew immediately that you were the man who gave us that money.” How did he know? The pastor was from South Africa and had a very distinct accent. He continued, “Your act of kindness was much more than a simple good deed. Three people are alive today because of it.”

A gentle challenge: Maintain your spiritual antennae, remembering that God can multiply the smallest gift many times over.

Today’s inspiring story is shared from the following website:https://christianpf.com/extraordinary-stories-about-giving/

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The D’s of Depression – Depend on God

 When God works through us, No one and Nothing can stand against us Dieter F. Uchtdorf

There is a sometimes overlooked gift called the Gift of the Holy Ghost. I consider this gift from God to be one of my choicest blessings. I know of no other gift from God, other than the atonement of Jesus Christ, that has the potential to bless us so much. The amazing gift of the Holy Ghost has guided me in small matters and large matters both.

For those of you who are familiar with my book, you will be familiar with my life experience with migraine headaches and with being told to find my son Andrew. It was through the Holy Ghost that I was guided to find the source and cure for my headaches. It was the Holy Ghost that enabled my successful search for Andrew. (A task that a Christian Adoption agency told me would be like finding a needle in a haystack)

I am continuing to focus on Depression this week. Last week we talked about delving into the depths of your soul. If you followed last week’s posts, I hope you have gotten to know yourself better and that you experienced a wonderful week of self-exploration.

This week, we are going to focus on depending on God. Thursday and Friday I shared a post from the Patheos website. Today, I continue to share a portion of that post. However, today, we will focus on the whispering of the spirit or the Holy Ghost. God speaks to us most often through the Holy Ghost. Listening to the Holy Ghost takes practice. All prophets of God have depended heavily on the Holy Ghost. We can depend on the Holy Ghost too.

When we listen with our hearts and develop a pattern of sincere communication with our Creator through prayer, we unlock a priceless treasure trove. There is no one who knows us better than God. There is no one better that can assist us with healing and any other need(s) we have.

I have seen amazing things in my life because of this gift from God. If you haven’t already, you can too. I hope you will read today’s story and then contemplate where you are with your relationship with your Creator. Think about it for the rest of the day and then let’s reconvene and talk about it some more tomorrow!:

Divine Guidance Through “Whispering”

The Old Testament book of 1 Kings contains one of the most dramatic stories in all of Scripture (1 Kgs 18-19). Israel was languishing under the corrupt leadership of King Ahab and Queen Jezebel. The royal couple had led the nation into the worship of the pagan gods, Baal and Asherah. The king and queen had killed the prophets of God, replacing them with hundreds of pagan psychics. Only Elijah remained faithful and alive as a spokesman of the true God.

Empowered by the Lord, Elijah confronted King Ahab and his multitude of prophets, challenging them to a “my God is bigger than your god” kind of duel. Both sides would build altars on Mt. Carmel and prepare sacrifices on the altars. But they would not set fire to the sacrifices in the usual manner. Instead, they would wait for fire from heaven. Whichever deity consumed the sacrifice would be the winner. That god would be recognized as the true God.

The prophets of Baal went first, preparing a bull, placing it on their altar and calling out to their god. When Baal failed to answer, they began dancing wildly around the altar, crying out for a miracle. As Elijah taunted them, they even engaged in ritual self-mutilation in an attempt to motivate Baal’s response. But the fire didn’t fall. Baal was still and silent.

Then Elijah repaired the altar of the Lord that had been torn down by the pagans. He prepared his sacrifice and then, just to make things a lot more difficult for God, Elijah drenched everything with buckets of water until the ditch around the altar was filled to the brim. When all the preparations were completed, Elijah prayed a simple prayer, asking the Lord to demonstrate his sovereignty. God’s response was stunning:

Immediately the fire of the Lord flashed down from heaven and burned up the young bull, the wood, the stones, and the dust. It even licked up all the water in the ditch! And when the people saw it, they fell on their faces and cried out, “The Lord is God! The Lord is God!” (1 Kgs 18:38-39).

In the wake of victory, Elijah zealously killed the vanquished prophets of Baal. But when Queen Jezebel heard what had happened, she sought Elijah’s life, forcing him to flee to wilderness.

Several weeks later, he found himself cowering in a cave in the desert, crying out to God for help. Then God instructed Elijah to stand outside of the cave and watch.

And as Elijah stood there, the Lord passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a “gentle whisper” (1 Kgs 19:11-12).

The God who had done such wonders on Mt. Carmel, the same God who controls the awesome power of wind, earthquake and fire, chose to speak to Elijah through the “sound of a gentle whisper,” what the King James Version of the Bible calls “a still, small voice.” The contrast between God’s mighty power and his quiet voice couldn’t be more stark. Though we might expect or even prefer dramatic demonstrations of divine guidance that knock us off our feet, the Holy Spirit sometimes speaks in a gentle whisper that brushes our hearts like a soft spring breeze.

Unfortunately, a multitude of contemporary Christians have trivialized this ministry of the Spirit. “God spoke to me” has become a virtual replacement for “I thought,” except that by saying “God spoke to me” a person avoids having to take responsibility for his or her actions. After all, if God told me to buy a new computer that I really don’t need, who are you and who am I to question God’s command? Claiming God’s authority for my own thoughts not only appears to protect me from being corrected, but it also gives an added punch to my own preferences.

While recognizing that the Spirit will speak to us, we must also acknowledge our tendency to misinterpret what we hear, or to mistake our own inner voice for the voice of God. My friend Dave was a pastor to young adults in a large church. Energetic, handsome, godly, and obviously single, Dave found that many of the women in his group were interested in more than just his Bible teaching. Every now and then, one of them would approach him with exciting news, “God has told me that we’re going to get married,” she’d announced happily. At first Dave didn’t know quite what to say to this unwelcome and unlikely bit of divine direction. But over time he developed an appropriate response: “Well, that could be great news. Thanks for sharing it with me. Now, just as soon as God tells me that we’re going to get married, then we’ll do something about it.” Oddly enough, God never told Dave what his young fans had purported to hear from the Spirit. He ended up marrying a wonderful woman who, ironically enough, hadn’t heard God whisper Dave’s name in her ear.

Stories like this make it easy for those of us who are more intellectually oriented to discount hearing from God altogether. I’ve known a few Christians even deny that the Spirit still speaks to our hearts in any direct way. But this extreme view opposes both the biblical record and the testimony of thousands of wise, balanced Christians who are not inclined to conjure up divine voices.

I have another pastor friend whose experience of the Spirit’s guidance for his marriage was quite unlike Dave’s. Greg, a scholarly Presbyterian minister, was teaching an adult Sunday school class one day. In the midst of his lecture, a woman entered and sat in the back of the class. Greg, who had never seen her before, barely took notice of her entrance until he heard an inner voice say distinctly: “You are going to marry that woman.” Not one to have such experiences, Greg just about fell over on the spot. Somehow he managed to finish his lesson. Many months later he did in fact marry that woman, but not because he clobbered her with a claim to spiritual guidance. First, he introduced himself to her. As a friendship developed, they both began to sense what Greg suspected from the beginning. Along with their Christian community, they discerned God’s guidance with all the tools available to them. Indeed, they did marry. Once again, a skeptic could chock up Greg’s experience to overactive libido or simply good luck. But as one who knows his spiritual integrity, I believe that the Holy Spirit spoke to Greg’s heart in order to accomplish God’s will in his life.

Today’s story is shared from the following website: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/markdroberts/series/how-does-god-guide-us/

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The D’s of Depression – Delve Into the Depths of Your Soul

The most important relationship we can all have is the one you have with yourself, the most important journey you can  take is one of self-discovery. To know yourself, you must  spend time with yourself, you must not be afraid to be alone.  Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.    Aristotle

Over the next few weeks, I am going to share how you can overcome Depression. This week, I am going to concentrate on what I consider the first step: Delve into the Depths of Your Soul.

If you are looking for quick fixes, you will be sorely disappointed. Depression does not come on suddenly and it rarely leaves without some intensive personal work.

I have been there in the muck and mire of depression. I know that once we find ourselves there, there is nothing we want more than to get rid of it. If you are going through depression, you might be like me: I knew I had a great life. I had a wonderful husband and great kids and I had everything to feel wonderful about – but I didn’t.

The first step that doctors usually want to explore is medication. Explore that path if you must, but I have found that the most important place to start is with yourself.

There is often a good reason why depressed people don’t want to be alone with themselves. More times than not, a cacophony of emotions is raging within the soul of the depressed person. For me, the roar of emotions was deafening and yet I refused to hear it.

I had experienced some significant trauma and I had shoved it deep into the corners of my being – so deep I thought (subconsciously) that it would never be found or bother me again. Instead, like an eternal fountain, it all came bubbling up – demanding to be dealt with.

During the years (yes years) that I battled depression, the most important step I took was to take time to heal. Listening was a critical part of that healing. Listening to my family and my therapist was probably important but the very most important listening I did was to myself. I learned to listen to my thoughts – you know, the whisper thoughts we all have but don’t necessarily acknowledge to ourselves. As I did, I heard myself saying things like: “You can’t do that, nobody will ever love you again if you do”, “You don’t deserve to be alive”, “Do you realize what an enormous burden you are to your family?”.

As I began to really listen and acknowledge what I had said myself for a very long time, I knew that those subliminal thoughts were not grounded in truth. I also knew that although they were lies, I very much believed them.

At that point, I formed an alliance with the Lord that I continue to depend on to this day. With His help, I sought to find and then terminate each of the lies that I subconsciously said to myself day in and day out.

With the Lord’s help, I was able to identify and then remove the lies I consistently told myself. I was able to start believing in my worth and I was able to restore my confidence in myself.

You see, although I was not to blame for the trauma I had experienced, I believed that I was. Therefore, I beat myself up mercilessly. It’s amazing how much I was able to heal once I quit pummeling myself!

Coming to know myself deeply and personally was an all important step in overcoming my depression. Prior to my efforts to know myself, was I knew of myself was like tagging along for the ride. After I came to know myself, I found myself in the driver’s seat.

To overcome depression, we each have to sit in the driver’s seat of our life.

I hope, that if you are going through depression, that you will make the effort to know yourself. Today’s article shares some good information on getting started with the process:

How to Be a Success: The Importance of Knowing Yourself

by Delva Rebin

“Know Thyself” is a popular adage, but what does it really mean? The fact is that this phrase holds one of the keys to unlocking the secrets of how to be a success, but not many people are aware of its full implications.

To explain it properly, let’s use the analogy of a car. When you buy a car, you want to know everything about it. The gas mileage, the safety rating, the interior comfort, the color and model. How many people can it carry? How does it fare in difficult weather conditions? How does it feel to drive? How well does it take corners? What is the sound system like?

Knowing yourself is a bit like knowing your car. Just like with your car, you want to know how you hold up under difficult conditions. You want to know what you sound like to others. You want to know your limits, but also your potential. That is basically what the phrase “Know Thyself” entreats us to do: know everything about ourselves so we know how we will weather the trials and tribulations life throws at us.

To know yourself, it’s important to be aware of the fact that we all have four dimensions: physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. The first three are fairly straightforward: the physical dimension is how we see other people and how they see us, the emotional dimension is how we relate to others, and the mental dimension is how we think. The spiritual dimension is perhaps the most often neglected out of the four. It doesn’t necessarily have to be religious, but you should always recognize that you have this dimension within you. Often, people describe their spiritual side as the one that connects with nature, and other beings, and a Higher Power that interconnects all of us.  By exploring those four dimensions, you can become more aware of yourself and ultimately shape yourself into a more complete human being.

This journey of self-discovery is important because by knowing ourselves, we can maximize our chances of becoming a success, both in our personal and professional lives. By being aware of your limits, you can better assess every opportunity that comes your way and turn down those that don’t play to your strengths. But even more importantly, by knowing your potential you will become empowered to reach beyond anything you previously thought you were capable of doing. That is one of the ways to become a success: recognize which opportunities might not be for you, but have the courage and enthusiasm to jump on the ones that are.

Today’s inspiring article is shared from the following website: http://www.dreammanifesto.com/success-importance-knowing.html

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