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  • We all have them.  Some more than others.  James tells us to count them all joy (1:2), but it’s easier said than done.

    The book of Job offers wisdom for trusting God in times of distress.  When Job emerged from his test of faith, he told God, I had only heard about you before, but now I have seen you with my own eyes (Job 42:5 NLT).  Job’s trouble transformed his knowledge of God from “crumbs of rumors” (42:5 MSG) to feasts of faith. 

    Here are three reminders to help us grow spiritually during trial seasons:

    1. God’s plan is bigger than we think.

    God is orchestrating the affairs of this world in ways far beyond our comprehension. Job was unaware of his role in God’s plan to remind Satan that he is a defeated foe.  Satan thought Job only served God for the benefits. He claimed that if God removed the blessings and protection from Job, he would reject God.  Satan didn’t understand Job’s motive, but God did.  God knew Job would stand under pressure. How? Because Job was so convinced of God’s unfailing love (10:12) that he would trust Him even when he lost everything (13:15; Read also Habakkuk 3:17-18).

    To feast on faith, we must settle two issues: God orders the steps of our life (Psalm 37:23), and His love will never abandon us (Romans 8:31-39). If God allows it, He will handle it. Our present circumstances have not changed the nature of God (Hebrews 13:8). He is always worthy of our devotion!

    2. God’s focus is on developing our character.

    God is committed to the process of shaping us into “a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master” (2 Timothy 2:21 NKJV).  Job had a flaw in his character that God was working to correct.  Job 32:1-2 says, “he was righteous in his own eyes” and “he justified himself rather than God.” Job filled several chapters with emotional outbursts of self-pity. When he stopped long enough to hear God speak, he developed a deeper understanding of how great God is and how insignificant he was (42:6).

    God doesn’t want our conditional trust, He wants us to die to ourselves.  Paul said, “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” (Philippians 3:8 ESV).

    God will also use disappointment with people to shape our souls and cause us to find our fulfillment only in Him. Job was hurt by his friends who misrepresented God while dispensing theological advice.  When Job prayed for his friends as God commanded, he was restored.  Repentance and forgiveness released blessings.

    To feast on faith, we must surrender to the process of becoming like Jesus. Instead of asking, “Why, Lord?” learn to ask, “What now, Lord?”  God “will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know” (Jeremiah 33:3 NKJV).

    3. God’s viewpoint is eternal.

    When Job was at his lowest point; when nothing seemed secure, he held on to one truth. “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth” (Job 19:25 ESV).

    God sees everything from the perspective of eternity. We may not know what is required to accomplish God’s eternal purpose, but we can know that God is with us in our affliction (Isaiah 43:2) and working for our good (Romans 8:28-29).

    To feast on faith, we must understand God is preparing us for eternity with Him (2 Corinthians 4:17, Revelation 21:4). The Apostle Peter encouraged us to look forward with joy. “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed” (I Peter 4:12-13 ESV).

    Reposted with permission from Reflections Magazine.
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    “I’m so sorry, I can’t find a heartbeat.” The room began to spin. I had heard these same devastating words four years prior. Surely this wasn’t happening to us again! We walked to the car, numb, reliving a nightmare we had already experienced. Why, God? We thought this baby was our promise, our rainbow after the storm. Sure, we had two living children to drive home to, but that didn’t change the feelings of loss and grief we found ourselves experiencing for the second time in four years.

    Over the next several months, I dealt with the overwhelming desire to have another child. I would dream that I was holding a new baby, then would wake confused and, at times, angry. I experienced feelings of extreme guilt, wondering why I couldn’t just be thankful for the two healthy children I was blessed with instead of longing for another. Then one Sunday night my father-in-law preached. Following his sermon, he told the congregation, “Tell God what you need.” I knelt down that night and prayed a simple prayer; “God, if it’s not Your will for us to have another baby, I need You to take the desire away. If it is Your will, then I need You to make a way.” I immediately felt peace come over me, and God put a verse in my heart that night as I knelt at my pew. “A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps” (Proverbs 16:9).

    A few months later we were shocked to discover we were expecting another baby. Fear and worry overcame me. This was not our plan. How could I go through another loss? How could I face people who would surely think we were crazy for not being content with the two children we already had? I felt God gently nudging me back to the verse He gave to me. “A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps.” I remember where I was sitting in the doctor’s office when I said the words out loud to God, “God, this is YOUR plan. This is YOUR baby. Whatever happens, I will trust You.”

    For the next nine months when fear would overtake me, when I would wait for what felt like hours for the nurse to find a heartbeat, when I would lay awake the night before each doctor visit, trying not to let fear and anxiety overtake me, I would quote my verse. “A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps.” Then, on August 11, 2017, our baby was born. The doctor was shocked to find that his umbilical cord was barely connected to the placenta. What should have been another loss for our family was instead a true miracle from God.

    I held our baby boy for the first time and wept, repeating the words “God, this is YOUR plan. This is YOUR baby. A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps.”

    BY BRIANNE BUFORD
    Brianne Buford is wife to Brandon and mom to Zane, Zoe, and Zeke. They live in O’Fallon, Missouri, where Brandon pastors The Lighthouse UPC.

    Reposted from the Ladies Prayer International Newsletter.

    *In loving memory
    Zachariah Buford 5-27-12
    Zion Buford 3-17-16

    A little while back, I had one of those emotional breakdowns where I questioned the value and importance of what I was doing and what I had accomplished in life. And when I say breakdown, I mean a sudden, unexpected wreckage of utmost proportions.

    I could have made a list of everything I was doing at my job, at church, with family and friends, and in my life. Yet, despite everything I knew I was doing, I suddenly felt like none of it meant anything or made a difference.

    Let me insert a postulation here that I think most of us have these moments, even if we don’t admit them to ourselves or anybody else. That’s why I think God constantly reminded us to trust Him.

    “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

    Anyway, here I was, in the midst of a breakdown, when my sister showed me a video from Steven Furtick, the pastor at Elevation Church. His message was simple: This is significant. He spoke about how we should speak those three words over everything we do, even if what we’re doing doesn’t seem significant in the moment. That’s where our faith comes in.

    We might not always see it, but everything we do and say can have significance if we choose to view it that way.

    Did you do the dishes today? That is significant. You changed another diaper? That is significant. Studied for a test. Called your mom or best friend. Finished a work project. Taught another Sunday School lesson. Led another worship service. Had dinner with your family. Encouraged someone. That is significant.

    Maybe, sometimes, it’s all we can do to just breathe. And you know what? That is significant.

    Even the moments of pain, hurt, desperation, anger and frustration are significant, because they offer us a chance to grow, learn and rely on Jesus.

    “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

    The enemy would love to trick us into believing that what we’re doing doesn’t amount to anything, because that’s when we allow the lies to morph into our own thoughts.

    For example:

    • Why on earth are you still writing? You’re just embarrassing yourself.
    • Do you really think praying will do anything? What’s the point?
    • Do you really believe you’re helping those kids? Who do you think you are?
    • Do you actually think you can make a difference at work? You must be delusional.

    Even the Israelites were plagued with this mindset. God had come through for them countless times, but when they were presented with another chance for victory, they chose to see their own insignificance instead.

    “And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, who come of the giants. And we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.” (Number 13:33 NKJV)

    When the Israelites viewed themselves as grasshoppers, they put a label with the word “Insignificant” on their foreheads. They were defeated without even fighting a battle, purely because of their mindset.

    How often do we do the same thing? We belittle ourselves, demean the things we accomplish or get stuck in the mundane. We give up, refusing to see our value in God, viewing ourselves as diminished, weak, insignificant, worthless and inadequate.

    Too easily, we forget who the Author of our lives is and that He has designed a wonderful story for each of us. That story is formed by thousands of individual words that gain value as they join together. On their own, the words look small and insignificant. Together, they culminate to create something significant.

    It’s the same with our lives.

    Each situation and choice adds up to make you who you are. Don’t allow yourself to stay defeated. Choose to look at each choice, action, word, mistake or success with purpose. See the significance in it.

    “And whatever you do whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus.” (Colossians 3:17)

    When we start living with faith, purpose and intentionality for the Lord, even in the seemingly insignificant things, our outlook will change. We’ll see things from a different perspective.

    “So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.” (1 Corinthians 15:58 NLT)

    In other words: It is significant.

    BY JEN ENGLISH
    You can follow Jennifer English on her personal blog https://jensrandommusings.wordpress.com/