How to Be Thankful During Trials

This devotion was originally written for the Chase Oaks Church website. Read the Devotion on the Chase Oaks website…..

Philippians 1:12–18 (NASB)

“12Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel,13so that my imprisonment in the cause of Christ has become well known throughout the whole praetorian guard and to everyone else,14and that most of the brethren, trusting in the Lord because of my imprisonment, have far more courage to speak the word of God without fear.15Some, to be sure, are preaching Christ even from envy and strife, but some also from good will;16the latter do it out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel;17the former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition rather than from pure motives, thinking to cause me distress in my imprisonment.18What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and in this I rejoice.

Yes, and I will rejoice,”

Struggles in life are never fun. I don’t think I have ever heard someone say, “I could go for a good life struggle right now.” When I am going through difficulties, I’m not usually thankful.

Paul was in prison when writing to the Philippians, and, back in Paul’s time, prison was an even more horrible place than it is today. Despite his misery, Paul was thankful because the message of Jesus Christ was spreading because of his imprisonment. People were talking about Paul being in prison, which led to asking why he was there, which led to talking about Jesus; and talking about Jesus was all Paul wanted people to be doing. In his mind, if him being in prison made that happen, then hooray for being in prison. Wow! Imagine having that outlook during every struggle we encounter in life.

When I was a teenager, my father was diagnosed with late-stage colon cancer, and there was nothing they could do for him. However, instead of wallowing in self-pity, becoming depressed, or working on his bucket list, my dad was selfless and chose to help others. My dad spent the final two years of his life being poked, prodded, tested, and going through experimental treatments that made him feel miserable. I’ll be honest; I was not thankful while I was watching him go through that, and I wasn’t selfless either. I wanted my dad back to normal so my life could go back to normal.

Looking back, I am thankful for what my dad went through because, occasionally, I meet someone who has survived cancer through one of those experimental treatments. I also know that the doctors working with my dad became believers and started a Bible study. My dad’s selflessness created fruit both in the medical world and in God’s kingdom.

Being thankful for a trial after the fact can be easy, but God asks us to trust Him, be thankful, and pray that others would come to know Him because of our struggle—while we are still in it.

Written by Diana Wells

Wife of Gerry, mother of Caleb, child of God.

A Peace That Surpasses All Understanding

This devotion was originally written for the Chase Oaks Church website. Read the Devotion on the Chase Oaks website…..

Matthew 6:24–25, 31–33

24“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.
25“For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?”

Matthew 6:31-33 (NASB)

31“Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’32“For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.33“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

During a period of my life, I was a single mom taking care of my young son and my mom who had Alzheimer’s. One symptom of Alzheimer’s is the inability to handle finances correctly and, by the time my mom was diagnosed, her finances were a mess. When my son and I moved in to care for her, I began the difficult task of trying to dig my way out of the financial abyss caused by her disease. Worrying about money became a constant part of my life for years.

However, the verses for today were a lifeline for me through many long dark days. I can remember many months when the money ended well before the bills did. I couldn’t do anything but remind God of these verses (just in case He forgot). I would look up and say, “God, I have a child and a mother that need to be fed, sheltered, and cared for and I am tapped out. Here are the bills that need to be paid. Knock yourself out.”

I’m not claiming to be particularly eloquent in my prayers, but God still hears me. The reality is that I had to get to the point where I had no more ideas of how I could pay those bills before I stopped worrying and gave it to God. I was so focused on the money that it took my focus off God.

When I finally gave up and shifted my focus back to God, God did things that brought glory to Him, not me. No, He didn’t drop a bag of money on my doorstep, but the phone would ring with a new client for my business, or something would happen that brought in just the right amount of money at just the right moment. The financial issues didn’t disappear but my focus shifted, and the worry eased as I started seeking God first. And the more I focused on God, the more I experienced the peace that passes all understanding.

Written by Diana Wells

Wife of Gerry, mother of Caleb, child of God.

Doing the Right Thing in the Face of Suffering

This devotion was originally written for the Chase Oaks Church website. Read the Devotion on the Chase Oaks website…..

1 Peter 3:8–22 (NASB)

8″To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit;9not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing.10For,

“THE ONE WHO DESIRES LIFETO LOVE AND SEE GOOD DAYS,

MUST KEEP HIS TONGUE FROM EVIL AND HIS LIPS FROM SPEAKING DECEIT.

11“HE MUST TURN AWAY FROM EVIL AND DO GOOD;

HE MUST SEEK PEACE AND PURSUE IT.

12“FOR THE EYES OF THE LORD ARE TOWARD THE RIGHTEOUS,

AND HIS EARS ATTEND TO THEIR PRAYER,

BUT THE FACE OF THE LORD IS AGAINST THOSE WHO DO EVIL.”

13Who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good?14But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. AND DO NOT FEAR THEIRINTIMIDATIONAND DO NOT BE TROUBLED,15but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence;16and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame.17For it is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong.18For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit;19in which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison,20who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water.21Corresponding to that, baptism now saves you—not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience—through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,22who is at the right hand of God, having gone into heaven, after angels and authorities and powers had been subjected to Him.”

No one wants to suffer, but it is even more disheartening when you suffer for doing the right thing. The Bible is full of people who suffered for their faith; many of the apostles were beaten, imprisoned, and even killed for the gospel of Jesus. However, they persevered through the suffering because they knew they were righteous before God.

We may not go through the same type of persecution that some Christians face, but there are still many times we can stand up for what we believe. I remember, years ago, a lady in my Bible study group found out that she had cancer. However, in the process of discovering cancer, they also discovered she was pregnant. The doctors told her that the only chance for her to survive was to treat the cancer immediately and aggressively. They also told her that this would result in the death of her unborn child and that she should abort the pregnancy. She told them she would not abort her child and would wait nine months before beginning cancer treatment.

By deciding to do what was right, she suffered in many ways. Doctors scorned her, she lost many family and friends, and, of course, she suffered physically as the cancer became worse. As terrible as it was, she knew she was doing the right thing and that she could not have lived with herself if she had aborted her baby. So, suffering for doing what was right was better than the suffering she would have endured otherwise. Eventually, she had a healthy baby and began treatment for her cancer.

Standing up for what God says is right isn’t always a life and death decision. It may be a decision not to drink too much at a party, which brings you ridicule, or not joining your friends at a questionable movie. Either way, the Holy Spirit is there to guide you and to comfort you along the way.

What righteous decision have you had to suffer for?

Written by Diana Wells

Wife of Gerry, mother of Caleb, and a child of God.

Creating Margin in Your Finances

This devotion was originally written for the Chase Oaks Church website. Read the Devotion on the Chase Oaks website…..

Proverbs 13:11 (NASB)

11″Wealth obtained by fraud dwindles,

But the one who gathers by labor increases it.”

Having margin in our finances can be a challenge in today’s culture. Advertisers, marketers, and even those close to us can make us believe that money is the key to happiness. But that is a lie. Living a life focused on making more money, achieving a title that sounds important, or working to pay off an enormous amount of debt accumulated by buying things you can’t afford does not make anyone happy. Instead, it makes you stressed, discontented, and eventually unhealthy.

What would it mean to your family if you were home more and working less? How much healthier and happier would you be if you created margin in your finances? God wants us to have balance in our lives, and that includes our finances. God is not against having wealth—just look at Abraham, Job, Solomon, and other pillars of the faith who had an amazing amount of earthly wealth. God’s only concern is for our heart and where it is focused. If your heart is focused on money, then it can’t be focused fully on God.

If this is where you find yourself today, you can start taking steps to change. It can take time and sometimes can feel overwhelming when you are trying to get your financial life under control. However, if you take just a few steps in that direction, your focus will start to change. You can bring God into your finances by taking the time to stop and pray before making a purchase. Praying not only gives you time to think and not make an impulsive purchase, but it also brings God into your financial decisions. And that can make all the difference.

True happiness comes from God, not money and possessions. And the best part is—it’s free!

Written by Diana Wells

Wife of Gerry, mother of Caleb, child of God.

How to Combat Anxiety

This devotion was originally written for the Chase Oaks Church website. Read the Devotion on the Chase Oaks website…..

1 Peter 5:7

7″…casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.”

Anxiety is unhealthy for you, not just spiritually but physically too. Anxiety can raise your blood pressure, keep you awake at night, cause your heart to race, and make you eat too much or not enough. Over the long term, anxiety can have an even bigger effect on your heart, your cognitive skills, and your cardiovascular system. Spiritually, anxiety creates a stumbling block between you and God. Anytime your mind is dwelling on worrisome things that are causing you anxiety, it is drawn away from dwelling on God.

God understands that we are going to have anxiety and fear in this life, but He wants to take that burden off of us. He wants us to put our worries and anxiety on Him.

Today’s verse says, “Casting all your anxieties on him because he cares for you.” This verse doesn’t say never to be anxious. God knows that it is going to happen. There are things in this world that cause anxiety on a daily basis. What this verse says is that when we are anxious, worried, or fearful God wants us to give it to Him. Why? Because He cares. How amazing is that? The God of all creation cares so much for us that He tells us to give all our fears and worries to Him, so we don’t have to handle it ourselves.

How do you give your anxiety to God? Anytime you realize you are starting to worry or be anxious about something, no matter how big or small, start praying. Turn the worry into a prayer. Be honest with Him about your anxiety and then ask God to help you, because He will. Then, keep doing it. Some days it may feel like all you are doing is praying about your worries, but that is a positive step. If it takes praying all day, then keep doing it.

What is causing you anxiety today? Every time it crosses your mind, turn that thought into a prayer and give it to God.

Written by Diana Wells

Wife of Gerry, mother of Caleb, child of God.

Freelance Writer