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We often trust what we see, know, or feel—and that can be dangerous. Writing in Discover Magazine, Douglas Starr says that while eyewitness testimony is a mainstay of justice, it’s not all that trustworthy. “According to hundreds of studies over the past 30 years, there is almost nothing less reliable than what an eyewitness thinks he saw,” he wrote. “Memory is not videotape. We may believe that we remember things precisely, but most of our memories are a combination of what we think we observed and information we have been exposed to since then. The situation becomes worse at crime scenes, where variables such as stress and the presence of a weapon interfere with accuracy.”1

Starr points out that “of the 297 cases that have been overturned by DNA evidence in the United States, more than 70 percent were based on eyewitness testimony.” The eyewitnesses didn’t mean to mislead the jury; they simply didn’t remember the facts as accurately as they thought they did.

What happens when we feel like chaos has ensued, and there’s no way to manage the circumstances? What about unexpected disasters? What happens when our eyes see bedlam around us? We panic, trying to control things that are beyond our means. We may even lash out at the One who can give us understanding and guidance. But let me give you a better example—the biblical hero named Job.


Job’s Character

According to the Bible, Job was a blameless man (Job 1:1). This doesn’t mean he was perfect, but others viewed him as moral and ethical, a man of integrity and character. God viewed him that way too, for in Job 1:8, He said of Job, “There is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil.” In essence, God called Job the best man on earth in his time. Job was also one of the wealthiest men, with acres of livestock and an army of servants. Chief among Job’s blessings was his family—a wife, seven sons, and three daughters.

Job’s Chaos

But out of nowhere, Job’s idyllic world was shattered by chaos. Satan attacked on multiple fronts simultaneously. The Sabeans raided his fields, killed his employees, and stole his oxen and donkeys. Fire destroyed his flocks of sheep. The Chaldeans seized his fleet of camels. A cyclone blew down the house where his children had gathered, killing them all. And Job’s skin erupted in boils that afflicted him head to foot.

The poor man sat in the ashes, scraped his skin with a broken piece of pottery, and wondered what had happened to him.

If he was tempted to blame God, it didn’t show. The story of Job is that of a man whose world fell apart, yet he resisted the temptation to lash out at God. He was humble and believed God was in control. Job 1:20 says, “He fell to the ground and worshipped.” He could have fallen to the ground in despair or in complete collapse; instead, he fell to the ground in worship.

Job’s Cry

But he did fall to the ground. He didn’t just sing “Count Your Blessings” and give his testimony. This wasn’t a “Praise the Lord Anyway” moment. No, he was pulverized by the enormity of his losses. In time he composed a prayer. “He said: ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there. The LORD gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.’ In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong” (Job 1:21–22).

This is a famous passage in the Bible, and I don’t know how many times we’ve heard it intoned in the movies when someone dies in a drama. It is often spoken at the graveside while the star of the show is scanning the faces of the mourners looking for the real killer. Very often it’s raining.

But this isn’t really a movie script; it’s the song of a tortured but trusting heart. Few of us will lose our families, our wealth, our associates, and our health all at the same time, yet Job’s cry is helpful whatever our reversals in life. “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there.” That reminds us of 1 Timothy 6:7–8: “For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.”

This is the logic in both the Old and New Testaments. We’re only in this world a while, and we’re here on assignment. Our goal is not the accumulation of things. Our goal is to be content and frugal as we serve the Lord. When we have good days, we thank God for them; and when we have bad ones, we trust God with them; and on both days, we say, “Blessed be the name of the Lord.” We worship. This was Job’s first declaration of praise, and it’s a good philosophy for all of us to adopt in times of stress and strain.

Job’s Comfort

How do we cultivate such a response? Two places. The first is by meditating on our Lord’s creation. I don’t have time to tell the whole story of Job or of his friends and their accusations and advice. But at the end of the book, the Lord spoke to Job out of the whirlwind and took him on a creation tour. He asked Job, “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?” (Job 38:4) He told Job to consider the stars of the sky (38:7), the waters of the sea (38:8– 11), the sun and moon and rain and snow (38:12–30). He showed Job the wild animals, each one differently and wonderfully formed (38:39 – 39:30). What about the wild goats, Job? Who helps them bear their young? What about the ox? Who gives it strength? What about the ostrich and stork, the horse and the hawk?

As Job meditated on the wonders of God’s creation, his perspective clarified. If God can manage the courses of the stars and the flight of the birds, He knows how to care for us. Jesus later used a variation of this teaching to remind us to notice the lilies of the field, which are far more wonderful than the blossoms at the beginning of this article. The same God who clads the flowers can help us, for we are more valuable than acres of lilies and birds.

“What I am doing, you do not understand now, but you will know after this.” John 13:7

The second place to find comfort is by meditating in God’s Word. In terms of a written text, Job had little if any divine Scripture. Some scholars believe the book of Job was the earliest of the books of the Bible. This man didn’t have the Law or the Psalms or the Prophets, much less the New Testament.

But we do. We have Psalm 11:4: “The Lord is in His holy temple, the Lord’s throne is in heaven.”

We have Habakkuk 3:19: “The LORD God is my strength; He will make my feet like deer’s feet, and He will make me walk on my high hills.”

We have John 10:28: “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.”

We have Romans 8:31: “If God is for us, who can be against us?”

In a way, the entire book of Job can fit into just one verse in the Gospels—John 13:7: “Jesus answered and said to him, ‘What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this.’”

We don’t always understand our situations, but we can always lean on our Savior. We can’t always trust our eyes, for we walk by faith and not by sight. Things aren’t always as they seem; they are seldom as bad as they seem. Even eyewitnesses get it wrong. Meditate instead on the wonders of God’s creation and on the truths of His Word. Move from your confusions to His conclusions. There is no chaos when we’re in His keeping, for life’s unexpected problems are no match for God’s limitless power. His promises and His presence will reassure you that He is still in total control.

This article originally appeared in the July 2015 issue of Turning Points devotional magazine, a ministry of Turning Point with Dr. David Jeremiah.


1Douglas Starr, “False Eyewitness,” Discover Magazine, September 26, 2012,–eyewitness.


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Paul Jergan’s bend in the road came in the middle of the night, May 1, 2001, when he was jolted from bed by the ringing of the phone. Half–asleep, groping in the darkness for the phone, he muttered a groggy “hello.” A half–second later, he was fully alert. The emergency room of a distant hospital had called to inform Paul that his son, Travis, a university student in another state, was in critical condition from alcohol poisoning. This was just the beginning of a prolonged nightmare of substance abuse, rehab, and parental anguish.

Julie Thompson’s bend in the road began with the discovery of a lump. For James P. Colepepper, it was a visit from police officers who informed him that someone had stolen his identity and used his credit cards to finance an illegal operation. For Todd, it was the news that his company was filing for bankruptcy and laying off its employees.


At such times, we feel we’re at one of life’s dead ends; but for Christians, these are only bends in the road, disruptive moments sent to develop our faith and to prove God’s faithfulness. As Helen Steiner Rice put it:

Sometimes we come to life’s crossroads and we view what we think is the end. But God has a much wider vision and He knows that it’s only a bend.

When I came to a bend in the road of my life, the writings of King David helped me regain my bearings. We can learn to handle our twisting pathway by studying this man’s life and reading his soul–searching Psalms. David teaches us that God is with us in the midst of our trials and the center of our pain. He comforts, guides, teaches, and sustains us. Even in the valley of the shadow of death, we needn’t fear, for He is with us.

1. Think Differently About Hard Times

David’s Psalms help us think differently about our tribulations—and about our triumphant Lord. Robert C. McQuilkin, the founder of Columbia International University, once gave a message on Psalm 23, telling his listeners that many of our problems are the result of thinking, “The Lord is my Shepherd, but I have this or that problem.” McQuilkin went on to say that we should frame it differently: “I have this or that problem, but the Lord is my Shepherd.”

When we face trials, we need to remember who God is.

When we face trials, we need to remember who God is. Sometimes we get so focused on our problems that we forget to focus on Him. He has promised to care for us as a shepherd cares for his sheep in green pastures and by still waters, restoring our souls, anointing our wounds with His oil, filling our cups to overflowing. He’s the keeper of our lives, and His goodness and mercy follow us all our days.

2. Pray Earnestly in Hard Times

David also teaches us to pray earnestly. In Psalm 18, he recounted the harrowing experience of being pursued by King Saul and the Israeli army. In verse 6, he explained how he survived: “In my distress I called upon the Lord, and cried out to my God; He heard my voice from His temple, and my cry came before Him, even to His ears.”

The young fugitive went on to say that when God came to help him, it seemed that the earth shook and the hills quaked, for the Lord of heaven and earth was on a divine mission to answer his prayers.

In his book Men in Midlife Crisis, Pastor Jim Conway discusses the struggles he faced when he found himself in a full–blown midlife crisis. Everyone had advice for him, both his friends and the experts who sent him books. But the more he listened to these voices, the more discouraged he felt. Finally, he found Psalm 18. Following the psalmist’s example, he cried to the Lord, praying earnestly, beseeching God for help.

Gradually Jim felt the God of all grace drawing him from many waters and delivering him from the strong enemy (verses 16–17). His optimism returned, the clouds parted, and he realized that the lessons he had learned would enrich his ministry for the rest of his life.

If you’re facing a bend in your life right now, think of it as an opportunity to cry out to God. Perhaps this is an opportunity for God to deepen your spiritual life and take you further into His pavilion of prayer than you’ve ever been before. Read Psalm 18, and visualize God shaking the earth to help you. He wants to turn your problems into prayers, and your prayers into praise, even as we read in verse 46: “The Lord lives! Blessed be my Rock! Let the God of my salvation be exalted.”

3. Wait Patiently in Hard Times

When we come to a bend in the road, we also have to yield the right–of–way to God, letting Him take the lead and waiting patiently for Him to work things out. He knows what’s around the corner, and He knows the best speed to take the curve. As David said in Psalm 31:14–15: “But as for me, I trust in You, O Lord; I say, ‘You are my God.’ My times are in Your hand; deliver me.”

Shortly after George W. Truett, thirty years old, had been named pastor of the First Baptist Church of Dallas, some of his men took him quail hunting. Among them was Jim Arnold, the city’s chief of police. Near the end of the hunting trip, a terrible accident occurred. Truett accidentally shot Captain Arnold in the right leg. The following Sunday, Arnold died. All Dallas was stunned, and Truett was devastated. He paced the floor day and night, unable to eat or sleep, muttering, “I will never preach again. I could never again stand in the pulpit.”

Finally, one of the great verses of King David came to mind—Psalm 31:15: “My times are in Your hand.” David wrote those words during a period of unbearable pain in his own life, and they resonated with the young preacher. That night Truett vividly dreamed of Jesus standing by his bed. The Lord said, “Be not afraid. You are my man from now on.” Later the dream came again, then a third time. At length, it was announced that Truett was returning to the pulpit. Churches across Dallas dismissed services and gathered at First Baptist in support.

“When Brother Truett came into the pulpit,” a member later said, “he looked terrible, his face drawn, his eyes sad. He remained silent for a long moment. You could have heard a pin drop. When he began, he sounded different somehow. His voice! I shall never forget his voice that morning.” Truett remained at the First Baptist Church until his death in 1944. During his tenure, membership increased from 700 to over 7000, with a total of 19,531 new members received and over 5000 baptisms recorded.

Surrender your trial to God and wait on Him who holds our times in His hands. How often David told us to be of good courage and wait on the Lord (Psalm 27:14). As Fanny Crosby put it:

O child of God, wait patiently when dark thy path may be,
And let thy faith lean trustingly on Him who cares for thee;
And though the clouds hang drearily upon the brow of night,
Yet in the morning joy will come, and fill thy soul with light.

4. Praise Joyfully Despite Hard Times

The psalmist’s writings also teach us to praise joyfully and triumphantly despite current circumstances, knowing that God reigns and heaven rules. Listen to what David said in Psalm 34:1: “I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.” Notice the words “at all times” and “continually.” Verse 5 goes on to say: “They looked to Him and were radiant.”

Someone said that the Christian should always have two books near at hand—the Bible and a hymnbook. King David didn’t have a hymnal, so he wrote his own. It is our book of psalms, and in it, we learn to praise the Lord when our pathways are straight and clear and also when they are not. It’s impossible for Satan to remain in a room filled with worship or in a heart filled with praise and singing.

Are you facing a bend in the road today? Remember the shepherd boy David. He overcame one bend after another, and he left signposts for us to follow in the Psalms. Follow his example, and learn to think differently, pray earnestly, wait patiently, and praise joyfully.

Rejoice in Him who can make the crooked ways straight and the rough places smooth.


Our pain is real. Even a quick look at the Bible bears witness to the fact that we aren’t the first to walk down the difficult roads of disappointment, persecution, and bitterness. In God’s Word, we find hope for stormy times. Whenever I have suffered, the psalms have been a source of strength and healing.

Are you facing a bend in the road? An unexpected diagnosis? A heartbreak? Loneliness? If not now, you’ve likely faced circumstances you never expected nor wished to encounter.

None of us enjoys suffering, yet it brings the opportunity to develop the kind of profound faith that believes God’s purposes are loving and truly right for us. Every crisis has the potential to empower and purify us, to make us more valuable servants in His kingdom. God does not waste our sorrows.


My Bend in the Road

When I arrived at the Center for Executive Health on a bright Monday morning in 1994, cancer was the last thing on my mind. During the forty–minute drive to the doctor’s office, I had no pressing concerns and felt like my time would be better spent at my office (or recuperating from the three sermons I preached the day before) than being poked and prodded by doctors.

Those were my idle thoughts during a mundane drive on an ordinary morning. But the clock was ticking: forty minutes of peace and contentment were draining away before chaos struck.

As the doctor examined my abdomen, he detected a mass suggestive of an enlarged spleen. Before long, a smattering of physical examinations, blood tests, and radiological procedures revealed the dark truth: I had lymphoma.

My wife, Donna, was about to leave for a visit with her mother in New Hampshire. Not wanting to rain on her parade, I decided to keep silent. Before meeting up with her three days later, I kept up with obligations to speak at ministry events. Once we settled into our hotel room, I sat down with her and opened the dark curtains of my soul. When I finished, we cried and prayed and held each other through most of the night.

One six–letter word, cancer, sent a tidal wave of shock, fear, and dismay through both of our hearts.

It feels good to be sharing my story 25 years later. Thanks to God’s power and the expert care of many dedicated health professionals, I survived my lymphoma. And I experienced God’s presence more personally, more deeply than I’d ever experienced it before. As I asked Him the same questions so many others have asked—Why this? Why me? Why now?—He answered through the words of the apostle Paul, “And He said to me, ’My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

God’s grace is sufficient—I can tell you it’s true.

5 Principles to Remember When Bad Things Happen

Through my own dark nights, I’ve identified five principles that help me to see struggles from God’s perspective. I hope they will help you as much as they have helped me.

Principle #1: Suffering Teaches Us to Trust God

Good parents discipline their children, and God is a Good Father. Every trial we face, difficult as it may be, comes from the hand of God, who loves us and wants us to grow. The moment we accept the fact that our ordeal has been permitted, even intended by God, our perspective will change. We will find ourselves saying, “God, You have allowed this in my life. I don’t understand it, but I know that it couldn’t have happened to me unless it was filtered through Your loving hands. This thing is from You, and I accept it.”

Principle #2: Suffering Builds Character

We live in a world where the idea of success carries an expectation of being comfortable. Digital assistants turn on the lights and order our groceries. Streaming services allow us to customize music and television programming to our individual tastes. Our workspaces are climate–controlled and ergonomically optimized. Being comfortable isn’t wrong, but God is more concerned with our holiness than our comfort or happiness.

Character and substance are shaped in the crucible of adversity. Unless there is pain in the formula, we will never stop and listen carefully to what He is saying. We’ll be moving along happily, thinking we’re going somewhere—but we’re only spinning our wheels. We’re not making any progress toward the deeper things our Father longs to show us. Sometimes He allows us to stumble because He is determined to teach us and to make us wiser and stronger.

Principle #3: Suffering Draws Us Near to God and Prepares Us to Be Productive

In John 15:1–8, Jesus borrows a word picture from the plant kingdom. He explains that because He loves us, He must do some pruning for us to thrive and blossom. Do you understand how this principle works in gardening? Even with green things, God’s concept of discipline holds true.

It’s a painful process, but the Gardener is loving and devoted. Someone has said, “The Father is never closer to the vine than when He is pruning it.”1 That statement is right on the mark. When we experience loss, we can be sure God is near to us. He is disciplining us in the same way a loving Father disciplines his children. Our part is to lean in to Him, study His Word, and trust Him to provide for our needs.

Principle #4: Suffering Produces Dynamic Growth

You can struggle against suffering, shake your fist at the heavens, and find yourself exhausted, defeated, and in despair—or you can accept the moment and let it train and strengthen you. If you take the latter course, you’ll discover more power, more holiness, and more fruit. Those are precious gifts that cannot be purchased with any coin other than tears. When you possess them, you’ll comprehend with joy what God wanted so much for you to experience in your life.

God never allows pain without purpose. Instead, He uses your suffering to dispense His power. And His power cannot rest upon you unless you’ve abandoned the idea that you’re big enough to go it alone. You need to realize that you’re not big enough; you’ll never make it without depending utterly upon Him and going in His strength. Some pruning will take place, but you’ll be free to grow toward the heavens after that pruning is accomplished!

Principle #5: The Outcome of Our Suffering Depends Upon Our Response

When I was diagnosed with cancer, everything God had given me to do was thriving. My church and broadcast ministry had grown, and my books were selling. People were responding to God’s truth. All of this was for the glory of God. And then, right in the middle of all these blessings, came the suffering. On the surface, it didn’t seem to make sense.

Have you ever had that kind of experience? Just when you had everything lined up in your life exactly as you wanted things to be, you experienced an unwelcome and unanticipated disaster that spoiled everything. And you asked many questions, all beginning with the word why.

“Why” questions are a natural part of being human. But we can ask better questions—we can ask “what” questions: “What Lord? What would You have me do? What are You trying to teach me?”

Where to Turn for Help

Whenever I have suffered, the psalms have provided my medicine. They have bandaged me and pointed me toward healing. Understanding them doesn’t require commentaries or scholarly notes. Their simple, heartfelt words have washed over me with the hope and peace of God’s presence. The following psalms have helped me to rise and meet the difficult road in the sufficiency of God’s grace and wisdom. I’ve written out the first portion of each one, but I encourage you to open your Bible and read them in their entirety.

How long, O Lord? Psalm 13

Preserve me, O God, for in You I put my trust. Psalm 16

I will extol You, O Lord, for You have lifted me up. Psalm 30

God is our refuge and strength. Psalm 46

O God, You are my God, early will I seek You. Psalm 63

In You, O Lord, I put my trust. Psalm 71

Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! Psalm 107

I will lift up my eyes to the hills. Psalm 121

I will praise You with my whole heart. Psalm 138

I cry out to the Lord with my voice. Psalm 142

I pray that these words will uplift and comfort you as they have me. And I hope my prayer becomes your prayer too:

Lord, what do You want to teach me to make me a better person? What are Your plans to make me more effective? Lead me and guide me through this process, O Lord. Be my teacher, show me Your ways. And don’t let me miss any lesson you’ve prepared for me.

This article is drawn from David Jeremiah’s book When Your World Falls Apart: Seeing Past the Pain of the Present.


1Julie Kuntzman, “As the Shepherd Gathers His Lambs,” in Susan Sorenson and Laura Geist, Praying Through Cancer: Set Your Heart Free From Fear (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2006), 73.


We all encounter difficult seasons and circumstances in our life. Perhaps the desires of our heart long to be fulfilled. Perhaps we are struggling through family or financial difficulties. Perhaps we’ve been confronted with a sudden loss or diagnosis that has shaken our world to its core. When we face difficult times, how do we hold on to hope?

King David knew a few things about suffering. He struggled through family brokenness, betrayal, the death of a child, and much more over the course of his life. Through his writing in the Psalms, we witness his incredible strength and determination to cling to hope in hard times. I’ve gathered five of these Psalms for you today. They offer guidance for fighting through our own emotional and spiritual difficulties while trusting God for the future. Even in our greatest struggles, the Psalms remind us that God is walking beside us, and what feels like the end may just be a bend in the road.

Even in our greatest struggles, the Psalms remind us that God is walking beside us, and what feels like the end may just be a bend in the road.

1. Psalm 71—For when we feel like everyone is against us

In You, O Lord, I put my trust;
Let me never be put to shame….

Deliver me, O my God, out of the hand of the wicked,
Out of the hand of the unrighteous and cruel man.
For You are my hope, O Lord God;
You are my trust from my youth.
By You I have been upheld from birth;
You are He who took me out of my mother’s womb.
My praise shall be continually of You.

I have become as a wonder to many,
But You are my strong refuge.
Let my mouth be filled with Your praise
And with Your glory all the day.

…But I will hope continually,
And will praise You yet more and more.
My mouth shall tell of Your righteousness
And Your salvation all the day,
For I do not know their limits.
I will make mention of Your righteousness, of Yours only.
(verses 1, 4–8, 14–16)

We will encounter trials. In fact, Jesus instructed His disciples to expect them. But in the midst of it all, God invites us to acknowledge the weight of our pain and suffering before Him. When it feels like the world is against us (and maybe it is!), we know that God never walks away from us or fails us. He is our refuge, our strength, and our salvation.


2. Psalm 121—For when we feel discouraged and helpless

I will lift up my eyes to the hills—
From whence comes my help?
My help comes from the Lord,
Who made heaven and earth.

He will not allow your foot to be moved;
He who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, He who keeps Israel
Shall neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord is your keeper;
The Lord is your shade at your right hand.

The sun shall not strike you by day,
Nor the moon by night.

The Lord shall preserve you from all evil;
He shall preserve your soul.

The Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in
From this time forth, and even forevermore.

God often encourages us, guides us, and upholds us through other believers, but our first call for help goes to Him. As we cry out, He may speak to us through other people, through our quiet times in the Word or prayer, or a still small voice when we least expect it. God enables those around us to support us, yet it is His work. He is the One we call to and the One worthy of our praise.

3. Psalm 13—For when we feel like God has forgotten us

How long, O Lord? Will You forget me forever?
How long will You hide Your face from me?
How long shall I take counsel in my soul,
Having sorrow in my heart daily?
How long will my enemy be exalted over me?

Consider and hear me, O Lord my God;
Enlighten my eyes,
Lest I sleep the sleep of death;

Lest my enemy say,
“I have prevailed against him”;
Lest those who trouble me rejoice when I am moved.

But I have trusted in Your mercy;
My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation.

I will sing to the Lord,
Because He has dealt bountifully with me.

Sometimes we wonder why God is taking so long. Is He ignoring us? Is He punishing us for something? Does He not care? The truth is that God’s love never ceases; His mercies never come to an end (Lamentations 3:22). Though He sometimes delays, God never deserts us. Because He is faithful, we can sing to the Lord and recognize His blessings in our lives, whatever our circumstances.

4. Psalm 63—For when we feel empty, dry, and deserted

O God, You are my God;
Early will I seek You;
My soul thirsts for You;
My flesh longs for You
In a dry and thirsty land
Where there is no water.
So I have looked for You in the sanctuary,
To see Your power and Your glory.

Because Your lovingkindness is better than life,
My lips shall praise You.
Thus I will bless You while I live;
I will lift up my hands in Your name.
My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness,
And my mouth shall praise You with joyful lips.

When I remember You on my bed,
I meditate on You in the night watches.
Because You have been my help,
Therefore in the shadow of Your wings I will rejoice.
My soul follows close behind You;
Your right hand upholds me.

But those who seek my life, to destroy it,
Shall go into the lower parts of the earth.
They shall fall by the sword;
They shall be a portion for jackals.

But the king shall rejoice in God;
Everyone who swears by Him shall glory;
But the mouth of those who speak lies shall be stopped.

Like David, we sometimes find ourselves in a “desert” season with circumstances that leave us emotionally and spiritually dry. In these times, God urges us to draw near to Him and to hear His voice more clearly. When we do, He becomes living water for us. Even in the desert, He sees us and sustains us.

If we seek God with discipline, the desert can be one of the greatest adventures in gaining wisdom, strength, and maturity.

If we seek God with discipline, the desert can be one of the greatest adventures in gaining wisdom, strength, and maturity. The quietness of the desert allows us to get to know Him better, with more depth and fulfillment. He doesn’t enjoy our pain, but He delights in our tighter embrace.

The Lord knows the way through the wilderness. We only need to take His hand.

5. Psalm 30—For when God brings healing

I will extol You, O Lord, for You have lifted me up,
And have not let my foes rejoice over me.
O Lord my God, I cried out to You,
And You healed me.
O Lord, You brought my soul up from the grave;
You have kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit.

Sing praise to the Lord, you saints of His,
And give thanks at the remembrance of His holy name.
For His anger is but for a moment,
His favor is for life;
Weeping may endure for a night,
But joy comes in the morning.

Now in my prosperity I said,
“I shall never be moved.”
Lord, by Your favor You have made my mountain stand strong;
You hid Your face, and I was troubled.

I cried out to You, O Lord;
And to the Lord I made supplication:
“What profit is there in my blood,
When I go down to the pit?
Will the dust praise You?
Will it declare Your truth?
Hear, O Lord, and have mercy on me;
Lord, be my helper!”

You have turned for me my mourning into dancing;
You have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness,
To the end that my glory may sing praise to You and not be silent.
O Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever.

Life is filled with ups and downs. In the valleys of life, it’s important to remember God’s goodness and His faithfulness. Then when we reach the mountaintops, our memory of the valleys prompts us to praise the God who faithfully leads us. He refines us through every part of the journey.

When disappointment confronts us, we find hope by looking up.

When disappointment confronts us, we find hope by looking up. It’s an opportunity to gird up our heart and reach for renewed strength as we say, “Lord, life has thrown me a curve, but even so, I praise Your name. You are my Father, and You love me enough to train me and remake me. I trust You to turn my mourning into dancing.”

Helen Steiner Rice expressed this kind of faith in her poem “The Bend in the Road”:

Sometimes we come to life’s crossroads
And we view what we think is the end.
But God has a much wider vision
And He knows it’s only a bend—
The road will go on and get smoother
And after we’ve stopped for a rest,
The path that lies hidden beyond us
Is often the path that is best.
So rest and relax and grow stronger,
Let go and let God share your load
And have faith in a brighter tomorrow.
You’ve just come to a bend in the road.


Do you recall Chariots of Fire, the inspiring film based on the life of Scottish missionary and Olympic runner Eric Liddell? If so, you will probably remember these stirring words that he spoke: “I believe that God made me for a purpose. But He also made me fast, and when I run, I feel His pleasure.” He made this statement when people criticized him for pursuing his interests in track and field before going to the mission field.

I believe we could easily substitute the word “joy” for “pleasure” in Liddell’s statement without changing the meaning at all, for God delights when His creation manifests its God–given purpose. And if God finds pleasure and joy when we excel in desires that honor Him, shouldn’t we feel the same satisfaction? Of course we should.


Claiming Your Right to Joy

I don’t speak about a Christian’s “rights” often, but I will in this case. I believe we have the right to rejoice! And I say that because I believe God created us with the potential for great pleasure and joy. We even see joy ascribed to the creation in Scripture: mountains skipping like rams (Psalm 114:4), stars singing together (Job 38:7), and rivers and trees clapping their hands (Psalm 98:8; Isaiah 55:12). I realize those are figures of speech. But where there is a metaphor, there is a connection to something real, and the Creator infused His creation with joy. If the angels of God rejoice, should not we as well? (Job 38:7; Luke 2:13–14; 15:10)

I believe the experience most missing from the average Christian’s life today is joy.

I believe the experience most missing from the average Christian’s life today is joy. I don’t mean just laughter and hilarity, although there is plenty of room for more of that in the body of Christ. (Considering Proverbs 17:22, who knows how much healthier we’d be with a little, or lot, more laughter?) I am also referring to a deeper dimension of enduring happiness. As God’s people, our joy is rooted in a deep–seated conviction that God is in control; God is good; and therefore, I have no reason to be pessimistic about the future.

If I could see you in action when you’re pursuing your heartfelt desires, I imagine I would see your pleasure and joy in full form. And I would be right there, high–fiving you the whole time. It’s a wonderful thing to see people rejoicing, isn’t it?

We know how to do that part of rejoicing. But it’s the other kind—rejoicing when we feel like crying or shouting—that we need to embrace. Remember: If God has built joy into His creation, then it’s your right, as His child, to rejoice even when it doesn’t seem natural.

Choosing Joy in Tough Times

Think about these two opposite conditions: Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden and the apostle Paul in a Roman prison. Though the Bible tells us very little about Adam and Eve’s life in Eden, I’m going to assume it was a happy, joyful place to be. In Revelation 21:4, we read that one day God is going to take away tears, death, sorrow, crying, and pain from human existence. Those experiences are part of humanity’s fallen condition, so I assume they were not present in Eden. In other words, Adam and Eve had no reason not to be joyful.

But what about Paul in prison? The New Testament letter that talks more about joy than any other was written by Paul while he was under arrest. His setting was not as bad as in his final imprisonment in the dreaded Mamertine Prison in Rome, but it was bad enough. During his house arrest, which offered no happy ending so far as Paul knew, he wrote Philippians and three other letters. Even though he had food and clothing and occasional visits from friends, he didn’t know the outcome of his imprisonment. He could have been martyred any day. And yet he wrote over and over about joy.

So, joy in Eden is easy to understand. But how could Paul experience joy in prison when his life was in the hands of a pagan Roman emperor? That’s the kind of happiness we need to cultivate.

Cultivating a Lifestyle of Joy

Joy was Paul’s lifestyle.

Paul’s perspective on joy was not something he discovered while in prison. Instead, it was a settled conviction that found expression. Here’s how we know. Around A.D. 51, Paul wrote these two profound words to the Christians at Thessalonica who were experiencing persecution: “Rejoice always” (1 Thessalonians 5:16). It wasn’t until ten years later, in A.D. 61, that he wrote his letter to the Philippians in which joy is mentioned fourteen times. In fact, he repeated to the Philippians his ten–year–old admonition to the Thessalonians: “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4). Joy was Paul’s lifestyle.

But how? we ask. How do we “rejoice always”? I hope you know me better than to expect a secret or a trick that will keep you happy for the rest of your life. The biblical answer is not surprising: It requires both an attitude and an action.

Attitude: We know from Galatians 5:22 that joy is a supernatural manifestation of Christ’s life in us—part of the fruit of the Spirit. But it is our responsibility to be filled with the Spirit, to embrace the Spirit’s work in every situation. Moment–by–moment in life, and especially in difficult moments, we must carry the conviction that God wants to release His joy in our lives.

Action: Part of walking by faith is… walking! Our responsibility is to act on what God has promised to provide. We need to respond joyfully, giving testimony (both verbally and nonverbally) to our conviction that God is good, God is in control, and God will bring good out of every situation for His glory (Romans 8:28). I’m not talking about a veneer of joy; I’m talking about pleasure through and through. Even when there are tears, they are not tears of anger or frustration. Even when we experience grief, we can have joy because we know it’s our right to rejoice.

I encourage you, with the apostle Paul, to “rejoice always.” The circumstances of life may change our reasons for rejoicing, but they don’t change our ability to rejoice in Christ.