Girlfriends in God - July 18, 2007

July 18, 2007

Down but not Out

Part 2

Mary Southerland



Today’s truth

2 Corinthians 8-9: “Brothers and sisters, we want you to know about the trouble we suffered in Asia. We had great burdens there that were beyond our own strength. We even gave up hope of living. Truly, in our own hearts we believed we would die. But this happened so we would not trust in ourselves but in God!”


Friend to Friend

Trials and hard times are an important part of life. Yet, we desperately try to avoid any kind of pain and when the difficult times come, frantically search for the nearest exit! I have discovered that the most beautiful life is often the most broken life. The ashes of death may very well be the fertile soil from which a new life of victory and promise will grow. God is forever covering each pain with His infinite love and mercy, offering hope and encouragement.


First encouragement: Remember who God is.

Second encouragement: Remember that God allows our trials.

2 Corinthians 4a: “He comforts us every time we have trouble.”


Some trials come as the result of sin and frail humanity while others come because we are Christians, striving to live a life of obedience to God. But the reality is that all trials come with God’s permission. Paul writes that God “comforts us every time we have trouble”. In this verse, “trouble” literally means “narrow, confined or under pressure”. Paul paints the picture of being hemmed in to the point that the only place to look for help was up! For the believer, everything is a divine appointment. What we call “dis - appointment” is really “His - appointment”. Trials accompany faith and are a test, a measurement of growth given to see if the learner can pass…not pass out! Faith is always tested for a reason.


James 1: 2-3 “My brothers and sisters, when you have many kinds of troubles, you should be full of joy, because you know that these troubles test your faith, and this will give you patience.”


Trouble strengthens our faith and builds endurance, the ability to stay under the load. We have a loving Father who is committed to building the character of His Son in us. His love wants what is best for us, not what is easiest. Our daughter attended our church school from K-3 through fourth grade. We then felt it was time to move her to public school for her fifth grade year in order to prepare her for middle school, a tough transition at best. All summer long, we talked about how wonderful her new school would be. We visited her new classroom, met her new teacher, bought new clothes, searched for just the right lunch box, ordered the latest back pack, accumulated the coolest school supplies and even drove by the school several times a week! As the school year approached, Danna grew more and more excited about her new adventure and seemed totally prepared for the transition…until the first day of school. I prepared Danna’s favorite breakfast, fixed her hair in her favorite style as she dressed in her favorite new outfit. Off we went! When we approached the school entrance, Danna’s excitement gave way to sheer terror. As we pulled up to the door Danna was to enter, I heard her gasp as she saw a large group of students waiting for the bell to ring. And she didn’t know a single person! “Honey, you can do this”, I encouraged, “and remember that I will be praying for you all day!” With tear-filled eyes, my daughter opened the car door and literally ran into the building. I cried all the way home and all day long. After cleaning the house three times, I was in the car pool line thirty minutes early. When the bell rang, the school door burst open and students spilled out. No Danna. Cars pulled around me as more students ran to meet waiting parents but still - no Danna. Just about the time I began to panic, the door burst open and out came my daughter surrounded by a group of kids, laughing and talking, shouting promises to call each other later. Danna hopped into the car, faced me with a grin and announced, “Mom, I am soooo popular!” Our daughter had a great school year and when the first day of middle school rolled around, Danna was the one assuring her friends that it was “no big deal”. Looking back, the easiest decision would have been to take Danna back to the church school where everyone knew her and loved her. But the best decision was to allow Danna to work through that trial. It made her stronger.


Shallow love rescues easily and quickly. Real love walks with you through the trial. We don’t know exactly what trials Paul endured, but there were bad enough to make Paul think he was going to die. Still, God loved Paul, protected him and controlled the circumstances, using them for His glory and Paul’s ultimate good.

You see, it’s easy to have faith and to trust God when the wind is still, the waters are calm and the nets are full of fish, but the true measure of our faith is in the midst of the howling storm. His comfort is best realized when our pain is strongest. We may be down, my friend, but we are never out because God is Shepherd of every valley, Lord of every storm and friend of the wounded heart!


Let’s pray

Lord, thank You for being with me every moment of every day. Sometimes, it seems like I am all alone, sitting at the bottom of a dark pit. Help me to remember that You are with me…no matter what. In Jesus’ name. Amen.


Now it’s your turn

Identify your “pit”.

How have you responded to that pit?

Are you willing to surrender that pit to God?

Are you willing to trust Him even when you don’t understand His process?

Write out a prayer of surrender, asking God to deliver you in your pit and use that experience to refine you.


More from the girlfriends

I know you are familiar with the emotions that wreak havoc in your life. Looking back, I should have danced in the deepest valleys and embraced my greatest pain as friends because so much of what I do and who I am today has been accomplished by God’s hand in the darkest moments of my life. Don’t trust your emotions or give credence to your feelings when they tell you to give up! Step out in faith and into His perfect provision…no matter how down you may be! Keep walking through your fear and choose to praise Him!


For more on this topic, read Mary’s book, Hope in the Midst of Depression or purchase her CD, Strength for the Storm.



Girlfriends in God

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Matthews, NC 28106





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Originally published Wednesday, 18 July 2007.