Girlfriends in God - July 20, 2007

July 20, 2007

Down but not Out


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!”


Let’s review: Trials and hard times are part of life. In fact, they 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.

Third encouragement: Remember that God helps us in our trials.

Fourth encouragement: God uses our trials to help others.


Every trial…all suffering and each pain contains an opportunity that can be gained no other way. One of the greatest opportunities difficult times offer is a way to help others. God’s comfort is channeled through people. Once we have come through a trial, we can understand and comfort others who walk through that same trial.


In 1995, I went through a two-year battle with clinical depression. I could not get out of bed. My speaking ministry was put on hold as I stepped out of all leadership roles and was often unable to attend even a worship service at out church. I was paralyzed - and the most amazing realization was that I – Mary Southerland – was the one in that pit. Most people who knew me considered me a strong person and would probably have placed me last on their list of “Most Likely to Struggle with Depression”. In my arrogance, I counseled anyone who came to me with “the blues” to either “get over it” or “just deal with it and go on”. But there I was, a prisoner of the darkness I had so easily dismissed in the lives of others. My painful journey from the darkness into the light redefined who I am and birthed an authentic ministry powered by God instead of my own human effort. I am now not only sensitive to those battling depression, I can share the truths God taught me in that pit and give them part of the comfort I received. “Encourage” literally means “to put courage in”. Many times, just a word of praise, a note of appreciation, a hug, a smile or a cheerful phone call has been a deposit of strength in my weary heart and kept me on my feet.


One of our greatest responsibilities as children of God is to “encourage each other and give each other strength” (1 Thessalonians 5:11). I am certain you are well acquainted with the reality that life is filled with many kinds of trouble. Some trials arrive on two legs and are “discouragers” who lurk in every shadow, waiting to steal every ounce of joy and destroy all hope in our lives. Impossible! You see, our Hope has a name – Jesus Christ – and because He lives and reigns, we can serve from a platform of expectation and certainty. As we experience His victory in the trials of our lives, His character is built in our hearts and lives. We become the conduit through which God’s power and love is poured out on those He has given us to love and serve.


Each victory we experience is an investment of our maturity in Christ. When new trials come our way, that investment pays great dividends. We become stronger. We learn how to encourage others. A man vacationing in the mountains watched as a lumberman occasionally jabbed his sharp hook into a log, separating it from the other logs floating down the mountain stream. When the man asked the worker what he was doing, the lumberman replied, “These logs may all look alike to you, but a few of the logs are quite different. The ones I let pass are from trees growing in a valley and were always protected from the storms. Their grain is coarse. The ones I have hooked and set apart from the rest came from high up on the mountains. From the time they were small, they were beaten by strong winds that toughened the wood, giving them a fine and beautiful grain. They are too good to make into plain lumber. We save them for the best work.” We will have trouble. Trials will come. But how we respond to those trials and the choices we make in the midst of those troubles will determine the power and authenticity of our lives as women.


Let’s pray

Lord, I often feel as if I am down and out. And I know that many more trials lie ahead. But Father, I want to walk in victory through those trials. I want to be better because of them. So today, I choose to see You in each trial, knowing You allowed it, knowing You are with me in it and will use each difficult moment in my life and in the life of others for Your glory. In Jesus’ name. Amen.


Now it’s your turn

In the spaces below, write one new truth or insight you have gained about each statement.


  • Remember who God is._______________________________________________________________
  • Remember that God allows our trials.____________________________________________________
  • Remember that God helps us in our trials._________________________________________________
  • God uses our trials to help others._______________________________________________________


More from the girlfriends

I pray that this series, “Down…but not Out”, has been helpful to you. I am reminded every day – in so many ways - that Jesus is drawn to the wounded heart. As you serve Him this week, look for the broken lambs that are lost and hurting, with no hope and no purpose. Wrap your arms around them and let His love flow through you in restoration and healing.




Girlfriends in God

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Matthews, NC 28106



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Originally published Friday, 20 July 2007.