Posts tagged #trials

Finding the Silver Lining

“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” James 1:2-4

How easy is it for you to find joy or the “silver lining” in every situation?

What exactly is a silver lining? 

Looking up into the sky right before a storm, I can often see dark clouds passing overhead. As they get into position and do their job of creating rain, they also block the sun. When I look closely at the edges of those ominous clouds, I can see the sun shining around the edges, like a silver lining.

Difficult times come to each of us.  As someone once said, “It is not a matter of ‘if’, but ‘when’ they will come”.  When the dismal clouds cover over your life, what do you do?

I continue to learn when trials come there is ALWAYS a silver lining.

Every time. 

I can find something to be grateful for.  During this difficult time of finding cancer again, I find it is easier to be less stressed than the first time.  We have done this before and we will do it again.  I find I am less hesitant to let people help me and I am more able to take the rest God is providing in the midst.

Here are a few things that keep me grounded and focusing on the “silver lining” during my times of trial:

  1. I journal gratefulness.  Each day, I make myself find 10 things to be grateful for.  They have to be “new every morning”, and I don’t allow myself to pull points from yesterday.  This God-inspired ritual helps me see the goodness in the midst of the pain.  I have had surgery and am recouping, but the silver lining is more time to spend with friends who visit and to rest with no agenda.  I have to eat a very simple fare - which is a challenge at times - but the silver lining is in eating the food God made for us, I am the weight I should be.  There is always something to be thankful for.
  2. I remember God’s miraculous power.  I was a miracle not once, but twice now.  As I study God’s word and live out the plan He has chosen for me, I find joy in seeing his miraculous power.  He is able to do anything.  I am grateful for the many answered prayers, but even in the unanswered prayers I am confident that He is God, no matter what.  The silver lining is being able remember who God is – His power, His goodness and His love.
  3. I get out in God’s beauty.  Nothing grounds me more than being in nature.  I feel connected to God’s majesty and to the ages past.  Nothing seems as big of a deal when I am sitting on the beach listening to the waves or hiking in the mountains near a waterfall.  Suddenly, my worries slip away, and I am able to focus on who God is and who I am not.  This is the silver lining found in trials.  A truth I often forget is: God never intended for me to take all my burdens on my shoulders.  He has it all under control.
  4. I seek out peace and tranquility.  For me, this is Sabbath rest.  To find a shalom in every day allows me to rest in who God is.  The silver lining of trials is that I seek this.  I crave it!  For me, it looks like a quiet house in the morning before I wake up, scrapbooking my family memories or a stolen coffee shop hour to study or write.  Peaceful times to hear what God is saying and hear my own heart’s worries in the light of His goodness.
  5. I embrace God’s community.  During difficult times, friends abound and rush to your side.  Nothing brings out the best in people like the “C” word.  In the past, I may have acted like I can do all things myself.  Now I allow myself to take the break when people give it.  To really love and embrace those who are wanting to pray for me.  I have a tendency to feel embarrassed that I always need to be prayed for.  It does get old.  But the silver lining in a trial is the blessing of Jesus’s hands and feet here on earth to help in these times.

These are my silver linings in the midst of cancer battle.  I just have to say this is a battle that the Lord is winning, too.  In my heart and mind, I am being transformed into more of who He wants me to be.  My body is healthy and fit.  I have no idea what the future holds, but, my friends, neither do you.  So take those times of difficulty today – a crying child, a health issue or a financial difficulty, and focus on the “silver lining”.  The evil one doesn’t like it when we do this.

What are ways you focus on the “good” in the midst of the “bad”?

Jackie's Journey: KIDNAPPED! Really?

Baby Kim and her sister, Christina.

Baby Kim and her sister, Christina.

Hang on to your hats…this was one day in my life I could have skipped! 

Ever had those days???

Dusk was cascading over the torrential waters, enveloping our dugout into the dark silence of the unknown jungle.  Along the mangrove-lined shoreline we could hear twigs breaking and see shadows of what appeared to be dark, naked bodies racing us to the remote landing in the deep stillness.

For eight hours we had traveled upriver unceasingly, pressing on against the rapid flow of the Tuira River through lighting bolts, thunder and rain.  The river had risen 8 feet as we fought the current in our long journey up the contiguously inaccessible jungle waters.  Our goal to reach this isolated Indian village on the Colombian border in Panama was now within our reach!

Underneath the makeshift tarp that protected us from the worst of the violent storm were two little girls.  One, almost three, was exceedingly excited and could not wait to get out of the wet boat and the other, just a few months old, was securely wrapped in my arms.  Our piragua was piled high with everything we would need for the next six months!

Jungle River

Jungle River

The boat brusquely hit the bank and as I stood, dripping wet, to face all the unknowns that had brought us to this sandy beach, the warm little bundle in my arms was abruptly yanked from me and disappeared into the darkness of the night!!  I quickly grabbed my once excited and happy three year old by the hand.  She was now very confused.  Her contentment was exchanged for eyes full of fear!  I pulled her close to me and began calling for my baby…

In that instant, the crowd pushed and shoved us up a short trail that led to our mud-floored, bark-walled house.  My insistent calls for my lost child were ignored and unanswered. 

As I stepped over the threshold of our unfinished new home, the rats (at least I prayed they were rats!) scurried among the barrels that had been sent a month ahead of us and now stored our rice and dried beans in the very open tin-roofed room.  The sound of rain on that roof was deafening!

My worst fear had come upon me…Job 3:25,26.  I screamed again into the crowd for my tiny daughter and again received no response.  I lifted my three year old into my arms and determinedly turned to walk back through the crowd down to the river’s edge!

Where had my baby gone?   Who had taken her?!

Immediately, my panic turned to terror…

The familiar promise in Proverbs 1:33 eluded me.  “…whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm.”

What was happening?  Why had God allowed this? 

There are three Biblical Principles regarding trials:

  1.  Trials are common to all of us.  No one escapes unscathed. 1 Corinthians 10:13 “No temptation has seized you except what is common to men.  And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.  But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”  No excuses and no victims here! The real question is not why, but “Why not, Jackie, don’t you trust me?!  I will never leave you or forsake you…listen to ME, not your circumstances!.”
  2. Trials are given with divine purpose and will pass.  1Peter 1:6 “In this you may greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.”
  3.  Trials are life-lessons NOT to be wasted!  James 1:4 “Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

C.S. Lewis wrote in The Great Divorce “There are two kinds of people:  Those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, ‘All right, then, have it your own way.’”

I was standing at the point of decision! My options were limited…

What is your attitude toward the trials in life?  Which kind of person are you?

Join me next Monday for my decision…think about yours.

Trouble in the Light of Eternity

I woke up in the morning with a list of things to down swirling in my head before my feet had touched the ground.  Racing out the door with a greasy head of hair, work out clothes on and no breakfast, I yelled to my children, “I have to run down the hill!  Will be back in a jiff!”

Six and half hours later, I arrived back home in the gas station owner’s car with defrosted groceries and a smile on my face!!

I had so many things to do!  You see, I had to order so many things that day for our upcoming Midwest Convention by noon.  I had children to pick up from classes and ones at home to school.  I was making a meal for a friend who had just had a baby.  I wanted to work out.  I had cleaning duties to attend to at my kid’s school.  Bruce, my stand-by hero in situations like this, was on a plane to New York.  So the last thing I needed was car trouble!

What normally would be considered a complete inconvenience and TROUBLE in my book turned out to be a complete blessing!

As my battery and alternator died that dreaded morning, I had a choice to make!  Normally, I would sigh and panic over all that needed to be done that I could not do.  Luckily, before I left the house that morning, I had been in God’s word and for this moment, I made a decision to look at this inconvenience with an eternal perspective.  I whispered a silent prayer as I jumped in the tow truck.  “Okay, God, what are you up to.? I am here willing and ready!”

As I began a conversation with Johnny, my tow truck driver, I began to see His plan unfolding.  What started off with a simple question: “What are you doing this weekend for Easter?”  Led to a dialogue about Johnny’s whole life.  He was a gang member growing up who barely made it out alive.  He hadn’t been in church since he was 17 because “he had messed up so much”.  His wife, who now has MS, is the center of his world and he is too busy now to step foot in church.  As we talked through how much God loves him and his family, he began to soften.  We talked about who he is in God’s eyes and how he can do nothing to be outside of God’s love for him.  He admitted to wanting friends and needing help with his wife.  What better place than in the company of saints.  I encouraged him to give God another chance.  We talked about dying, about living and about God’s plan.  I invited him to church this Easter and even though he is working, I am going to pray for Johnny because I believe God is calling him.  Would you join me in this prayer?

 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

                                                                                     2 Cor. 4:17-18

Sometimes, the inconveniences of life, are so much more . . .

I would not have been able to engage in “the unseen” of this life and focus on the eternal, if my car had not broken down!  I would not have met Johnny!

So the next time I have a trial . . . or an inconvenience . . . I am going to remember to look around and ask God what He has in store for my day. That way I won’t miss the next Johnny in my life.  I know God will redeem the time and bring “heroes” to help me (like friends who covered for me and drove me around).  Sure, still much didn’t get done that day, but surprisingly a lot did. None of it seemed to matter in the light of eternity!

Tell me about a time when God was there in the midst of your troubles.  When have you focused on the “unseen”?

Jackie's Journey: Life Unraveling?

             “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in Him" Job 13:15

Our village was tucked away near the Colombian border and we lived in the silence of the jungle and its peculiar sounds.   One late morning there was an unfamiliar roar in the distance.  A large helicopter appeared and began circling our village, dropping low, looking for a place to land.  Before we knew what was happening, dust flew and the door slid open.  Men dressed in full military uniforms with machine guns jumped out and stormed into our house. Guns drawn, pointed directly at us, they began shouting commands with accusations!

My life started unraveling before my eyes!  I quickly grabbed little Kim and Christina came running, clutching my legs. I reached down to reassure her, as Ralph stepped in front of us, whispering to me, “Remember, Jackie, this touched God’s hand first”. 

 We were being accused of being spies for the United States and they demanded we turn over our only means of communication to the outside world: our two-way radio!

I was trembling, imagining every plausible scenario of how we could be easily disposed of in the river and no one would know for months!  The truth that came surging into my consciousness was Job 13:15, “though he slay me, yet will I hope in HIM”. 

 Still standing between the enemy and us, Ralph appeared calm and was responding in Spanish with an absolute, “We are not spies from America.  We have permission from your government to bring medicine to help this isolated group of people.” 

How had this happened?  What could we do?

The next few moments stood still…their shouting gestures and my seeing no way of escape brought the verse in Job home to my heart.  I resolutely accepted His will, whatever that was going to be and instantly, peace prevailed.  What happened next was beyond belief!  To our utter astonishment, as abruptly as those militant soldiers arrived…they hastily, mid-sentence, without another word, turned and left!!  They did not ask for our passports or visas, nor did they take our rifles that were in plain view, hanging on the wall!  God had blinded their eyes and in an instant, redirected their path.

 In the aftermath of my processing through this event, Ralph gave me a definition for “tribulation” that comes to mind every time I am faced with a trial and I just want it gone…no processing…just gone!  “Tribulation is God’s fastest road to maturity”.  Well… missionary life had definitely put me in the fast lane to grow up!  The more life I live, the more I realize how much growth I need!

 This is that definition in a “mathematical” formula that changed my life and the way I look at trials, inconveniences, suffering and contentment.  It goes like this:

 Trials + Acceptance of the trial with joy and thanksgiving = Growth/Maturity

I can respond to trials by:

(1) Benefitting from them

The pressure of trials produce (Jas. 1:2-4):






Lacking Nothing!



   (2) Reacting to them and locking down emotionally with: 



Why me?



Rebelliousness or bitterness

 I choose to yield with gratefulness this morning and to recognize any form of tribulation, as a means to create a greater purpose for the benefit of others.  


                                                      What is your response? 

Posted on March 9, 2015 and filed under Motherhood, Character and Virtue, Spiritual Growth.