“Follow Me.” Jesus uttered those words to some fishermen 2000 years ago, and He still says them to believers today. When the path is level, it doesn’t seem so hard. But when the way gets steep and rocky, we want to give up.

Ken Gire, award-winning author of more than 20 books, wrote The Divine Embrace, Windows of the Soul, the “Moments with the Savior” series and more. Ken says that during difficult times, “We want to avoid wilderness. We’ll break the intimacy. We stop depending on and listening to Him.” But, instead of letting go of Him and walking away, “The key is to hold on tighter. Embrace the Father all the more closely. Draw closer and go through the dissonance part with Him.”

Scaling a Wall
Jim and Nanette Snipes know about wilderness. After 26 years with his company, Jim was laid off. Losing that job began a cycle of finding new jobs only to be laid off again. “There were times I was scared,” says Nanette, “but I knew God would be providing for us. I had total trust in Him.”

During that time, God spoke to them through a sermon on the Lord’s Prayer when their pastor told the congregation to ask for their daily bread. Jim and Nanette started doing that together every day, and God heard their prayers, often providing for them in miraculous ways. Jim did some contract work at home for his old company, and they refinanced their house. People from church also gave them money anonymously.

Jim and Nanette deliberately chose to tithe on whatever money came in. And when they got a gift card to a grocery store from some friends, they shopped a 2-for-1 sale and bought things for another couple who was also out of work. The Snipes used part of their gift card to help someone else.

Because of the cycle of unemployment, Jim’s prayer life has deepened. He prays more often now, using scripture, and he and Nanette pray out loud together. “I am more confident in my prayers. I learned to speak to God as though I’m speaking to [a person].”

They found encouragement from the Bible. One favorite passage is Psalm 18:28-29, which ends: “With my God I can scale a wall.” For Jim and Nanette, that wall was unemployment. Now, he has worked at his current job for over a year and just received a raise. She does freelance editing and proofreading. While they still have a long road ahead, they’re doing much better financially than they were.

“Giving up [on God] never crossed my mind,” says Jim. He wondered why they were going through such a difficult time but God used it to increase his and Nanette’s faith. “God hasn’t given up on me. He will never forsake me. He has shown us what He can do in hard times when no checks are coming in.”

Living Faithfully
At 20, Lorri Elliott was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. Since then, she has had 14 surgeries, including one that became a two-month hospital stay. Over the years, she has celebrated both a wedding anniversary with her husband Mark as well as Christmas in the hospital.

At first, she says, “I was in major denial. I learned how intense the mind is in shutting [out] what is really happening.”

Her disease causes terrible pain, nausea, blood loss, and “the humiliation of always having that to be the defining factor in my day.” She’s constantly thinking about what she will and won’t be eating. And anemia from the blood loss makes her feel like she’s in a fog.

“I am positive by nature. I knew that God could heal me but He was choosing not to do that.” Lorri says she challenged God on it and “it was like a physical pushing back. I had made a demand, not a request.”

She had always known that Jesus was her friend and Savior, but God seemed distant, uninvolved in the details of her life. After Lorri’s long stay at the hospital, however, her perception of God the Father changed. Because she was taking medication and her blood count was low, she was forced to stay at home. That’s when, she says, “God introduced Himself to me. I learned Who He was. He became close and personal and intimate in my life.”