Dena Johnson Martin Christian Blog and Commentary

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When the Going Gets Tough

/You’ve heard the saying, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”

I’ve been in some tough situations in my life. Some really tough situations. I actually have some tough situations in my life right now.

But do you know what?

I know this season will pass, and God will use it to make something beautiful in my life.

How do I know? Because I have seen Him do it before, and I know He will do it again.

Throughout scripture, the Israelites are constantly remembering God’s faithfulness. They set up stones of remembrance every time God did something for them. They wrote songs to commemorate God’s faithful work in their lives.

And I truly believe God wants us to do the same.

So today, I want to reflect on God’s goodness in the midst of our pain. I recently asked my Facebook friends what lessons they have learned from the hardest seasons of their lives. So many beautiful stories of God’s faithfulness!

The hardest season of my life was definitely my ex-husband’s adultery and our divorce. It’s so hard to sum up all of the lessons I learned during that season, but I will share a few.

God is always at work. Even when it seems He is silent, He is still working. Our vision isn’t clear until we are able to look back and see the whole picture as it has unfolded. For example, I spent many hours crying out to God about bringing me a husband. In reality, He was working in Roy’s life to bring him to a place where he was willing to surrender and become the man God created him to be. I thought He was silent; in reality, He was hard at work.

When I lose everything in this world, God is more than enough. When I lost my marriage, I agonized. I contemplated suicide. The pain was unimaginable. But as I surrendered to God, I began to see He was everything I needed—and more. He was my Provider. He was my Healer. He was my Friend. He was the One who fought for me. He was relentless love. He was exactly what I needed exactly when I needed it.

God’s timing is perfect. This is another one of those areas where we can’t see it until we look back. We think we understand His timing, but I guarantee His ways are higher than our ways. I couldn’t understand why God was so slow at bringing a husband along, but I now look back and understand how perfect His timing was. Any sooner. Any later. It would have been wrong. But I now see how and why it had to happen when it did.

The journey is what changes us. In Deuteronomy 8:2, Moses is giving his final commands to the Israelites before he dies. He reminds them how God so tenderly cared for all their needs for the 40 years they wandered in the wilderness. He reminds them it was during this time God humbled them and showed them the true condition of their hearts. I am so thankful for the work God did in my journey, and I need to be constantly reminded that God does His best work in the wilderness. As I walk through painful circumstances, I simply ask God to change me.

Those are few of the highlights of my journey, but what about my Facebook friends? What lessons have they learned?

We are not disposable. I like this sentiment from my friend, Marilyn. And it’s true! We are told in Ephesians 2:10 that we are a masterpiece created to do great things. God has a plan for each of our lives, and no one else can fulfill that plan.

True friends don’t have to say a word. Job’s friends initially came and just sat with him. They were present, willing to just join him in the pain. When they opened their mouths, their religious platitudes actually caused more pain.

He knows where we are. My college friend, Cyndi, lost all her earthly possessions to a monster tornado in 2013. As she sat in her storm shelter, she heard God say, “I know where you are.” And He knows where you are, too! He is with us. He is near us. We are never out of His thoughts or His sight. Why is His voice so quiet? Because He is near the broken-hearted (Psalm 34:18). He doesn’t need to shout because He is so close.

Freedom comes through surrender. This lesson is so powerful! It was when I fell to my knees in surrender that I began to see God at work. As long as we are holding tight and fighting, God can’t do His best work. We have to release any semblance of control and let Him have His way. And it is so totally worth it!

We need to be still and wait. It is so hard to just wait, but it is the best option. He is fighting the battle, orchestrating the events around us, making everything work for our good (Romans 8:28). Just trust Him, His ways, His timing.

The deeper the pain, the more God shows off! I love how my friend Donna brought this one up. My daughter likes to say that God gives His toughest battles to His strongest warriors. Maybe this mindset can totally revolutionize the way we think. The bigger the mountain, the deeper the sea, the more mind-boggling God’s victory!

I know there are so many more lessons we could list, but my question for you today is:

What lesson have you learned in your hardest battle?

I’d love to hear what you have to say!