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Change your life | Change your world

HOW TO SURVIVE
ANYTHING
An interview with the apostle Paul

HARD KNOCKS
Why they’re good for us

RAINBOWS FROM RAIN


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Vol 9, Issue 2 February 2008 © 2008 Aurora Production AG


editor Keith Phillips www.auroraproduction.com
design Giselle LeFavre All Rights Reserved. Printed in Taiwan by Chanyi Printing Co., Ltd
illustrations Doug Calder All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the New King James Version®.
production Francisco Lopez Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

 www.activated.org | activated Vol 9, Issue 2


Face the
By Anne Spring
storm
Some years ago, when our
children were small, my husband and I
“Go to the bridge.” I recognized that
voice in my mind immediately. It was
Jesus. “The captain is also praying. Pray
were on a freighter sailing from Europe to with him and encourage his faith.”
our new field of service in South America. When I stood up, Jesus gave me the
Due to long delays in the loading of the strength to make my way to the bridge.
ship’s cargo, we found ourselves setting The captain was alone there, and yes, he
sail in the dead of the Mediterranean was also praying desperately. We held
winter, close to the time of year when vigil together until we passed below Sicily,
the apostle Paul was shipwrecked off the where we found refuge from the storm.
coast of Malta (Acts chapter 27; 28:1). We The ship and its contents had sustained
prayed that our fate would not be the same some damage, but no one had been hurt.
as his. Our prayers had been answered.
Two days out of port, we were caught in The Lord reminded me of this
a storm. Even though our ship was heavily experience after some recent difficulties,
laden and lying deep in the water, the and He showed me an important lesson
Force 12 gales caused it to reel violently. from it: Face the storms of life unafraid.
The children thought it was great fun, Climb up on top of the situation. Rise
but the rest of us struggled to keep our above! Get up there on the bridge, and
composure and our stomachs where take firm hold of the Captain’s hand. Jesus
they belonged. Even the seasoned crew is our Pilot, and together we will soon be
members were seasick. in safer waters. It takes faith to pray and
We heard radio reports that a couple gumption to act on those prayers, but faith
of other ships had already sunk. Would coupled with action gets results.
this be our end? If so, I wasn’t going It’s human nature to resist difficulty,
to go down without a fight. There was to hide from it and hope it goes away, but
nothing I could do physically to change that’s not the way of winners. Don’t take
the situation, but I could pray. And so I the storms of life lying down. Get up and
did, like I had never prayed before! “Jesus, fight! The battles of life may sometimes
please help us!” I implored. “You’re our seem overwhelming, but the victory is
only hope! Calm the sea! Give our captain yours, waiting right around the corner,
the wisdom, faith, and courage he needs and it is worth fighting for. •
to get us through this. And help me to get
over this horrible seasickness so I can Anne Spring is a member of the Family
think straight and pray better.” International in Serbia.

activated Vol 9, Issue 2 | www.activated.org 


BLACKOUT
By Virginia Brandt Berg me think of the personal It was pretty dark for the
blackouts I’ve been through, apostle Paul when he was
In the Northeast Blackout such as a severe accident in prison, but he had such
of 1965—the largest blackout from which it seemed I faith that he was able to live
in U.S. history—at least 25 would never recover. When above his circumstances
million people in Ontario, I did, how glorious it was and conditions, so much so
Canada, and the U.S. to be out of that darkness that he wrote in Philippians
Northeast, including New and into the light once 4:11–13: “Not that I speak
York City, lost electricity for more, free from the pain in regard to need, for I
up to 12 hours. Such outages and ill health! Only those have learned in whatever
were commonplace in other who have been through state I am, to be content:
parts of the world and still such blackouts know how I know how to be abased,
are, but this one was totally wonderful it is when the and I know how to abound.
unexpected and caught lights come on again. Everywhere and in all
everyone unprepared. When you’re in the midst things I have learned both
This article is taken from of darkness, the thing that to be full and to be hungry,
a talk given shortly after the makes it blacker still is both to abound and to
incident. the thought that you may suffer need. I can do all
never come out of it. I want things through Christ who

I was listening to a
news report about the
blackout in the New
York area, when one man
who had been there said
to assure you, though, that
the lights will come on
again if you will put your
trust in God and not waver.
This is where those with
strengthens me.” The joy of
the Lord was his strength
(Nehemiah 8:10).
No wonder Paul could
say, “None of these things
he could never express the faith in God are at a great move me” (Acts 20:24). I’m
feelings he had when the advantage, for they know sure there were those in
power, which he had always the day will come when that blackout who felt just
taken for granted, suddenly God will send deliverance. that way. The blackness
came back on. It made Faith is the victory. didn’t strike terror into

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their hearts or take from most was that they could fallen and sprained her
them their feeling of see the stars. It had been ankle. She was weeping
security. They had an a long time since anybody with pain, so I hurried to
inner source of strength, in New York had seen the her home and took her to
a supply that was above stars. Let me give you a few the hospital. I prayed for
all circumstances. Paul “stars” to help you through her complete and speedy
did too, and that is why the next dark place you recovery and for the pain
he could write, “We are pass through: to subside, but the whole
hard pressed on every “The angel of the Lord time she didn’t stop talking
side, yet not crushed; we encamps all around those about how bad things kept
are perplexed, but not who fear Him, and delivers happening to her, and about
in despair; persecuted, them” (Psalm 34:7). how God must not love her
but not forsaken; struck “Many are the afflictions because He didn’t treat
down, but not destroyed” of the righteous, but the her right. I don’t think she
(2 Corinthians 4:8–9). Lord delivers him out of heard a word of my prayer.
There is an old saying, them all” (Psalm 34:19). She didn’t have any stars
“When you come to the “Oh, fear the Lord, you in her night at all. The
end of your rope, tie a knot His saints! There is no lights didn’t come on for
and hang on!” When Paul want to those who fear Him. her, no matter what I said.
came to the end of his Those who seek the Lord She never let God have a
rope, he took a promise shall not lack any good chance. How sad!
from God’s Word—“God thing” (Psalm 34:9–10). How we handle everyday
will not leave you nor for- “The name of the Lord difficulties prepares us for
sake you” (Deuteronomy is a strong tower: the bigger or more important
31:6; Hebrews 13:5)—and righteous run to it, and are future events. If we can
held on. safe” (Proverbs 18:10). learn to live above the cir-
God has given so many “The Lord also will be a cumstances and conditions
wonderful promises to refuge for the oppressed, a that cast dark shadows
hang on to, and they can refuge in times of trouble” over our days, we will be
shine like stars in your (Psalm 9:9). ready for any big blackout
blackout. And by the way, What a wonderful feeling that may come. He says,
that’s another thing that when in the dark to know “My grace is sufficient for
someone said who went that God is there! you, for My strength is
through the blackout. The I received a phone call made perfect in weakness”
thing that impressed them from a woman who had (2 Corinthians 12:9). •

activated Vol 9, Issue 2 | www.activated.org 


IT HAPPENED TO ME

Feastng o Wor s
It was
By Megan Dale

6:30 am. I had woken At the moment I felt delightful little boy. But we
early, only to be met by the like that poor worm. For needed to know more about
sight of a rained-out world months prior to this, dark his challenges so we could
on a day our extended clouds had slowly been better meet his growing
family had planned to go gathering over our little needs, and we needed to
on an outing together. I family. Our young son know now, while he was
didn’t mind the rain much. was facing developmental still young and malleable,
Heaven knew the land delays that resulted in him before the secondary and
needed it. I paused and having frustrated, heart- sometimes more tragic
looked out into our garden wrenching tantrums and effects of low self-esteem
to see a little brown bird affected his happiness on a and depression entered his
hopping around, eyeing daily and sometimes hourly tender little life.
the soggy earth in hopeful basis. He often even awoke To make matters even
expectation of finding a in the middle of the night more challenging for
meaty feast in the form of crying out. When he was us, four days earlier my
a hapless almost-drowned himself, he was a sweet, husband and I had received
worm. sensitive, affectionate, and the news that his place of

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employment would not that you would otherwise
be available for much have to dig for.” Suddenly
longer, and as a result we my perspective changed.
would have to find a new Jesus was laying before
job and a new house. In us a spiritual feast in this
the past I had leaped with
dizzy anticipation into
seemingly dark and dreary
time. Treats we would have HELP IS HERE
the arms of an unknown had to dig for under normal By Rafael Holding
future, hopping the globe circumstances were
and chasing my destiny coming to the surface— The Bible says that God is near to the
wherever the breeze the special gifts of greater brokenhearted (Psalm 34:18) and a very
seemed to blow me. But closeness to Jesus and present help in times of trouble (Psalm
now I cowered in the face each other, greater love 46:1). He’s more than a shoulder to cry on
of such a major change and appreciation for our or a hand to hold. He can reach into the
coming right at this crucial friends and family, and a deepest places of your heart. He can soothe
time in my son’s life. fervent desire to commit the pain and suffering, and replace it with
Four days had seemed our daily needs and fears His love, peace, comfort, and yes, even
like four years as I clung to Jesus in prayer. joy. He can do all this through His Words.
hour by hour to some straw Has the rain stopped? When He shines the light of His Word on
of hope, usually in the form Not yet. While some your tears, they turn to rainbow hues. It’s
of a Scripture or quotation, of our prayers have sunshine after the rain, light at the end of
in the midst of the deluge. been answered wonder- the tunnel.
Many great men and fully (we moved and my Jesus loves you dearly. He wants to
women down through the husband found a new job) express that love to you, but He can’t unless
ages faced dark and trying and we are encouraged, we you let Him. He wants to tell you why He
times, and they lived to still face major challenges has allowed certain difficulties to befall you,
write anecdotes or poems on other fronts. But we will but He needs you to listen. He wants to help
or hymns about them. I remain bright and happy you understand why you’re feeling the way
clung to those inspirational little birds even through you are, and to tell you what you can do
thoughts now. Sometimes the rain, because odd as it about it, but you need to want His answers.
I quoted one line over and may seem, we’re feasting In your most trying times, His Word—His
over, like a mantra, just to on worms! written Word and His living Word spoken
keep my presence of mind directly to your mind—will come alive to you
as I continued to care for P.S. As if on cue, the if you reach out and receive it.
my children and tend to day after my rainy day
household duties. It was revelation, our neighbor’s ◊
working, too. eight-year-old bounded
Standing in my doorway, up to me and held out a If you would like to experience Jesus’
looking at that little handful of wiggly worms. love, joy, comfort, and peace, you can. It
brown bird, I heard the “There’s tons more in the starts with accepting Him as your Savior and
voice of comfort I have leaf pile if you want some,” inviting Him into your life, which you can do
come to know so well as he informed me. by praying this prayer:
my Savior’s. “You’re not That’s okay. I’ll stick
the earthworm, dear, but with the metaphor. • Dear Jesus, I believe that You are the Son
the bird. The rains and of God and that You died for me, so I could
storms that I have allowed Megan Dale is a member of be forgiven my wrongs and have eternal life.
to fall on your world have the Family International in I open my heart to You now. Please come
provided for you a feast Australia. into my life and meet my deepest needs.
Amen.
activated Vol 9, Issue 2 | www.activated.org 
RAINBOWS
from RAIN
Many
By Maria Fontaine into stepping stones to a better life; like
rungs of a ladder, they can help you climb
normal natural things in life are higher than you could otherwise.
seen positively by some people, but Each of us has something in our life
resented by others. Take a rainy day, for that could seriously hinder us if we
example. Some might complain about it, allowed it to get us down. But the wonder-
while others might consider it a blessing ful thing is that God has made a way for
because it waters their crops or grass. us to overcome those things. In fact, He
Sometimes something that one person intends for us to. Because His help is
would jump at the chance to do and be always available, circumstances do not
thankful for, such as moving to a new have to dictate our behavior.
location, another person could hate and We certainly don’t have to be limited
resent having to do. Anything can become emotionally, mentally, or spiritually by the
a source of bitterness, even things that problems of our distant or recent past. In
aren’t actually bad in themselves or that fact, God often allows those “bad” things
someone else might even consider good. It so we will fight to overcome them and
often depends on how you take events or grow stronger in the process. Instead of
circumstances. looking at obstacles or mishaps or bad
On the other hand, there are some experiences as terrible drawbacks and
things that are not merely a matter of horrible handicaps, we can use those
personal attitude, which we would all things to better our own lives and the
agree are not good or desirable in the lives of others.
natural sense: a physical handicap, a car Look at all the men and women
accident, a house burning down, etc. If throughout history who rose above
you have a physical handicap, that is seemingly insurmountable odds to
something that has obviously caused you become great. They had to fight harder
a lot of pain. It’s not your imagination, and to overcome those obstacles, but in so
it’s very natural for you to be down about doing they became stronger. Instead of
it. Yet even our handicaps can be turned complaining that life had given them a
“lemon,” a bad deal, they “made lemonade
The beautiful colors out of their lemons.” Because of their
of the rainbow supposed handicaps, they rose higher
can only be seen than they would have otherwise.
through the prism of rain. Beethoven was stone deaf when he
composed some of the most beautiful

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music ever written, and Thomas It takes
Edison was deaf when he invented the both rain and sunshine
phonograph. Alexander the Great was a
hunchback. Homer was a blind minstrel.
to make a rainbow.
Renoir painted some of his finest
masterpieces when his fingers were so Booker T. Washington was born a slave and worked in
twisted by rheumatism that his artist’s coal mines and salt mines before becoming an educator,
brush had to be strapped to his hand. a spokesman for African American causes, and founder
Handel’s right side was paralyzed when of a college for young African Americans.
he composed his greatest work, “The Jerome K. Jerome lost his father when he was 12. At 14
Hallelujah Chorus!” he had to go to work to support his mother and sister. His
Very often it’s also the people who have life got even harder when his mother also died, but even-
overcome difficulties who are in turn able tually Jerome became a writer, not of sad stories but of
to help others have the courage and faith humor. After such a hard beginning in life, he said, “It is
to overcome theirs. Their personal exam- from the struggle, not the victory, that we gain strength.”
ples are proof that it is possible to rise There are so many advantages to having problems and
above seemingly impossible situations. difficulties! If we didn’t have any, we’d be complacent
If Helen Keller hadn’t been blind and meander along casually, not building the strength
and deaf from infancy, she never would of character that comes from overcoming adversity. The
have had the opportunity to become the beauty that often results from suffering wouldn’t have a
inspiration that she was and continues to chance to blossom in our lives. We wouldn’t appreciate
be to millions, and she never could have our loved ones as much, or find true friends in those who
said, “I thank God for my handicaps, for come to our side in times of need. We wouldn’t have as
through them I have found myself, my much understanding or compassion on others who are
work, and my God.” going through the same things, or know how to help
them.
Life is not a cloudless journey, Sometimes troubles are the only way God can get us
Storms and darkness oft oppress, to turn to Him for help, or teach us to put our trust in
But the Father’s changeless mercy Him, or to get us to yield to Him, or to stop us from doing
Comes to cheer the heart’s distress; something wrong. He also uses our trials and difficulties
Heavy clouds may darkly hover, to humble us, to teach us patience and mercy, and to help
Hiding all faith’s view above, us not be self-righteous, among other things. If we never
But across the thickest darkness had any trials, we wouldn’t find our strength in God. We
Shines the rainbow of His love. also wouldn’t experience the thrill of discovering that He
—Flora Kirkland will come through for us! •

activated Vol 9, Issue 2 | www.activated.org 


The truest strength
By Misty Kay
I cannot look, I cannot see, POINTS TO PONDER
I cannot understand.
I lay myself down helplessly Overcoming Adversity
In the hollow of Your hand.
The clouds that now encompass me Smooth seas do not make skillful sailors.—African
And seem to block my view, proverb
Are sent by You, unfailing Love,
To draw me close to You. The good things of prosperity are to be wished; but
the good things that belong to adversity are to be
I cease from all my struggling, admired.—Seneca (4 bc –65 ad)
I rest from all the strain.
I only live to love You, Lord, ’Tis easy enough to be pleasant,
And glorify Your name. When life flows like a song.
There is no great achievement now, But the man worthwhile
No great works done for You, Is the one who will smile
But somehow in the stillness sweet, When everything goes dead wrong.
My spirit is renewed. —Ella Wheeler Wilcox (1850–1919)

When pain has overtaken me I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can
And human strength is gone, adjust my sails to always reach my destination.—
Emotions cloud all over me Jimmy Dean (1928–)
And days and nights are long,
I look up into Your eyes You cannot control what happens to you, but you
And find strength within Your smile. can control your attitude toward what happens
Your Spirit gently comforts me to you, and in that, you will be mastering change
And holds me through each trial. rather than allowing it to master you.—Brian Tracy
(1944–)
And though my body trembles now
My spirit is at peace, Reflect upon your blessings, of which every man has
For I hold to the Master’s words plenty, not on your past misfortunes, of which all
Which cause the storm to cease. men have some.—Charles Dickens (1812–1870)
Your power stands unfailingly,
Your every promise sure. The only disability in life is a bad attitude.—Scott
You give me faith, You give me grace, Hamilton (1958–)
Sufficient to endure.
Discipline is learnt in the school of adversity.—
I lift my heart in praise to You Mahatma Gandhi (1869–1948)
For all that You have done,
For every battle we have fought, In the middle of a difficulty lies opportunity.—Albert
Each victory we’ve won! Einstein (1879–1955)
And though my body pains me still
My spirit is at ease All the world is full of suffering. It is also full of over-
For I have found the truest strength. coming.—Helen Keller (1880–1968)
In You is perfect peace.
Troubles are often the tools by which God fashions
Misty Kay is a member of the Family us for better things.—Henry Ward Beecher (1813–
International in Taiwan. 1887)

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God’s Word says, “A broken and a
contrite heart—these, O God, You will not
despise” (Psalm 51:17), and “Thus says
the High and Lofty One who inhabits
eternity, whose name is Holy: ‘I dwell
in the high and holy place, with him
ANSWERS TO YOUR QUESTIONS who has a contrite and humble spirit, to
revive the spirit of the humble, and to

Getting Over revive the heart of the contrite ones’”


(Isaiah 57:15).
So take heart. Jesus will put you

Divorce back together again in the way He


knows best if you’ll put yourself in His
hands. He will fashion a sweeter, more
loving, more understanding you, so that
even this heartbreak will work together
for your good.
Q: Despite a A: Divorce can be a heartbreaking
good beginning, and devastating experience. What On the practical side, you may like to
my marriage didn’t you dreamed of and worked toward try the following:
work out and some and sacrificed for has ended badly, 1. Ask God to help you to accept what
months back it and you’re left with only hurt and has happened. Don’t keep holding on
ended in divorce. I disappointment. to the past.
can hardly bear the But there is hope of future 2. When hit with thoughts of regret,
loneliness of coming happiness, and it is found in the true immediately put them out of your
home to an empty saying, “God will mend a broken heart mind.
apartment day after if you give Him all the pieces.” He 3. Focus on the present and don’t fret
day. My thoughts understands the pain, the feelings about the future.
wander to events of of being misunderstood and treated 4. Doing something for someone else
the past, and I feel unfairly, and the temptation to become is a great way to forget your own
such pain. How can I bitter. Take your aching heart to Him troubles!
get over this? in prayer. He can take away the bad 5. Write down what you learned from the
memories, the bitterness, the anger, relationship. Put into words your own
and the despair. It will take time, but mistakes as well as what you will try
all of these bad feelings can be healed to avoid in your next relationship.
by His love. Save the list for the future, but don’t
He can give you peace of mind and a keep reviewing it if it just reminds
renewed interest in life. All is not lost. you of your past mistakes.
Where there is life, there is hope. You 6. Spend time with your family and
can love again, and you can be loved friends.
again in return. Turn to Him and let Him 7. Make new friends.
help you let go of the disappointing past 8. Take up a new hobby or learn
so you can move on to a brighter future. something new. Make a plan to
You may be brokenhearted now, but accomplish something you’ve never
think of it as training in love. If you’ll let done before.
this brokenness make you better instead 9. Every day, no matter how down you
of bitter, you’ll grow in love for and may feel, write down something that
understanding of others. you are thankful for. •

activated Vol 9, Issue 2 | www.activated.org 11


How to survive Neither death nor life

anything ... nor anything else

An “Interview” with in all creation, will be


the Apostle Paul able to separate us

By Abi F. May from the love of God.

I
and resurrection, to playing a large part in

“ am convinced that neither death nor


life, neither angels nor demons, nei-
spreading that faith and strengthening its
early followers. But you also ran into a lot of
opposition yourself. What happened?
ther the present nor the future, nor any Paul : One incident around 52 ad was typical.
powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything I had fled from enemies in what is now Turkey,
else in all creation, will be able to separate us sailing across the Aegean Sea to Athens,
from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Greece, and journeyed down to Corinth, an
Lord” (Romans 8:38–39 NIV). That is one of the important trade center.
most outstanding proclamations of faith ever I started preaching in the local synagogue,
made, and it was made by a man who endured and things went okay at the beginning. Even
years of troubles and tribulations that most of the leader of the synagogue, Crispus, became
us, thank God, will never have to go through, a Christian. But another man, Sosthenes,
the apostle Paul. began spreading rumors, and soon I was
His story is told in the Bible’s book of expelled from the synagogue—Crispus too.
Acts. Church history and his letters to So I took my message to the Greeks of that
congregations of early Christians fill in some city, and a large number received Jesus. This
gaps. What is clear is that Paul, in his zeal made Sosthenes and his cohorts even more
to share the good news about Jesus, met furious. They kept spreading lies, and I kept
opposition on countless occasions. He was on preaching and teaching.
beaten, imprisoned, stoned, shipwrecked, After about a year and a half, Sosthenes
persecuted, and destitute.1 Where did he get got a mob together and came after me. They
the strength to not only carry on, but to come would have stoned me on the spot, but they
through those trials even more appreciative were afraid of the Roman authorities. So
of Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice and more resolute they marched me down to the palace of the
in his faith? If we could interview Paul today, Roman proconsul, who, at that time, was Junius
perhaps it would go something like this: Annaeus Gallio, the elder brother of Seneca,
the famous Roman philosopher, and they
I nterviewer : You certainly had a remarkable accused me to him. But when Gallio realized
turnaround following your salvation this was simply a religious controversy, he
experience—from attacking the budding refused to listen any more. I was set free, and
Christian faith following Jesus’ crucifixion the mob turned on Sosthenes.2

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On that occasion you got off relatively easy. Jesus always gave me the grace and strength I
Was that generally the case? needed to go on.5 I never could have endured
No, it wasn’t. I was beaten a number of times, what I did on my own. I had to rely on Jesus.
which resulted in some permanent injuries.
I was whipped and stoned, as well, and was Do you think it is inevitable that believers must
imprisoned on several occasions. suffer for their faith?
Jesus didn’t call us to a life of ease, but to a
You also encountered perils on some of your life of service to others, and service always
travels. Surely that must have been discouraging. involves some personal sacrifice. In addition,
An understatement! I was shipwrecked three anyone who tries to live a truly godly life for
times, and only by God’s intervention did I live Jesus is going to run into opposition.6 Jesus said
to tell the tale. Many times I was so discour- so. “If they have persecuted Me, they will also
aged that I felt like giving up, but I knew I had persecute you.”7 And history has proven Him
to keep going because Jesus had called me to right. But it’s not all pain and suffering, either.
spread the Gospel far and wide. I knew that There are more than enough rewards in this
if I quit, I would be failing God. Also, others life, as well as in the life to come, to put the
looked up to me, so if I had failed, I could troubles in perspective. 8
have caused them to fail. So I carried on, even
when I was discouraged and felt defeated. The Do you have a final thought for us?
troubles didn’t always end when I wished they No matter what you face in life, trust Jesus to
would, but Jesus was always there for me.3 bring you through! He’s always there, and He
won’t allow you to be tempted beyond what He
It sounds as though you lived quite a stressful knows you can take. He always makes a way
life. to escape—not necessarily an escape from
I was blessed with a long and fruitful life, but it troubles, but through them.9 Hold on to Him,
was under almost continual pressure. In addi- and He will hold on to you! •
tion to the challenges we’ve already discussed,
I felt compelled to share the love of God in 1
2 Corinthians 11:23–27, 2 Acts chapter 18,
Jesus with the whole world. That was good
4 3
Acts 18:9–10; Hebrews 13:5, 41 Corinthians 9:16,
pressure, of course, but pressure nonetheless. 5
2 Corinthians 4:8–9; 12:9–10, 62 Timothy 3:12,
But regardless of where the pressure came 7
John 15:20, 8Romans 8:17–18; 14:17; Philippians
from, I knew I didn’t have to manage it alone. 4:11–12; 1 Peter 1:6–8, 91 Corinthians 10:13.

activated Vol 9, Issue 2 | www.activated.org 13


HARD KNOCKS
By Marie Boisjoly

Have you ever wondered why it is that


from time to time you find yourself going
through the school of hard knocks? Just
when you’re thriving on some “ups” in
your life, something happens that brings
you down a few notches on the happiness
scale. “Why me?” “Why this?” “Why now?”
Instead of helping to turn things around,
those questions only make matters worse.
Finally you remind yourself that even if
you don’t understand and can’t see any-
thing good coming from your present
struggles, God can. He’s always got a plan.
So you decide to trust Him and hold on,
and He works things out in the end.
Not long ago, I was somewhere between
the questioning and trusting phases of
that cycle when my husband, Ivo, returned
from his daily jog and told me about
something he had just seen. We live in a pulled a hammer from his bag of tools,
hilltop neighborhood with lots of flowering and gave a few short, sharp knocks to
trees and lovely gardens. That’s perfect the sprinkler head. Apparently some
for Ivo, since he is both an avid exerciser dirt had made its way into the sprinkler
and a skilled gardener. system and clogged the head, but those
Each morning he passes a certain few knocks shook it loose. Right away
glorieta—a square with a fountain, some the water started flowing through the
flowers, and lush grass—and that day sprinkler again, and with enough pressure
he had noticed a patch of grass that was to cover the neglected area. In time,
turning brown due to lack of water. The that patch of grass would be green and
rest of the lawn was receiving plenty of beautiful again, like the rest of the lawn.
water from the sprinkler system, but one God, like that gardener, sometimes
failing sprinkler was causing this section allows life to give us a few hard knocks
to dry out and die. to cleanse us, so we can do better at
Just as Ivo stopped to investigate, the beautifying our part of His garden. •
neighborhood gardener passed by and
also saw the problem. The gardener Marie Boisjoly is a member of the Family
walked over to the defective sprinkler, International in Mexico.

14 www.activated.org | activated Vol 9, Issue 2


PACKAGE PRAYER
—A Spiritual Exercise

“Cast your burden on the Lord, and He shall sustain


you” (Psalm 55:22). REACTING TO THE
Soft background music may help set the tone. Begin
this exercise by closing your eyes, and breathe deeply TESTS OF LIFE
and slowly for a minute. Now mentally articulate one by By David Brandt Berg
one the concerns and worries on your mind today, such
as things you need to take care of, or situations at work God allows disappointing incidents
or with your children, or health issues. and circumstances in order to strengthen
As you bring up in your mind each thing that you’re us. He tests us to see how we’re going to
concerned about, imagine yourself packaging it up and react. Even disappointment and things
placing it in Jesus’ hands. As you do, thank Jesus for going wrong don’t have to keep you
how He’s going to deal with that problem in the way He down and discouraged, because your
knows is best. faith and attitude can determine the
Take as much time as you need to unload all of your way the circumstances affect you. Often
cares in this specific, methodical way. faith and trust in God can even change
Discipline your mind to focus on each problem only circumstances completely, as He works
as long as it takes to call it up in your mind and picture on your behalf. It’s all in how you look at
yourself handing it over to Jesus. Once it’s in His hands, it, how you take it.
don’t dwell on it any longer or let your thoughts wander Circumstances and events don’t have
to the details, but move on to the next problem. to control you. With God’s help and a
When you have finished going through your list, positive attitude, you can go through
thank and praise Him for His unfailing love, His unlim- any changes, any disappointments, any
ited power, His concern for you, and His help in work- circumstances, and come out happy. It’s
ing out your problems. • often life’s tests that bring out the best in
you, if you let them.
FEEDING READING The Lord has all the
Getting Through Difficult Times power and strength you
need for any situation. All
Don’t be afraid of sorrows; they will pass. you have to do is look to
Psalm 30:11 ◊ Psalm 126:5 ◊ Matthew 5:4 Him, draw on His strength,
and ask Him to change
Seek God’s help in your time of trouble. things. If, due to other
Psalm 50:15 ◊ Psalm 91:14–15 people’s choices, He can’t
Lamentations 3:24–25 ◊ Romans 10:13 change the circumstances,
then He can help you to
The Lord is a close companion to all those who call upon Him. change how you feel about
Psalm 73:23 ◊ Psalm 145:18 ◊ Isaiah 41:10 things. •
Matthew 11:28 ◊ Hebrews 13:5b
David Brandt Berg (1919–1994),
Hold on to your hopes; tomorrow is a new day! founder of the Family
Psalm 30:5b ◊ Psalm 119:147 ◊ Lamentations 3:22–23 International.

activated Vol 9, Issue 2 | www.activated.org 15


Life can be rough, and it’s not always easy to
understand why things happen the way they do.
When everything seems to be going wrong, it’s natu-
ral to question My love, but it’s during those very
times that I want to be closer than ever to you. My
love is what will get you through the tough times,
and it’s always there for you.
Unconditional love in its purest form comes from
Me. Even when you blame Me for the troubles that
have befallen you, I love you and don’t condemn you.
Even when you question My love, I still love you and
I’m not going to give up on you. I’m still going to be FROM JESUS WITH LOVE
right there beside you when you need counsel, when

LOVE
you need some company, when you are desperate
for a listening ear, or when you need a friend. I want
to ease your mind with the knowledge that there
is always someone who loves you and sees endless to the core
possibilities in you, someone who enjoys you as you
are—and that someone is Me.
No matter what, I will always love you uncondi-
tionally. That love will see you through anything. It
will be a light in dark places, a compass when you
are lost, an anchor to hold you fast in the storm, and
a warm blanket to comfort you when you are alone
and cold. And it doesn’t cost you anything, but is
freely given by someone who loves you to the core.