Sunday

Trials -- How to Thrive, Not Just Survive


An open secret. Clearly confused. Act naturally. Found missing.



These phrases are known in literary circles as oxymoron (or oxymora), a figure of speech in which seemingly contradictory terms appear together. 

Here are a few more to make your brain hurt: rolling stop, unbiased opinion, seriously funny, and minor crisis.

I coined an oxymoron of my own during a trying time in our family life – peacefully panicked

If you’ve ever lived through a crisis that turned your world upside down, yet experienced God’s peace in the midst of it, you understand peaceful panic. 

And if you’ve suffered through a tragedy or trial as a believer (maybe you’re living through one right now), then you understand how contradictory the apostle Paul’s statement in 2 Corinthians 4:17 is: 

“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” 

 A “light affliction”? 

The Greek word Paul uses here to describe his trials (which included being stoned, shipwrecked, imprisoned, and flogged), means a “weightless trifle.” 

I don’t know about you, but if I’d been stoned, shipwrecked, imprisoned, and flogged, I wouldn’t describe my trials as a “weightless trifle.” I’d use words like overwhelming, oppressive, and devastating. 

At least he gets the “trouble” part right. The Greek word Paul used for trouble refers to “intense pressure.” Like the mythological Atlas carrying the entire world on his shoulders. If you’ve experienced life-threatening sickness, death, financial ruin, relational strife, or heartbreak, you understand this type of pressure. The type that squeezes you in a vise from which there is no escape. 

This contradictory combination, a “weightless trifle of intense pressure” creates the oxymoron. 

How can Paul describe his life this way when trouble and tragedy stains every step? 

The second half of verse 17 explains: “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” 

“Weight” in Paul’s original language means “a heavy mass.” The weight of a skyscraper. Or a thousand skyscrapers. The weight of the sea (including the whales that live in it). Or the moon. Or all the rocks in the Grand Canyon. 

Paul knows that his "light" afflictions are far outweighed by the scale-breaking weight of glory that awaits him because of what he’s suffered. Under God’s inspiration, Paul deliberately chose this oxymoronic description of his (and our) trials to communicate a life-altering truth: no matter how devastating the trials of our lives are, they are weightless and brief in light of the heavy mass of glory they’re enabling us to accumulate in eternity. 

The secret to living with our feet in this world and our eyes on the next is this: 

“. . . we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal,” (v. 18). 

This is our hope – and the power to face each day of trial and tribulation, heartbreak and pain, struggle and fear, “weightless trial of intense pressure.” We can rest in the knowledge that while this day’s troubles are real, the promise of a trouble-free eternity full of glory is equally real, yet infinitely longer. This truth provides an anchor to cling to when the storms of life threaten to drown us. 

If your life feels more like intense pressure and less like weightless trifle, take heart. You will not only survive, but thrive, because God’s presence surrounds you and an exceeding and eternal weight of glory awaits you. 

Now it’s your turn. How has the promise of eternity sustained you during an overwhelming trial? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts. If you’re reading by email, click HERE to visit Hungry for God online and leave a comment.



If you enjoyed this post, why not subscribe? I'll send you twice-weekly 5-minute devotions to help nourish your soul. 
Because women need to connect with God in the craziness of life. 

Enter your email address and VALIDATE the Feedburner email sent to your inbox.



Delivered by FeedBurner


Wednesday

How Learning Someone's Name Can Change Everything -- Powerful Reasons to Study the Names of God

As I walk the streets of my neighborhood, I encounter others who exercise early in the morning. There’s the blonde lady with the big white dog, the runner who whizzes by, and the thin, dark-haired woman who walks her two Brittany spaniels. Sometimes I see a middle-aged man with a Jack Russell terrier, and other times I pass a young guy who huffs and puffs his way around the block.

I like seeing my neighbors, but our encounters have been superficial at best.

One day, however, I implemented an idea I read about in The Simplest Way to Change the World. The author, Brandon Clements, committed to impacting his neighborhood for Christ, set a goal to introduce himself to everyone he passed. In this way, he began friendships that might one day open doors for him to share the gospel. 

The first morning, I met Lisa. She’s a teacher at an alternative school in the district. And Bonnie, a physical therapist. Marcella, I discovered, works at a nearby hospital. Bruce (and his Jack Russell, Panda) manages a golf store in the mall, and Jeff is the father of four young boys. 

With a little effort and a friendly greeting, I went from nodding and smiling at strangers to beginning relationships with new acquaintances. Making the effort to learn their names was the first step in understanding more about them. 

The same has been true in my relationship with God. For years I walked with him, but really didn’t know him. I’d nod and smile, acknowledge him, and occasionally exchange words, but until I took the time to learn his names, our relationship was superficial at best. 

Then I read the story of Hagar in Genesis 21 and learned that one of God’s names is El Roi, the God Who Sees Me. This name helped me understand, in a deeper way, that God sees everything that happens in my life and will never abandon me. 

Then I read the story of Abraham and Isaac in Genesis 22, and I learned another of God’s names – Jehovah Jireh – God Will Provide. Because of this name, I realized I can trust God to supply my needs. 

When I encountered the name Jehovah Nissi, the Lord our Banner, in Exodus 17, I understood that God can bring victory in seemingly impossible battles. 

Every name I’ve learned has taught me something new about the personality, presence, and power of God. This knowledge has acted like a catapult, launching my relationship with him forward. 

The more I learn about his character, the more I trust him. The more I trust him, the bolder my faith steps become. The bolder my faith steps become, the more peace reigns in my heart. 

Someday I might meet a neighbor who doesn’t have a very good name or reputation. It might not be wise to form a friendship with them. 

But I never have to fear learning God’s names. 

Every one I encounter reinforces the fact that God is more wonderful than anything I could ever imagine. In his name is everything I need. 

If you struggle to trust God, or maybe you just want to learn more about him, I encourage you to study his names. But before you do, strap on your safety harness. You’re about to begin a trip that will launch you forward in your journey with God. 

And what a marvelous journey that will be. 


One of my favorite resources to study God’s names is Kay Arthur’s devotional, Lord, I Want to Know You, but an internet search on Names of God will also yield much material to study. The article, “10 Names of God and What They Mean,” by Allyson Holland, is a great place to start. 

And if music inspires you, this Aaron Jeofrey music video, “He Is,” will make your heart soar. 


 

If you’re reading by email and can’t see the video, click here to be inspired: 

Now it’s your turn. What name of God is your favorite and why? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts.



If you enjoyed this post, why not subscribe? I'll send you twice-weekly 5-minute devotions to help nourish your soul. 
Because women need to connect with God in the craziness of life. 

Enter your email address and VALIDATE the Feedburner email sent to your inbox.



Delivered by FeedBurner


Sunday

Comfort When Life Mugs You

Trials often blindside us. Although some creep into our lives, others leap out and clobber us. One moment we’re strolling along happily, and the next, WHAM, we’re lying on the pavement wondering what just happened. 

Sometimes this happens literally, like the friend who stepped out onto her deck to water the plants and found herself at the foot of the stairs with a broken hip. Other times our trials come in the form of a job loss, family crisis, or sudden death. With no time to prepare, we’re left reeling, swaying from one emotion to the next. Fear, grief, and confusion pummel us until we’re emotionally and spiritually battered. 

In times like these, God’s sovereignty can be a mighty comfort. 

It can also be a stumbling block. People often struggle with God’s sovereign control when tragedy or trial enters their lives. Knowing God could prevent bad things from happening, we wonder why he allows hardship. 

But God is bigger than today. And even though I don’t like to acknowledge it, he has more in mind than just my comfort. His plan is grander, higher, and better than a pain-free, effortless life for us all. He tried that once, at the beginning of time, and humanity rejected it. 

Instead, he has one of two purposes for everything that happens in this world. First, he wants to reconcile all who would believe to himself. He often uses the trials of this life to help us realize how much we need a relationship with him. Many a soul has cried out to God for salvation when they’ve reached the end of themselves and discovered how much they need someone wiser and stronger to direct their lives. God uses trials to draw us to himself. 

But what if we already have a relationship with him? What if we’ve already surrendered our lives to his control? What merit is there then in suffering and hardship? 

This is where the second aspect of his purpose comes in. God allows difficulty to grow our faith. He uses scary times to prove that he will take care of us. He uses heartbreak to help us realize that when all seems lost, God remains. 

I’ve walked with God for more than 35 years. I’ve experienced heart-expanding joys and heart-breaking pain. The joyful times filled me with gratitude and worship to God. The gut-wrenching times flung me into his arms because I had nowhere else to go. 

The happy times have cemented my love and gratitude toward my heavenly Father, because every good gift comes from him. The hard times have anchored my trust in him. 

I’ve learned that whatever comes my way, God will walk through it with me. “Everyone deserted me,” the apostle Paul testified in 2 Timothy 4:16-17, “but the Lord stood at my side.” 

God wooed me with his mercy, then won me with his commitment. “Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you,” he promises in Hebrews 5:15. The ultimate bridegroom, he has pledged to stand by me for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, in poverty and in wealth. 

And he has kept his promise. No day begins without his steady presence beside me. No monster knocks on my door without him at my side. No need of mine goes unmet, although his superior wisdom often provides in ways far different than I expect. 

“In the day of prosperity, be joyful,” Solomon writes in Ecclesiastes 7:14, “but in the day of adversity consider; Surely God has appointed the one as well as the other.” 

Because we live in a fallen world, sickness, heartache, and pain will eventually enter our lives. Believers and unbelievers alike will experience their share of sorrow. But we get to choose – will we walk through these days alone or with the Lord by our side? 

Because of God’s faithfulness and character, we can trust him. Whether joy or pain comes our way, we can have piece, knowing that our loving Father promises to use everything in our lives for our ultimate good and his everlasting glory. 

That’s powerful comfort. 

Now it’s your turn. If you’re struggling with God’s sovereignty in the face of trial or loss, I want to pray for you. If you’ll leave a comment below, I promise to ask our Father to wrap his loving arms around you and carry you through. He is faithful. You can trust him. 

If you're reading by email, click HERE to visit Hungry for God online and leave a comment.



If you enjoyed this post, why not subscribe? I'll send you twice-weekly 5-minute devotions to help nourish your soul. 
Because women need to connect with God in the craziness of life. 

Enter your email address and VALIDATE the Feedburner email sent to your inbox.



Delivered by FeedBurner


Wednesday

What God Is Doing in Your Crazy, Frustrating Life

Do you ever wonder what in the world God is doing in your crazy, frustrating life? 

God, what good does it do to keep reaching out to difficult people when nothing ever changes? 

God, why is that ministry thriving and mine just limping along? 

God, why did I spend half my life teaching my kids to love you only to have them turn their backs on faith? 

God, why should I keep praying when nothing happens? 

God, if I’m obeying your call, why is it so hard? 

God, what are you doing in this crazy life of mine???? 

If you can relate to any of these questions, there’s hope. Hope that comes, of all places, from the book of Job. 

Imagine that. 

God is laughing already. 

Who would think a man who had lost ten children in a tragic accident, went from millionaire to pauper in a day, and was married to a cruel, faithless woman would have any hope to offer? 

But in God’s upside down economy, it’s not surprising at all. 

My latest book project (sitting on editors’ desks right now, please pray) is a devotional that spotlights uncommon verses buried in the vast expanse of the Bible. Job 26:14 is one of them. In the twenty-sixth chapter of the book that bears his name, Job rehearses for his “miserable comforters” the might, power, and majesty of God. 

“He hangs the earth on nothing,” he says. “He binds up the water in His thick clouds . . . He stirs up the sea with His power . . . By His Spirit He adorned the heavens . . . (v. 7-13)” 

Then he concludes with this awe-struck realization: “Indeed these are the mere edges of His ways, And how small a whisper we hear of Him! But the thunder of His power who can understand?"  

The mere edges of his ways. 


I grew up on the rocky shores of Narragansett Bay in Bristol, Rhode Island. I’d often sit at the shoreline, wade in the shallows, or swim out until my feet barely touched the bottom. Because I had lived around the sea all my life, I thought I knew it well. 

Then one day I boarded a ship that took me hundreds of miles off shore, where the water stretched from horizon to horizon and the ocean floor lay miles beneath me. Only then did I begin to understand the true nature of the ocean. 

Before that, I had experienced the mere edges – and how small a whisper they had been. 

After pointing out our nearsighted perspective, Job lifts the fog on the ocean of God’s ways: “But the thunder of his power, who can understand?” 

Paul, in First Corinthians, says it like this: "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him” (2:9). And, “Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror” (13:12). 

As Christians bound to the earth by our mortality, we glimpse only the mere edges of His ways. And hear only small whispers of Him. But one day we’ll sail out into the vast expanse of no-time life. We’ll hear the clarion call of his mighty voice. We’ll witness the thunder of his power. And we will understand. 

Every Bible verse you taught your children? Seed for the harvest. 

Every hour spent responding patiently to difficult people? Sandpaper smoothing the edges of your soul. 

Every late night and early-morning prayer time? A fragrant offering. 

Every kind deed done in Jesus’ name? Stepping stones on the journey toward righteousness. 

Job can speak into our angst and impatience because he, too, wondered what in the world God was doing. How could anything good be happening when he saw so few results? 

But Job clung to his integrity, remained faithful to God, and never stopped believing that somehow, somewhere, God would use his suffering to accomplish something good. 

“I know that my Redeemer lives,” he declared triumphantly, “and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God” (19:25-26). 

Because of the gift of Scripture, we know what Job did not – that God was using the panorama of his life – the pain and the pleasure – to script a faith story so genuine that it would encourage believers for millennia. We know none of Job’s heart wrenching experiences were wasted. 

Even today, thousands of years later, God continues to use his insight and example to encourage us along our journey. 

Perhaps God will use (is using?) our lives to do the same. 

“God is not unjust;” the writer of Hebrews promises, “he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them” (Heb. 6:10). 

Today, if you’re wondering what in the world God is doing in your crazy, frustrating life, be encouraged. These are only the edges of his ways. The vast ocean lies before you. 

Now it’s your turn. What encourages you when you feel discouraged? Leave a comment and encourage us all.

EXCITING ANNOUNCEMENT
Lighthouse Publishing, utilizing the amazing vocal talents of Sarah Rohlbacker, have teamed up to create an AUDIO version of my 5-minute devotional, Hungry for God ... Starving for Time.

For a limited time, LPC is offering a limited number of FREE codes. This means if you have an Audible subscription through Amazon, you can take Hungry for God with you and listen wherever you go. If you have an Audible subscription and would like a code, please email me at LoriAHatcher (at) gmail.com.



If you enjoyed this post, why not subscribe? I'll send you twice-weekly 5-minute devotions to help nourish your soul. 
Because women need to connect with God in the craziness of life. 

Enter your email address and VALIDATE the Feedburner email sent to your inbox.



Delivered by FeedBurner


Sunday

When Life Hammers Its Way into Your Quiet


I can’t see the roofers, but I can hear them. Their noises intrude on my early-morning quiet. Eager to get started before the merciless sun fries them like eggs in a cast iron skillet, they scurry around on the ageing black roof just out of my sight. I hear their shovels scrape as, piece by piece, they chisel the old shingles off. One worker calls to another in a language I don’t understand. Hammers punctuate his words like exclamation points. 

I resent their intrusion. 

I was drawn outside by silence of the morning and the low clouds that shroud the sun today. The stifling heat will come, but for now, the clouds act like a beach umbrella, shielding me. Bible in hand, I envisioned a peaceful time with the Lord before the noise of the day elbowed its way in. 

But life thought otherwise. 

Oh, how we long for stretches of quiet and calm. Yet, inevitably, the noise of relationships, needs, and responsibilities intrude. 

Worry hammers around us, and voices call from every direction. The sounds of work in progress echoes in the distance. We try to retreat, but there’s no escape. This is our reality, until the work is finished. 

As I open my Bible, defying the distraction, I drop into another noisy scenario, one that took place not on a rooftop in suburbia, but on a sea in Israel. 

“That day when evening came, (Jesus) said to his disciples, ‘Let us go over to the other side.’ Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat.” 

Isn’t this just like our lives? We do our best to follow Jesus, leaving the crowd of the world and its favor behind. Then one day he says, “Let’s go,” and we follow him – right into a storm. 

“A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped.” 

Lord, I’m following you – shouldn’t you keep me from the storm? 

“Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion.” 

Yup, that’s what it feels like, Jesus. I’m about to drown, and you’re sound asleep. 

“The disciples woke him and said to him, ‘Teacher, don't you care if we drown?’” 

Thanks, guys, for asking the question that we all want to ask. 


“He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, ‘Quiet! Be still!’ Then the wind died down, and it was completely calm.” 

You alone have the power, Lord Jesus, to quiet the storms that rage around us. 

“He said to his disciples, ‘Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?’” 

Why, indeed? Even the wind and the waves obey him

I don’t know where this day finds you. Perhaps you’re seeking quiet and calm while worries hammer in the distance. Or maybe you’re in the boat, terrified, while waves threaten to drown you. Either way, you can have peace, because Jesus is near. 

“Why are you so afraid?” he asks us. “Do you still have no faith?” 

We believe, Lord. Help our unbelief. 

In my little corner of suburbia, despite the sound of hammers and voices in the distance, peace descends on my soul. I pray it will for you as well. 

Peace. 

Be still. 

Jesus is near. 


This devotion is based on a true story found in Mark 4:34-41.



If you enjoyed this post, why not subscribe? I'll send you twice-weekly 5-minute devotions to help nourish your soul. 
Because women need to connect with God in the craziness of life. 

Enter your email address and VALIDATE the Feedburner email sent to your inbox.



Delivered by FeedBurner