When life is turned upside down

By Leslie Barner

Link: God Has Not Forgotten You… A 31-Day Devotional

Facing tragedy, or life storms of any kind, can be extremely difficult. But in the midst of heartache and pain, you can find the hope and courage to go on. With God’s help, the help of caring family members and friends, and the encouragement found in the Bible and other resources, you will receive the necessary strength to overcome.

You may be thinking, “I don’t know how I could ever get through this.” Or you may be battling powerful feelings of despair, suffering, confusion, fear, worry, and even anger. These are all normal responses to tragedy.

But as difficult as this life storm may be, you are not alone. God is with you always. He loves you, and cares about what is going on in your life. He hears your cries and sees your pain. Moreover, He understands.

The Bible says, “And it was necessary for Jesus to be like us, his brothers, so that he could be our merciful and faithful High Priest before God, a Priest who would be both merciful to us and faithful to God … For since He himself has now been through suffering … He knows what it is like when we suffer … and He is wonderfully able to help us” (Hebrews 2:17-18 TLB). Whatever we endure, His care is certain, His love is unfailing, and His promises are secure.

God Has Not Forgotten You includes 31 inspirational readings with life application steps to draw you closer to God and to encourage you to rely on Him to bring you safely through this present “storm” in your life. It can be read daily in 31 consecutive days, or at your own pace. We encourage you to work through this resource as a family to help you journey toward healing together, and to draw you closer to one another during this difficult time.

It is our prayer that this devotional will provide comfort, strength, encouragement, and healing for you and your family, and that through its pages you will discover extraordinary hope and the blessing of victory that only He can give. May God bless you and keep you always in His care, on this journey and beyond.

Day 1: You Are Not Alone
For He Himself has said, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever
forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5c)

On the morning of October 29, 2012, hundreds of thousands of people in
portions of the Caribbean and the Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern United States
faced their worst nightmare … “Superstorm Sandy.” This post-tropical cyclone
with hurricane-force winds and its unusual merge with a frontal system affected
24 states, including the entire eastern seaboard from Florida to Maine and west
across the Appalachian Mountains to Michigan and Wisconsin, leaving death,
injuries, and utter destruction in its wake. Families everywhere, especially in
hard hit New Jersey and New York, were jolted out of normalcy and the comfort
and security of the homes and communities they once knew. They were thrust
suddenly and unwillingly into the darkness and despair of loss.

If you and your family have ever been affected by a natural disaster like
this, you may feel as if you’ve been abandoned by God. However, if trouble has
hit your life in some other disaster, or form of tragedy—the death of a loved
one, a dreaded medical diagnosis, the loss of home and property, or the loss of
your job, you are experiencing your own superstorm. You may feel as if your
whole world has been turned upside down, and wonder how you can possibly survive
the loss. In times like these, you can feel very much alone.

But you are  not alone. In the midst of unspeakable sorrow God is with you. Even if you do
not feel Him near, God is there. He promises to never leave you alone.
Therefore, wherever you are, God is. He is with you before, during, and after
“the storm,” never losing sight of you, or your suffering. Even as you ponder
how you will begin picking up the pieces of your life, God is there … loving you
beyond understanding, holding you up, and making a way where it seems there is
no way. Reach out for Him today. He is a very present help in times of trouble
(see Psalm 46:1).

Taking back your life …

1. Psalm 139:7-10 says, “I can never be lost to Your Spirit! I can never get
away from my God! If I go up to heaven, You are there; if I go down to the place
of the dead, You are there. If I ride the morning winds to the farthest oceans,
even there Your hand will guide me, Your strength will support me” (TLB). What
assurance can you find in these verses of Scripture when you are feeling as if
God has forgotten you?

2. In Psalm 23, David pictures the Lord as the Great Shepherd who provides
for and protects His sheep (His children). In verse four, he says “Even though I
walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with
me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” A shepherd uses his rod to
protect his sheep (by using it to beat off wild beasts), and he uses his staff
to guide them. What comfort can you find in knowing that God will protect and
guide you during this difficult time?

3. In addition to needing God’s presence in our lives, we also need each
other. Talk with your family or friends about the way you are feeling, so that
you can share one another’s burdens, and not feel so alone in your

Additional Scripture reading:

Deuteronomy  31:8
Psalm 91:15-16
Matthew 28:20

Day 2: He Sees and Understands Your Pain

The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous, and His ears are open to
their cry. (Psalm 34:15)

God knows in great detail the devastation
caused by tragedy. He understands the pain and sorrow acquainted with grief and
loss. He understands because He is all knowing. Furthermore, Jesus endured
suffering (see Isaiah 53), and experienced pain, even the pain of feeling
abandoned (see Matthew 27:46). And because God is with you always, He
knows that you are hurting. He sees your pain, and hears the cries of
your heart. You are not alone in your suffering; He is there for you.

God cares very deeply about you, and is attentive to every detail of
your life—even those things that burden your heart. 1 Peter 5:7 says that you
should cast “all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you.” Isn’t it
comforting to know that God Almighty cares about you! It may seem like
your life has been shaken to the core, but His love for you is never
shaken. “‘For the mountains may be removed and the hills may shake, but My
lovingkindness will not be removed from you, and My covenant of peace will not
be shaken,’ says the Lord who has compassion on you” (Isaiah 54:10).

No  matter how bad things may seem God is in control. Nothing happens without His
knowledge. Matthew 10:29-31 says, “Not one sparrow (What do they cost? Two for a
penny?) can fall without your Father knowing it. … So don’t worry! You are more
valuable to Him than many sparrows.” If God’s eye is on the sparrow, He’s most
certainly watching you. In the midst of sadness and uncertainty, His
hand is there to guide you; His strength is there to support you. You are
never out of His reach.

Taking back your life …

1. Look  again at Isaiah 54:10 (above). How does this scripture apply to you and help to
make your current circumstances bearable?

2. The writer of Psalm 121 says this of God in verse 8, ” He keeps His eye upon you as you come and go and  always guards you” (TLB). How does it feel to know that God keeps watch over you  and is attentive to every detail of your life?

3. In Psalm 138:8, the  writer, offering thanksgiving and praise to God said confidently, “The Lord will  work out His plans for my life—for Your loving-kindness, Lord, continues
forever.” (TLB). Why not take a few moments to express to God your confidence in
Him to work out His plans for your life.

Additional Scripture  reading:

Psalm 41:1
Psalm 121:3
Psalm  139:7-12,17,18

Day 3: Pouring Out Your Heart

The righteous cry, and the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their
troubles. (Psalm 34:17)

One of the most difficult things we can face in life is loss, and in the aftermath of a tragedy, the pain of loss can be very  difficult to cope with. At times, it may even seem unbearable. Because God made us with feelings, there are many other difficult emotions we may experience when grieving or facing tough circumstances. We can feel hopeless, helpless,
confused, fearful, anxious, and even angry. Recognizing these emotions, and
releasing them in healthy ways, is extremely important in the journey toward
healing and wellness. Ignoring or suppressing them can be very destructive,
crippling to say the least.

What emotions do you feel in your heart? Heartache and pain are undoubtedly among them. You’re probably hurting so badly that all you really want to do is cry. And that’s okay! Even the Lord Jesus Christ wept when faced with the tragedy and sorrow of death (see John 11:35). He was so deeply moved within because of the sorrow resulting from Lazarus’ death that He began to weep.

Sure, it’s good to be strong in the midst of
difficult circumstances, but it is also important to acknowledge the emotions
that pain, suffering, and loss can bring. Think about it. How can your heart
truly heal, if you don’t acknowledge that you’re hurting? So take the first
step. Get alone with God, and tell Him honestly how badly you are hurting. Cry
if you want to. Cry out to Him, “God, help me!” You will find that as you pour
out your heart to the Lord, you’ll begin to feel the burdens of your soul roll

Taking back your life …

1. In Psalm 56:8 (TLB), David says of God, “You have seen me tossing and turning through the night. You have collected all my tears and preserved them in your bottle! You have recorded every one in your book.” How does it make you feel to know how important your
tears are to God?

2. Consider what you have lost in the aftermath of tragedy. As you pour out your heart and acknowledge the emotions you are working through, you can find comfort in the following Scriptures for …

The death of a loved one: Matthew 5:4; Psalm 116:15; 2 Corinthians 5:8
Facing a terrible illness: Psalm 103:3; Isaiah 53:5; Jeremiah 17:14; Matthew
The separation of family members: Ephesians 3:20
The loss of your job, home, and other possessions: Philippians 4:19; Matthew 6:31-34
Financial troubles: Psalm 34:10; Joshua 1:8; Luke 6:38
The fear of all you have yet to deal with: Isaiah 41:10
The destruction of your beloved city or community: Isaiah 58:12

Additional Scripture reading:

2 Kings 20:5b
Psalm 34:6
1 Peter 5:7

Day 4: Passing Through Deep Waters 

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and though the
rivers, they will not overflow you. … For I am the Lord your God …” (Isaiah

In a desperate fight for survival many people passed
through the floodwaters left by Hurricane Katrina in a frantic search for higher
ground. It had to be a frightening experience to wade, and in some areas, swim,
through the murky, contaminated waters to save self, family members, neighbors,
family pets, and in some cases, total strangers. But in the midst of fear,
desperation, and uncertainty many passed through the deep waters courageously,
and were eventually rescued and taken to safety.

As you pass through the
deep waters of your circumstances, you may be wondering, “Who can
rescue me from this?” Be encouraged! Even in the deepest of waters, God promises
to be with the one who trusts in Him. He alone can truly rescue you and keep you
from drowning. Just as Jesus rescued Peter when He invited him to walk on water
in the midst of a storm (see Matthew 14:22-33). At first, Peter trusted Jesus
and joined Him on the water, but as soon as he began to focus on the storm, and
give in to the fear of it, he began to sink. Still, when he cried out, “Lord,
save me!” (Matthew 12:30) Jesus stretched out His hand and rescued

He can rescue you too. All you need do is take a deep breath of
faith, reach out, and take hold of the mighty hand of God. Do not fear the deep,
murky waters of uncertainty surrounding you. Though the way seems difficult, and
at times impossible, you can be confident in this, “Nothing will be impossible
with God” (Luke 1:37).

Taking back your life …

1.  Jeremiah 32:17 says, “Ah Lord God! Behold, You have made the heavens and the
earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult
for You.” What encouragement can you find in this Scripture, when your situation
seems too difficult?

2. Write down everything that seems impossible about
your situation. Next to each item write, “Nothing will be impossible with God”
(Luke 1:37). Spend a few minutes in prayer about the items on your list, and be
sure to thank God that none of those things are too big or too hard for Him to

3. Commit Luke 1:37 to memory, and every time your situation
seems too difficult or impossible, speak it to yourself, as a reminder that God
can handle whatever is troubling you. As opportunities arise, you can encourage
others using this verse as well.

Additional Scripture reading:

Psalm 9:9-10
Psalm 37:40
Isaiah 26:3

Day 5: Finding Hope in God 

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (Psalm 73:26)

“Take from a man his wealth, and you hinder him; take from
him his purpose, and you slow him down. But take from man his hope, and you stop
him. He can go on without wealth, and even without purpose, for a while. But he
will not go on without hope.”—C. Neil Strait.(1) As you think about your own
circumstances, you may feel completely discouraged. The reality of what you are
facing can seem so overwhelming, you might feel like giving up. But don’t give
up. The circumstances may be too difficult in human terms, but in Christ there
is always hope. “For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord.
They are plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope”
(Jeremiah 29:11 TLB).

When you consider all that you are facing, ask
yourself, “Is there anything too hard for God?” (See Jeremiah 32:17). Absolutely
nothing! No matter what is going on in your life, you can trust that He
is in control, and is working everything out for your good (see Romans
8:28). When you wake up in the morning and wonder how you will face the day, God
is working it out. When you wonder how you can get through and overcome this
difficult time, God is working it out. And when you lay down at night, wondering
how you will face the challenges of tomorrow, whatever they may be, God is
already working it out. God knows intimately the concerns of your heart (see
Psalm 139:1-3), and can provide all the peace, strength, and courage you need.
So don’t give up! Confidently hope in Him. Hope … and persevere!

Taking back your life …

1. Romans 8:28 says, “And we
know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God,
to those who are called according to His purpose.” What hope does this Scripture
give you in the midst of tragedy, loss, and uncertainty?

2. Discuss as a family (or with a friend) how God has worked things out for your good in past times of difficulty.

3. Pray with someone else who shares your sorrow.
Take turns praying for one another that God will encourage your hearts and give
you hope.

Additional Scripture reading:

Psalm  31:24
Romans 15:13
Ephesians 3:20-21

Day 6: A Constant Place of Refuge

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. (Psalm 46:1)

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, hundreds of thousands of
Gulf Coast residents found themselves taking refuge in shelters all over the
United States. Three weeks later, Hurricane Rita, cut a new path of destruction
through the Gulf Coast, forcing those who found refuge in Houston, and other
areas near the coast to participate in yet another evacuation. Then on the heels
of Rita came the wildfires in Southern California, the earthquake in Pakistan,
and the mudslides in Guatemala, displacing even more families.

If you and your family have been displaced as a result of tragedy you may be
experiencing feelings of anxiety, insecurity, uncertainty, and more. Or if you
are facing death or disease you may feel like running for shelter … a place to
hide. There is a place where anyone facing tragedy can go—a place that provides
our spirits never-ending shelter from danger, and offers powerful
strength to weather any storm life may bring our way. That place is in
God. In Psalm 32:7, David says this of God, “You are my hiding place; you
preserve me from trouble; you surround me with songs of

Though life is sometimes difficult and painful, when we
take shelter in Him, His help is always ready, has been proven time and
time again, and is completely reliable. In Psalm 62:7-8 (TLB), David
wrote, “He is my refuge, a Rock where no enemy can reach me. O my people, trust
Him all the time. Pour out your longings before Him, for He can help!” Like
David, you can take shelter in His protective presence. There you will
find peace for today, strength for tomorrow, and hope for a brighter

Taking back your life …

1. In Psalm 57:1-2 David prayed, “Be gracious to me, O God, be gracious to me, for my soul
takes refuge in You; and in the shadow of Your wings I will take refuge until
destruction passes by. I will cry to God most High, to God who accomplishes
all things for me.” How can you use or apply this prayer to your
circumstances today?

2. How does it feel to know that you can find
permanent shelter in God, where everything you need (peace, joy,
strength, protection, hope, etc.) is provided?

3. When you have some time. Open a Bible and read Psalm 91 to learn more about the blessings of taking refuge in God.

Additional Scripture reading:

Deuteronomy 33:27
2 Samuel 22:2-3
Psalm 32:7

Psalm 61:3-4


Day 7: Tapping into the Power of Prayer

I sought the Lord, and He answered me, and delivered
me from all my fears. … This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him and saved
him out of al his troubles. (Psalm 34:4,6)

Throughout the Bible God
makes it clear that our prayers are very important to Him. He loves for us to
talk with Him, just as we would our closest friend, and promises to be there for
us whenever we call. He says, “Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to
Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for
Me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13).

He wants you to tell Him about
your burdens, and to give Him all your cares, so that He can bring hope to your
heart, peace to your soul, and strength to your life (see 1 Peter 5:7). But even
when you’re at a loss for words, and don’t know what to pray, the Holy Spirit
Himself speaks on your behalf (see Romans 8:26). Yet God is not only interested
in your struggles. He wants you to talk with Him about everything, from
your smallest victories to your greatest fears and all things in between.

Isn’t it good to know that you have a direct line to God? That He is
available to talk to you anytime, day or night? In fact, you can talk to Him
right now. Tell Him how you’re feeling; that you’re hurting. Tell Him about your
disappointment. Talk to Him about your anger and your pain. Tell Him how you
love Him and need Him so. He hears your weeping, your requests, your praise, and
thanksgiving. Prayer moves God. And when He moves in your life, you
will feel His presence, experience His peace, and draw from His strength in ways
you never thought possible! (2)

Taking back your life…

1. Hebrews 4:16 says, “Therefore let us draw near with
confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace
to help in time of need.” God actually invites us to spend time in His presence
to communicate with Him. Will you accept His invitation?

2. In 1 Thessalonians 5:17, we are told to “Pray without ceasing.” How can you stay in
constant communication with God? Why is this communication so

3. Start a prayer journal today. You don’t have to use a fancy
notebook. Any paper that you can find will work. Use the journal to write down
your feelings, emotions, and struggles as if you are writing letters to God.
List your specific requests at the end of each page, and as God answers your
prayers, be sure to write down the date and the way in which He answered

Additional Scripture reading:

Psalm 61:1-4

Psalm 138:3
1 John 5:14-15

Day 8: Trusting God Completely 

Yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief but
grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully assured that what God
had promised, He was able also to perform. (Romans 4:20-21)

Have you
ever noticed the depth of a little child’s trust? Maybe you’ve seen it with your
own child, or observed another child trust his parents without thought or doubt.
For instance, when a child, who doesn’t know how to swim, stands at the edge of
a pool; and his dad, in the water with hands lifted, says to the child, “Jump,
I’ll catch you.” The child jumps without a thought, worry, or care. His actions
say to his father, “I trust you.” But if in the same scenario the child appears
to be worried and refuses to jump into his father’s arms, he is struggling with
fear and doubt. It is safe to say that this father may have proven himself to be

But God is not a man that He should lie, or deceive, or
change his mind. He does not have limitations or possess human failings. God
never fails. He is completely trustworthy. Unlike an earthly father, your
Heavenly Father never makes mistakes. No matter how grim or intimidating your
situation may seem, He is in control and you can trust that He will
guide you safely through it.

Referring to His sheep, Jesus says, “My
Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to
snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one” (John 10:29-30).
Is Jesus your Shepherd? Then you are safe in God’s hands. Be as a little
child—without fear or doubt—and trust. (3)

Taking back your life …

1. Proverbs 3:5-6 says “Trust the Lord with all your
heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge
Him, and He will make your paths straight.” In what areas do you need to stop
leaning on your own understanding and trust God instead?

2. Once you
identify the areas in which you need to trust God more, give those areas to Him
in prayer, one by one. A sure way to tell if you have truly given a concern to
Him, and are trusting Him to handle it, is if you are no longer burdened with
fear, worry, or doubt regarding that concern.

3. Why not add those
concerns or issues to your prayer journal? Be sure to write down the date that
you entered your concerns, and leave enough empty space so that you can come
back to that page and write down the ways in which God helped you to resolve
each issue.

Additional Scripture reading:

Psalm 55:22
Psalm 62:8
Isaiah 12:2

Day 9: Experiencing His Peace

He will keep in perfect peace all those who trust in
Him, whose thoughts turn often to the Lord!” (Isaiah 26:3

While traveling by boat on the Sea of Galilee, Jesus and
His disciples encountered a violent storm. The waves were crashing over the boat
so much it was beginning to fill up with water. Nevertheless, Jesus was at
peace. He was fast asleep. But the disciples, seeing the storm, became
overwhelmed. They woke Jesus up saying, “Teacher, do You not care that we are
perishing? And He got up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, ‘Hush, be
still.’ And the wind died down and it became perfectly calm. And He said to
them, ‘Why are you afraid? How is it that you have no faith?'” (Mark 4:38-40).
He was really asking, “Why are you afraid? Don’t you know who’s in the
boat with you?”

When tragedy hits, it’s easy to look at the bigness of
our circumstances and become overwhelmed. But like the disciples, focusing on
the bigness of our circumstances can keep us from seeing the bigness of our God,
and His ability to calm “the storm.” You see, even the strongest natural
disaster, or most devastating tragedy is no match for the power of God. Isn’t it
encouraging to know that Jesus is in the boat with you as you navigate the rough
waters of life’s storms? He’s with you right now. You are safe and secure in His
Hands. What’s more, He promised you His peace. He said, “Peace I leave
with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do
not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful” (John 14:27). Amid
difficulties you can experience the peace of God—a peace that rises
above our understanding (see Philippians 4:7). So, refrain from worrying, and
allow His peace to comfort you.

Taking back your life…

1. Philippians 4:6-7 tells us “Be anxious for nothing, but in
everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be
made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will
guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Therefore, challenge yourself not
to worry about anything, but instead, pray about everything.
Take a few minutes right now to tell God what you’re worried about. Tell Him
what your needs are. Then thank Him in advance for meeting those needs. And
allow His peace, which cannot be explained, to keep you in these difficult

2. How can experiencing God’s peace in the midst of this tragedy
help you to better work through your situation and all that you are

3. Discuss your feelings of being worried, anxious, or distressed
with your spouse (or friend) then pray together for God’s peace. Make a
commitment to hold each other accountable to not worry about anything but to
instead pray about everything, so that you can continually experience the peace
of God during this difficult time.

Additional Scripture

Psalm 29:11
John 16:33
Philippians 4:4-9

Day 10: Reaching Out for Help 
Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am in distress; my eye is wasted away
from grief, my soul and my body also. For my life is spent with sorrow … (Psalm

Living through a tragedy of any kind can be a traumatic
experience. You can feel as if your life has been shattered—that nothing will
ever be the same—that peace and joy could never again be possible. You may
battle powerful feelings of shock, hurt, confusion, fear, worry, and even anger.
This is a normal and necessary response to tragedy and loss, a part of the
process toward healing. However, for some, grief can become complicated, and if
left unchecked, can turn into depression. One of the warning signs is when a
person finds it too difficult to face, or even make it through the day. That’s
when you know that they are not coping well at all.

How about you? How
are you coping? Are you feeling depressed? Experiencing panic attacks? Having
trouble sleeping? Lashing out in anger? Isolating yourself from family and
friends? Any or all of these symptoms may be a normal first step in the healing
process for you. But if you are having difficulty moving beyond this step,
pastoral, or professional counseling may be necessary to move forward.
Otherwise, you may begin to respond in unhealthy ways that can have lifelong
effects such as becoming bitter, giving up on life, turning to drugs or alcohol,
or even considering suicide.

Don’t hesitate to reach out for help. Your
family and friends are depending on you, just as you are undoubtedly looking to
them for encouragement and support. Start by setting up some time with a pastor
or counselor to guide your spirit toward wellness. Above all, don’t give up!
With God’s help, and your willingness, YOU CAN MAKE

Taking back your life …

1. Does it seem as if
you just can’t be comforted or relieved from your despair? If so, pray to God
and tell Him what you need. Be completely honest about the way you are feeling,
and ask Him to guide you in finding the help you need. But don’t stop there.
Tell someone you trust that you need help to overcome your grief. Perhaps God
will use that person or someone else to guide you to a pastor or godly counselor
that can help.

2. Be sure to talk to a doctor about any physical
symptoms (severe headaches, dizziness, chest pain, etc.) you may be experiencing
as a result of this tragedy and the stress related to it. It is important to
care of your physical body as you journey toward complete wellness.

3. Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through Him who
strengthens me.” What encouragement does this Scripture give you as you think
about the journey to wellness that is before you?

Scripture reading:

Psalm 34:18
Proverbs 13:12a
John 16:33

Day 11: Receiving His Strength

He gives strength to the weary, and to him who
lacks might He increases power. (Isaiah 40:29)

It takes a great deal
of strength to face the devastating affects tragedy and loss can have on your
life. The pain of all that you are facing not only weakens your heart, it
weakens your body. It may take all the strength you have, to take care of your
physical needs, such as eating, grooming, and interacting with others; let alone
dealing with insurance claims, financial troubles, and the many decisions
needing to be made about the immediate future. There may be days when you feel
as if you don’t have the strength to go on.

But God has not called you to
face this tragedy in your own strength. In your own strength you can lose heart
and become discouraged. But in your weakness, you can find strength in Him, just
as Paul did when he asked the Lord to heal him of a physical condition, and God
said No, but I am with you. He said, “My grace is sufficient for you; for power
is perfected in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). Likewise, no matter how
challenging things get, or how weary you become, He is with you, and
you can rely on His all-powerful strength to get you through. He never
grows weary (see Isaiah 40:28).

Are you carrying a burden that seems too
heavy to bear? Tell Him so. Then ask Him to show His strength in your time of
weakness. Isaiah 40:31 says, “Those who wait for the Lord will gain new
strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get
tired, they will walk and not become weary.” Receive His strength today! He can
give you strength of mind, strength of body, strength of spirit, and all the
power you need to rise above your circumstances and overcome!

Taking back your life …

1. Look again at
Isaiah 40:31 (above). What encouragement does this verse give to you in your
weariness? How can you apply this verse to your life?

2. Talk with your
spouse, a close friend, or relative about your weariness and about your need for
God to make you strong. Pray together (or alone) and ask God to strengthen your
mind, body, and spirit with His strength.

3. God also uses
others to encourage and support us in times of need. If you find that getting
out of bed, handling everyday responsibilities, or even thinking clearly is too
difficult, ask someone you trust to help you find a counselor to assist you with
the healing process. And allow others to help you with things like cooking,
cleaning, and caring for your children until you begin to feel stronger.

Additional Scripture reading:

Habakkuk 3:19

Isaiah 41:10
Ephesians 3:16



Day 12: Turning Aside Pride 


A man’s pride will bring him low, but a humble spirit will obtain honor.
(Proverbs 29:23)

Have you heard the biblical story of the Good
Samaritan? In that story he, unlike others who had opportunity, demonstrated
compassion for a man who had become the victim of a vicious attack by robbers.
The Good Samaritan bandaged up the man’s wounds, brought him to an inn, and took
care of him (see Luke 10:30-35). But what about the man he helped? What if this
man, who had been left for dead, refused the help of the Good Samaritan because
of pride? Where might his pride have left him? Alone? Dying on the side of the
road? Wouldn’t he have missed out on his blessing from God?

We all
experience hard times. They’re a part of life. And when those times come, and
we’re hurting, there are people who will come alongside us, to help in any way
possible to ease the pain. It is God at work through the kindness and generosity
of others—like the Good Samaritan. “Every good thing given and every perfect
gift is from above, coming down from the Father …” (James 1:17). Still, you
might be thinking, “But I don’t want people to think I’m poor! I had a job
before all of this!” Or, “I don’t want people feeling sorry for me!” Though this
kind of pride is natural, it is wrong. “… For God gives special blessings to
those who are humble, but sets himself against those who are proud” (1 Peter
5:5d TLB).

Don’t allow pride to keep you from accepting kindness from
others, graciously, and with a thankful heart. That’s what the Christian
community is really all about—helping, encouraging, and building up one another.
So turn aside pride today! “Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and
He will exalt you” (James 4:10).

Taking back your life

1. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 says, “Therefore encourage one another
and build up one another, just as you also are doing.” In what ways have people
encouraged you, or built you up during this difficult time?

2. If you
have received help from others with a bitter heart because of a pride, ask God’s
forgiveness. Then ask Him to give you a humble heart, and an attitude of
gratitude for the wonderful ways in which He has met your needs through the
generosity of others.

3. Make a special effort today to tell someone
“Thank you,” when they share God’s gift of kindness and goodwill with you. You
can say it to the volunteer serving your next meal, to one of the workers in the
shelter where you’re staying, to the people who have come to bring food,
clothing, or other supplies, to the person who has come to express their
condolences, or to the family who has opened their home to you. It’s a great way
to bless them as they seek to bless you.

Additional Scripture

Psalm 72:12-14
Proverbs 11:2

Day 13: Resolving Feelings of


Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not
let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil and opportunity.
(Ephesians 4:26-27)

Difficult circumstances can bring about many
emotions in the hurting heart. One of those emotions is anger. When you are
suffering, or facing difficult challenges, there may be many feelings at the
root of your anger. You may be feeling betrayed by God, wondering why He allowed
such a disaster to hit your home … and your life. You may wonder, “If
God loves me, why did He allow this to happen? Why won’t He take the pain away?”
These and other questions (which we’ll discuss tomorrow) can evoke anger toward
God. Your anger may also stem from feelings of insecurity as a result of loss;
or from uncertainty as you face major, unexpected life-changes and an unclear

Though anger is a natural, human emotion, and a normal part of
the journey toward healing, left unchecked, anger can be a dangerous emotion
that may lead to sin, such as unforgiveness. If not resolved, it can give the
enemy an opportunity to destroy your hope, steal your peace, poison your heart
with bitterness, damage relationships, and keep you from moving

You can face and resolve your anger by first being honest with
yourself and with God about what you are feeling. He is big enough to handle
your anger and to help you resolve it. Talk to Him about your doubts and fears,
and what is causing rage in your heart. Tell Him, “God, I am so angry!” He will
not turn His back on you. So, give your angry feelings to the Lord, and trust
Him to replace those feelings with peace, forgiveness, and strength. Freedom
from unchecked anger is freedom to heal. (5)

Taking back your
life …

1. Talk with someone who would be comfortable listening
to you vent your anger. Discuss the feelings that may be at the root of this
emotion. Identifying these feelings and expressing them verbally will help you
to work through your anger.

2. Hebrews 10:30 says, “For we know Him who
said, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will Repay.’ And again, ‘The Lord will judge His
people.'” How can you apply this Scripture to how you are feeling about those
who hurt you or let you down during this tragedy?

3. If you have
harbored anger in your heart, confess this anger to God, and if applicable, or
possible, to the one who has hurt or offended you. Then release your anger by
forgiving them. Not only is forgiveness a requirement to be forgiven
(Matthew 6:14), resolving your anger and forgiving those who have hurt you will
free your heart to truly heal. Have you, in anger, hurt or offended your spouse,
child, or someone else during this difficult time? If so, repent by confessing
this to God and to that person, and ask for forgiveness. Make sure the wounded
relationship is healed. Then prove your repentance and sincerity by controlling
your anger (see Acts 26:20).

Additional Scripture

Psalm 37:8
Ephesians 4:32


Day 14: Asking the Hard

Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne
of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
(Hebrews 4:16)

When life got him down, Asaph, one of King David’s key
men, cried out to God and asked Him some hard questions. He asked, “Will the
Lord reject forever? And will He never be favorable again? Has His
lovingkindness ceased forever? Has His promise come to an end forever? Has God
forgotten to be gracious, or has He in anger withdrawn His compassion?” (Psalm
77:7-9). Asaph wasn’t the only man in the Bible to ask God hard questions. In
the Book of Job, we find that in his suffering, Job asked hard questions. After
losing his family, and everything he had, he argued his case before God, but
even when God’s answers may not have been what he expected, he never lost faith.

Tragedy can challenge our faith and raise many questions. Questions
like: Why is this happening? Where is God when it hurts? Why doesn’t He do
something? Where is the protection He promised? God isn’t offended when we ask
questions in our despair. He wants us to come to Him when we’re confused.
However, like Job, it’s important that we learn to resist being critical of God,
keeping in mind that He is the supreme ruler, the Most High, all-knowing, and in
control of all things, including our lives. (See Job 38:2).

So bring
your heartfelt questions to God and ask Him to help you understand. But be
prepared to accept His answers, even if they’re not what you expected to hear
(see Job 38-41). And whatever you don’t understand, acknowledge His authority,
knowing that the God who created the heavens and the earth, loves you beyond
comprehension, and is able to give you mercy and “grace to help in time of need”
(Hebrews 4:16).

Taking back your life …

1. What
are some of the hard questions that you want to ask God about your current
circumstances? Ask those questions in prayer. What has God revealed to you?

2. On a piece of paper, write down some of the questions that you feel
are yet unanswered. Then after truly giving those unanswered questions over to
God in prayer, tear the paper up and toss it, as a symbol of your trust in Him
with all that you don’t understand.

3. Sometimes in asking God the hard
questions, like Job, we can become critical of His dealings with us. In Job
38-41 God makes it clear why a creature (man) should never become a critic of
the Creator. Through a series of questions God shows Job of his (man’s)
ignorance as compared with God’s greatness. This opens Job’s eyes to God’s
ultimate authority, and he repents of his pride and rebellion. If you have
criticized God’s dealings with you in your current circumstances, ask Him to
forgive you. Then acknowledge that He is in full control of your life, and in
all that He allows you to experience. Thank Him for loving you, and for
providing all that you need to help you during this difficult trial, and for
accomplishing His purposes in you through it all.

Scripture reading:

Isaiah 55:8-9
Jeremiah 33:3


Day 15: Giving Thanks in

No matter what happens, always be thankful, for this
is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

When reading this Scripture, you may question, “How can I
possibly be thankful in the midst of such pain? It feels like my life has been
shattered into a million pieces, and I’m not even sure what tomorrow will
bring!” David said in Psalm 34:1, “I will bless the Lord at all times; His
praise shall continually be in my mouth.” The words “at all times” means in
all circumstances, no matter what. But God isn’t instructing us to be
thankful for difficult circumstances. He wants us to be thankful
in them, knowing that He is faithful, and able to help us overcome.
When we are thankful in difficult times, our attitude says to Him, “I trust You.
I know You can handle this.” He in turn blesses us with peace of mind, strength
of spirit, and the power to make it through.

We cannot know all that God
has planned to do in the midst of tragedy, but we can be thankful that He
promises to be with us, and that the outcome will be for our good. He
always keeps His word. “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and
do not return there without watering the earth … So shall my word be which goes
forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what
I desire …” (Isaiah 55:10-11).

Remember that God is a deliverer. He
delivered His people in the past, and He will deliver you out of all
your troubles in the future (Psalm 34:6). Additionally, He will supply
all your needs (Philippians 4:19). And when you rely on Him, He will not fail
you (Hebrews 13:5c). Understanding this, you can give thanks in
everything. (6)

Taking back your life

1. Why does God instruct His children to be thankful
in everything and in every circumstance?

2. Discuss
with your family those things that you can be thankful for in the midst
of your current circumstances. For instance, you might thank Him for His
presence in your life, for loving you, protecting you, providing for you through
the goodwill of others, etc.

3. Spend some time together (or alone) in
prayer, thanking God for the blessings in your life in the midst of tragedy and
loss. Make this the beginning of a daily habit, even as you continue to face
this difficult trial.

Additional Scripture

Psalm 100:4
Psalm 103:1-5
1 Corinthians 15:57


Day 16: Laying Aside Every Weight


Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us,
and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us. (Hebrews 12:1

In a marathon, or any other competitive race, runners normally
wear sleek uniforms and lightweight shoes, designed to take advantage of
aerodynamics and quicken their pace. They also endure strenuous physical
training to help them reach their maximum potential, and their goal of
finishing, or better yet, winning the races set before them. But can you imagine
a world-class runner competing in a race with weights attached to his wrists and
ankles? It would be safe to say that he wouldn’t have a chance at winning, in
fact, he probably wouldn’t even finish the race.

1 Corinthians 9:24 says,
“Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the
prize? Run in such a way that you may win.” Consider your current circumstances.
Think of it as the race that is set before you. Imagine you’re running hurdles
in a track meet. Are you spiritually fit to run? Or is depression, fear, anger,
worry, or doubt weighing you down? Rather than allow these to hinder you, why
not view them as obstacles or hurdles on the track. Start your training by
talking to God about every thing that is holding you back. Then trust Him to
help you leap over each one. With God’s help you can overcome your greatest
obstacles as you push toward the finish line of your current circumstances. Lay
aside every weight, therefore, and run to win! (7)

Taking back
your life …

1. Psalm 121:1-3 says, “I will lift up my eyes to
the mountains; from whence shall my help come? My help comes from the Lord, Who
made heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to slip …” What encouragement
can you find in this Scripture for overcoming your greatest obstacles?

Make a list of those obstacles that are weighing you down, such as depression,
fear, anger, worry, or doubt. God’s promises for overcoming each one can be
found in the Bible. Find all the Scripture promises you can for overcoming each
one. Here are some promises to get you started …


Depression: Psalm 147:3
Fear: 2 Timothy 1:7
Discouragement: Philippians
Worry: Isaiah 26:3
Doubt: Psalm 18:30
Confusion: Proverbs 3:5-6


3. Look at the promises that you’ve listed. Pray these, and the promises
listed above, back to God according to your needs then trust Him daily to help
you overcome each obstacle.

Additional Scripture

Zechariah 4:6b
John 8:32,36



Day 17: Defeating Negative Thoughts


Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself
against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the
obedience of Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:5 KJV)

In addition to
lightweight attire, and physical fitness, mental fitness is equally
important for an athlete to have a competitive edge. It has been said that if a
runner’s head is not in the race, he will not compete well. If he
thinks he will lose, it’s possible that he’s already lost the race
before it even begins. The phrase “Don’t beat yourself,” in reference to
negative thinking, is a popular one among athletes of every sport.

same holds true of any challenge we face in life. If we think
we will be defeated, there’s a good chance we will. Proverbs 23:7a says, “For as
[a man] thinks within himself, so he is.” Sure, it’s normal to feel sorrow,
pain, confusion, fear, and uncertainty, amid tragedy and loss. But if you allow
these feelings to control your thoughts, it can be extremely difficult to
overcome … to finish the race victoriously.

You might be thinking, “But
this is just too difficult to deal with! I’m in a desperate situation. I have no
money, no job, no idea what to do, or where to go. How can I possibly start
over?” Or, “I’m not strong enough, and I’m afraid. I just don’t think I can make
it.” Don’t beat yourself! Instead, “Fix your thoughts on what is true and good
and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely, and dwell on the fine,
good things in others. Think about all you can praise God for and be glad about”
(Philippians 4:8 TLB). And whenever a negative thought comes to mind, and tries
to bring you down, you can defeat it by counteracting it with a promise from
God’s Word. Give yourself a competitive edge to triumph over your circumstances.
Dwell on the positives!

Taking back your life

Practice counteracting negative thoughts with positive
thoughts, such as promises from God’s Word. For example, if you are thinking


  • But this is too difficult to deal with! You can recite Jeremiah
    32:17, “Ah Lord God! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your
    great power and by Your outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for You.”
  • I‘m in a desperate situation. You can recite Romans 8:28,
    “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who
    love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”
  • I have no money and no job. You can recite Philippians 4:19, “And
    my God will supply all your (my) needs according to His riches in glory in
    Christ Jesus.”
  • I have no idea what to do, or where to go. You can recite Psalm
    23:3, “He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness.”
  • How can I possibly start over? You can recite Revelation 21:5, “And
    He who sits on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.'”
  • I’m not strong enough. You can recite Philippians 4:13, “I can do
    all things through Him who strengthens me.”
  • I’m afraid. You can recite 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God hath not given
    us (me) the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”
  • I just don’t think I can make it. You can recite Philippians 1:6,
    “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you
    (me) will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”

Additional Scripture reading:

Psalm 19:14

Philippians 4:6-7
Romans 12:2


Day 18: Conquering Your Greatest Fears


On the day I called, You answered me; You made me bold with strength in
my soul. (Psalm 138:3)

When Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego refused
to worship King Nebuchadnezzar’s gods, he threatened to cast them into a furnace
of blazing fire, saying, “And what God is there that can deliver you out of my
hands?” (Daniel 3:15). Still, the three men refused to bow down. Filled with
anger, Nebuchadnezzar gave orders to heat the furnace seven times hotter than

Imagine the fear they might have experienced at that moment.
However, their faith in God conquered their fears, and in their loyalty, they
were thrown into the fiery furnace. But the next thing that happened was
miraculous! Instead of three, there were four men who stood in the furnace,
completely unharmed! God had sent a divine being to deliver the loyal servants,
making Nebuchadnezzar a believer in the Most High God!

What if it were
possible for you to face your circumstances without fear? What if in spite of
all the heartache and tragedy that you are dealing with, you could be boldly
courageous and at peace? Impossible? Unrealistic? Absolutely not! The Word of
God tells us in 2 Timothy 1:7 that “God has not given us a spirit of timidity,
but of power and love and discipline.” Fear can be conquered by

When tragedy turns up the heat in your life, and stirs up fear in
your spirit, don’t allow your faith to be shaken! Remember who’s with you at all
times, and in all circumstances—the King of kings, and Lord of lords, with
all power in His hands! He’s calling you to trust and obey, to be
courageous in the midst of difficult circumstances, and to have faith. In the
presence of faith, fear must leave!

Taking back your
life …

1. Having faith in God, His presence in your life, and
His abilities to help you in any situation is what gives you the power and
strength of spirit to overcome fear. Try listing your greatest fears regarding
your current circumstances on a piece of paper. Then at the bottom of the page
write this personalized version of Romans 8:31-32: “What then shall I say to
these things? If God is for me, who is against me? He who did
not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for me, how will He not also with
Him freely give me all things?” How do your fears look now knowing that God is
on your side?

2. Hebrews 13:5c-6 TLB says, “For God has said, ‘I will
never, never fail you nor forsake you.’ That is why we can say without
any doubt or fear, ‘The Lord is my Helper, and I am not be afraid of anything
that mere man can do to me.'” What hope and encouragement can you find in this
Scripture as you think about insurance adjusters, medical staff workers,
government aid workers, employers, or any other people you may have to deal with
as you work toward rebuilding your life?

3. Commit 2 Timothy 1:7 (above)
to memory, and every time you begin to feel fearful about anything, say it aloud
or to yourself, as a reminder that the spirit of timidity is not of God and can
be conquered by faith. Remember, in the presence of faith, fear must

Additional Scripture reading:

Psalm 91

Proverbs 3:25,26
John 14:27


Day 19: Remembering God’s

This I recall to mind, therefore I
have hope. The Lord’s lovingkindness indeed never ceases, for His compassions
never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.
(Lamentations 3:21-23)

Whenever we are facing difficult
circumstances, and wonder, “Where is God?” one of the first things we should do
is to look in the rearview mirror of our lives. What we will see will
undoubtedly give us strength for today and hope for tomorrow. What we will see
is God’s faithfulness throughout our lives. We will see how He has loved us,
redeemed us, forgiven us, and given us new and eternal life (see 1 John 2:25,
5:11). We will see how He has brought us through past struggles, provided for
our needs, woke us up this morning, and how He continues to cover us with His
love throughout the day.

As you think about all that you’re going
through, or wonder how you’ll be able to pick up the pieces of your life and
move forward, don’t be discouraged. God was faithful yesterday, He is faithful
today, and He will be faithful tomorrow. God never changes (see Hebrews 13:8).
You can always depend on Him.

Think about it. What past challenges has
God brought you through? Has He healed your hurting heart? Or weakened body? Has
He ever delivered you from fear, worry, anger, or despair? Have you ever
experienced His peace, joy, or strength? Has He ever forgiven you, blessed you,
or provided for you? As you recall God’s faithfulness to help you in the past,
know that you can trust Him to be faithful now and in the future. “Understand,
therefore, that the Lord your God, is the faithful God, who for a thousand
generations keeps His promises and constantly loves those who love Him and who
obey His commandments …” (Deuteronomy 7:9 TLB). He will not fail

Taking back your life …


1. Take a few minutes to look in the rearview mirror of your life. What are
some things that God has brought you through? What are some ways in which He has
blessed your life in the past?

2. Make it a point to remind yourself,
every morning, about God’s faithfulness and compassion toward you. “… For His
compassions never fail. They are new every morning …” (Lamentations 3:23). And
remind yourself of His promises to you. They are sprinkled throughout the Bible.
Here are some of them, found in Psalm 103:


  • He forgives all my sins.
  • He heals me.
  • He saves my life from destruction.
  • He surrounds me with love, kindness and compassion.
  • He fills my life with good things, and renews my youth like the eagle’s.
  • He reveals His ways to me.
  • He performs justice for me against oppression. He sets me free.
  • He gives me His grace and mercy even though I don’t deserve it.

3. Thank Him for His faithfulness in the past then express to Him your trust
in His faithfulness to fulfill His promises in your life today, and in the

Additional Scripture reading:

Psalm 89:1

2 Thessalonians 3:3
Hebrews 10:23

20: Resting in His Love

… and may
you be able to feel and understand, as all God’s children should, how long, how
wide, how deep, and how high His love really is ….
(Ephesians 3:18

Did you know that God loves you like no one else can? His love
for you is so great it is beyond understanding. What’s more, it’s unconditional.
It is not based on your appearance, your intelligence, the color of your skin,
what neighborhood you live in, or whether you’re rich or poor. It’s not even
based on how you live your life—what you do or don’t do, good or bad. God’s love
for you is constant. It is unfailing, unwavering, and immovable;
completely perfect, pure, strong, and everlasting.

There is nothing more
assuring than God’s love. It is something we can always count on, and is
sufficient for our every need, even in the midst of tragedy. For instance,
because God loves us, He will be with us always, He will show His goodness in
countless different ways, He will pour out His mercy on us again and again, He
will protect us, and provide all that we need to see us through every trial, and
throughout life’s journey until we are safely ushered into heaven to be with Him
for all eternity.

As you look at your circumstances in light of God’s
love you, like the apostle Paul, will be able to say with confidence, “For I am
convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor
things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any
other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God.” You have
His full attention, because He loves you. So don’t allow stress and
anxiety to rule in your heart. Choose today to rest completely in His
love. (8)

Taking back your life …

1. Why is God’s
love so important when facing tragedy, loss, or an unclear future?

Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we
were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” What does this Scripture say about the
extent of God’s love?

3. Pray and thank God for His unconditional love
toward you. Let Him know how confident you are in His love for you, and in His
ability to help you through this difficult time. You might say something like
this: Lord, you love me so much. Your love for me has not changed. Your
plans for my life have not changed. Everything is right on track according to
Your will. I will continue to praise You, trust You, and rest in Your love

Additional Scripture reading:

John 3:16
1 John 4:10

Day 21:
Consider it All Joy 

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)

After Hurricane
Katrina, one woman, who had lost everything she had in the floodwaters in New
Orleans, had this to say, “I may have lost everything I had, but I will never
lose faith in my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! My children lost their homes,
and I don’t know where they will all go, but they all made it safely out of the
storm, and for that I am so grateful. Everything’s going to be
alright.” She said this with such strength and hope, with a smile on her face
the entire time. Was she happy? Not exactly. What she was experiencing was not
happiness, but joy.

Unlike happiness, joy is not dependent on
circumstances. Instead, it is a deep-down quality that is present whether a
person’s circumstances are good or bad. Since joy is one of the fruits of the
spirit, it lives within the spirit of every Christian (see Galatians 5:22). This
joy is our strength in difficult times. Nehemiah 8:10 says, “… For the joy of
the Lord is your strength.” We can experience joy knowing that God has already
given us the victory (see 1 Corinthians 15:57).

In addition, the Bible
tells us that difficulties help us grow in patience and endurance, and make us
strong in character. They draw us closer to the Father, causing us to be
dependent on Him—the One who works through our difficulties to accomplish great
things in our lives. That’s why you can “consider it all joy” even in
the face of tragedy. Trust His plan, stretch your faith, and let your heart be
joyful with anticipation, as you allow His purpose to be fulfilled in

Taking back your life …

1. Nehemiah
8:10 says, “… The joy of the Lord is your strength.” How can joy give you
strength during difficult times?

2. Pray and ask God to help you
“consider it all joy” as you go through this trial and allow Him to accomplish
His perfect work in your life through it all.

3. Watch in joyful
anticipation as you observe the ways in which you grow and mature through this
trial. Remember to keep the end in sight, knowing that the end result will be
for your good. 1 Corinthians 15:57 says, “But thanks be to God, who gives us the
victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Be sure to thank God for all of the
victories that come out of your suffering, and to share those praise reports, as
they occur, with your family and others.

Additional Scripture

Isaiah 51: 11
Psalm 31:7
1 Peter

Day 22: Accepting God’s Will

For this God is our God for ever and ever: He will be our
guide even unto death. (Psalm 48:14)

“In a Hindu village in India,
one family turned to Christ. Shortly after their conversion their child got very
ill. The Hindu neighbors said the gods had cursed the family for changing
religions. Though the Christians prayed hard for the child’s healing, he died.
But his funeral was such a triumphant event that through it the eyes of many of
the villagers were opened. Their resistance to the gospel vanished, and they
turned to Christ.” (9)

God answers prayer. However, what He does in
response to our prayers is not always what we expect. Isaiah 55:8 says, “‘For my
thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,’ declares the
Lord.” In His sovereignty, He knows what’s best in every situation, and
sometimes does the unexpected. Like with this Indian family, they
looked for victory to come in the form of healing, but found it in the death of
their child, when others came to know Christ as a result. God knows the best

When Christ considered the horror of suffering that He would
have to endure on the Cross, He naturally wanted to be spared, and prayed for
God to “remove this cup” from Him. But He made it perfectly clear that He wanted
God’s will, not His own, to be done, and willingly submitted to it (see Luke
22:41-42). Whatever your requests, make them known to God, but leave room, in
your expectations, for His will. Trust Him with all your
heart, and with boldness of faith pray as Christ prayed, “Father, if You are
willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.”

Taking back your life …

1. In what ways are you
expecting God to answer your prayers in your current circumstances? Are you
prepared for God to do the unexpected? Perhaps you’ve already experienced
disappointment in God’s response to your prayers, because it wasn’t what you
expected. Share your disappointment with Him honestly, and ask Him to reveal to
you His purpose in the outcome you experienced.

2. God’s will for us is
always best because, as mentioned above, He knows what is the best outcome in
every situation. He knew how glorious the outcome of Christ’s death would be—the
forgiveness of sin and the gift of eternal life for all who believe. And even
though Christ submitted to God’s will, it was a struggle, because He knew it
would be excruciatingly painful and difficult. Why is the prayer of Christ in
the garden of Gethsemane (above) the hardest prayer to pray? What are your fears
in praying this prayer? Do you trust and believe that God has your best
interests at heart in everything He does concerning you?

3. Pray and ask
God to prepare you for the unexpected, and to give you the strength to accept
His will in this situation, whatever it may be, even if it is difficult and
uncomfortable. Ask Him to keep you mindful that everything He does is for your
good and His glory.

Additional Scripture

Psalm 18:30
Proverbs 3:5-6
Jeremiah 33:3



Day 23: The Guarantee of

For whatever is born of God overcomes the world;
and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. (1 John

When Jesus, the sinless Son of God, took upon Himself the sin
of mankind, died on the Cross for those sins, and arose from the dead, He
conquered sin and death once for all. He defeated Satan—the enemy of
our souls, taking away his authority, spoiling his kingdom, and triumphing over
all his power! The greatest blessing of all is that Jesus’ victory
became our victory! In Christ, we too can conquer sin and death and any
problem the enemy brings our way. 1 Corinthians 15:57 says, “But thanks be to
God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” If Jesus lives in
you, you have the victory. It’s already yours … guaranteed!

what does victory look like? You probably have your own ideas of what determines
a victory in your current trial. But the Bible says that God has the final word
(see Proverbs 19:21). The outcome is in His hands. For instance, victory may
come in the form of spiritual growth, or a life lesson learned. It may come in
the form of a strengthened relationship, or material blessings. Or it may come
in the form of healing. However God decides to move, when it’s all over, you
will have won! Even in death, we have the victory—the gift of eternal life! (See
John 3:16) “But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who
loved us” (Romans 8:37). It may not feel like it right now, but you are in a
win-win situation. Begin developing a victorious attitude in your heart
and mind today, and stand by faith believing that you’re blessing is on the

Taking back your life …

1. Look again at 1
Corinthians 15:57 (above). What hope does this Scripture give you in the midst
of tragedy and loss? How does it feel to know that in Christ, victory is

2. As you think about your current circumstances, and the
ways in which you’ve asked God to help, what would you consider victory?
Remember to leave room in your expectations for His will to be done.

Pray and ask God to help you recognize victory, big and small, so that you do
not miss all that He is doing in and through you during this difficult time. Be
sure to thank Him in advance for giving you the victory through Jesus
Christ our Lord, and for knowing what is the best

Additional Scripture reading:

Isaiah 51:11
2 Corinthians 1:3-4


Day 24: Trusting God’s Plan for Your


You saw me before I was born and scheduled each day of my life before I
began to breathe. Every day was recorded in Your book! (Psalm 139:16

Before tragedy came and seemingly changed the course of your
life, you probably had certain life dreams and goals. Even though you may have
had challenges before “the storm”—financial struggles, relationship troubles, or
health issues, you still probably had in mind specific changes you wanted to
make, or what direction you wanted your life to take. But how do you feel now
that you’re living day to day, not knowing what tomorrow will bring? Do you feel
as if all your dreams have been shattered, and question how in the face of this
catastrophe you can ever get your life back on track?

Take courage! Your
life isn’t made up of circumstances and coincidences. God has a
definite plan for your life! You are uniquely made with specific gifts
and abilities to fulfill His purposes. This tragedy may have changed your
circumstances, but you have God’s promise that His plan for you will be
accomplished (see Philippians 1:6).

God knows all about you. Like David
said in Psalm 139:16 (above), He saw you and made plans for
your life before you were even born. He knew what challenges you would
face, and what your needs would be before you took your first breath. Isn’t it
exciting to know that God scheduled each one of your days? Though your life has
been disrupted, and your path seems unclear, you can trust that
everything is right on track according to His will. God is at work in
you to accomplish His divine plan. Begin to see your life through His
eyes, and you will see that your future is full of

Taking back your life …

1. What would
you like to do with your life? How has this tragedy changed your dreams and

2. How do you think God could use this time in your life to bring
about His purposes in you? In what ways do you think God may want to use your

3. Pray and thank God for His perfect plan for your life, and ask
Him to reveal it to you as you move toward rebuilding your life. Be sure to
thank Him for His faithfulness and ability to fulfill those plans. Then watch
and pray as He makes those plans a reality, in His perfect timing. Above all …
never give up!

Additional Scripture

Isaiah 43:19
Jeremiah 29:11
2 Corinthians



Day 25: Valuing What Matters Most 


There are three things that remain—faith, hope, and love—and
the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:13)

The most
recurring quote from survivors of Hurricane Katrina was, “I lost everything I
had, but I still have my family. And that’s what matters most.” It’s no
doubt your life changed dramatically when tragedy hit home. Tragedy has a
tendency to destroy a lot of things that are valuable to us, but there are some
things that even the most destructive disaster could never take away: your
relationship with God and His love for you, and the love you share with family
and friends. It’s that enduring love—even the love for a loved one lost—that
matters most.

When dealing with difficult circumstances, it’s easy to
take that love for granted. In our pain, anger, and frustration we can either
isolate ourselves from family and friends, lash out against them, or fail to
realize their need for our support. But just as your family and friends need you
to care for them through this tragedy, you also need them. In his letter to the
Colossians, Paul wrote, “… that their hearts may be encouraged, having been knit
together in love …” (Colossians 2:2).

Have you told your spouse,
children, or other loved ones lately that you love them? If not, be sure to tell
them today. But don’t stop there. It’s not enough to just say “I love you,” we
have to show love by our actions (see 1 John 3:18). Talk about
the tragedy together, listen to each other, cry together, comfort each other,
and pray for each other. And whenever the remembrance of tragedy and loss casts
a shadow on your spirit, remember the importance of valuing what matters most …
each other.

Taking back your life …

When tragedy or troubles hit our lives, it often makes us think about what’s
really important. What has this tragedy taught you about your priorities
regarding your relationship with God? Your family? Would you say that you have
your priorities straight? God first, then spouse, family, Christian and
community service? What changes do you think are necessary?

2. Proverbs
3:6 TLB says, “In everything you do, put God first, and He will direct you and
crown your efforts with success.” Make a new or renewed commitment today to put
God first in your life. Spend time with Him every day in prayer and Bible
reading. If you’re not already an active member of a Bible-teaching church, find
one today, attend regularly, and get involved. Seek to honor Him in your
relationships, your time, and your material resources.

3. Have you spent
quality time building your relationship with your spouse? With your children? 1
John 3:18 TLB says, “Let us stop just saying we love people; let us
really love them, and show it by our actions.” What
are some practical ways that you can show your spouse and children (or extended
family and friends, if single) that you really love them? How can you use this
time now to build family relationships?

Additional Scripture

Joshua 24:15
Matthew 6:33
Colossians 3:14
Thessalonians 5:11



Day 26: Comforting Others Who


Blessed be the … God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our
affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction
with the same comfort which we ourselves are comforted by God. (2 Corinthians

One of the ways to ease the pain of tragedy and loss is to
reach out and comfort someone else who is hurting. Comforting others is one way
to look tragedy directly in the eye and profess that we are not helpless
victims. It’s a way of reaffirming God’s power in our lives. Great things happen
when we talk to others about God’s love, His compassion, and His faithfulness.
When we speak His promises to others, it not only ministers to the hearers, it
ministers to us, causing our own faith in God to come alive! Additionally, it
moves our focus from our own problems to the needs of someone

Reaching out to others is also a great way to build new friendships
and a support system—you can comfort, encourage, and pray for one another. For
instance, after a natural disaster, you’re suddenly surrounded by a lot of
people who are struggling with grief and loss, and need help and comfort just
like you do. Or if you’re dealing with another type of tragedy, you can reach
out to others with similar circumstances. Sometimes God allows us to go through
trials so that we can better understand the pain of others, and comfort them
with the same comfort we have received from Him.

But be careful not to
overload yourself, or short-circuit your grief by concentrating on other’s needs
prematurely. Pray about it first, and ask God whether it is time. Then ask Him
to direct your energies and desires to reach out to others, as you journey
toward healing. The rewards will be immeasurable! (See Matthew

Taking back your life …

1. Do you know -or
have you met someone who is hurting as a result of difficult circumstances? What
can you do to help heal that person’s hurt? Here are a few ideas: You can talk
to her. Pray for him. Share something from God’s Word, such as a promise, or a
Bible verse that would provide comfort and encouragement. Or just listen and
understand what they’re going through. Give a sick, or grieving parent a break
by caring for their children while they take a walk outdoors or rest.
2. In
his letter to the Romans, Paul wrote, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep
with those who weep.” Why is it important to have a support system—people you
can talk to, pray with, and even cry with, during difficult times?

Remember to lift up the needs of someone else whenever you bring your needs
before the Lord in prayer.

Additional Scripture

Romans 12:10
Colossians 3:12
1 Thessalonians



Day 27: Making Tough

But if any of you lacks wisdom,
let him ask of God, who gives generously and without reproach, and it will be
given to him. (James 1:5)

When dealing with difficult circumstances
we’re not always sure how to react. We want to say and do all the right things,
but in our human weakness and heartache we often fall short of what we had in
mind. We may say things we really didn’t mean, or do things that only make
matters worse. Then there are the decisions needing to be made: What should I do
with the insurance money? Is surgery or chemotherapy best? Can we rebuild our
home or business, or should we start over somewhere new? Where will I work? How
will we make it in a whole new place where everything is totally

Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and
He will make your paths straight.” Have you acknowledge God in your current
circumstances, and in the decisions you have to make, or are you relying on your
own thoughts and ideas on how to handle things? God gives wisdom generously and
graciously when we turn to Him and ask, “Lord, what would You have me to do?
Where would You have me to go?” He promises to give you His wisdom and to guide
you, if you will just ask. Proverbs 3:13 says, “How blessed is the man who finds
wisdom and the man who gains understanding.”

Wisdom will enable you to
honor God in everything you say and do regarding your circumstances. Wisdom will
safely guide you in every decision you have to make. And wisdom will help to
move you and your family towards healing, wholeness, and

Taking back your life …

1. What are
some of the tough decisions you are facing? Psalm 32:8 says, “I will instruct
you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with My eye
upon you.” Have you asked God to guide you in making your decisions?

The following Scriptures show some of the ways in which God imparts His


  • Through the Bible: Psalm 119:105, “Your word is a lamp unto my feet and a
    light to my path.”
  • Through wise counselors (could be a pastor, teacher, Christian counselor, or
    a godly friend or relative): Proverbs 24:6b, “For by wise guidance you will wage
    war, and in abundance of counselors there is victory.”
  • Through prayer: Jeremiah 33:3, “Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will
    tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.”
  • Through the Holy Spirit: Romans 8:14, “For all who are being led by the
    Spirit of God, these are sons of God.”
  • Through your spirit: Isaiah 30:21, “Your ears will hear a word behind you,
    ‘This is the way, walk in it,’ whenever you turn to the right or to the left.”

3. Pray and ask God for His wisdom and guidance. Ask Him what He would have
you to do in each decision you are facing, and to make clear the path that He
wants you to take.

Additional Scripture

Psalm 37:23
Proverbs 16:16

Day 28: Tuning in to God’s

Let me hear Your lovingkindness in
the morning; for I trust in You; teach me the way in which I should walk; for to
You I lift up my soul. (Psalm 143:8)

Did you know that amid the
noise of every day life, God speaks to you? He speaks to you throughout the day
and into the night. Are you listening? Can you hear His voice? Because you are
His own, He wants to impart His peace, joy, and love to your heart … if you will

But what does it really mean to listen to God? First, listening
to God involves spending time with Him on a regular basis where you are free of
interruptions and distractions, and can hear Him. For instance, you can
find a quiet room, or a quiet place in a park. During this “quiet time” make a
conscious effort to listen to God speak as you read His Word and as you pray.
Secondly, take some time to think over what you have heard Him say. What does He
want you to know or do? What life-changes does He want you to make? In what
areas does He want you to grow? Finally, listening to God involves having a
teachable spirit and a willingness to obey what He has told you.

God is
not limited, however, to speaking to you only in your quiet time. He wants you
to tune in to His voice, from the moment you open your eyes until the time you
shut them again each night. Listen for Him in the beauty of His creation, in the
midst of a storm, and in the face of tragedy and loss. Listen for Him through
the people He may send your way. And listen for His voice in your spirit as you
journey through each day. He loves to speak to you, His beloved child—to reveal
His wisdom, direction, and will for your life. He’s speaking to you at this very
moment … are you listening? (10)

Taking back your life

1. When you talk to God in prayer, do you take the time to
listen for His responses? Why is it important to listen to His voice throughout
the day, each day?

2. Have you been tuned in to God’s voice lately? If
so, what is God saying to you about your life or current circumstances? If not,
you can tune in to His voice today. God says in Jeremiah 29:13, “You will seek
Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.”

3. Seek the
Lord today. Pray and ask Him to open your spiritual ears so that you may be
tuned in to His voice at all times, enabling you to stay in the center of His
will for your life.

Additional Scripture

Isaiah 30:21
John 10:27
Revelation 3:20



Day 29: Dependence on Him 


He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how
will He not also with Him freely give us all things? (Romans

Your family and friends depend on you, and you depend on them.
You look to them to be there for you in good times and bad, and they look to you
for the same loyalty and support. But face it, family members can sometimes fail
or disappoint each other, and friends can sometimes let each other down. There
is a friend, however, who will never fail anyone who places his utmost faith in
Him, and that friend is God revealed in the person of Jesus Christ. Will you
depend on Him in this, your time of need? He is a Friend unlike any other. He is
your everything—all-powerful, all-knowing, and ever-present. And because He
loves you, He wants you to depend on Him completely.

To depend
on someone completely, you must have faith in his abilities and character. Faith
is an unconditional, absolutely dependent trust in another. The more you depend
on the Lord, the more you will experience His intimate, loving friendship. You
will find that God is a trustworthy friend who can be taken at His Word. For
instance, you can depend on Him for peace. He promises to give you peace that
passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7). Depend on Him for joy. He promises
to give you joy unspeakable and full of glory (1 Peter 1:8). Depend on Him for
strength. He promises to strengthen you (Isaiah 41:10). Depend on Him for
safety. He can hide you under His wings (Psalm 91:4). Depend on Him for
everything! He will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in
Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19)! (11)

Taking back your life

1. How can the pain and turmoil caused by a natural disaster
force us to be dependent upon God?

2. How does knowing that you can
count on the dependability of God make your circumstances bearable?

Make a commitment to the Lord to get to know Him better. Set up a daily quiet
time that consists of prayer and Bible reading, and ask Him to keep you mindful
of your commitment to spend time with Him everyday. Pray that through your
private times together He will establish Himself to be your most intimate,
loving, and faithful friend.

Additional Scripture

Psalm 68:19
2 Corinthians 3:5



Day 30: Waiting With

Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and He shall
strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord. (Psalm 27:14

One thing we can learn when a natural disaster, death, illness,
or any other kind of tragedy strikes, is that we cannot control our lives. We
can control how we react and how we respond when faced with a trial, but we
cannot control our circumstances. As we go about our daily lives, and get
settled into familiar routines, we may think we know what tomorrow will bring,
and make plans accordingly, but things do not always turn out the way we’ve
planned. From time to time, some kind of struggle or challenge, or in some
cases, a natural disaster, will come along and disrupt everything. It is in
those instances that we come to realize we are not in control.

The Bible
says, “We can make our plans, but the final outcome is in God’s hands” (Proverbs
16:1 TLB). God is in control. We must acknowledge His authority over all human
affairs, which include our lives and our circumstances. He has everything in
perfect order, and accomplishes His purposes and plans in our lives in His
perfect timing. Still, it has to be hard to be patient when your whole life has
been disrupted and all you really want to do is get back to some sense of
normalcy. But you cannot rely on your plans or timing to make it happen. God’s
plans for you and for your family will be accomplished. It may take
weeks, months, or even years. But be encouraged. God only wants what’s best for
you. So don’t ever give up, or allow frustration to rule in your heart. Trust
God with your life and circumstances, and wait on the Lord with
patience. Wait, watch … and pray. (12)

Taking back your life

1. What does it mean to wait on the Lord? Why is it important
to wait with patience?

2. Discuss with your family or friend how you can
apply Proverbs 16:1 (above) to your current circumstances.

3. Pray
together (or alone) and ask God to help you release your circumstances to Him
and to His timing. Be sure to thank Him for working through your situation, even
when you cannot see Him moving, and for having your best interests at heart (see
Romans 8:28).

Additional Scripture

Proverbs 16:9
Proverbs 16:33


Day 31: Celebrating the

All day long I’ll praise and honor You, O God,
for all that You have done for me. (Psalm 71:8 TLB)

When going
through difficult times, we tend to look for a major breakthrough before we feel
that we can celebrate or praise God for the victory. As we journey through our
struggle, we may not see or recognize God’s hand at work in our lives along the
way. We may miss all the little blessings and victories we receive each day. For
instance, when you and your family share a laugh, in the midst of sorrow, it is
a blessing, and should be recognized as God’s hand at work. Or when you begin to
talk about or make plans for your future, when at one time you felt completely
hopeless, this is a victory toward overcoming and winning the battle. Every
victory, whether big or small, is reason to celebrate!

The Bible says,
“Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above …” (James 1:17a).
Every little step you take toward healing, and toward getting your life back
together is a good thing given by God, and is one more step toward victory! Has
a family member opened up to you about his or her feelings? Praise God! Has
someone given you a kind word to lift your spirit today? Praise God! Have the
smiles returned to your children’s faces? Praise God! Have you made it
successfully through another day of treatment? Praise God! When you praise God
in the little things, as you struggle through difficult circumstances, you will
experience God’s peace and joy in the midst of the battle. What’s more, the joy
of the Lord will be your strength to go the distance and will encourage your
family members to do the same! Remember, don’t wait until the battle’s over …
shout your praises now! (13)

Taking back your life

1. Psalm 103:1-2 says, “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all
that is within me, bless His holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget
none of His benefits …” Why is it important to acknowledge and thank God for
every little blessing He gives in the midst of difficult circumstances?


2. What are some of the victories you’ve already experienced in this trial?
Encourage your family and friends to celebrate even the smallest of victories by
allowing them to hear you acknowledge God for each one as you have opportunity.
For instance, you can say aloud, “Thank God for this shelter,” or “Praise God
for this food.” Or when your child smiles or laughs, you can say, “Praise God!
It’s so good to see you smile,” or “It’s so good to hear you laugh again.” Or
when you or your child arise from a good night’s sleep that was finally
uninterrupted by the nightmare you’ve been having since disaster struck, you can
say, “Praise God for a restful night! He is doing great things!”

3. Pray
and ask God to help you and your family recognize His hand at work in your lives
in all the little blessings along the way, as you journey through this difficult

Additional Scripture reading:

Psalm 34:1-4

Psalm 66:20
1 Corinthians 15:57


1. Lloyd Cory, comp., Quotable Quotes (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, a division
of SP Publications, Inc., 1985), 183.

2. Leslie Barner, comp.,
Encouragement for Brokenhearted Homes—On the Journey Through Grief (Little Rock,
Ark: FamilyLife, 2002), adapted from pgs. 69, 70.

3. Leslie Barner,
Encouragement for Brokenhearted Parents: A 31 Day Devotional (Little Rock, Ark:
FamilyLife, 2000), adapted from pg. 18.

4. Ibid., adapted from pg.

5. Leslie Barner, comp., Encouragement for Brokenhearted Homes—On the
Journey Through Grief (Little Rock, Ark: FamilyLife, 2002), adapted from pgs.
51, 52.

6. Leslie Barner, Encouragement for Brokenhearted Parents: A 31
Day Devotional (Little Rock, Ark: FamilyLife, 2000), adapted from pg.

7. Ibid., adapted from pg. 23.

8. Ibid., adapted from pg.

9. From Practical Christianity compiled and edited by LaVonne Neff,
Ron Beers, Bruce Barton, Linda Taylor, Dave Veerman, and Jim Galvin. “Do
Christians Have to Suffer” by Ajith Fernando (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House
Publishers, Inc., 1987) 318.

10. Leslie Barner, Encouragement for
Brokenhearted Parents: A 31 Day Devotional (Little Rock, Ark: FamilyLife, 2000),
adapted from pg. 16.

11. Ibid., adapted from pg. 21.

12. Ibid.,
adapted from pg. 29.

13. Ibid., adapted from pg. 33.


Copyright © 2006 by FamilyLife. All rights reserved.