I hate being uncomfortable. I’m the girl who immediately changes out of her cute clothes as soon as I get home and into my comfy T-shirt.

Yet, as believers, we aren’t promised a comfortable life.

In fact, Jesus warns us in John 16:33, “Here on earth, you will have many trials and sorrows.” The good news is found at the end of that same verse, when He says, “But, take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

Friends, we already know the ending. We know that Jesus wins and we will spend eternity with Him.

However, it is the here and now that leaves us struggling as we face our troubles.

It is so much easier to turn to something physical for comfort than to God. But that comfort will not last.

When I was in college, I frequently turned to porn to numb any of my negative feelings. I left awkward social gatherings without any friends to go back to my dorm. I looked at porn and masturbated to escape the deep loneliness I felt.

Porn never cured my loneliness.

In fact, I felt more lonely afterwards because I was craving deep intimacy with God and others. If you feel discomfort, you may also turn to porn. Or you might instead become numb by binge-watching TV shows, mindlessly scrolling on social media or comfort eating.

Here are two practical ways you can turn to God in your discomfort:

1) Learn to sit in your discomfort. Sitting in this way is an important muscle to develop. One way is to journal ALL of your thoughts and feelings.

Give yourself permission to cry and to admit feeling overwhelmed, lonely, or anxious. Instead of denying your feelings, turn them over God. Write them down as a prayer to God, or pray them out loud.

2) Worship God with music and prayer.

Listening to worship music often gives you a fresh perspective. It focuses you more on the beauty of God and less on your pain and suffering.

Worship also allows you to express affection for your Savior. It is how you show Him admiration, love, thankfulness, and praise. When you make worshiping God a daily priority, your relationship with God will grow in intimacy. When you feel close to God, you tend to focus less on your troubles. When your God is big, your worries feel small.

A close friend once encouraged me, “I can choose to wallow in my suffering and feel sad, isolated, and hurt. But when I choose to rise above, it is amazing the strength I receive from my Lord. I put on worship music. I sing, pray, and memorize Scripture. The choice is yours. God will give you the strength you need.”

As we practice this act of daily surrender and learn to sit in our discomfort, we will exercise this much-needed muscle. This action may feel difficult now, but over time, it will get easier as we grow in intimacy and trust with the Lord.

*For further reflection, listen to John 16 today.

  1. John 16

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Her new book Her Freedom Journey: A Guide Out Of Porn to Authentic Intimacy comes out this July.

We pray that you will take her advice and listen to our encouraging conversation.

The year I turned 33 was the most difficult of my life. My father was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer, and our family was enduring a difficult season in the first weeks of that year.

But in the deepest pit of my life, God did the unthinkable: He joined me.

Over the course of three months, I endured overwhelming grief and multiple eight-hour drives home to see my father. I also balanced full-time work and caring for two small children in a home where peace and rest were impossible for my heart to find.

But Jesus met me one day in my bedroom closet as I rediscovered a study Bible I had purchased a few months before. Every morning I woke up early, crawled into my closet, and talked to Jesus through tears as I encountered His Word.

God anchored my favorite verse to my soul years ago—and it is the promise that Jesus also offers to you: “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32).

You were not made to be wrapped up in worry. You were not made to fit back into the boxes you have outgrown.

You were made to live free in God’s truth and light.

Do not let the weight of the pieces you hold discourage you. God loves you. God is ready to make you whole.

One Prayer Away From A New Life

It sounds unbelievable until it happens.
You pray the impossible prayer.
Because you are at the edge of what your heart can handle.

You are at the edge of what your emotions can endure.
And even though you may have prayed that prayer many times
Before, this time is different.

Because something shifts on the outside.
Jesus answers the prayer.
Jesus opens the door.

And God invites you to take the next step into a whole new life.
This is the miracle of mercy.
This is the foundation of faith.

So today, offer that bold prayer with this sweet confidence:
One single prayer can change everything.
Because one single prayer can change you.

Dear Jesus,

I pray for the woman who cannot see the road ahead. Lord, her vision is clouded by emotions and overwhelming uncertainty. Remind her that You will equip her for every difficulty and decision—that You will be beside her all the way.

In Your Holy Name, Amen.

*For further reflection, listen to Psalm 18 today.

  1. Psalm 18

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Adapted from One Prayer Away by Lauren Fortenberry. Copyright © 2024 Lauren Fortenberry. Used by permission of Zondervan. HarperCollinsChristian.com.

I picked up my phone off the nightstand that morning and opened it with dread. I felt anxiety fill my body. On social media, I knew what I would find: other people enjoying their lives while I cried about mine.

Life felt so unfair. Hot tears filled my eyes, and I immediately tried to blink them back while I whispered a desperate prayer, “Lord, am I going to feel like this forever?”

As I poured my coffee, I made a mental list of what I felt like I could no longer handle.

For starters, I battled relentlessly with my mental health. And I also juggled two kids under five, my husband’s unforeseen job loss, the sudden passing of my father-in-law, and ongoing financial pressures, just to name a few.

I saw no relief in sight. It was hard not to feel frustrated, fed-up, and maybe even a little forgotten by God.

My soul was exhausted, and I was tired of trying. It seemed I had prayed every prayer I knew how to pray and read every Scripture I knew that pertained to my circumstances. Yet, nothing seemed to change.

Maybe you know this season all too well. Maybe you’ve been hurting so deeply and for so long. Maybe you expected to handle this better and to be stronger when everything came crashing down.

But it’s okay that you’re feeling weak and unsure. God wants us to let go of trying to figure it all out, and let him do what he does bestsave us.

When God commanded Moses to save his people from their slavery in Egypt, they never expected their journey to freedom to take so long or be so very hard.

But God had not taken them to the wilderness to simply punish them. Instead, he brought them there to both teach them dependence on him and bring them to the good land he had prepared for them.

In Jeremiah 31:2-3, we see the Lord say in reference to that time, “‘This is what the Lord says: ‘Those who survive the coming destruction will find blessings even in the barren land, for I will give rest to the people of Israel…I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love, I have drawn you to myself.'”

God hears your cries for deliverance, and he has grace for you in your wilderness.

I continued to walk through my own wilderness. I realized God was using those things I thought were breaking me to make me more like Jesus.

I felt exhausted because I believed it was all up to me.

When I chose to trust him to hold my broken heart and receive his grace, he began to reveal the good plans he had all along.

Friend, will you dare to remember the heart of God when it is hard to understand why he is not fixing your most hurtful seasons?

Will you trust that, like the Israelites, you, too will find grace in our wilderness? Will you cling to the truth that he has rest for your worn-out souls and that he will never stop loving you?

Regardless of how you feel, you can stand in confidence that God will continue to be faithful.

Dear Lord, Thank you that you hear my prayers when my life feels like it is too much, and I am desperate for solutions. I pray you would help me to hold onto you in faith. Cause me to stand on the truth of who I know you to be; a good, faithful and loving Father. Thank you that you always have my best in mind. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

*For further reflection, listen to Jeremiah 31 today.

  1. Jeremiah 39

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Enjoy further insights with Ashley Morgan Jackson in our interview with her here.

The song “New Wine” begins

“In the crushing…In the pressing…You are making new wine.”

My early elementary report cards showed “outstanding” rankings, except for one “needs improvement” blot on my second-grade report card. The category described how I “handle disappointment.” Many were my youthful tears—whether shed behind a textbook, on the sidelines of lacrosse, or upon my bed. From my early days, I did not handle disappointment well.

Jesus talked about the need for “new wineskins” with new wines. (Matthew 9:17) The old wineskins would no longer suffice because the new wine would bust them wide open.

In the same way, as an adult, I needed to learn to let go of what I thought my life was supposed to be—the old wineskins—and embrace the reality of entirely new wineskins and the new wines they would hold.

Crushing and pressing are involved in making new wine. On the heels of two very crushing experiences, I faced a continual need to surrender in order to fully produce this new wine, and it all felt so disappointing.

Disappointment never crushed me more than when we had to leave our life in Hungary after I experienced my first mental health crisis.

However, amid all the horrible lies I heard during my manic episode in Orlando, God whispered more fervently, “Endure, beloved, endure.”

I didn’t know what this message meant except that I needed to hold tightly and remember that God was real despite all the lies.

All I could do was seek to hang on to the overarching truth of Christ’s redemption.Christ’s remarkable story would win in my life and in all things.

Sometimes, dear reader, this is all we can do.

With something like mental illness, when our minds are sponges for deception, we have to trust the greater truth of God. He is present beyond every crushing experience, making new wine for us and within us. And not just any wine, but full-bodied, rich, exquisite wine that will one day be served at the great feast of God in the new heaven and new Earth.

As we walk this long road home, there may be many times God calls us to endure. Every one of our beliefs may be tested, but our deepest truths can come to life in this pressing time.

We are made for God, and he will have us forever, basking in his love’s beauty and heavens’ fullness. Moreover, this new wine he makes of us will bear the stunning story of his beauty replacing the ashes of our sorrow.

*For further reflection, listen to Matthew 9.

  1. Matthew 9

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Adapted from A Million Skies: Secure in God’s Strength When Your Mind Can’t Rest © Abigail Alleman, 2022.

Have you ever been in an overwhelming situation and in need of rescue? Not to be dramatic, but that was totally me recently.

I had just returned to Oklahoma City after an exciting work trip in Nashville, Tennessee, to celebrate our first book launch! It was an incredible trip, jam-packed with radio, TV, and podcast interviews. I was overwhelmed with gratitude and excitement, but when I arrived home, a different type of overwhelm began to settle in.

Here’s where I need to tell you something: I battle mild anxiety. And under extreme circumstances, I even suffer from debilitating panic attacks. On even ordinary days, life can feel like a lot.

I’m a mother of three who works from home, and our closest family lives six hours away. But on this particular day, my rowdy little humans were home for summer break. I had overlapping projects, multiple deadlines, tons of meetings, and the mission of motherhood all demanding my attention at the same time.

The word overwhelmed doesn’t begin to capture how I felt.

Feeling the tension of my limitations, I reached out for help.

But the people I usually look to were unavailable, and I didn’t want to inconvenience anyone or let anyone down. I was stretched thin and growing weary.

I needed help, but I felt like I was out of options. And then I felt it starting. My heart began pounding so hard I thought it might burst out of my chest.

Before I knew it, I was gasping for air, and my entire body felt like it was on fire. I slowly walked into the living room, where my husband was relaxing. He glanced up at me with immediate concern and asked what was wrong, but I couldn’t get the words out as tears streamed down my face.

“Take a deep breath in through your nose, and slowly let it out from your mouth,” he said calmly. As I inhaled, I placed my hand on my belly, and as I exhaled, I placed my other hand on my chest.

I continued to do this until my panic subsided, and I was able to share my concerns with my husband. We talked through a plan to ease the stress I was dealing with. I also sent a text to my closest friends, letting them know what I was going through, and they lovingly rallied around me with prayer.

I wish I could tell you that my anxiety instantly disappeared and my plate became easier to manage, but that simply wasn’t true.

Life often hands us more than we can handle.

The good news is that we don’t have to tackle the troubles of this life on our own. God places people in our lives to come alongside us, and bear our burdens with us. Dear friend, asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness; it’s proof of wisdom. Allow the people in your life to meet you in your time of need.

So if you’re in need of some help, cry out to Him today. He is with you and for you, and He’ll provide you what—and who—you need in your overwhelming moments.

For further reflection, listen to Psalm 46.

  1. Psalm 46

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Excerpted from There’s Beauty in Your Brokenness: 90 Devotions to Surrender Striving, Live Unburdened, and Find Your Worth in Christ by Brittany Maher and Cassandra Speer. Copyright © 2023 Brittany Maher and Cassandra Speer. Used by permission of Thomas Nelson.harpercollinschristian.com.

Please enjoy our conversation with Cassandra here.

I know I don’t look Samoan. My mother is of Greymouth (Irish descent), and my father is Samoan from Fusi, Safata. My parents were very involved in our church and the community, and these pressures started to affect my dad. He began drinking heavily. Eventually, his chronic drinking caught up with him, and he ended up going to prison for something he did while intoxicated.

While in detox, my father re-dedicated his life to Christ. After prison, he wanted to help others dealing with alcohol and addiction, so my family moved to Taranaki to live at an Alcohol and Drug Rehabilitation Center, which my dad and mum managed. One day while visiting a church, I heard the pastor talk about how much God loved me. He said God loved me unconditionally, no matter what I did (Romans 5:8).

The fact that God could love me so much was a new revelation. I didn’t love myself. (In fact, I hated everything about me.) But I wanted to know this God who loved me so much, so I accepted Jesus into my life and experienced that amazing forgiveness that Jesus offered me.

But coming to know Jesus personally didn’t mean everything was perfect. As my relationship with God grew during university, I started having frightening flashbacks and nightmares.

I then began remembering multiple experiences of abuse by a clergy member as a young girl. It was very traumatic. With great difficulty, I told a friend on staff with Campus Crusade for Christ (now Student Life) at my university all I had endured. I hadn’t told anyone else before her,so disclosing this to her relieved a heavy burden. She was so patient and caring and encouraged me to get counseling.

As a part of that counseling and ongoing healing, I began to accept that this abuse actually happened. I then forgave my abuser and then my father and mother, who were not there to protect me.

I discovered that forgiving was not accepting the abusive behavior nor condoning the abuser’s actions. Instead, forgiveness was a process that allowed my hurt to be in my past and not in my future.

The abuse I suffered deeply impacted me. For years, the shame, fear, anger, and pain of abuse created crippling hurdles in my life. Trusting others wasn’t easy, and I needed to overcome my quick skepticism of people’s motives.

Still, knowing that the God of the universe loves me and accepts me has given me the confidence to live out his strong sense of purpose in my life. I’ve also seen how Jesus beautifully healed my relationships and my family.

I want to encourage survivors of abuse and others battling an addiction that Jesus gives freedom, hope, and healing. Dealing with trauma and addiction is complex, and healing recovery takes time—but Jesus does heal (Psalm 147:3).

The longer I live, the more I see how God has been writing a great story in my life.

I can also see how God has transformed a life shaped by shame into a life full of freedom. He can do the same for you!

*For further reflection, listen to (Psalm 147 today.

  1. Psalm 147

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My track coach was told to wash his hands of me because I was “trouble.” But, despite what people told him, he continued to meet me at the track daily and train with me. I love the story of the woman at the well, because it reflects how my track coach came alongside me, and it also it shows us how Jesus treats those who are cast out.

When the world has set limitations on who we can befriend, Jesus shows us exactly what to do by reaching out to them anyway.

In John 4, Jesus met a Samaritan woman at the village well and shared the gospel with her. The cultural limitation said Jews could not speak to Samaritans. That meant an entire population could potentially be unreached by Jesus’ life.

So what did Jesus do? He disregarded culture’s limitations. And he met this woman where she was and told her about the never-ending, life-giving water – the truth of the gospel.

But the interesting thing is that Jesus did not go to the woman at the well with his disciples. Instead, verse eight shows his disciples had gone into the town to buy food.

Why would he not take his disciples and use this as a teaching moment? Why wouldn’t he have brought more people to the woman with hopes of helping her be seen and known and loved by more? The more, the merrier it seems.

So why did Jesus go alone?

Because even the people closest to Jesus, taking in his every word, being taught by him, and tangibly being loved by him, would have focused on the limitations of the culture. They would have pulled Jesus away from meeting the Samaritan woman, so Jesus shielded her from them.

Jesus went to the woman no one else would go to and met her where she was. He did not say, “You meet me here.” He went to her.

He met her there and changed her life.

Those people in my hometown were advising my track coach to stay away from me. But he kept showing up where I was— the track. It was one of the only places I was allowed to go, and his ongoing mentorship changed the trajectory of my life.

During this holiday season, I ask you these questions:

  • Where would you like Jesus to meet you right now?
  • Who is God asking you to make a difference in their life?
  • Who could you reach out to that you typically pass by?

*For further reflection, listen to John 4 today.

For years, I lived a secret life of brokenness while married to a pastor. I was buried under psychological pain while quoting Scriptures, leading Bible studies, and serving others, and being a wife and mother. I had wounds from childhood trauma I refused to address. Seeking counseling would mean I had a problem, and I just wanted to forget the pain altogether.

Yet, despite the masks I had affixed with well-rehearsed responses, my weighty burden chipped away at me. My cover-up was breaking down.

The question remained, “How do I turn this ocean-liner around? How can I help others in pain without sacrificing myself?”

I learned that I needed to make small micro-decisions toward healing.

First, I had to withdraw my application for a savior—that position was eternally filled with Jesus. Why did I need to carry the world on my shoulders rather than address my own issues?

Second, I had to face the truth that I couldn’t help others until I received real healing. It’s been said, “There’s only one way to eat an elephant: a bite at a time.” So likewise, the healing journey is filled with micro-decisions – small, wise choices that result in real healing over time.

Proverbs 11:14 says, “Without wise leadership, a nation falls; there is safety in having many advisers.”
If this Scripture was true for Solomon, I needed to also embrace its wisdom.

That meant making the micro-decision to pursue a professional “advisor” to become my authentic self. Facing my lifelong fears was the first way I could conquer them. Then, I’d be better at nourishing my relationships and supporting others.

Our micro-decisions must be anchored in God’s Word so we can come along and help others as we heal.

Then, instead of wearing a cape, we can humbly and boldly kneel at the cross alongside those whose burdens we share.

*For further reflection, listen to Proverbs 11 today.

Why does God sometimes answer us immediately, and other times, we pray and pray and see nothing for months or even years?

There are two things about God and prayer I find to be helpful to remember. The first is found in Daniel 9:23. It says, “The moment you began praying, a command was given. And now I am here to tell you what it was, for you are very precious to God.”

Sometimes we pray, and immediately a command goes out, and God places the answer to our prayer in our lives. Immediately God responds.

But there is a second example we find in the very next chapter, Daniel 10:12-13. The second prayer we see Daniel pray, is not answered immediately, and it’s interesting to read the reason.

Then he said, “Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day you began to pray for understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your request has been heard in heaven. I have come to answer your prayer. But for twenty-one days the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia blocked my way.”

This verse is super important to understanding how prayer works, or, as it sometimes seems, is not working. Bible commentator Charles Ellicott says of this exchange:

Perhaps no single verse in the whole of the Scriptures speaks more clearly than this upon the invisible powers which rule and influence nations… From this chapter we not only learn that Israel had a spiritual champion (Daniel 10:21) to protect her in her national life, and to watch over her interests, but also that the powers opposed to Israel had their princes, or saviors, which were antagonists of those which watched over Israel. The “princes” of the heathen powers are devils, according to 1 Corinthians 10:201

In Daniel chapter nine, we see God answer immediately, and in Daniel chapter 10, we see Daniel’s answer is delayed due to the intervention of evil supernatural influences in the region at that time.

What is important to note is that both times, Daniel is loved by God.

A delay in this instance is not brought on by Daniel himself, but rather, is a reaction to the organization of demonic spirits in the supernatural realm.

Sometimes, it is not your turn, and it is also not your fault.

There is a real devil, and a real army of evil constantly organizing to delay your promise. So, we must learn as believers how to pray thoroughly.

Prayer is not a one size fits all experience, and God will answer and respond to you differently season by season.

But prayer does matter, and prayer does change things, and prayer does change us.

*For deeper reflection, listen to Daniel 10 today.

~ Excerpt from It’s Not Your Turn by Heather Thompson Day

1 By various writers. Edited by Charles John Ellicott, An Old Testament commentary for English readers, Charles Ellicott & Bible. Old Testament. English. Authorized. (London: Cassell, Petter & Galpin, 1882). https://biblehub.com/commentaries/ellicott/daniel/10.htm.

Some days, life feels relentless, and God feels distant. Yet, as soon as I pull away from Him, Psalm 43 pulls me back.

Like the psalmist, I cry out, “For you are God, my only safe haven. Why have you tossed me aside?” (Psalm 43:2a)

Darkness falls quickly, and the walls of the psalmist’s life close in. He has known the Lord intimately and experienced God’s steadfast love and presence, but now he feels rejected.

So what does the psalmist do? Rather than continuing to listen to himself and spiral downward, he starts talking to God. He says to the Lord, “Send out your light and your truth; let them guide me.” (Psalm 43:3a)

The psalmist knows that God’s light and truth can lead him out of his darkness and lies.

This kind of darkness seems impossible to penetrate, and the lies that the enemy loves to whisper sound like the truth. Nevertheless, the psalmist knows the power of God, so he looks past his circumstances, asking God for what seems impossible. He begs for God’s light and truth to guide him.

After the psalmist talks to God, he then asks himself: “Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad?” (Psalm 43:5a) These are essential and revealing questions, because often, we can’t articulate our fears in a place of darkness.

But as soon as we articulate and face our fears, we can take hold of God’s vast promises that the Lord will walk with us through dark valleys (Psalm 23:4), will never leave us (Hebrews 13:5), and will ensure the waves do not overwhelm us. (Is 43:2).

Lastly, the psalmist exhorts himself “to hope in God” (Psalm 43:5b). He trusts that God will bring him to a place of praise.

He chooses to tell himself the truth, based on who God is, rather than listen to himself, based on his fears.

So today, when life feels overwhelming, will you let God’s Word have the last word?

*For deeper reflection, listen to Psalm 43 today.