This book has been so impactful in many ways, but most importantly it has helped me develop 10 God-given strategies for going through difficult times. Below I will describe each strategy and a few takeaways.
Rule 1: Realize that God means for you to be where you are.
- I used to have so many sleepless nights wondering and worrying about the if’s and buts of life, but God’s promise is simple. “Acknowledge me and I will make your path straight.”
- The sea was before them, Pharaoh’s hosts behind them, and the mountains around them. And all this, be it observed, permitted, and ordered of God. – C.H. Mackintosh
- Worry is putting question marks where God put periods. – John R. Rice
- Worry is a form of atheism, for it betrays a lack of faith and trust in God. – Bishop Fulton J. Sheen.
- How can you not worry when the Red Sea faces you, the desert surrounds you, and the soldiers of Egypt are speeding toward you with drawn swords? Sounds a lot like an FBI investigation, right? Amid my anxiety, I had to accept that I made bad decisions which placed me here, but with God’s grace and mercies, I would begin converting my worries into prayers and my fears into faith.
Rule 2: Be more concerned for God’s Glory than for your relief
- This one is tough. I know from my perspective, I wanted all my problems to disappear. However, when I began to get over myself, I began to see that God was changing some things about me, that I would have never changed on my own so that He could use me.
- If we could only look upon a difficult crisis as an occasion of bringing out, on our behalf, the sufficiency of divine grace, it would enable us to preserve the balance of our souls and to glorify God, even in the deepest waters. C.H. Mackintosh
- Our natural instinct is to ask: “How did I get into this mess, and how can I get out?” “how quickly can I solve this problem?” “why did this happen to me?” These are all natural responses to difficult situations, but Rule 2 teaches us a better question to ask, “How can God be glorified in this situation?”
- I know he tries me only to increase my faith, and that is all in love. Well, if He is glorified, I am content.”
- In John 9, for example, when His disciples met a man blind from birth, they asked, “How did this man get into this situation? Why did this happen? Who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born this way?” In answering, Jesus said in effect, “You are asking the wrong question. This man was born blind so that the power of God could be displayed in his life.”
- One takeaway from Rule 2 is, God does not waste mistakes! He is with us in impossible situations and He will deliver us in His own time, in His own way, and for His name’s sake.
Rule 3: Acknowledge your enemies, but keep your eyes on the Lord.
- Sometimes we are our own worst enemy. Failing to understand because we long to be understood. As an old ball coach once told me, “You are gonna miss the forest for the trees, son!” When faced with adversity and opposition, it is important to realize you have an opponent. Rule 3 reminds us to focus not on how great the opposition, but how great our God is.
- The great tyrant has not forgotten you, and he designs your capture and re-enslavement. Charles Spurgeon
- I know many justice impacted people feel this way. You feel as if the government is out to get you and maybe you are right, but allowing those thoughts to ruminate will only drive you mad. When things are going badly, when you feel trapped between the sword and the sea, when you are under attack, acknowledge the opposition, but keep your eyes fixated on God.
Rule 4: Pray!
- Their fear set them a praying, and that was a good effect of it. God brings us into straits that He may bring us to our knees. Matthew Henry
- Rule 4 says there are two options, either panic or pray. Most of us have a tendency to panic and when the situation seems out of our control, then we pray. As the Israelites’ backs were against the Red Sea, and there was no other option, the bible says they cried out to God. How many Red Sea moments have we missed because we failed to hit our knees in contrition and just cried out to the Lord? “When you face impossible odds, pray urgently, unfeignedly. And trust the great prayer answering God who grants mercy and imparts grace to help in time of need.”
Rule 5: Stay Calm and Confident and give God time to work.
- Moses said to the people: “Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever. The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.” Exodus 14:13-14
- Rule 5 teaches us to “wait on the Lord” is all about. “committing our Red Sea situations to Him in prayer, trusting Him, and waiting for Him to work. Doing that runs counter to our proactive and assertive selves, but many a modern migraine would be cured with a good dose of Psalm 37:7-8: “Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him… Do not fret –it only causes harm.”
Rule 6: When unsure, just take the next logical step
- We learned that on the despairing shores of the Red Sea, the Israelites couldn’t see what was in the distance. They had no binoculars that could view Canaan or even the opposite shore. But the Lord gave them a simple plan: “Tell the children of Isreal to go forward.
- God never gives guidance for two steps at a time. I must take one step, and then I get light for the next. This keeps the heart in abiding dependence upon God. C.H. Mackintosh
- RULE 6 teaches us to take things moment by moment, and when you don’t know what to do, just do what comes next. Trust God to lead you one step at a time.
Rule 7: Envision God’s Enveloping Presence
- At the Red Sea, God put His people in position where His presence had never been so real to them. Using difficulty, He cultivated within them a greater appreciation for Himself. Gods presence in the trial is much better that the exemption from the trial. The Lord’s presence is never so sweet as in moments of appalling difficulty.”
- For me, rule 7 challenged my perspective. If I were going to be all in with God, I needed to trust Him with everything, not just the things that were out of my control.
Rule 8: Trust God to deliver in His own unique way
- There came a mighty wind like a wedge and split that sea wide open, clear to its center. B.H. Carroll
- Here we learn that trust is a precursor to obeying God. In unfolding of his providence, burdens become blessings, tears lead to triumph, and the redemptive grace of God overcomes the undercurrents of life in the experiences of His children. For them, all things work together for good to those who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose. No wonder Charles Spurgeon on said, “we believe in the providence of God, but we do not believe half enough in it.”
- “When God does not deliver overtly (through a miracle) or covertly (by providence), he will deliver mysteriously, with a deeper level of intervention than we can discern; in the end, it will be better for us, though for a time we may be perplexed.”
Rule 9: View your crisis as a faith builder for the future
- I know he tries me only to increase my faith.. J. Hudson Taylor
- We learn that trials and troubles are the dumbbells and treadmills for the soul. They develop strength and stamina
- Faith is simply finding and claiming the promises of God in every situation, and based on those promises, making logical assumptions, being fully persuaded that God has the power to do what He promised.
Rule 10: Don’t forget to praise him
- Wash your face every morning in a bath of praise. Charles Spurgeon
- In the seventeenth century, John Trapp wrote, “he lets out his mercies to us for the rent of our praise, and is content that we may have the benefit of them so He may have the glory.”
- Rule 10 teaches us to praise him in the good times, but also praise him in the bad because the testing of your faith produces perseverance. The valley can be a low and lonely place, but with the right perspective, dedication, and a good plan we can all reach the summit again.