Today’s Truth

Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong (1 Corinthians 16:13 NIV).


Friend to Friend

I thought I was so godly … until we decided to move. If you want to measure your faith, just decide to pack up everything you own, put it in cardboard boxes, and move.

And if you really want to test the strength of your faith, decide to basically gut the house into which you are moving. Yep! That ought to do it!

Paint. I know a fresh coat of paint can make old walls dance with new life, but painting is also messy, time consuming, and the source of total chaos. Cans of paint lugged from room-to-room along with paint trays that are guaranteed not to spill … until they do. And don’t get me started on the whole taping thing.

New carpet. New carpet is a beautiful thing … unless those who install the carpet somehow got the impression, we didn’t want said carpet in the hallway. A communication error they said. Really? And of course, they had to order more carpet. An old piece of old carpet was put down in the hallway. Now the only thing we had to worry about was not falling over the flaps of carpet in every doorway. But I did … trip and fall.

I could go on … I really could, but you get the idea. I wish I could tell you that I handled every glitch, mistake, and hiccup in this move with a sense of humor and a good attitude, but I didn’t. I could blame it on the fact that I was tired and in pain because I was.

I have Scoliosis, degenerative disc disease, and arthritis in my spine, which accounts for the severe back pain. I was also exhausted. After my last speaking event of the year in the first week of December, I raced home and packed like a crazy woman. Since we moved ourselves with the help of friends, time was running out!

Our closing date was changed three times which meant our moving date landed in the middle of the week during which our Christmas services were held. Translation: Our church has 14 Christmas services, and my husband is the Lead Teaching Pastor of our church.

I could have blamed my impatience during this move on many things and people would back me up. But God didn’t.

I could have justified my negative attitude toward people who did not do what they said they would do during this move. But Scripture certainly didn’t.

“Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong” (1 Corinthians 16:13 NIV).

I had let my guard down. The result was a lack of faith and strength. I had moaned and complained at times like I was being persecuted in some way. How absurd! I was inconvenienced … and that is a far cry from being persecuted.

In more than 40 nations around the world today – including America – Christians are being persecuted for their faith. In some nations it is illegal to even own a Bible. Followers of Christ face harassment, arrest, torture, and even death.

I look around … and I am ashamed. I try to assuage my shame with the fact that I went through every single item we own and donated hundreds of those items to our church’s thrift store. But I still have so much while so many have so little.

The bottom line is this: I need to refocus and adjust my perspective. How about you?

Set aside your comfort.

Forfeit your convenience.

Choose to serve God to the fullest whenever and wherever you can … and while you’re at it, choose joy.


Let’s Pray

Father, please forgive me for my complaining spirit and petty whining about things that simply do not matter. Give me an eternal perspective. Help me focus on what does matter – my character – not my comfort.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.


Now It’s Your Turn

When you face a difficult situation, where do you turn first for help? What is your attitude about those difficult situations in your life? How does that attitude need to change?


More from the Girlfriends

Still looking for that special Christmas gift? Check out Mary’s Joy Journals and daily devotion books, Life is So Daily – Volume 1 and 2. Perfect for family and friends.



Need encouragement … a friend to help you on your journey? Are you a pastor’s wife or Women’s Ministry leader? I can help you. Check out my coaching ministry, Friends for the Journey.


© 2022 by Mary Southerland. All rights reserved.


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8 Responses to “Today I Will Be Strong and Courageous”

  1. Joy says:

    Thank you, Mary! I’m facing a difficult situation at work. A Christian sister is wrongly accusing me of several things of which I am not guilty. My first instinct is to go from co-worker to co-worker asking, ‘do you know what she said about me?’ The Lord has so far helped me to keep this to myself but mt patience is wearing thin. I try to remember “vengeance is mine, I will repay saith the Lord”. Please pray that I might keep a sweet spirit toward this person until God works it out.

  2. Carol says:

    Bless you Mary, Jesus gave you this am writing for me.
    This year has been strange for me and this Advent season is a busy one at my church, and we are finishing a have-to repair/remodel of our bath. Craziness in home repairs, I can relate.
    I’ve been praying and wishing that my health would stabilize. Like the woman of Luke 8:43-48; Iasked my church prayer warriors to lay hands on me for restoration. My prayer was, ” Lord, I’m asking for a healing. By faith I’m holding on…”
    Well, I got my confirmation yesterday at my Dr. ofc., I’m recovering with “good numbers in the report” and next month I follow -up with specialty Dr.

    Dear Joy ( what a great name!)…keep believing that God will support you, in your truth: His strength is made perfect in weakness (2Corin.9-10). That is one of the gifts that Jesus can provide for you the Christmas!

  3. Liz says:

    Thank You. I was encouraged by your devotional this morning. Just to take the next step. Feeling pretty overwhelmed, but God will help me. Thank You.

  4. Joy, I am so sorry for the difficult situation at work. And I know you are tempted to defend yourself to all of your co-workers, but the truth is that they already know you – what you will and won’t do. God brought this passage of Scripture to mind:

    Luke 12:11-12 “When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.”

    Stand firm in your faith. This is a time when others are watching you and evaluating your responses in light of your faith. The time will come when all is set straight.

    God’s gpt you!

  5. Carol, you are so sweet! Thank you for sharing the health problems you are facing. We are celebrating the good report from the doctor. Now to take care of yourself and fully recover. I have an appointment with a cardiologist in three days and in January have an endoscopy and colonoscopy … woo hoo! So looking forward to that one. But it is the last step in a battery of tests that (as my hematologist said) the doctors wanted to run because they didn’t think they would ever get me back in to do them all. And they were so right! But I have learned a lot about my health and any issues that needed to be addressed. But it is all consuming, isn’t it?

    SO hang in there … celebrating what God is doing in your life and the health he is bringing and will bring!

  6. Liz, thank you for your note. I know life can be so overwhelming. I am praying God will show you the next step … and once you have taken it … He will show the next one. Hang in there, friend. God is with you and for you! Blessings!

  7. Sue says:

    Mary, I really appreciate this devotional. I also struggle being patient in “little things”. They truly are little, petty issues but at the time SEEM so important. God bless you all in your struggles and bless you during this precious Christmas season.

  8. Lisa says:

    I am feeling overwhelmed when I just need to give everything to God.My son and daughter in law are coming to stay with us the week before Christmas.I am so looking forward to being with them but also aware of how much I need to do.My daughter will be coming sometime that week also.We have a special challenge with her as she was married to a woman for two years.Her partner sadly died in April.Our daughter will be coming in January to live with us for several months.It will truly be a balance of grace for her grief and standing by our truth.Thinking about all this sometimes does me in.

"We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well…" 1 Thessalonians 2:8