words of encouragement if you’ve got a hard week ahead

April 24, 2016 | 28 comments

I dialed my friend and told her about the Hard Thing I had to do.

“I don’t know how to do this,” my voice shook when I spoke, and I felt hollowed out. “How do I tell him the news? This is so hard.”

My friend Michelle said she’d go with me, because that’s what Jesus-sisters do when life plummets us into the category of “Hard Things.” Sisters help sisters bear burdens. We drove into the night, the fog like a pale curtain in front of our headlights.

I had just found out that my father-in-law’s cancer had returned, with great fury. The prognosis was not good, and I would need to tell my husband about his dying father.

My husband and Michelle’s husband were serving together at a men’s Christian retreat that weekend, so we drove a half hour to deliver the news in person. When our husbands saw our faces, they knew the news we brought was going to be hard to hear.

I shared the diagnosis, and then all four of us held hands and prayed, tears streaming down our cheeks.

In the middle of the Hard Thing, we met Jesus. We met Him in our prayers, our mingled tears, our joined hands — and in the promise of a Comforter who doesn’t leave us alone in our suffering.


What is your Hard Thing this coming week? What seems impossible for you today? Where do you feel especially weak, in need of a Comforter?

In the Latin, “comfort” reads like this:

com + fortis 

with + strong

That means that our Comforter is strong with us. He is with us, making us strong.

This kind of comfort? It’s a game-changer.

God’s comfort, Amy Carmichael writes, “is not soft, weakening commiseration; it is true, strengthening love.”

Friend, when you are facing Hard Things this week, your Comforter “is strong with you.”

Maybe your Hard Thing is news you’ve yet to deliver, a difficult conversation that’s long overdue, a deadline that seems impossible to reach, or a life-calling that feels scary. Maybe your Hard Thing is the everyday battle of getting out of bed in the morning.

Take the next step. Your Comforter is strong with you.

Take the next step. A great crowd of witnesses is cheering you on.

Take the next step. When you step out with bravery you strengthen others who are struggling to take their next step. You’re showing them that it’s possible to do Hard Things.

Take the next step. Because Jesus will meet you in the middle of your hardest battles.

When the way is long, your Comforter is making you strong for the journey.

Remember that Jesus did the Hardest Thing already. He forfeited heaven and put skin onHe literally had skin in the game. He put skin on, because He wanted to make you strong, in Him.

Jesus knows what it’s like to face Hard Things, to bear the heavy cross. He knows your battle is hard. But, He says, What’s too hard for you, is not too hard for Me.

“I am the Lord God of all humanity. Nothing is too hard for me.” (Jeremiah 32:27)

too hard

What’s your Hard Thing? Where do you need the Comforter to be strong with you? Today, this comment box could be a place where we could share our Hard Things — a way of us taking the next step. And then, we could be the friends who help sisters carry burdens. Take the next step.

by | April 24, 2016 | 28 comments


  1. Ann Kroeker

    What a gift, to have a friend go with you to share the news. Jennifer, I’m so sorry you and your family have to face this hard thing. May God indeed give you comfort–that strength of His presence.

    • dukeslee

      Hi Ann,

      What a joy to see your smiling face in the inbox! Thanks for your kind words. This was actually several years ago, but yes, I was very blessed to have my friend with me. That couple walked close to us throughout a very hard year to follow. One year later, my father-in-law passed away. God was our strength, and He made Himself very present in our lives through the love and care of His people.

      • Ann Kroeker

        Well, how careless of me to misread that. Forgive me. Your own father’s challenges are enough to need comfort, as well. God bless you and comfort you during that, as well…and thank you for sharing the little moments along the way with his health challenges. His thousand-watt smile beams across the screen, exuding God’s light and hope to us all.

        • dukeslee

          No worries at all, Ann! I probably didn’t clarify it enough. It’s ok. … Have a GREAT week, Ann. … My Dad is doing really well, by the way. He’s back home with his new prosthetic leg.

  2. MSD

    God is in the hard things and I have to keep reminding myself He is at work in the midst of difficult circumstances

    • dukeslee

      Praying for you this morning, MSD, that God would be very present in the midst of your struggle.

  3. Cheri

    I’m waiting on a diagnosis that should be in by Tuesday. If the labs come back positive, it will be a frightening diagnosis, but will answer 4 years of questions and unsurities. This post couldn’t have come at a better time!

    • dukeslee

      Dear Lord,

      I lift Cheri up to you this morning as she awaits a diagnosis. We pray that you give her the strength — YOUR strength — to handle whatever news comes her way. We pray that she finally has answers to your questions, but that she can go on to live a happy and full life, in You Lord, and with Your strength. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

  4. Lyn

    I have my performance assessment tomorrow with a boss who is a bully, whose treatment of me has left me crushed in confidence. I need to be assertive and stand up up myself. I am good at neither. Please pray that the words will come from God himself and that I will still be employed by the end. A miracle job opportunity for me would also be welcomed most gratefully. Thank you.

    • dukeslee

      Dear Lord,

      I lift Lyn up to you this morning as she faces her boss. May she find the courage to stand up for herself. May Lyn’s words be YOUR words, Lord. May she keep her job, if this is your will, or if you have something better for her in a better environment, Lord, we ask you: please make a way! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

  5. Laura Risser Moss

    Prayers being sent for you and your husband and his dad. Such Hard Things you’re each facing just now. My hard thing this week is surgery on Tuesday to remove the breast implants that were placed two years ago as reconstruction after losing both my breasts to aggressive cancer. Saying *good bye* to The Originals after my diagnosis in 2010 was a Hard Thing…and now, preparing to say *good bye* to the ones I’d hoped would return some normalcy to my body (and life) is proving to be another Hard Thing. Thank you for this space to share – I haven’t felt comfortable sharing with many people IRL.

    • dukeslee


      I’m praying for you this morning! I am so very glad you shared with us, Laura. It’s a privilege to pray for you. xoxo

      As for my Hard Thing, described above, the example used was several years ago. That couple walked with us through a very difficult year, and afterward as well. My father-in-law ended up passing away. But God gave us His strength through many good friends and family members. We were so blessed.

  6. Heather

    I will be waiting for the results of a medical test that was done on Friday.

    • dukeslee

      Heather, Praying with you, for good results on your test!

  7. Caroline

    My hard thing is getting a phone call late last night from a dear friend to tell me that my husband, who left over a year ago, has put up pictures on FB of him and a new girl…
    I know we have been separated over a year but the prayer of my heart is that my marriage will restored and only God can mend the broken places …
    Give me strength Lord and Grace , help me not to give up but to continue believing in the plan you have mapped out in heaven for our marriage and our family ..

    The Lord will fight for you and ye shall hold your peace
    Exodus 14:14

    I would appreciate all your prayers this morning sisters xx

    • dukeslee

      Oh Caroline …

      Reading your words today takes my breath away. I am praying for you, and just wish I could reach through the screen to give you an enormous hug. Praying that some In-real-life friends show up at your doorstep today!

      Dear Lord, This is so hard to understand. We ask that you would draw very near to Caroline, and that you would give her strength and grace during a time of unimaginable pain. Restore what has been broken! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

      • Caroline

        Thank you Jennifer for your prayers and words of encouragement ..
        God did send friends from unexpected places to lift me today ..
        Our God is so good 💛

        Your blog is truly a gift from above

        Blessings to you x

  8. blanca ward

    My hard thing is that I am in a medical limbo at age 39. I have acquired a clotting disorder. I have had a heart bypass 4.5 years ago and I have recently had another heart attack all from arterial clots. I am so heavily burdened by this anomaly of a state I am in. The doctors are at a loss. I pray for answers, hope, and strength daily!

    • dukeslee

      Oh Blanca! I am praying for you this morning … praying for answers, for hope, and for daily strength for you, dear one.

  9. karen

    with + strong…..have never seen/heard that before and it is powerful. Sharing this with my husband and claiming this for myself too as he walks through a season of unemployment! (also taking a minute to lift up the hard things already listed in the comments!) THANKS for sharing this!

    • dukeslee

      So glad these words encouraged you, Karen.

  10. Paige Estes

    I love the thought of “with strong.” This week is my first big event with my new job that I became responsible for after being here for 6 weeks, since the coordinator quit. I have a possible call for jury duty tomorrow as well. The event is out of town so I will be away from my husband and two little boys. Its a lot for this mama. Praying I can get all this done and done well. Jesus, be my strong.

    • dukeslee


      I am joining you in praying! I pray the event goes well. Praying for your family too!

  11. Ann Marie

    My hard spot is I’m desperately trying to find God, but I’m afraid and I’m angry with Him. I have been told numerous times He meets us where we are but I need a Fathers love and don’t want to disappoint Him. How do I talk to Him.

    • Ally | The Speckled Goat

      Hi, Ann Marie.

      I just wanted to let you know that I’m praying for you, today. Seeking God can be just so hard sometimes- but remember, He seeks us first. It’s okay to be mad with Him, to be afraid. Tell Him. Just tell Him. He’s with you, and He wants to hear your heart.

  12. Trudy Den Hoed

    I’m so sorry about your dad-in-law, Jennifer. I pray the Comforter will give all of you strength and peace. And thank you for the reminder that nothing is too hard for God. I needed it. Blessings and hugs to you!

  13. Brenda

    “Put skin on…” Love that word picture, Jennifer. Thanks for sharing these words of comfort and hope. I’ve prayed for each sister in the comments. ((grace upon grace)) xoxo

  14. Twylla Sutton

    Thank you for these words of encouragement! I just had hip surgery & am having trouble sleeping on my back. Plus over the last few months prior to hip surgery I was depending a lot on prescription drugs to sleep. These don’t seem to be working any more and I don’t want to increase the dosage. I am wondering if God wants me to accept this and trust Him with my sleeping? Or not sleeping and He will give me strength? I’ve had two nights of not sleeping much & I dread another one. I am trying to use the time to pray, but it hasn’t been easy. Please pray for wisdom & strength in trusting God with this issue.


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