Even When It’s Hard

Even When It’s Hard

Following Jesus means no turning back—even when things are hard. In this story, Ponce shares how God gave him the strength to continue walking with Him as his wife, Rochelle, battles with her disease.

In 2013, my wifeRochelleand I went back to the Philippines. We used to work abroad in the Middle East, but due to sudden changes in government policies, our company had to close down. We came back to our country with nothing.

Exactly a year ago, Rochelle was diagnosed with colon cancer. We didn’t know what to do. We just lost our jobs so we had no financial means to support her operation and medical treatments. We felt so helpless; we just prayed and cried out everything to God.

While we were clueless on what to do, an aunt based in the United States sent us the money we needed for Rochelle’s operation. I knew it was God answering our prayer. My wife immediately underwent surgery, but the operation wasn’t successful. The doctor told us to go back after three to six months for another surgery, but until now, she hasn’t gone back yet due to financial challenges in our family.

Rochelle and I are both Christians. Her father was a pastor (who died of cancer) and we both grew up in Christian homes. Despite that, it’s still so hard to continue trusting God every time I see my wife in pain. I would ask God so many times why it had to happen to us. Our daughter, who is just six years old, would often do the same as well. She would bombard me with questions about Rochelle, and I would be at a loss for words. It’s not easy to be a devoted father to my daughter and a strong husband to my wife. Sometimes, I just want to give up. But God always draws me back to Him and makes me realize that He is sovereign through it all.

I can always put my faith in Him—even when problems are trying to break me apart.

Last month, right after the prayer and fasting week, God made sure that I would continue walking with Him despite our situation. He surrounded me with people who would always pray for and with me. He also gave me a Victory group that encouraged me to serve again in church as part of the technical and stage management ministry. I never thought I would be able to continue volunteering in church, but God took away my doubts and gave me strength.

No matter how hard things are right now in our family, our situation is not an excuse for me to give up or lose faith in God. There is always hope in Him. I know that He will always give me the strength and wisdom I need to handle what will happen—whether good or bad. He will always keep my heart strong.

Right now, my wife is still bravely battling with colon cancer. As she continues her fight with the disease, I am also fighting with her through prayer. Our God is a great God, and we believe that He has a plan and a purpose for whatever trial we are facing right now. We just need to continue walking with Him in steadfast faith.

“I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)

When things get hard, let us not forget that we are not alone. God is walking with us through every difficult situation. Let us always go back to the cross and press on.

When Bad Things Happen

When Bad Things Happen

When bad things happen, will you continue to anchor your faith in God and be grateful? Gigi shares how she chose to thank the Lord and fill her heart with gratitude despite the hardships that tested her faith.

My journey of knowing Christ was long and tough. I had the opportunity to hear the gospel early on, but it took me decades to really take everything to heart. All the while, God had been longing to break the walls in my heart and take the wheel off my hands.

When my mother came to know Christ in 1983, she immediately preached the gospel to our family and hosted Bible study meetings in our home every week. After four years, I accepted Christ in my life as my Savior, but I did not really allow Him to be my Lord; I did not fully let go of the things that are not pleasing to Him.

In 2003, I accidentally learned that there are worship services being held at Victory Ortigas. After more than a year of attending, I joined a Victory group, and another year later, I finally had my Victory Weekend. It felt like finally coming home after wandering away for so long.

However, while I was growing in my faith in 2006 and my family was trying to recover from a major financial crisis, my husband suffered a major stroke. He had to undergo three brain surgeries and stay in the hospital for almost two months. It rendered us all financially crippled. It tried to weaken my faith.

With 4 children in school and debts multiplying, another “big rock” hit our family just nine months after my husband had a stroke—we lost our third child to cancer. He was only 19 years old, and we were all clueless that he was sick. All we knew then was that he had a long-standing cough, which the doctors thought was caused by asthma. Things happened really quickly; we were caught off guard by a really bad surprise. My husband survived, but my son passed away. It did not make sense to us.

In 2009, Ondoy came, and it destroyed everything we had. One bad thing happened after another; it was beyond painful and difficult. As if everything that happened was not enough, my salary was cut in half in 2012, and it was my youngest son who really felt its impact. Due to an unpaid balance in his tuition, we were unable to get his transcript of records. It took us three years to pay for everything, so my son was out of school for three years. And finally, in 2013, my husband passed away. It was one of the hardest things to accept.

Despite all the things that had happened, God never made me feel alone. He gave me the strength I needed to endure all the pain that went with my husband’s and son’s deaths and with all the other trials that came along. I held on to His Word in Psalm 23 and allowed it to reassure me every time I would feel weak and weary. I would still cheerfully serve Him as an usher in church and allow His strength to carry me through every single day. In the midst of everything, He revealed to me that there is always something to be thankful for.

My son, who was out of school for three years, passed a Philippine Educational Placement Test (PEPT) and managed to enroll back to school. He graduated from senior high school with honors and is now a dean’s lister in his college. Though we are still in the process of getting out of debt, God recently blessed me with a company car and a new home for my family. I knew it was Him working and making things possible. It was Him reminding me that there are little victories along the way—and more. He turned our mourning into dancing and our weeping into joy. His strength, indeed, is always more than enough. I can always smile in the midst of trials because of Christ.

“Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10)

When trials come and really bad things happen to us, we can always anchor our faith in God and allow His strength to carry us through. Despite what may come our way, there is always a reason for us to remain grateful because Christ is with us.

Faith that Endures

Faith that Endures

When trials mount, will you still trust God? Read how Tina continued to hold on to God despite the trials that came her way.

After I got annulled from my first marriage, I told myself that I would never marry again. But in 2008, God surprised me by introducing me to the man who would become my second husband, Ramon.

I was actively volunteering in church when I met Ramon. At that time, I was so sold out to the idea that I would grow old without a partner. But God had other plans. During one of our worship services in Victory Cabanatuan—right after praise and worship—Ramon asked me to marry him.

I was already 45 years old at that time and I have four kids. That’s why marrying again was something I never planned. But I prayed about it and eventually considered the idea of being a wife again to someone. Not long after, I remarried and have never felt that happy.

I thought all the painful times were over because of my new beginning with my husband. But seven years later—on April 11, 2015—an unexpected news broke my heart. Ramon was diagnosed with liver cancer; the doctors told us that he only had three months left to live.

I was a practicing doctor before so when I saw the biopsy result, I knew right then and there that what the doctors told us was right. But I still prayed hard to God and begged Him to give my husband more time to be with us.

That day, I got a call from an old classmate who is a doctor. He offered to handle Ramon’s case and do an operation as soon as possible. Ramon went under the knife and the operation went smoothly. Despite the ordeal he went through, my husband did not look like he was stricken with an illness; it seemed as if nothing had happened.

However, as months passed by, his cancer relapsed. Though his sickness was slowly trying to overcome his body, he continued to serve the Lord and even volunteered to be an usher in Victory Cabanatuan. Every now and then, he would tell me that it’s okay even if he ends up dying soon—because eventually, we will all get there someday. He would comfort me and prepare my heart for his passing every single day.

While my husband was slowly succumbing to his sickness, my father and my brother were also going through a tough ordeal at that time. (My father’s foot had to be amputated because of diabetes, while my brother had an angioplasty.) It was difficult, but it was during this time that God revealed Himself to me in a deeper way. On January 28, 2017, my father died, and exactly 40 days later—March 9, 2017—my husband passed away.

When my father and my husband died, God gave me comfort through our spiritual family. He surrounded me with people who encouraged me to press on despite all the trials that were trying to break me inside. I surrendered everything to Him and allowed His love to fill all the empty spaces in my heart. Instead of sulking, I learned not to be afraid of death because I know God will be right there in front of me the minute I die. Ramon’s death made me look forward to eternity in God. And it made me grateful, because instead of three months, He gave me almost two years to show how much I love my husband. Not everyone gets that chance.

Now, I’m 55 years old and every day, I try to make the best out of whatever time I have left to serve God and share His love to others. Everything on this earth will come to pass—our relationships, our pains, our loved ones—but God’s love will not.

“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” (Matthew 24:35)

We can have great faith even when trials are mounting on every side because we have a God who’s way bigger than all the problems we will ever face. His Word will always remain true, no matter what situation we find ourselves in. His love will always be there to comfort us. His love will always stay.