Knowing we all experience difficulties, I’ve invited three friends over the next three weeks to share their own struggles with trusting God when life hurts. This week, writer, encourager, and co-leader of the global ministry Campus Crusade for Christ, Judy Douglass, shares on “Trusting God When His Gifts Are Challenging.” If you are struggling to see the good in a difficult situation, I pray that Judy’s words will bless you:

I’m a giver. I love to give – encouraging words, desirable gifts, needed money.  I always want my gifts to please, lift, help, awaken.

God is also a giver. He assures us that he gives good gifts. My experience, however, has been that his gifts often have deeper purposes. Sometimes they are challenging, risky, even dangerous. The most challenging gift God has given me is our son.

Twenty-three years ago God sent a 9-year-old boy from a very difficult situation to our family as a foster child. He came with the results of his birth mother’s neglect, alcohol and drug abuse:  learning disabilities, ADD, attachment issues, no ability to reason cause and effect, and an incredible need to be the center of attention. That was just the beginning.

Three years later we adopted him and the challenges increased. By his mid-teens, we were fully into the world of rebellion, destructive choices and their consequences. Our son took us into places we knew nothing about. Calls from the school principal were not to tell of his latest accomplishment, but about his latest escapade and the possibility of expulsion.  We became familiar with the juvenile justice system and traffic court.

Would the late-night calls be from the jail or the hospital? We got both.  Our son and his friends lied to, stole from, took advantage of and abused us and our home. Drugs, alcohol, sex, accidents… The way was deep and dark.

This was a gift?

Oh yes.  Difficult for sure, but surely a gift.

Amazingly, this boy has positively impacted many arenas of my life. The greatest influence was on my relationship with God. I was helpless and therefore driven into his arms. My honesty with, trust in and hope in God all grew in profound ways.

It also led me to start a wonderful online prayer community – – and a June 2 Worldwide Prodigal Prayer Day, which blesses people around the globe.  It is truly my son’s ministry.  And he still gets prayed for.

God gave many other gifts through this challenging one. I know I am totally dependent on God. I learned to pray – really pray! I know that God will never give up on me just as he enabled me to not give up on that boy.

I also have a better understanding of unconditional love and that it doesn’t require love in return. I am able to attest to God’s unfathomable love and grace, even when trusting has been so difficult. I am able to share hope and courage with others.

So this is where I tell you all is well, right?  We’ve weathered the storm and survived. Well, mostly.  My son has become a responsible, hard-working man.  He desires to make right choices. He brings great joy to me and to his wife and daughter.  But he finds it hard to entirely escape the darkness. Things from his past still come back to bite.  Old patterns have given way slowly. I am still on my knees.

I wouldn’t, however, trade this gift for anything.  Sure, life would have been easier, safer without him. But the gifts produced by struggle and pain make my son a valuable gift, a priceless treasure. Plus I really love him.

Judy Douglass is a writer, editor, speaker, encourager.  She partners with her husband, Steve, to lead Campus Crusade for Christ globally. She writes at You can also find her on Facebook ( and follow her on Twitter @Jeedoo417.