Focus on the Pillar, Not the Problems

I’m excited to my friend, fellow Military Spouse, author, and speaker, Kristi Woods, visiting My Messy Desk today.  She shares about how she has overcome a MESS made by a trial in her life. If you haven’t read her Word Nerd Wednesday post on the topic, you definitely should! 

Keeping Focus on the Pillar, Not the Problems

by: Kristi Woods


And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night.

Exodus 13:21 ESV


“I have an interview in Oklahoma,” my husband blurted.

My stomach knotted. Our eyes met – his seemingly searching mine for a temperature reading, mine searching his in utter surprise.


I will never move to Oklahoma!


focus-on-the-pillarnot-the-problemIt was my long-standing, vehement, self-proclaimed cry. The prairies and rolling hills of his home state were beautiful. They weren’t my home, however, and in the past, I determined to never allow them opportunity.

I looked down at the bedroom floor. A sigh escaped. Thoughts screamed through my mind.

The God-girl in me knew of safe harbor – running to the Lord in prayer. A big dollop of selfishness, however, contended for a sprint far, far away.

Just say no, the thoughts coerced. It’s that easy.

The internal banter swung back and forth. The situation proved anything but easy.


“Well, I guess we should pray about it,” I whispered.


We’d been through several relocations, but this time I suspected I already knew God’s answer of “where”.

A few weeks later, we hailed farewell to North Carolina, waving a cautious hello to Oklahoma. The transition seemed smooth.

But then tough times ensued, trials erupted, and I stumbled in a MESS of questions and confusion.


God, did we really hear you?


Two of our three kids didn’t adjust well. Friendships failed to form. Finding a church home proved daunting, let alone a youth group. Emotions swirled. We were a MESS!

The kids mourned North Carolina, glancing back at her offerings often. I mourned right alongside them, sometimes even leading  with a fresh round of tears.


Why aren’t things connecting?

Lord, I don’t like it here! The kids are suffering.

Why couldn’t we just stay in North Carolina?


Grumbles grew. Complaints mounted. Discontentment’s dark cloud lingered precariously close. The trial seemed to be pulling us under.

My jargon echoed that of the Israelites journeying toward the Promised Land, the same Israelites called to simply trust and follow the pillar of fire – God Almighty.

The Lord saved them and had plans in sight. He knew the way. A good land waited. But the Israelites’ forgot his faithful promises and provision, offering trust to grumbling amid the trials.


They took their focus off the pillar and placed it on their problems.


Where is the water? We’re thirsty!

I’m tired of this manna. Can’t we have something different?

Our kids, what about our kids? They’re suffering!

Things were good in Egypt. Why can’t we go back?


It’s easy to grumble, isn’t it? When circumstances look bleak, frustrations rise, or disappoints fall heavy, it’s tempting to hold hands with those wandering Israelites. Mindlessly, we trudge the pathway of discontent alongside them.


But what if we keep our eyes on the pillar of fire – God, not problems?


What if we keep our eyes on the pillar of fire - God, not problems? ~ @Kristi_Woods Click To Tweet


What if we allow his Spirit to lovingly wrap us in revelation versus wallowing in our own discontent?


Allow God's Spirit to lovingly wrap u in revelation vs wallowing in discontent. ~@Kristi_Woods Click To Tweet


What if we slip from complaining lips to proclaiming praise?


Slip from complaining lips to proclaiming praise. ~ @Kristi_Woods Click To Tweet


Could our trials be a footing for faith as we snuggle into spiritual growth, versus sprinting far away from the challenge, grumbles in tow?

Our circumstances might not change, but we will when we trust our Lord. Often, unwelcomed trials like the Israelites faced are simply God opportunities for growth.

Oklahoma became that for me. God unearthed the hidden deceit, the tangled web of complaints and grumbles. He lifted the weight of discontent, leaving a reservoir of peace.


God lifts discontent's weight, leaving a reservoir of peace. ~ @Kristi_Woods Click To Tweet


Grumbles still tempt me from time to time, but instead of placing trust in them, I choose to trust in God. In place of grumbling, words like these now hit the airwaves:


Thank you, Lord, for answering our prayer. You are a faithful God.

Thank you, Lord, for Oklahoma. You lead well.

This land, Oklahoma, is beautiful, Lord. Your creation here is good.

Your provision is beyond compare. Praise you!

I trust you, Lord.


It’s quite a difference. Then again, keeping focus on the pillar and not our problems will stir a difference in any of us.


A Prayer to Share:


You are good and faithful. Your ways are right. I desire to trust you by day and night, to keep my focus on you. Lord, if there is any hidden discontent in my life, please reveal it and forgive me. Lord, I will walk in your ways wherever you lead. I’ll follow You, my Pillar. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.



Kristi Woods is a writer and speaker passionate about seeing women walk deeper with God. She clicks her words of encouragement regularly and is published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Dreams and Premonitions, at Proverbs 31 and Life Letter Cafe as well as on various blogs. Kristi, her retired-from-the-military husband, and their three children survived a nomadic lifestyle and have now set roots in Oklahoma. Connect with Kristi here: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.



Kristi Woods
Encouraging Women to Walk Deeper with God  |

For more encouragement please join the discussions on these fabulous blog link ups – Suzanne EllerThought Provoking Thursday, Susan B. Mead, Faith Filled Friday, Grace and TruthFaith and Fellowship FridayGrace and Truth Friday, Good Morning Monday, Soul SurvivalMonday Musings, Rah Rah Link Up, Tell His StoryWoman to Woman Wednesday, Women With Intention Wednesday, Sitting Among Friends, Word of God Speak, Testimony Tuesday.

20 thoughts on “Focus on the Pillar, Not the Problems

  1. Beautiful Kristi, and so timely for me:) I love seeing two of my wonderful writing friends together in one virtual location! Makes me feel like we’re all together having coffee. Maybe soon? Love you girls!

  2. Isn’t it amazing that the very thing we kick and scream against is gift from our good Father? Thank you for this great reminder! I’ve been there as well, trying so hard not to complain and begging God not to let me wander in a desert of my own making.

  3. A beautiful word, Kristi! It is easier to grumble rather than proclaiming the goodness of God right in the moment. But as we do, we come to find the even greater goodness in His purposes. It is amazing to me that as we praise Him, our situations may not change but we are changed in the process. Grateful to have been your neighbor this morning! Blessings!

  4. Kristi, such wise and right perspective here. What if … we trust Him more. And this, “Our circumstances might not change, but we will when we trust our Lord.” So true! The trials come, that is certain, but what a crucial difference our attitudes make. Thank you for the encouraging to choose God-girl over grumbling-girl. Love you, friend. And thank you Liz for hosting these beautiful words!

  5. Kristi, this is so timely for me as I”m studying in I Cor. 10 where Paul uses the experience of the people of Israel as a warning to the church at Corinth. I love your title – Yes, this is where my eyes belong.

  6. Kristi- I have written a post so similar to this to be published in the future. I’ve done the moving reluctantly, struggling to accept God’s provision in the trials thing before. SO not easy. I love the image- eyes on the pillar! God is present and guiding. I’m glad He replaced your discontent with peace!! Thanks for sharing and encouraging me in my own place of “when’s the pillar going to move??” today!

  7. Somehow I always feel like I’m late to the party, but my baby is cutting her first molar so I digress. Very well written, Kristi. I know I would have been kicking and screaming if God had called my family to Oklahoma. God knows what He’s doing and He will definitely use circumstances and hard times to cause us to grow. It’s in the responding properly – and not complaining like those dusty Israelites – that we see through His lens. Thanks for hosting, Liz. 🙂

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