Author: Jo Anderson

Finding Hope in the Midst of Real Life

I was lying in bed as another wave of anxiety washed over me. The lies were numerous and covered pretty much every area of my life. My marriage. Homeschooling. Finances. Health. You name it and it all seemed a complete mess. Where do we turn for hope, comfort, and peace when waves of life crash over us?

The dark, lonely hours when I should be sleeping seem to be the time hopelessness likes to visit. Sometimes I’m quick to take the thoughts and lies captive into the obedience of Christ. (2 Cor. 10:5) Other times, unfortunately, I let them linger and allow the negativity, fear, and struggles begin to overwhelm me before I finally remind myself that my hope is in God and his unfailing love.

hope real life

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. (1 Peter 1:3-4) NIV

When we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we are born again into a living hope. Our hope is grown and strengthened as God leads us through the hardships and trials of life. (Romans 5:3-5) I know what God has delivered me from and I know He will be with me as I face the next trial in my life. We aren’t promised an easy life through salvation in Jesus, but we are promised that God will never leave us or forsake us.

What great hope! The God of all creation is with us as we face every trial and suffering in this life.

The Word of God is also an incredible source of hope for those who love the Lord. Memorizing scripture has been life changing for me.

Such things were written in the Scriptures long ago to teach us. And the Scriptures give us hope and encouragement as we wait patiently for God’s promises to be fulfilled. Romans 15:4

what great hope

Singing praise and worship also allows space for hope to take root in my soul. I also find that reading the stories of other believers who have faced similar trials to mine gives me hope. If God can deliver someone else through similar circumstances, I know He can do the same for me.

Life may never look the way that I wanted, but I still have great hope that can only come from the Father above. Confidence that He will see me through no matter the outcome. And I know that He will do the same for you no matter what you are facing.

My prayer for you today, friend, comes from Romans 15:13:

 I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Three Steps to Forgiving Yourself

“I will never be able to forgive myself for this.”

“After everything I’ve done, I don’t deserve to be happy.”

“I’m such a mess. I’ll never get parenting right.”

forgiveness

If you have ever found yourself thinking something similar to these things, there’s a good chance you were/are walking in unforgiveness of yourself. It can take many forms, but unforgiveness of self always leads to the same destination – nowhere.

The burden of our sins and failures, both real and imagined, can be heavy. The guilt of our mistakes weighing us down. When we choose to dwell on or relive our past transgressions, we become stuck and victims of our own hate and condemnation.

The enemy of our souls wants us to believe that we are still guilty. He knows that guilt chokes off new life and leads to self-destruction. (Proverbs 16:18) When we focus our energy and thoughts on regret and the past, it keeps us from the life in which God has called us. It denies the power of Jesus’ death and resurrection for us and God’s goodness. (Ephesians 1:7)

We cannot erase what we have already done, but we can free ourselves from guilt and leave the past behind. Forgiving yourself may not always seem easy, but the steps to get there are not complicated.

Repent

“But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.” (1 John 1:9)

We must recognize that unforgiveness of self is a sin and repent. When we confess and repent of our sins, God promises to remove them from us. (Psalm 103:11-12) God doesn’t halfway forgive us when we repent and turn from our sin. He forgives us completely and moves on. (Hebrews 8:12) He desires for us to do the same.

Accept

In addition to repenting, we must accept our imperfections and that we are broken but forgiven people. When we accept who we are and leave our past behind, we can find our true identity in Christ. Praise God, we are no longer the person who we used to be.

“This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Your past does not define you. The God of heaven and earth calls you His beloved. You have been forgiven and are no longer the person from your past. Be free!

Move Forward

Forgiving yourself does not mean you have forgotten or are excusing your past behavior, but God wants us to move on from our past. He wants us to keep moving forward as overcomers. (Philippians 3:13-14) When you do make a mistake, don’t beat yourself up. Learn from it so you don’t keep repeating it and move on.

forgiveness

Memorizing scripture has been one of the most useful tools in keeping me moving forward from my past. When the lies of guilt, shame, and condemnation try to sneak their way into your thoughts, you’ll be prepared with the living word of God.

I also find praise and worship to be very effective when thoughts of my past or current mistakes begin to plague me. I know that I may not be where I desire to be, but thankfully, I am no longer where I used to be. That is something to praise God about!

Father God, I thank you that your mercies are new every morning. I thank you that I can know forgiveness because Jesus has already paid the price for my sins. I repent for holding onto my past and not forgiving myself. I repent of letting my mistakes and failures control and hurt me. Forgive and heal me, Lord, as I choose to forgive myself. Thank you for the courage and strength to move forward in the freedom I can only find in You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

When It Feels Like The World Is Against You

I sat in my car with tears streaming down my face and hands gripping the steering wheel. My thoughts were filled with pleading and accusations against the Lord. Where are you, Lord? Everything is falling apart and I don’t see you anywhere in this mess. Why aren’t you with me?

prayer

Thankfully, God is unendingly patient with me. Once I had gotten over my mini-meltdown, He met me right there in my car with four simple words that changed me. Four words that I still hang onto when trouble comes.

I am for you.

When He said those words, Bible verses I had read for years came flooding back.

Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you. (Deuteronomy 31:8)

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11)

Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us. (Romans 8:34)

Yes, God is for me. And He’s also for you. Jesus himself is advocating for you right now in heaven. God sent the Holy Spirit to be with us and help us. (John 14:16)

prayer

Take heart, friend. When the whole world feels against you, God is still for you. He has not abandoned you. Even if your troubles and sorrow are a result of your own sin, Jesus is still your advocate. (1 John 2:1) There’s no other champion I’d rather have!

So, when I find myself weary by the troubles of this life, I quickly remind myself that the God of all creation is on my side. My job is not to worry, but to rest in Him.

 The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm. Exodus 14:14

Unwrapping the Gift of Peace

In the early years of being a mother, I would often wake in the middle night full of anxious thoughts. Sometimes those thoughts were about real challenges I was facing, but many times my mind would be overtaken with a variety of imaginative what-ifs.

peace

What if my child’s cough is something more serious?

What if he gets lost?

What if my child never potty trains?

What if he gets attacked by a lion that escaped from the zoo?

The weight of being responsible for another person’s life can lead to some interesting thoughts at 2 am in the morning.

I found myself turning to books, friends, and the internet for answers to my worries. I would makes lists and plans. Yet even when I did find the answers, I was typically still left with doubt and the occasional nagging worry. What if I totally messed up my child? What if I was missing something?

The truth is that I was missing something.

Peace.

I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid. John 14:27

Nothing in this world can compare to the peace that God gives us. It’s beyond our understanding. (Philippians 4:7)

I had heard about God’s peace most of my life. I had even sung songs in church and summer camp about it. But I didn’t know what to do with that gift. It’s like I received a present in pretty wrapping, admired it, and put it on a shelf without looking inside the box.

Peace is a gift from God that He wants us to enjoy daily. What I learned is that this gift does not come with batteries included. It requires action on our part.

peace

If we want peace in our lives, we should:

Trust God: You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Isaiah 26:3

Pursue it: Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. Psalm 34:14

Love God’s law: Great peace have those who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble. Psalm 119:165

I found that the more time I spent in prayer and in God’s word, the more peace I found. When doubts and worry woke me, they didn’t keep me up for long because I knew where my trust and hope belonged.

Lord, nothing in this world can compare to you. Thank you for Your peace. May it fill our hearts and our homes that we can go out and bring Your love the world.

The Yoke of Humility

“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:29-30 NIV

yoke of humility

Ever since I was a young Christian, I have loved the idea of taking on the Lord’s yoke. In my head, I could always picture myself trading in one heavy load of baggage for the promised lighter load from Jesus.

A yoke is a piece of wood used to unite two animals allowing them to pull equipment and work in fields. The two animals, usually oxen, must be similar in size and height. When a farmer had a new animal, it was paired with an older animal to be trained. When the new animal tried to veer off the path, the yoke would keep that animal centered. What an amazing picture this creates when we think of a relationship with the Lord.

God is offering us a personal invitation to be united with Him and to learn from Him how to walk in humility. Jesus lowered himself by coming to this earth and dying for our sins. And He’s calling us to tie ourselves to Him and take the path of humility with Him by our sides.

humility

Not only does He promise to teach us how to be gentle and humble, but He promises that on the path of humility we will find rest for our souls. And it doesn’t stop there. God promises that the humble person will be:

  • Crowned with victory: For the Lord takes delight in his people; he crowns the humble with victory. Psalm 149:4
  • Given wisdom: When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom. Proverbs 11:2
  • Lifted up: Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. James 4:10
  • and gain honor: Pride brings a person low but the lowly in spirit gain honor. Proverbs 29:23

Lord, help me to remain yoked to you. I ask you to reveal any area in my heart that is not tied to you. Help me to remain on the path of humility and to put others above myself.