OctoberHope

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.

When Your Hope is Weak, But God

Why do we put our hope in the Lord? I propose it has to do with two important words. The phrase ‘but God’ occurs in Scripture 41 times in the NASB. It is a power-packed  representing of a pivotal point, God’s interjecting Himself into time, though He exists outside of time. Those words are a reminder that our hope is in the One who orders and ordains not only our steps but all of creation.

hope but god

In the life of Noah, “but God”. In the life of Sarah, Abimelech, Abraham, Moses, and Joseph, “but God” made all the difference.

Judges 15.19 “But God split the hollow….”

I Samuel 23.14 “…but God did not deliver him into his hand.”

Psalm 49.15 “But God will redeem my soul….”

Psalm 73.26 “But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”

Acts 2.24 “But God raised Him up again….”

Romans 5.8 “But God demonstrates His own love towards us that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

I Corinthians 1.27 “…but God has chosen the foolish things of this world….”

I Corinthians 7.15 “…but God has called us to peace.”

Philippians 2.27 “…but God had mercy on him…”

The power of God, His radical, personal, challenging, confronting presence in the lives of men and women, in our lives.  He is not a passive God, but an active, living God, a God who pursues us, stirs our hearts and demands our attention. What a beautiful thing it is to place our hope in the only One who comes after us as the gentle Shepherd looks for his lost lamb.

Often we forget the ‘but God’ moments in our own lives, the times when but by His own hand He sustained, provided, protected, enabled, encouraged, clarified and otherwise made our path straight. Sadly we chalk our circumstances up to ‘living right’, ‘luck’, ‘being at the right place at the right time’, or some other less worthy explanation. Let’s make sure we’re putting our hope and faith in the right place, friends.

Does your hope need a booster today? Take a moment to reflect on the times when God Himself has intervened. Interrupted. Inspired. Interjected. Pray and ask God to show you how He has guided your path, how He has made the rough places smooth, how He has made a way in the wilderness.

hope

Here is a starting point as you begin to contemplate His guiding hand:

I thought I needed

But God,

I thought I wanted

But God,

I thought it was time for

But God,

I thought I was ready for

But God,

I thought  my kids

But God,

Father,

You are holy. All Your ways are perfect: Your timing, Your will, Your plan, Your purposes. You alone sit on the throne, “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!” You are the Creator God, the Sovereign of the universe, He who spoke light into existence, Who placed the stars and limited the oceans. At Your word the whale lept from the sea, the eagle took flight and the lion roared.

Forgive me Lord when my hope in you is weak and I race ahead of You, when I doubt You, when I wrestle You. Forgive me Lord when I want my way more than Yours, when I don’t consider Your plan, when I leave You out. Forgive me Lord when my anger flares, when my pride blinds me and my selfishness becomes my shade. Forgive my weak hope, my unbelief, my lack of trust, my ‘little faith’ Lord!

I want to live like You’re on the throne. I want to walk in the light of Your presence. I want to trust You no matter what — no matter how dark, no matter how stormy, no matter how impossible. In all of these, You are God, The one and only true God, my God. I choose to live in submission to Your timing, Your will and Your plan. I choose to worship You when life and circumstances don’t make sense.

Father, I pray that You will glorify Yourself in my life, through me. I pray that others will see evidence of Your love in me. I pray that You will increase and I will decrease, that Your name will be high and lifted up, not because of anything I do, but because of all You do. I pray that my boasting will be in my weakness because You are my strength.

Amen

Hope: Favorable and Confident Expectation

What comes to mind when you think of hope? Allow me to take you on a tour of what hope has looked like in my life for the last 45 days.

hope

September 6th: While visiting family in Puerto Rico, I hoped and prayed that Hurricane Irma would go two degrees North and not wreak havoc. I also prayed that I would be able to conduct my online classes with minimal, if any, interruptions. Prayers answered. Damage was minimal, classes ran smoothly.

September 8th: I prayed for my aging grandmother’s home to get its electricity back. As my girls and I are in the driveway headed out, the electricity turns on. Prayer answered, and in just two days more my sister’s home would regain power.

September 19th: A quick call to my sister told me what I didn’t want to hear, this next hurricane, just two weeks later, was a force to be reckoned with. I approach the Throne and ask God for His protection over those I love and the people of PR.

September 20th: 7:30 AM, a half an hour before Hurricane Maria was to make landfall, I am speaking with my sister and could hear that Maria had already made landfall. My sister was headed to the inside room of the house along with my grandmother and elderly Aunt & Uncle. Shortly after that conversation, phone lines went dead. Prayers filled with hope and confidence that He would protect them

Later that afternoon, I spoke to my sister to learn that according to the emergency broadcast channels, no one was to come out until the next day. In the interim, I could see the news and my heart was crushed seeing the devastation that Hurricane Maria had just done to my country. Limited communication to follow, many decisions to be made, more prayers filled with hope.

October 1st: After ten days of discussions and surveying the landscape, it was decided that my grandmother would come to stay with me until electricity returned to her area. Homes, streets, and entire neighborhoods were destroyed. People were devastated. At the airport, there was what appeared to be a mass exodus. People either packed whatever belongings they had left or the very minimal for the journey ahead and while many people, like me received their relatives with glee, these very people arrived with deep sadness and very little hope.

The mass exodus, if you will, made me think of the Israelites and their multiple journeys, whether it be when they went in circles following Moses heading to the promised land, or when they were taken into exile to Babylon. It also reminds me our daily walk as Christians, God tells us in this world we will have trouble, this earth is not our home. Some journeys are harder to take than others, the days are long, and our flesh is weak, so how do we remain steadfast? What is the one essential item needed for our journey? HOPE.

We are reminded repeatedly in Scripture about HOPE

This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, where the forerunner [Jesus] has entered for us… (Hebrews 6:19)

if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister. (Colossians 1:23)

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;

As Christians we are to be rooted and grounded in HOPE. It is that very HOPE which lives within us that allows us to be sad but not be in despair. It allows us to have setbacks while looking ahead to what the Lord will do. It allows those of us who are in Christ to say, “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”

HOPE is an anchor for our weary souls this side of heaven.

hope

October 23rd: On Oct 1st my niece had accompanied my grandmother on her exodus to the mainland, she remained here for a week and brought some laughter into the dampened mood. A week later my nephew arrived. He’d recently relocated to FL for a job opportunity and was able to make the trip to visit. In addition, I have another nephew that lives nearby who has been able to visit her as well. As part of her exodus, my grandmother has enjoyed the presence of four of her grandchildren and her two great-granddaughters. What a blessing she has been to all of us and what a gift it has been to serve her during this time.

Every morning, for as long as I can remember, Grandma has risen early to says her prayers. She is faithful in her conversations with her Savior. Despite the situation that she is in she has hope. If she’s taught me one thing is that no matter what situation is before her, prayer is and will always be a priority. What a beautiful example of a praying parent!

Grandma is resting, the leaves are changing, and we’re settling into a new normal, albeit temporary. We do so with a peace that passes all understanding because of the HOPE that lives within us. Amen!

Hope in the Tragedy

With all the recent tragedy we’ve seen around the globe, my heart breaks. If you still have blood pumping through yours, I’m willing to bet you’re deeply affected, too. We watch the news and check social media to unimaginable visions of earthquakes, unspeakable terror attacks, mass shooting rampages in the midst of celebration, wildfires of epic proportions, catastrophic floods, hurricanes and civil unrest amongst divided nations, including ours. By the grace of God, my family narrowly escaped major storm damage at our home in South Florida from Hurricane Irma, labeled by many as apocalyptic. Yet, we have countless friends, neighbors and fellow Christians impacted. Friends across the States and around the globe are living through unbelievable horrors. We pray for them, send supplies and relief, and reach out in love. And I wonder, daily, is it enough? One can hope.

hope in tragedy

More than my heart breaking for the tragedies themselves, I find myself somber at the thought of fellow men and women around the globe living without the hope I know in Jesus Christ. I was once there, but I’ve found His promises and love. Since you’re here reading this, I’m guessing you have that extraordinary and supernatural hope, too. Even through my sorrow, my motivation to love and share from a heart of generosity increases. You know, I think that’s His plan, right?

What are we to do as women of God when in the midst of tragedy, seemingly present in every corner of the globe, we feel hopeless? C.S. Lewis says this in his classic Letters of C.S. Lewis, “Of Course God does not consider you hopeless. If He did, He would not be moving you to seek Him (and He obviously is)… Continue seeking Him with seriousness. Unless He wanted you, you would not be wanting Him.”

The answer is clear: seek God. Seek Him in every moment. Seek Him in the morning, seek Him in the evening. Seek Him in the natural and in the supernatural. Seek Him in your worship. Seek Him in the billowing clouds, the crashing waves, the glorious sunsets and His promises through a world of color in rainbows. Seek Him through the stories of good happening in the midst of the tragedies all over the world. Seek Him through examples of the tangible love of Jesus being shared through hard-working hands and feet of first responders and volunteers. And, of course, seek Him and take Him at His word. It’s full of His promises of hope. Billy Graham’s ministry encourages us with this, “Meditate on what God says in these promises from Scripture and find lasting hope amid a world that can feel hopeless.”

In a world inundated with media, sometimes it’s a great idea to mute the noise and just sit with God for a season. Take a literal RESET and use the tragedy all around to propel yourself and those in your life closer to the Lord. And, by all means, pray. Pray that His words of life will spring forth from your lips, and your social media accounts, through the Holy Spirit as you encounter those all around, who are desperately seeking a glimpse of hope. Hit like and share on those things, my friend.

hope

May God’s supernatural peace, joy and hope fill you to overflowing as you transfer the tangible hope of Christ through your actions; hands and feet. Pray to see what is your role in your community? Let’s rise up and be His beautiful, glowing bride, loving a longing world. May you feel His presence, singing over you, and may it inspire you to bring life and hope to a disheartened, hopeless world. He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. –Psalm 147:3

 “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
—Jeremiah 29:11

“He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you.”
—1 Peter 1:3-4

“Our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.”
—Philippians 3:20

“The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.”
—Zephaniah 3:17

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”
—Romans 15:13

“But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”
—Isaiah 40:31

“And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in you.”
—Psalm 39:7

“Waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ…”
—Titus 2:13

“Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.”
—Romans 12:12

“For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen.”
—2 Corinthians 4:17-18

“The sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”
—Romans 8:18

“Behold, I am coming soon.”
—Revelation 22:12

“For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”
—Romans 15:4

“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
—Revelation 21:4

“But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”
—Lamentations 3:21-23

 

 

When No One Claps For You

Every day we notice all the little things our people do. We encourage our spouses. We cheer for our little people. Every day we hope that what we do has deep and lasting meaning to those we love. 

We notice.

We clap.

We cheer. 

hope

Yet as moms, what about us? Do we still need a word of encouragement? Do we need someone to clap for us? 

Being a mom is hard work! It’s tempting to lose hope that what we do is of any significance. 

We make it on time to appointments. We carry in all four library bags. We pay the late fees. We call the insurance company. We pay the bills. We pack the lunches. We make supper, well, if cereal is considered supper; we made it. We pick up the milk. We pick up the coats off the floor, again.

And as we tuck the kids into bed with kisses and go out to the finally quiet kitchen, does anyone notice? 

Maybe our children said a thank you throughout the day…maybe not. 

Maybe our husbands notice the house was picked up…maybe he had a rough day and didn’t notice. Maybe a parent stopped in and gave us a compliment…maybe we don’t have parents close. 

There just might be a chance that no one noticed and no one clapped for us moms today. Let’s face it…it just might happen. 

I’m just going to say it out loud… I NEED someone to notice me. 

I need someone to cheer me on! Yet many times, clapping just doesn’t come. 

Searching for clapping 

When I need encouragement, I find myself with one of these two reactions… 

  • I go to others and search for their attention. 
  • I go to God for His Truth. 

When I go to others, I generally go looking for something to do. Something to do, so that when I am done, people will notice and clap. 

I sign up to be on that one extra committee. People pass out compliments to people on committees. 

I look for reactions from social media, I post something on Facebook to get attention. Perhaps I’ll be sure to use only the most awesome pictures on Instagram.

I may even use a combination of social media and things I do…hello, Pinterest. Anyone can find the cutest idea on Pinterest and use it at the big event. This would considered a two-for-one clap. 😉 

Now, don’t get me wrong, Facebook is a great way to keep up with friends. Instagram is an awesome way to see what is up in someone else’s life. And Pinterest is, well…inspiring to say the least. It can help us create memories and happy smiles. Neither is wrong. That is NOT my point here. 

My point is: I can not go to these places to get love, affirmation, or ‘clapping’. 

 

Why? Why not?  

Let me tell you why. This attention and this clapping… it lasts for just one minute. 

Then, I have to hop on the next committee and get some more “atta girls”. I have to find the next awesome thing to post or the next gorgeous centerpiece to find and create from Pinterest. 

It only lasts a minute. Maybe a day. Maybe a week if I’m lucky. Yet, it never fills me up for long. Believe me, I know! I may have tried it a time or two! 

Let’s be honest though. Sometimes this crazy hopping from one thing to the next is really at my family’s great expense. 

Take hope!

Friends, I’ve found another option: God! 

God doesn’t need us to be on any committees. God doesn’t care how many pixels our Instagram picture is. He doesn’t care how many likes we get on Facebook. God sees our heart! He can give us the confidence we need to go on.

Wait, there’s more! God, He is truthful. We may forget, but sometimes those voices out there don’t always tell us the truth. God is truthful. He may tell us we need to change something or that we need to get rid of some sin in our life. He may be giving us a “Standing Ovation”. He tells us the truth. We can take His kind words to heart. 

He sees all the little things we do in love. Those little things we do for our children. Those things no one else seems to notice. He sees when we set aside the book are reading to be with our husband. He sees when we do the laundry even when we would rather just rest. He sees us clear off the kitchen counter for the fourth time today. 

hope

The God who sees it all is always available. We can run to Him for a word of affirmation. He is our Hope. Our significance is found in Him. He is always ready to give us a pat on the back. He notices and cares about us. Even if no one else is clapping. 

What do you do when no one claps for you? What do you do when no one notices all you have done? Where do you go to find someone to clap for you? Run to the Father, friends, and know that you’re loved. 

Hope: Expecting God’s Future Grace

Do your kids ever ask the same questions over and over? One day, I remember my children continually asking me if we were going to the park in the afternoon. I had already told them during breakfast that we were going. But they kept asking me.

“Are we going to the park today?”

expecting hope

We had a regular park day every Friday morning as part of our weekly routine. It wasn’t a new activity, but this day they kept asking me as if I would forget about it.

Then I realized what was going on. We had just come off of a few weeks of sickness. You know, that really ‘fun’ stomach bug that gets passed from one child to another. And, no, they don’t get it at the same time…they take turns with the throwing up and the diarrhea…just to prolong the excitement!

Well, because of that and some other things, we had missed park day for a few weeks. I realized that this was a big deal. They felt that they had to keep asking me because we had been inconsistent in our schedule.

Moms are like that. Not because we don’t plan and not because we are fickle. But our crazy life as parents sometimes causes our plans to change. That means we occasionally promise one thing and then have to do another. The promises given to our children are given by a flimsy promise giver (even if that flimsiness is unintentional).

I began to think about that, regarding hope. You see, we are all hopeful creatures and need to place our hope in something, whether it is our bank accounts, our husband, or our abilities. However, if the object of our hope is insecure or unstable, then our lives will be characterized by insecurity and instability. All of those things (yes, even your husband) are not completely sure. We are all fallen beings who struggle with sin. Thankfully, though, God is not flimsy like us. He remembers his promises to us and keeps them. And that is our comfort and hope in life.

Psalms 119:49-50 says, “Remember your word to your servant, in which you have made me hope. This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life.”

You see, we are only as secure as the object of our faith and hope. We know that God does what he says he will do. Hebrews 6:18 says, “so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us.” He is the ONLY person we can completely trust at his word.

And to go further, he is the one who “fills us with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit [we] may abound in hope.” (Romans 15:13)

To be full

You see, if our hope is in God, we will be full…filled to overflowing. Some people call this a peculiar hope because it doesn’t start with us but comes from the Holy Spirit. We can’t manufacture our own hope. It is given to us. As we read through God’s word, we can actually see hope on every page. That is because it is an inherent part of God’s grace. It is the grace he promises to us for the future.

So, hope is the posture that our faith takes. It is our trust that God will do what he says he will do, both in the past and the present. He wiped away tears from long ago and will wipe away every tear in the future. Well, that changes the way we live in the present, doesn’t it? In the midst of suffering, hope won’t allow us to despair. We can lament while we are hopeful.

I don’t have to keep asking God, “Are we going where you said you would take me? Are you keeping your promises?”

As non-perfect parents in a fallen world, we can’t always keep our word to our children. And we cannot expect others to never let us down, either. The ONLY person we can completely trust at his word is the one who has filled us with joy and peace so that we can abound in hope.

Indeed, our hope is in the One who will never disappoint. It is trusting in the future grace he has for us. And that brings me comfort and joy, even when we have a household of stomach virus and a skipped park day.

Take some time today to read Hebrews 6:17-20 and be encouraged that “we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope [God’s future grace] set before us.”

Hope Abides

As my friend and I sat in her living room enjoying a late “mom’s night” time of fellowship, spinach dip, and savory foccacia crackers, we were interrupted by the giddy giggles of her little girls followed by a few moments of silence while another—whom I had not yet met—made her entrance.

hope abides

As she sleepily sauntered into the room, all eyes turned toward this precious guest. Barefoot she stood a tad-bit taller than the kitchen counter bar—she was only seven or eight years old. Her straight strawberry-blonde hair hung down to the middle of her back, and her blue eyes twinkled in the dim light as we inquired why she was in the living room (again) instead of upstairs in bed where she was supposed to be.

She had been enjoying a play date with my friend’s two daughters, but this was her first time spending the night at their home. And you could see the answer to our question written all over her face: Hope was homesick.

When bedtime came, Hope was not satisfied with simply being in my friend’s house. She wanted to be seen (by us). She wanted to be heard (by us). She needed to be present (with us).

So we invited her to sit on the sofa between us and gave her our full attention. We asked questions. We listened. We got her a cup of water. We prayed with her. Then, after a while, she was fine, and quietly, of her own free will, Hope returned to her bed upstairs to sleep through the night.

The significance of this experience was not lost on me.

You see, in the days leading up to my writing this devotional, God kept placing “Hope” right in front of me through podcasts, audio books, songs on the radio, and signs on the road. Even last Sunday’s sermon was entitled “Crossing from Hopelessness to Hope.”

So, when I met this sweet girl named Hope on Friday night, I paid attention—not merely to the precious soul in front of me, but to the still small voice inside of me that said, “This. This is what Hope is.”

I’ve spent many days pondering this statement, and I think I understand: Hope abides (1 Corinthians 13:13a).

The Greek word which we translate “abide” means to tarry in place, to be continually present, to live, to remain, to endure.

When Hope abides, she abides not in solitude but in relationship.

You see, Hope needs to be seen. Felt. Acknowledged.

Hope wants to be close to us—not merely in the same room. Hope wants to sit on the same sofa cushion as us. Sharing the same blanket. When we allow Hope to abide, we can look into her eyes and be reminded that there’s more to life than what we see here and now.

Hope is an anchor. She holds us steady through storms and grants us a glimpse of the future in the present turmoil. She reminds us of what life could be if we hold on just a bit longer.

Hope abides.

When we are surrounded by fires, hurricanes, floods, or earthquakes, Hope abides.

When we are touched by terrorism, murder, suicide, human trafficking, Hope abides.

Amidst protests, pilfering, and political upheaval, Hope abides.

In a state of food insecurity, poverty, and homelessness, Hope abides.

Hope is not an emotion.

Hope is a gracious gift from our Heavenly Father who knows exactly what we need to get through this life. And He gives Hope generously to all His children.

Hope abides

It’s our job to slow down.

Pay attention.

Listen.

And give Hope a place right next to us on life’s sofa.

Hope abides with us.

Never Lose Hope

This month our study is on Hope. What is it? How to we make sure we never lose hope? It is something that we can really claim to understand?

When I was younger I thought hope was along the same line as a wish. I hoped for this or that to happen. I hoped (wished) things would change.  Now I know it isn’t the same. Hope is so much more. For me a wish is just wanting things to be different while hope involves more of my heart.

never lose hope

As a woman of faith, I know that my hope should always be in the Lord. Scriptural hope is a heartfelt belief. I believe in the Lord, I know that He is always there for me. My hope is in His love and mercies.

Be strong and let your heart take courage, All you who hope in the LORD. – Psalm 31:24

For I hope in You, O Lord; You will answer, O Lord my God. – Psalm 38:15

Before accepting Christ, I was without hope. There were months when I didn’t think I had anything to contribute to those in my life. Everything I tried and worked so hard to accomplish was never good enough. I always fell short and ended up feeling worse than when I started.

I look back now and see that my hope was in myself and not in Christ. I had bought into the worldly position that I was in control of my life and if I only worked hard and long enough, I could have the desires of my heart.  Well, that didn’t work out quite the way I had expected.

I found myself alone with two young girls and no home or job. I was broken and alone. I really didn’t know where to turn. I also had too much pride to ask for help. I accepted all the labels of the world. I was a failure, I was inadequate, and I was not worthy of being happy.

So I dug in and struggled to make ends meet. I returned to school and eventually started a business which supported us. However, I was miserable and oh so lonely. I was tired of fighting for everything I had. I knew my life was hopeless and that I was just going through the motions of living and being a mom to my girls.

Then one day my heart was ready to listen. Perhaps I needed to struggle so long just so that I could finally get to the place that my heart was tender enough for the Word to pierce through the hard shell I had built to protect myself.

Once I accepted that I was worthy and loved…by of all people Jesus; the walls of self protection started to come down. I opened my heart and allowed His Love to start shining light on all the dark areas in my life. I learned that my hope needs to be in Christ.  He is the one that will always be there as long as I remain faithful.

Since that dark time in my life I have done my best to remain faithful. I can also joyfully share that Christ has been faithful to me too. He has been my rock. He has been where my hope has been well placed. He has never failed me.

Do I still struggle at times? Sure. As long as we are this side of Glory there will be struggles and suffering. The difference is now I know that I am not alone. Christ is with me. Even when I stumble and fall, I know that Christ still loves me and that I am worthy.

I have a couple of special verses that I refer to often when things are tough:

But as for me, I will hope continually, And will praise You yet more and more. – Psalm 71:14

Surely there is a future, And your hope will not be cut off. – Proverbs 23:18

For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. – Jeremiah 29:11

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. – Romans 15:13

They have given me strength because they are buried in my heart. I write them down. I pray them and repeat them when I feel that I am struggling. My body is weak, and I know that I will continue to fall short of what I should be doing for the kingdom. But having the hope of eternity with Christ makes all the struggles of this world worth it.

hope for the future

If you are struggling with hope and have accepted the labels of the world to describe yourself, stop now. Stop and put down those burdens of guilt and turn to the One that can offer you a future. A personal relationship with Christ is the only answer to having and understanding what having hope for a future really means. Start by reading the Word. Spend time looking up verses on hope and you will soon see that you are loved. You are worthy. You can have eternal peace and hope in Christ.

Hope in the Battle

None of us really want to think about it but it has been brewing for quite some time. The issues are real, the people are real. This is serious. Now everyone has to choose sides, and not just with their words but also with their actions. Some believe that the whole situation is being blown out of proportion, that nothing drastic like war needs to be done. And others believe that dealing with the situation is past due.

hope in the battle

A few months ago we thought that we knew who we could count on for support, but  it seems now that we must have been wrong. And it has been disheartening and more than a little disappointing to find ourselves standing up for what is right without the “cover” we had counted on.

The topic dominates conversations and news broadcasts. Everyone is consumed with the chess game, watching and predicting and commenting on each move. People are coming up with strategies of their own, trying to out smart the enemy. Some  think that time and talking is the answer, some think duct tape and plastic sheeting is the answer, and some think the “big one” with its little red button is the answer.

You may have already figured it out but I am not talking about the pending war in the Middle East or even North Korea for that matter. I’m talking about the very real spiritual war that is besieging daily. The war that is far more serious than anything Sadamm or the Korean president could hurl at us. The war that involves our soul, our eternal destiny.

The war is not pending, but raging. It is not a possibility, but a reality. And the lines have been drawn, sides have been taken, trenches have been dug. The time for action has come. In this war we need to be able to count on each other for cover. Cover that we sometimes take for granted. That cover comes in the form of hope and prayer.

When your brother or sister in Christ is battle-weary, they need you to step in with your hope to fortify where theirs has faltered, with your prayers to cover them while they rest up for another round. They. Need. You!

We throw around the phrase, “I’ll be praying for you.” Sometimes we are serious at the moment that we utter the words, but quickly forget to follow through. We have so much going on, our own battlefields to take and war plans to implement. But then the person we promised to cover in prayer gets caught in the crossfire or worse, gets pinned down by the enemy because of our casual pledge. They  were counting on us. This is war. Souls hang in the balance.

only one hope

In this war we have only one hope and it is the person of Jesus Christ. Our victory is sealed but the war rages on. We have got to stop being so casual about fighting this battle. Start by reading and memorizing Ephesians 6:10-19. It’s time we got suited up. In this passage, you get suited up first, then you pray. That is huge!

Why? Because this is war! When you have on your belt of truth, your breastplate of righteousness, your shoes of readiness and peace, your helmet of salvation, and your shield of faith, you are finally ready to pray. All of your vitals are protected, you are able to focus, you are in the battle, you have chosen your team, you are ready to fight victoriously.

So, have you chosen a side? Are you suited up? Are you ready to “cover” sisters who are also engaged and fighting to take back the mountain? Are you willing to commit to do whatever He tells you? Are you ready to get into the war? God needs each one of us to fight and pray although the victory is won.

Let us bolster hope for each other and pray for one another without ceasing.

Hopeful Expectancy

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
For by it the men of old gained approval.  Hebrews 11:1-2

Not all hope is created equal.

hopeful expectancy

I’ve used a phrase or two that sounded like, “Oh, I hope that _____ happens.” or “It would be nice.”
Those phrases are wishful thinking, not true faith in action.

Bible hope should look like belief, not a wish.

That way of thinking was brought to light when something that I thought was a good idea to implement (wishful hope) needed to have some belief (Bible hope) put on it to see it come to pass.

Hope is expectancy. It’s what helps me in standing in faith.

Have you seen your child have that hopeful expectancy? They know without a doubt that what they’ve asked for is coming because you told them it would. They also know that you’re a trustworthy parent.

That’s the way that I always want to be when it comes to my relationship with Abba Father. Hopeful expectancy. Standing in faith. Belief without doubting.

Sometimes when I’d have hopeful expectancy about something I’ve requested, I’d hear a naysayer whisper, “Now, don’t get your hopes up, sweetheart.”

But as I thought about that statement, I asked, “Why not get my hopes up? Am I not expecting what I’ve requested?”

The Bible does say in Hebrews 11:1, Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

I think I’ll keep my hopes up, thank you.

Are you possibly in a place right now that you need help getting and keeping your hope up? Do you want to have hopeful expectancy?

hope is expectancy

I want to encourage you to go on a HOPE search. If your Bible has a concordance, that’s a wonderful place to start. There are also online aids like Bible Gateway, Blue Letter Bible, and Bible Hub. In addition, there is a fantastic 10 day devotional on the YouVersion Bible App or Bible.com by Christine Caine named “Staying Hopeful“.

I hope to hear from you! Let me know if any of these resources have been instrumental in helping you get your hopes up.