Hope for When Hopelessness Abounds

hopelessness for hope

 

Hopelessness is barren and covered in destruction. It appears as though nothing can grow. Hopelessness strips us of growth, it destroys life, and it leaves barrenness in its wake. It appears as if all is lost.

 

Call me an incurable optimist, but even when all seems lost and hope has vanished, I look for the positive. Sometimes I have to dig in the muck and mire. At times, I search and search, but eventually I find treasure. And you can too.

 

Our hopelessness doesn’t have to define us. God can use the circumstances in our life to refine us if we allow him to draw us near, open our eyes, and hear what he has to say.

 

Step one:

 

Turn to God instead of away from God.

 

When trials come, do you have a tendency to blame God, run away from God, or turn to God? Sometimes I go through the process of all three. The mentality: “I’m a child of God, no troubles should befall me,” gets stuck in our head and when trials come, we stomp our feet and cry, “Why?” Or we run away from God and wait out the trial behind busyness or religious duties. The best response is to turn to God. Ask him your questions, seek him for answers, and choose to trust him.

 

“Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again.”    2 Corinthians 1:9-10  (ESV)

Step two:

 

Our perspective for the purpose of trials needs refining. Trust God. He doesn’t waste a hurt, ever. At times that is hard to believe because the devastation we feel is so overwhelming. How can we trust God if he allows so much hurt? is a question that can roll through our minds. When that question plagues me, I remember the cross. I remember what Jesus experienced and know that redemption came through pain.

 

When we stand strong in the face of our pain, God redeems it and allows our faith to be strengthened by it. We exchange our hopelessness for hope when we set our hope on him, and not on ourselves or whatever vices we turn to when we feel devastated by life.

 

Step three:

 

Rely on God. Self-sufficiency and a stiff-upper lip are positive traits until they’re not. And they’re not when we try and go through this life in our own strength. If we can exchange our self-sufficiency for God’s sufficiency and that stiff-upper lip for eyes fixed on God, we begin to rely on God. He guides us, molds us, and directs us. We simply must respond by a letting go of our own abilities and strength and exchange it for competency in his ability to rescue and renew us.

 

Set your hope on God that he will deliver you again. He does deliver. Take a moment to remember and remind yourself of how God rescues you.

 

Through the Giver and not the Gifts Comes Victory

C.S. Lewis quote

©JessMarie Photography

 

The Hard

 

Are you ever weary? Do you wonder why some things in life are just so hard? Do you ever dream of a remote hide-a-way? I shouldn’t be shocked when life slaps me alongside the head. But I kinda am. I sometimes don’t understand why troubles should come if God loves me. Doesn’t God’s love guarantee a trouble free life?

 

It is said that in this world we will have trouble, but to take heart because Jesus has overcome the world. This verse can be encouraging and discouraging all at once. We try and avoid trouble, pain and heartache. But it’s part of life. And a life lived to its fullest needs to experience all the emotions this life offers.

 

However, sometimes it’s difficult to decipher if the trouble is a result of our own choices and actions or if we’ve been allured to the desert like Hosea. Either way, our troubles offer us opportunities to grow in faith and love and to put action to the words we say we believe in, such as: “I trust You.” or “He never leaves me nor forsakes me.”

 

Trust the Giver

 

Sometimes, though, we begin looking to our own abilities to help us through our troubles. We all have strengths or defaults we return to again and again. For some, it involves emotional stuffing where we don’t recognize the feelings of abandonment or anger or angst. For others, it involves working harder and longer in order to prove to ourselves and others that we have it all together. Still others, give up, so their walk with Christ often looks like two steps forward, three steps back.

 

It’s common to run to other things when life feels out of control and God appears to have abandoned us. How does he seem to do this? By not showing up when we demand, or answering that prayer the way we want or by not making other people behave the way we think they should. Yes, I try to boss God around, and be strong in my own strength. But the more I’m strong in my own strength the weaker I feel.

 

I need the reminder that it’s not my abilities or giftings that save me or help me. It’s God. He is the one who makes my way clear, one step at a time. He is the one who holds me up when I cannot stand up. I trust his eyes more than my own.

 

It is God who saves and so we boast in him. We say to ourselves: He is strong and if I rest in him, he will carry me to victory. God is the giver of your abilities. Everything you have that enables you to navigate through this life comes straight from him.

 

Do you want victory in your life? Begin by trusting in the giver of the gifts rather than your abilities.

 

“For not in my bow do I trust, nor can my sword save me. But you have saved us from our foes and have put to shame those who hate us. In God we have boasted continually, and we will give thanks to your name forever.” Psalm 44:6-8

 

Application

 

What ability do you have a tendency to turn to when life gets hard?

List 3 attributes of God that you can boast about. It might be joy, strength, peace, power, comforter, redeemer, righteousness, portion, or provider. Choose three that resonate with you.

How are they are evident in your life? Say a prayer of praise.

 

 

 

 

 

What Security Can Do For You

I’m well acquainted with insecurity. It’s been a companion to Perfect for much of my life, and it lies dormant for a time. Then something happens that wakens the sleeping giant and insecurity becomes a driving force in my life. I’ve learned the triggers that bring Perfect and Insecurity into my life. and I’m learning to deal with them in a healthy way. Ignoring them makes them worse because they want their voices to be heard, and if I don’t listen they scream louder for attention.

Not to sound crazy, but treating them in this way gives me an opportunity to speak God’s truth to them, aka myself, when those voices drown out the voice of God in my ear. I’ve let Insecurity win far too many times, but lately the battle is turning in favor of Security.

I’ve not been able to fight this fight on my own, though. It’s been God who has worked and shifted and transformed my life, but before He could truly bring transformation, I needed to allow the depth of my insecurity to be mined and all the pieces laid at Jesus’ feet. It was deep and wide with many twists and turns along the way, but He filtered through the tangle of lies and truth, and He straightened what needed straightening and threw out the lies that destroyed.

I’ve believed the lies that my identity was secure in what I did or didn’t do. But security is not in my success at loving others well, or how well I live out God’s precepts. My identity is secure in knowing that I am precious to God and that I belong to him.

Security also provides ways to live this life well. When security is allowed a place in my heart, I find that my self-control grows. On the other hand, Insecurity leads me to self-indulgence. When I feel insecure, I self-medicate through excess food and a couch potato life or through food restrictions and excess exercise.  Self-medication can happen through materialism, minimalism, and mommy-wars.

Insecurity drives our fear and security drives our self-control.

“For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control,” 2 Timothy 1:7 ESV

Insecurity will drive us to excess and extremism because insecurity tells us we’re not enough so we run around trying to fill the void with something, with anything. Security in Christ helps me to turn to him instead of food, exercise, minimalism, materialism, and mall hopping. Security is the key to self-control.

When Insecurity rages within me, I try to find security in my own efforts, but security in Christ means releasing the ‘in’ part of insecurity. It requires a laying aside of our thoughts and hearts being wrapped up in ourselves.

This is hard.

I make the most compromises in my Christian walk when insecurity is in control. Usually, when insecurity is running rampant in my heart it’s because I’m far more concerned about what someone else thinks than what God thinks. I’ll downplay my relationship with Jesus because I’m afraid of what you might think. Or I’ll laugh at a crude joke rather than standing for purity. Or I’ll add my two-sense to speculating why so and so is acting they way they are.

Security in Christ helps me be steadfast in my Christian life, because I remember 1 John 5:18,

“We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him.”

When I forget that I’ve been born of God—and if you’re not sure if you are or what that even means, let me know and I’ll share the good news with you—I grow insecure in my identity and easily fall into old sin habits that were left behind when the old me died and the new me was raised to life in Christ.

And the new me? She sets her mind and heart on Christ. It’s when my focus is on Christ and his will for me that I’m fully able to serve and love others without the fear that I’m going to fail or make it all about me.

“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory,” Colossians 3:1-4 ESV

When Insecurity stops by for a surprise visit, I invite it in for coffee and listen to its concerns. I look at the circumstances that perhaps triggered its visit. Sometimes it’s an unresolved argument or a recent failure.  Sometimes it’s because I don’t like my hair or my shirt. But mostly, insecurity is a response to the uncertainty in life.

God uses my insecurity to point me to him and it’s then that he reminds me of where my security lies: in him, in his love, in his goodness, and in his strength.

We are secure in him.

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