“Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: You don’t give up.” ~Anne Lamott http://www.beliefnet.com/Faiths/Christianity/2009/01/Hope-Quotes-from-Christian-Leaders.aspx?p=2
Unexpected storms often knock us flat and the testing of faith can leave us exhausted. Our will to persevere may even be hindered. This is when the hand of God will appear to lift us out of our dark waters. All we have to do is cry out His name. He is the very definition of hope.
The Lord takes pleasure in all who hope and trust in His mercy. He waits for His creation to cry out to Him. He longs to show us mighty love and strength. However, we can’t give up and surrender all hope if we want to receive His assistance.
“The Lord takes pleasure in those who fear Him, in those who hope in His mercy.” Psalm 147:11 (NKJV)
Hope is born in the dark. Like a lighthouse calling out to a lost ship at sea, hope will bring you through your personal storm. It will encourage and guide you to safety. Hope is found in the arms of God.
“Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart, all you who hope in the Lord.” Psalm 31:24 (NKJV)
When you are met with spiritual roadblocks don’t forget to call out for God’s help. He will bind all your confusion and guide you through each obstacle. His provisions will be incredible. Any lost hope will be restored when you witness the faithfulness of God.
Unfortunately, loosing hope in God means you have lost some measure of faith in His ability to sustain you. Have you lost sight of who created you and the universe? Do you doubt His ability to work things out and enable you to carry on in life?
Why not give God the benefit of the doubt and trust that your circumstances are for good and not for evil? In some way He is creating good fruit from your circumstances, though pain may be His watering can in your situation. We are promised in Romans 8:28 (NKJV) that “all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”
Dear One, I know suffering and I know heartache. None of my sorrows have been easy but they have served me well. Through the furnace of affliction God allows His children to share in the sufferings of Christ. Our spiritual transformation and refinement will always produce a deeper measure of spiritual fruit. Are we not called to be more and more like Christ?
Therefore, ask yourself this question. Do you want to live as an alien in this world, as a foreigner in a land that is not your eternal home? If so, then accept the storm you are riding out as a gift from your Father. He sent it because He loves you. It should remind you that your greater hope waits for you in heaven.
God did not spare His own Son the suffering of the cross. It was for our benefit that Jesus became man, died, and rose again. God sent Jesus to redeem us and has exalted Him in the heavens. He is our Victor and blessed Mediator.
Take your burdens to Jesus and pour out your heart. He is the Savior of the world and our only hope. Ask Him to be your guiding light as you attempt to stand and move forward through your storm. Your struggle will have an end but His love for you is never-ending.
To persevere is to ascend the mountaintop of God. It is a necessary trait, a requirement if we wish to see the face of God.
“But I will hope continually, and will praise You yet more and more.” Psalm 71:14 (NKJV)
“I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in His Word I do hope.” Psalm 130:5 (NKJV)
“Rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer” Romans 12:12 (NKJV)
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13 (NIV)
I sang at church two weeks ago, less than twenty-four hours after receiving the news that a second pathology review of my mammogram and biopsy determined that the abnormal mass in my body was not good after all. It needed to be removed. The sweet monotone voice on the other end of the phone told me I needed to see a surgeon for a consultation. That was on Friday. She made the appointment for Monday.
In between those two wonderful days, I was set to sing one of my all-time favorite worship songs at church that weekend, one I’d been dying to sing for months. And all I kept thinking was, Really? This weekend?
Everything in me wanted to cancel. I didn’t think I’d be able to make it through the song without bawling like a baby. I wanted it to be awesome. I wanted to sing my little heart out without my voice cracking and causing everybody to squirm in their seats, unable to focus on worship.
But as much as I wanted to, I couldn’t back out. It simply would have been the wrong thing to do. So, I sang my heart out anyway, fighting back tears each service, praying that the audience didn’t notice all of my “off” notes or worn-out vocals. Oh, there were some great vocal moments, but there were some not-so-great ones too.
Which is why it happened. That’s what finally did me in and prompted me to use the word. It was after Saturday night’s service when my husband asked me how it went, that the word came out of me with a surprising confidence and deep-felt conviction I didn’t realize had been growing inside of me over the past few years. I was so depleted, so tired, so worn out, so done trying to do and be all things to all people, in all ways… that I finally had had enough. And gave in. And said the four-letter “f” word:
It was glorious.
Instead of describing in detail, like I usually do, which note I hit, missed, where I did great or didn’t do so great, how I felt, what people said, what people didn’t say – I simply said to my wonderful man, It was fine. And smiled a big, fat smile. And ate my dinner.
I’d forgotten what a great word “fine” is. You see, I always strive for awesome. Excellent. Incredible. But that night, that weekend, something snapped. I no longer wanted to care if things were awesome or not. I just wanted to be able to live with “fine” and be really, really good with it.
How freeing! Instead of wallowing in anxiety about upcoming singing and speaking engagements, I have been preparing my best and then letting myself rest, knowing that the outcome will be good enough – no matter what that turns out to be. Yes. Do my best and then rest. It will be just fine.
There is so much freedom in wrapping our efforts in the blanket of God’s grace. And self-grace. I’ve noticed myself daring a bit more, saying “yes” to more engagements, and living a bit more courageously.
How about you? Where could you use a little more “fine”? Maybe you need to be fine with not being able to exercise as much as you want to right now, or fine with some relationship you’ve been waiting to turn into “awesome” someday.
I know for me, I’m going to give myself permission to write a little more often, unrefined, just-because-I-want-to, blogs. I need to practice being fine. I hope you start using the “fine” word a little more often too, allowing yourself to be exactly who you are without any apologies or unnecessary descriptives.
Oh, and just to keep you up to speed, I saw the surgeon and will be having surgery sometime in May to remove this mass. I’ll keep you updated and would appreciate your prayers. I’m counting on everything being fine. :)
A love song always includes praises for the object of our affection. Would you like to make your life a living love song for God? What would that look like in your eyes? Starting today, how can you make your life a living and growing praise song to your heavenly Father?
A good way to answer this question is to look at Jesus and His disciples. How did Jesus demonstrate His love for us and how did His followers demonstrate their love for Christ? I assure you there were deliberate actions and a concerted effort.
Consider all the gifts and talents God has given you. Every child of God has received a spiritual gift(s) and is supposed to use it/them to edify the body of Christ, which in turn glorifies and pleases God. What are your gifts and how are you using them?
When we step out in faith, believing God has equipped us to help those around us, we are walking through an open door He has provided. This open door is an opportunity to serve, witness, and praise the name of Jesus. Our trust in His provision and our willingness to minister to others, even our decision to put aside our plans for the day in order to follow His purpose, is a means to shower Him with our love and appreciation.
“As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” 1 Peter 4:10-11 (NKJV)
A.W. Tozer wrote, “You can see God from anywhere if your mind is set to love and obey Him.”
Your love song to God will be spelled out over your entire lifetime. It will not be one continuous melody. Rather, it will have different movements, like a symphony. There will be pauses. There will even be moments of silence. Different tempos will occur depending on your measure of obedience and submission to His will.
Some movements in your life song will be full of joy and speed, appropriately marked ALLEGRO. Other movements will be very slow. LARGO is a time when you may be required to endure a sorrow or time of suffering, preferably with the dignity and grace God promises to provide. How you carry yourself through a trial can be an incredible opportunity to show God your love for Him. Observers will find themselves amazed and curious when you praise God during your storm, speaking of His unfathomable love, mercy, and grace.
Jesus called us to be the light of the world. If we dedicate our lives to becoming messengers of hope, love, and grace we will get attention. Light demands attention. Light gets noticed, especially in a dark world full of sin and hate.
Goals and ambitions, when aligned with the will of God, will always come to pass. If you find your fulfillment and joy in Christ His passions will become your delight.
“Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.”Psalm 37:4 (NKJV)
Will every breath you exhale be a praise offering that honors His glorious name? Will you dedicate every act of service to Him and for His glory? Can you agree to be an extension of His love from this day forth? If so, your life will be a unique and astonishing love song to the one and only God.
“I love those who love Me, and those who seek Me diligently will find Me.”Proverbs 8:17 (NKJV)
“’And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31 (NKJV)