Tag Archives: hope

“Hopeless” is a LIE!

Christmas Day 1995 was one of the worst days of my life. It wasn’t just bad because of the magnitude of horrendous things I had endured up until that point—it was terrible because I had lost hope. In my journal that day I wrote:

It's been a rather lousy day- I keep remembering that scripture that says that God won't allow us to be tested beyond what we can bear & I wonder if it’s a misprint. Or perhaps it applies to temptation only & not trials. I feel like my blood pressure must be 200\150, and I'd love to just leave this world forever.

Thoughts of suicide plagued me, and the only thing that kept me from following through was love for my children. I didn’t want them to have to deal with the loss of their mother after everything else they had endured. In the ten months since we had left our home (and their father), they had seen and heard more than children ever should. We all suffered signs of PTSD from living with the trauma of domestic violence. I remember asking God if He could just take us all in heaven that night, because I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I had no hope for the future. All I had was God, and at that point He didn’t seem powerful enough to change things.

Thank God I didn’t give in to my feelings that night. Instead I continued to call out to Him in the midst of my distress. I spent hours in scripture looking for answers, and while I didn’t find an immediate fix for my circumstances, I began to find that God’s heart was for me. When I felt as though He had forgotten me, I found Isaiah 49:14-16. “But you said, “The Lord has forsaken me, the Lord has forgotten me. Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands…” This passage spoke to my heart as a mother, and let me know that His love for me was even greater than my love for my children, and He proved it at the cross.

As I continued to seek Him in the midst of my hopelessness, He did not disappoint. He met me and became more real to me than I could have ever imagined. I thought suffering would destroy me, instead as I sought Him in the midst of it, I came out with a faith that is unshakeable! I often tell people that I am grateful for what that suffering accomplished in my life. Looking back and remembering His tender care still brings a sense of profound gratitude to my heart. For several difficult years, I just held on to Him and He was faithful, but the outcome could have been very different.

In my desperation I ran to the only Source of Hope I knew. I sought God and made a decision to believe His truth over my feelings. I printed out scriptures and posted them all over my walls. Any time I was feeling particularly hopeless, I ran to one of those promises and read out loud several times. Often times, through many tears, I yelled out those promises (as if to remind Him). I refused to let hopelessness take over again. Twenty-two years later, I can say that God has turned my ashes into beauty (Is. 61:3), and I am so grateful!

After coming out of abuse, God gave me a ministry to work with victims and survivors of domestic violence. Over the years I have watched many women experience the same deepening of faith I experienced in my distress, but others have allowed hopelessness to rule them. The best they could hope for was a way to escape the pain of the scars of the past. Some have run to alcohol and drugs, some to new (and unhealthy) relationships, and some to various other substitutes for true healing. Often I’ve wished I could just push a button and impart some of my faith to these precious souls, but as much as I desire their healing, it can never be forced.

In order to find true hope and healing, we must decide to believe the truth rather than the lie of hopelessness, to esteem truth over our negative feelings, and to hold on to Him through the storms. I’ve never seen anyone disappointed who did that, but I have seen many who have never healed for failing to do it. We should never settle for a hopeless existence when He offers abundant life. Yes, this world is filled with trouble, but He has overcome it (Jn. 16:33) and enables us to do the same when we allow our troubles to drive us into His loving arms instead of to despair.

 

Note: If you find yourself struggling with hopelessness and would like a copy of the scriptures I complied as I was leaving abuse, please contact me. 

 

 

 

When Praying Makes Things… Worse?

Have you ever prayed fervently for a situation to change, only to find matters getting worse? I know I have. I have seen it many times in my years of working with victims of domestic violence. In these situations, things often escalate to unbearable in spite of ardent prayers and abundant effort. It sometimes seems as if God doesn’t see or care about our struggles. After all, if He was on our side, wouldn’t circumstances improve? However, if scripture is to be our guide, we need to look at how He worked with His people there to see if that expectation is valid.

This morning as I was reading in Exodus, I found the story of the Israelites’ plight after Moses and Aaron approached Pharaoh to let the people go and worship. According this passage, God had heard the cries of the Israelites, and sent Moses to plead on their behalf. However, instead of helping the situation, it hurt! Pharaoh severely cut the supplies needed for their work. The situation seemed hopeless all around, and even Moses became discouraged.

The Israelite overseers realized they were in trouble when they were told, “You are not to reduce the number of bricks required of you for each day.” When they left Pharaoh, they found Moses and Aaron waiting to meet them, and they said, “May the LORD look on you and judge you! You have made us obnoxious to Pharaoh and his officials and have put a sword in their hand to kill us.” Moses returned to the LORD and said, “Why, Lord, why have you brought trouble on this people? Is this why you sent me? Ever since I went to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has brought trouble on this people, and you have not rescued your people at all.” (Ex. 5:19-23-emphasis added.)

The story could’ve have ended right there, but Moses took his confusion and complaints to the Lord. Even more significant, he continued to obey God in spite of negative circumstances. Moses was full of doubt about his own abilities, and he was discouraged about the Israelites anger towards him, but he still continued to follow God’s path. We all know the outcome. God used his obedience to bring about a miraculous deliverance—just when things seemed impossible. In the end, terrible oppression made liberation seem even more incredible.

When I think of my own story of escaping abuse, I can see His hand in every painful experience. All I knew to do was cling to Him, because everything else had failed me— from the courts to the church. Even people who loved me and wanted to help had no clue how to do it. In the long run, the overwhelmingly impossible nature of the situation made me desperate for Him. I spent long hours in prayer and scripture, and even came up with a database of passages that were particularly helpful.[1] I made a decision to believe His promises, because nothing else was working. All I could do was hold on to Him for dear life, and He was faithful. Circumstances did not improve in the beginning. In fact, they became worse, but in the end my faith in Him became stronger than it had ever been and He delivered me. I often tell people that even though I would have never chosen to suffer like I did, I am grateful for it, because it drove me to Him. My relationship with Him became my anchor, and I wouldn’t trade that for anything.

If you think that circumstances are a measure of God’s care, or lack thereof, you are missing a beautiful opportunity to allow Him to redeem your story. God is not a magic genie who snaps His fingers and makes everything suddenly all right. He also will not force anyone to follow His ways, but He will use your pain for good. Please understand, I am not saying you should stay in a harmful situation. Scripture is filled with examples of God’s people fleeing danger. Instead, I am saying, cling to the One who loves you most, and you will not be disappointed. He will use your trials to grow you and your faith. I’ve worked with survivors of domestic abuse for over 20 years, and those who have held onto Him have simply amazed me. I have never met more amazing people than those who have proven Him faithful in the midst of great suffering.

If you think you don’t have what it takes to become an amazing example of His redemption, I encourage you to go to scripture. God specializes in using reluctant and under qualified people for His purposes. He not only wants to redeem your situation, but if you let Him, He will use you to help others who will face the same battles you’ve faced (2 Cor. 1:4). Take your doubts and struggles to Him, and determine to hold on to His promises. Just keep walking in His direction, and don’t let people or circumstances warp your view of Him. He will deliver you in due time, and in the process you will develop faith that is unshakeable.

[1] If you’d like a copy of this scriptural database, please email me at info@calledtopeace.org.

The Legacy of Faith

Good Morning Lord. I come to You today with a heart filled with gratitude. Some days I get overwhelmed that You call me your child. I know I am so unworthy, so your grace and love completely astound me. I so appreciate the fact that You would even bother to hear my prayers. Yet, You go far beyond listening to answering in miraculous ways. Situations that seem impossible are never impossible with You. Usually You are just waiting for me to surrender my desires to You so that You can take over and do the “impossible.” I have seen it over and over again. Thank You for the most recent miracle—for working in a heart of a loved one that seemed beyond help. You are surely a very present help in trouble, and I love to watch You transform troubled lives. You did it for me, and I’ve watched You do it over and over through the years. At this point, I know nobody is hopeless as long as they have breath. It always helps that they have people praying for them and surrendering them to You. I have had to let my loved ones go many times, but every time I’ve released them to You, the outcome has been good in the long run. You manage to use their own rebellion and obstinacy to bring them around. Thank You! Life has been hard for me, but in the midst of suffering You have been so faithful and so real. The answered prayers have been incredible. What a legacy of faith You have given me. Without the struggles, I never would have learned how wonderful You are. Therefore, I am grateful for the trials. Thank You for never letting me go! Amen

 

Child you have my promise of blessing, because you trust in Me. This is your legacy.

Psalm 112

Praise the Lord! Happy are those who fear the Lord, who greatly delight in his commandments.Their descendants will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed.  Wealth and riches are in their houses, and their righteousness endures forever. They rise in the darkness as a light for the upright; they are gracious, merciful, and righteous. It is well with those who deal generously and lend, who conduct their affairs with justice. For the righteous will never be movedthey will be remembered forever. They are not afraid of evil tidings; their hearts are firm, secure in the Lord. Their hearts are steady, they will not be afraidin the end they will look in triumph on their foes. They have distributed freely, they have given to the poor; their righteousness endures forever; their horn is exalted in honor. The wicked see it and are angry; they gnash their teeth and melt away; the desire of the wicked comes to nothing.

The Stain of Sin

 

Lord, the older I get, the more I see the terrible impact of sin on the world. I see broken people, broken relationships, and habitual rejection of truth by so many. Even people who claim to know You walk in utter defeat, because they choose their own ways above yours. With all my little grandchildren, I see the misery that comes from such self-determination and selfishness. It’s inborn. They are constantly conniving to get what they think they want, and will stoop to any means of getting it.  When they are told “no,” they have meltdowns. Adults are usually no different; our “meltdowns” are just a little more socially acceptable. We complain, succumb to depression, or maybe even run to false gods like alcohol, television, or food for comfort. All the while You are pleading for us to come to You an find true life. The very things we seek for comfort, the things we believe will fulfill us, hold us captive and come up empty. The more I see it, the more I hate this world. 1 John 2:15 instructs us not to love the world– meaning the world system that runs on selfishness and pride. The older I get, the easier it is for me to hate it. When I was younger, it seemed normal, but now that I know more of your sweet love and mercy it just grieves me. You came down and willingly entered the misery to the point of allowing ultimate selfishness nail You to a cross. It baffles the mind! Things here remain pretty horrible in spite your sacrifice. At times, I find it easier to understand the flood than the cross. If I were in your place, I am sure I would have chosen destruction rather than redemption. That is why I am so glad You are on the throne and not me. To me, things often seem hopeless, but You are hope and You are light that shines in the darkness.

 

I know there is beauty in the world as well. Your grace and love are evident everywhere, but it’s still so hard to watch the huge stain of sin on your perfect creation. Paul was right when he likened life in this world to a battle. Some days this soldier just gets weary. It hurts to watch so many I love hurting from the effects of sin, and everyday it seems I find a new weakness in my own life. Today I pray You will help soar above the storms of life with You. I have no strength on my own, and I am desperate to share in yours. Thank You for loving me enough to give me everything I need for this battle. Amen

 

My child, do not let grief overwhelm you. I have given you my Word so that you can have peace. In this world you will have trouble, but cheer up, because I have overcome the world (Jn. 16:33). I dwell in you and am greater in you than the one who is in the world (1 Jn. 4:4). Yes, the brokenness is distressing, but you must look at it through my redemptive plan. Walk in my Spirit, and let me make you into an instrument of change. Let your light shine in the darkness so that others will see your actions and give glory to Me (Mt. 5:16). Remember the darkness cannot overcome the light (Jn. 1:5). Yes, you groan as you wait for that day when I bring you into my presence (Rom. 8:23), but you have hope. Share it with others.  Remember that I am working all things together for your good (Rom. 8:28), and that means that I can even use the sorrow and suffering caused by sin. Remember how I used the Babylonians to refine my children? Remember the suffering of the heroes of the faith mentioned in the letter to the Hebrews (Heb. 11)? They triumphed through faith. It is your faith that overcomes the world (1 Jn. 5:4), so walk by faith and not by sight. Stay close to me, and you will find victory in the midst of brokenness. That is my specialty, so hold on to Me as you walk through this day. I am mighty in your weakness, and will do great things as you lean on Me.