Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Hope

Today I want to share with you about hope.  I've been sick (still not sure with what) for over 6 weeks, and a lot of the time I desperately need even a little hope to hang on to.  I need hope that God will heal me yet, hope that this isn't permanent, hope that there is an 'other side' to all this.  I need hope, as in a hopeful feeling, like the opposite of despair.   I need hope that God is good and that He has a reason for my suffering.

Did you know that, in the Bible, "Unlike the English word "hope", the New Testament word contains no uncertainty; it speaks of something that is certain, but not yet realized." (MacArthur study Bible)  When hope is spoken of in the Bible, it is a sure and certain hope; an expectation - a hope in God that is based on who He is and His promises in His Word. 

God keeps my hope alive through His Word, and for those of you who also believe in Jesus as your Saviour, I pray that He gives you hope through these verses, too.

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"But I will hope continually
and will praise You yet more and more."
Psalm 71:14 

This verse puts my focus on God by praising Him.  There is always something to praise God for.  Generally when I'm not feeling thankful, I start with thanking God for saving me, and go from there.  When my focus is on God, it takes the focus off of my problems, and that in and of itself makes me feel less like despairing.

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"...For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself.  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 1:8-10

First off, this verse gives me comfort that other Believers - even if for different reasons - have felt the same way I do - "burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself".  Secondly, there is a purpose to hard times - to make us rely on God.  (There are many other reasons that God allows hardships; I hope to write on that another time.)  To be totally honest, when things are going well, I notice that I feel more confident in myself and I rely less on God.  That is a really bad thing.  I will always need God - desperately.  Now that I've been sick, struggling to breathe and stay calm, not knowing what's wrong with me or if I'll get better on this earth, I've been relying heavily on God.  I really want to get better, yet at the same time...I've been enjoying the close connection with Him.  I have to remind myself that I have grown in my faith even when times have not been hard.  It's just that when you are feeling helpless, you have a choice - will you rely on your husband, your mom, your medication...or will you rely on God?  I've found He's the only one completely strong enough to hold me up.  Thirdly, I love the confident hope in this verse; the promise of deliverance based on past experience:  God did deliver us, and He will deliver us again!  We have set our hope on Him!  Amen!  These words give me assurance that God will heal me from what I am going through - whether in my lifetime or in heaven, I don't know, but I know He will.

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"So we do not lose heart.  Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.  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.  For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal."
2 Corinthians 4:16-18

This verse gives me hope because it puts things into perspective for me.  It encourages me that yes, God is strengthening my faith.  It reminds me that what I am going through is nothing compared to how wonderful eternity will be.  It reminds me that what I am suffering now is temporary and will be gone yet, when Jesus decides it's time.  It also prompts me to focus on loving God and loving others, as those things are more important in the long-term.   

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There are many, many other verses in God's Word that give me hope.  Some of them actually use the word "hope" in them, while some don't, they just give you hope!  Open up the Holy Bible (I recommend ESV, but whatever translation you have is better than nothing!) and dig in.  I find, when I am despairing, that there is nothing that gives me more hope than reading and dwelling on God's words.

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I would also like to add this quote that a friend posted.  It really impacted me during a time when I felt like giving up.  (The quote is from Sara Hagerty's book "Every Bitter Thing is Sweet", a book I have not personally read.) 

“I realized that if, at eighty, my body hasn’t known the healing of the Sarah who went before me those thousands of years ago, I will know that I pleased Him with a hope that kept me raw and vulnerable to His touch.”

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I also wanted to share a link to a short devotional titled The Source of Hope.  You can read and/or listen to it.  I think it's really good! 

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

God is With Us

I have been sick for the last 4 1/2 weeks; at this point, we are still uncertain as to what is wrong with my body.  To be honest, I am really struggling emotionally and am relying heavily on verses like these to provide calm.  I want to share some of the things that God is teaching me during this time; my hope is that God would use these verses, and my thoughts on them, to encourage and comfort those of you who believe in Jesus, and strengthen your faith in Him.

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"Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil, for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me."
Psalm 23:4

A shepherd's rod was used to protect his sheep, and his staff was used to guide the sheep.  The Lord's protection and guidance are a comfort to us.  Note this verse does not say the Lord will take us out of the valley of the shadow of death, but that while we are in it, we will not fear the evil in it, because He comforts us with His protection and guidance.

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"And when He got into the boat, His disciples followed Him.  And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but He was asleep.  And they went and woke Him, saying, "Save us, Lord; we are perishing."  And He said to them, "Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?"  Then He rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm."
Matthew 8:23-26

Jesus is in the boat - in our storms - with us.  (Also, as a side note, He has the ability to calm our storms if He desires to.  As the Ball Brothers sing, "Sometimes He calms the storm, and other times He calms His child.")  It is a comfort to me to know that God is in the boat with me when I am in a storm, because His presence has a calming effect on me.

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"It is the Lord who goes before you.
He will be with you; He will not leave you or forsake you.
Do not fear or be dismayed."
Deuteronomy 31:8 (also vs. 6 and Hebrews 13:5)

This is Moses talking to Joshua, who was going to succeed Moses.  Joshua would be going into battle.  The Lord is with us in the battles, never leaving.  Thank You, Lord!

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