Friday, January 29, 2016

5 Steps to Peace when Life Hurts

Note, this post is drawn from sections of my Bible Study, Storms of Life.

See, I [the Lord] am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wilderness. Isaiah 43:19

This is one of my favorite verses. Look at the verbs God uses:
I am doing…
I am making…

God is at work, even when we are in difficult times. It brings hope when I am struggling through a desert or wilderness.

But there’s a question in this verse that is a struggle in and of itself: Do you not perceive it?

I want God’s action to be sudden! I want to be delivered from the desert…now!
I want to be refreshed with streams of water…now!

But God works in bits and pieces and He asks, “Don’t you see my blessings even though you are in the midst of the hard times?”

How do we lift our heads to see blessings when we are overwhelmed by our circumstances? When every day is as hard as the one before with no end in sight? God has taught me some ways to find his touches of light even in the dark. I hope these will help you if you are in a difficult situation.

1. One day at a time! 

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.  Isaiah 43:18
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Matthew 6:34

It’s hard not to think back on the hard days that have gone before, especially if today seems to be more of the same. It’s even more dangerous to focus on tomorrow and slip into depression. Look at God today. Lift your eyes to Him right now. Ask for His guidance for the next hour and relax in His love. One step at a time.

2. Look for simple blessings.

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down form the Father of the heavenly lights. James 1:17

It’s hard to see good gifts when life is in pieces around your feet. God’s goodness is often in the little things. A child’s smile, an excited puppy meeting you at the door, an inspirational song on the radio, a friend’s phone call or card. Quiet things that make you smile. As you go through your day, ask God to touch you with His good gifts. Allow Him to open the eyes of your heart and to show you His tenderness.

3. Praise God!

Praise be to the LORD, for he showed me the wonders of his love when I was in a city under siege. Psalms 31:21 
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. Ephesians 1:3

Maybe you feel like you are under siege. Your thoughts, your emotions, your life are all under attack. Make the choice to praise Him, praise Him for the wonders of His love, the small things that He poured into your days. Think about the blessings He revealed to you when you looked for the small things.

Above all, praise Him for His unimaginable love that sent His Son to the cross to cleanse you from your sins. Praise Him for the power that raised Jesus from the dead and gave you the sure gift of eternal life. Regardless of your circumstances, your salvation is secure. You are His beloved child, forever!

4. Stand on God’s Truth.
It’s easy to choose verses that demand God to deliver you and read them to Him as though they apply to your specific situation. I have done it more than once. But there are promise that are true in any circumstances. As you read through these, allow God’s assurances to warm your heart.

And surely I am with you always, to the end of the age.  Matthew 28:20

God, who is enthroned from of old, who does not change. Psalm 55:19 

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Hebrews 13:8

The faithfulness of the LORD endures forever. Psalms 117:2

The LORD is trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all he does. Psalm 145:13

The one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. 1 John 4:4

The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. Psalm 28:7

5. Safety in Numbers

We’ve all watched the documentaries on Africa. A weak animal is separated from the herd and becomes a lion’s lunch. Satan uses the same tactic with us. When I’m struggling, I tend to hide. I don’t get together with friends, I pull out of church. I separate myself from my source of encouragement and safety and leave myself open to fear, doubt, and hopelessness.

Surround yourself with prayer partners. Turn to your church family for love. Share your needs and help others carry their burdens. God created us to need each other. Those who love us are huge blessings. Submerge yourself in this precious treasure.

There are so many things that help carry us through hard times. Above all, remember this:

Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD, the LORD himself, is the Rock eternal. Isaiah 26:4

Share with us things that give you strength during times of suffering. 

Friday, January 22, 2016

One and Only One

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. Romans 15:13

Overflowing with confident hope - Look at the joy on that little girl's face.

The past few years I’ve struggled with God’s call to write. I deleted more words than I wrote and I was overwhelmed with discouragement. Every December, I proclaimed the New Year as the year of success but, by the end of January, my bold proclamation was a defeated whimper. The enemy’s lies won the battle in my mind. "Storms of Life was a fluke," he whispered.

I searched for success in the advice of other writers and in my own determination. I could do this! I devised my battle plan:
  • Sit my backside in a chair for a set amount of time. Three hours sounds good.
  • Set a daily word count; I’ll start with 500. Surely I can do that.
  • Don’t edit as I write, just get it down. My perfectionism is an effective enemy.
  • Identify my distractions and try to eliminate them. Uh-huh. Well, I’ll give it a try.
And give it a try is exactly what I did. You know, there’s a limit to how long a person can sit and stare at a blinking cursor on a laptop screen. 500 words? I’d throw a party at 10! I was ready to give up.

Then, a few Sundays ago, my pastor preached on Romans 15:13 and God began to fill my heart with the truths of these remarkable words.  He began to quiet my hopelessness.

God, the source of hope…
Not a source of hope, not one of many, but the source. The only source.

Your struggle probably isn’t writing. Perhaps you doubt your parenting skills. Maybe you aren’t sure you can make it one more day in that difficult job. Does a relationship seem beyond help?

Hope doesn’t depend on our own strength or in the advice we might read in a self-help book. It rises up in us when we turn to God. Hope doesn’t transform us into best-selling authors or amazing parents. It doesn’t magically erase the struggle at work or remove the strain in our relationships. It does open our hearts to God’s strength, comfort, and presence. Hope allows us to trust in Him.

[God] will fill you completely with joy and peace... 
Some days, I still give in to the blinking cursor but, when I do, I spend time with God and let Him give me hope for tomorrow. 

He is the Author, not only of Scripture but also of our faith.  He is the perfect Parent and He can fill us with peace when we allow Him to guide us.  He understands our frustrations at work and in painful relationships. He experienced both when He walked this earth.

Nothing is hopeless when we have Him as our Partner. His Truth has defeated every lie. He is our Banner of Victory over every battle. His presence brings joy into every circumstance.

Fill you completely…you will overflow… 
God doesn’t do anything halfway. He doesn’t stir in a bit of hope, a smidgen of peace, and a dollop of joy. He fills us to overflowing! He restores, refreshes, and encourages. There’s no need to wonder about the half-full or half-empty point of view. He fill us to the brim and then some!  

  • When uncertainty creeps in, we can close our eyes and feel God’s peace wash it away. 
  • When doubt knocks on our minds, we can send Jesus to answer the door. 
  • When a sense of failure tries to wiggle in, we can picture God as the grand and glorious Victor.

His hope, joy, and peace are ready to renew and revitalize us any time we stumble.

In Him, we have a confident hope! 

Photo credit: Rob Hainer via