Thursday, October 21, 2010

Hanging on to Hope

We are often made most aware of our need for strength when we are at the very weakest in our lives. It doesn’t take long before tough times can bring the strongest person to his knees, where it seems impossible to solve the dilemma that is draining him of the needed resources to hang in there when he feels like quitting and throwing in the towel. 

Some days you can literally feel like you are at the end of your rope and hanging on by your fingertips alone. During a season of unrelenting tough times, it can seem that no matter what we do, or how hard we pray, that nothing ever changes. In truth, it is natural to hope that life will get better, that our pain will heal or that our financial setbacks will turn into financial gains. That is human nature. We were created to enjoy sunrises, not cold winter storms. 

There are mornings when you can awake with the premonition that the day just seems to have a negative spin to it. You just know that trouble is stalking outside of our door, awaiting your first stumble. A morning where the toothpaste gushes out and drops onto your fresh clean shirt, then you sit down to have some breakfast and discover that one of the kids has left something awful on the chair that squishes against the seat of your pants, and then on our way to the car, you step in dog poop and fail to realize it until you are stuck in rush hour traffic with the windows rolled up. 

When Hope is needed the Most

It is insightful to remember that a flower follows the sun even on cloudy days. It may not see the sun, but it follows where the sun is moving across a cloud banked sky. The only gaze that strengthens and gives you courage to not give up, is to keep your eyes upon God and trust in His Word to give you the strength and the wisdom that you need. It is only through Him that the deepest resources of peace, hope and joy, in the midst of suffering and in spite of suffering, can be accessed.

Doubting God in Midst of Suffering

It is very difficult to hang on to hope and not give in to weary despair and have doubts of God’s love for us as we hang on to the ledge of our fleeting faith with trembling fingertips. In reality it is human nature to feel that way and is completely normal. What is supernatural is to see past the present trial that is testing our faith, and see the Sovereign hand of our Father in Heaven at work in our circumstance.The doubt of your faith is not so much God testing you beyond what you can handle, but it is the Truth seeking to enlarge your faith and free you from despair.

Paul wrote this truth to give us perspective during tough times while he was chained and confined in a Roman prison experiencing painful and disappointing suffering and deprivation.

“Now I want you to know and continue to rest assured, brethren, that what has happened to me through this imprisonment has actually only served to advance and give a renewed impetus to the spreading of the good news of the Gospel. This a fact that throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest here my imprisonment has become generally known to be in Christ that I am a prisoner in His service and for Him”. Philippians 1:12-13 Amplified Bible

Tough things happen to us, so that something will happen in us, so that something will happen through us to touch the lives of others. Things were happening to Paul, so that something would happen in Paul, so that something would happen through Paul. That something was the Gospel igniting within the corridors of that prison, and then it flowed throughout the known world in the form of the prison epistles written there, namely, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon (See Acts 28).

Cultivating a Thankful Heart

What a challenge it can be give thanks to God when you are going through the winter storms of life.

“Give thanks in all circumstances for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” I Thess. 5:18

Giving thanks for the tough things that are going on in our lives at all times, in every circumstance and without exception? This seems illogical and bizarre, especially when you are at the end of your rope. Why would a person be encouraged to thank God when his dreams are shattered and broken in pieces at his feet and he doesn’t know why or how that happened? Because it is not for the terrible circumstance that we are thanking Him for, but the liberating truth that in spite of tough times, we can rise above the storm with a song of praise in our hearts. (See Psalm 46-1-11).

Trusting God is more than a Feeling

The following Scripture sheds light on a crucial truth that is important to get a hold of early in his life:

“Trust in the Lord with all of you heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all of your ways acknowledge him and He will make your paths straight.”  Proverbs 3:5-6

The Word of God directs us to trust in the Lord with all of our heart and to not draw our own conclusions, derive a life strategy from, or rely upon our own ideas, our wits, our education or our life experience, as we live our lives each day. We are to establish in our minds that in all ways, in everything, and at all times we are to acknowledge Him and make His will our will and His way our way. As we do so, He will provide, from His Word, a strategy as to what to do in any situation that we are facing. 

God’s counsel in The Quiet Place of our heart is to discover that there is only one way where troubles, grief and sorrow can find comfort and meaning. He alone is the God of all comfort. To lean one’s hopes on anything other than God and His wondrous grace is to set oneself up for disappointment and despair.

“Find rest, O my soul in God alone; my hope comes from him.” Psalm 62:5

“You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in your Word.” Psalm 119:114

Our hope must look confidently forward to something divinely purposeful, eternal and good that is yet to happen. We need to cling to the truth that regardless of the circumstances, God’s Sovereign purpose will be done in our lives. In spite of what we cannot see, He is at work and He is Lord. The natural man must see in order to believe but the spiritual man must believe in order to see.

 “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1

 “For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? “But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.” Rom 8:24-25

When it seems that God is Silent

The reality is that God sometimes allows suffering to remain unchanged and unrelenting in our lives. His will may be that for this time, the pain will continue, and the trial may be there again tomorrow. Do not doubt His love or compassion for you in the midst of your suffering, no matter how dark the night. 

In The Quiet Place, God calls gently to us to still our anxious heart, and discover anew that it is here that true honesty and a humble openness with God are present. If the trial does not change for the better, do not doubt God or His Word. To do so will leave you confused and disappointed that your request seems to have been denied. The seeming delay may mean that God may be saying, “No,” or “Not Now?”
“Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. For I am the LORD your God, who upholds your right hand, who says to you, ”Do not fear, I will help you."  Isa 41:10, 13

He is right there with you, right now. It is wonderful to greet the sunrise with the confident awareness of the presence of the God who created it, and the One who will be beside you whatever your day brings forth.Do not be afraid to venture out and experience the wonder and glory of being His child. There are simply no burdens, heartaches or times of suffering that can take away the hush of being with Him in The Quiet Place.

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