“You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” Ephesians 4:22-24 (NIV)
When I was a child, I often received messages from family that fed into the belief that I was unwanted, unloved, and not enough. A seed of rejection grew, and in my mind, I thought I was not worthy of love or affection. I believed the only way to receive love and care was through performance. As a result, I became a very hardworking individual in my academics and extracurriculars, and I gave 100% of my time and energy to help others in need.
All these things alone may seem non-threatening; actually, it seems like working hard would be celebrated. However, I realized that my countless efforts to help was a response to a deep longing to be needed and wanted by others. Fear of being rejected fueled my “yes” to people regardless if I had the time, resources, or desire to fulfill their requests. Unknowingly at the time, I believed that my worth and relationships were contingent upon my willingness to serve, the quality and quantity of my deeds, and my ability to please people.
The core belief that I was unwanted may have been evident growing up, but as an adult, I learned that I am wanted and chosen in Christ. Through salvation and walking with Jesus, I learned that I no longer needed to validate my worth through my deeds. Reading scripture and surrounding myself with God-centered community helped me find the truth. The love and care I received should not be based on what I can do, but on who I am. Because I know Whose I am, a daughter of the One True King, I can strive for spiritual excellence in my duties instead of striving for a sense of worth. My performance, my “yes’s”, and my service can now come from a place of acceptance not fear.
And that’s the beauty of Christ’s love, my friends! That’s the gospel! Our value is not based on what we can do, but what Jesus did for us! When we make God’s truth our core belief, there’s a powerful shift that happens within our minds. It creates a breeding ground for healing and deliverance. Our God will replace the lies we once believed with His truth and love.
John 8:32 “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
I love this list of scriptural truths that therapist and author Debra Fileta outlines in her book, True Love Dates. Read over these carefully. Which of these do you struggle to believe? What is He speaking over you today?
1. You are set apart and accepted. “You are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you — from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted” (1 Peter 2:9 MSG).
2. You are wonderfully made. “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be” (Ps. 139:13 – 16).
3. You were created for a purpose. “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Eph. 2:10).
4. You are noticed. “You have searched me, LORD, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, LORD, know it completely” (Ps. 139:1 – 4).
5. You are forgiven. “When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross” (Col. 2:13 – 14).
6. You are a child of God. “Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God — children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God” (John 1:12 – 13).
7. You are loved. “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” (1 John 3:1).
8. You are made new. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Cor. 5:17).
9. You are taken care of. “Be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you’ ” (Heb. 13:5).
10. You are redeemed. “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us” (Gal. 3:13).
Author: Fileta, Debra K.. True Love Dates (pp. 41-42).
How do I overcome these old ways of thinking?
I believe the starting point of disabling the old way of thinking is to begin at the core of what you believe about yourself. Determining what we believe about the world, what we believe about ourselves, and where those beliefs come from are great places to start. Spending time reflecting and processing here is crucial for personal and spiritual transformation. Transformative change happens within us -- in our hearts and minds. We cannot control what happens around us, but as we walk alongside Jesus and have Him change us from the inside out, we can live a more fruitful life.
Written by: Ashley K. Stovall
Galatians 6:9 “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
There will be times in our Christian walks where we will become weary in doing good. You may feel like Christian-living is too difficult to sustain or you no longer can handle the work to follow Jesus. You start to believe the lie that your devotional time, prayer, and commitment to the faith has no reward. Perhaps, you’ve been tired of carrying your cross (Matthew 16:24-26). In those moments, the Book of Galatians tells us to prevent from feeling fatigued and tired in our good deeds and living for Christ because there is a promise of reaping if we don’t quit.
In times where I felt weary in doing good for the church, for others, or for God, He yells at me like a fired up coach! He says, “Don’t give up. Keep going! I know you are tired and exhausted, but you have to finish the race I’ve laid before you. There is no one else I’ve called to do what you’ve been assigned to do. I know it’s hard, but keep going. I will fuel you for the mission. I will fuel you for the things I have called you to do. So, when you’ve given all you can to stand, keep standing! Keeping running toward Me. You will not fail because I will be with you. You can do this! Don’t give up. ”
We have to keep going, keep pushing, and keep running until God tells us to stop and not when we "feel like it". We can’t end the work prematurely. Our ears must be attentive to hear His instructions every step of the way. Jesus did not give up in fulfilling the mission set before Him; God filled Him with the endurance and strength He needed to keep going. Our Heavenly Father will do the same for us if we believe and trust in Him and not our emotions.
When we pour out, it can sometimes feel like we are giving so much of ourselves away with very little return on investment. Emptiness should not be seen as lack, but an opportunity to be filled with God's strength in order to fulfill the mission He has set before you. And in return you will reap His goodness and righteousness.
Always make room for Him. Like empty jars, God is able to fill us and create overflow. There’s a spiritual gain that reaches us when we are constantly pouring out ourselves for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. When we create the space for God, there’s anticipation that happens within our spirit. We begin to yearn and thirst for Jesus, and that empowers us to run after Him - not the task!
For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” Ephesians 2:10
In the Old Testament, Jeremiah, a prophet, received instructions from God telling him to go down to a potter’s house and observe him working on the pottery wheel. The piece the potter was working on was flawed in some way, so the potter decided to destroy it, and he started to re-mold the clay. The Lord uses Jeremiah’s observation as a metaphor for Israel - stating that He could do just as the potter did with the flawed pot. He could rid a nation of its evil by destroying it, and He would build up another. The Lord says in Jeremiah 18:6 that “as clay in the potter’s hands so you are in mine.”
I honestly love this imagery as God our Creator; the author and finisher of our faith. If we go back to the creation story, God made Adam out the ground, out of dust. Just as a potter uses elements of the earth, God fashioned us from dust and molded us together. Throughout our lives, He shapes us, molds us, and transforms us into something beautiful -- into His craftsmanship! There’s so much intimacy in this depiction. God’s hands physically on us, molding each detail of our existence into place. The potter knows exactly the amount of pressure to have as he’s sculpting the piece. He knows the exact speed the wheel needs to spin in relation to his vision of the shape and depth of the pot.
I realize that there are times I must undergo the process of being broken down into raw form again -- humbly remolded by His hands in order to fully live by His design of me, not my own ideal. I find myself trying to mold and shape pieces of who I am into the way I believe they should be. I now realize that I was trying to do God's job as the Potter. I must let go of that control, fear, and distrust, and let God do His job! The weight of His pressure is for a purpose, and in His hands we are safe. There are no better hands to be in than Our Creator’s.
In what areas of your heart, mind, or character need more of God’s pressure and sculpting? Have you been getting in the way or have you allowed Him to beautifully reconstruct who you are?
(Excerpts from my book in the chapter entitled "Breaking the Mold")
"Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful." Hebrews 10:23, NIV
I went to bed one day last week praying for our world and praying against the negative impacts of COVID-19. I'm sure I am not alone when I say it has not been easy to navigate the several changes we’ve had to endure because of this virus. The Lord woke me up that night and the words “Hope in Uncertainty” popped up in my mind. I then saw the Apostle Paul vigorously writing at a desk behind prison bars. I imagined the Lord would want us to relate to Paul’s productivity and intimacy with God in times of isolation. However, upon further reflection, He was speaking something more profound to me: HOPE.
Last month, my dear friend, Roneka Spady, wrote a devotional on hope. She courageously shared her testimony of defeating cancer and proclaimed that God has never lost a battle. No matter what we are facing in our life (i.e. sickness, loss, grief, violence, unemployment), we must hold on to the truth that He is always fighting for us (Exodus 14:14). This pandemic will be added onto our lists of allegedly undefeatable battles and seemingly unmovable mountains. The shadow of uncertainties that follow the corona virus may produce anxiety and fear. Nevertheless, it will also be a great testimony of endurance, patience, faith, belief, trust, salvation, and growth -- IF WE HAVE HOPE AND PUT THAT HOPE IN JESUS.
Life has been full of uncertainties even before 2020. We all have had our experiences where we faced uncertainty and unexpected situations which tested our spiritual or behavioral responses. What if this is also such a time of God’s testing and training you to be spiritually stronger than you were, and to respond more prudently than you have in the past. This virus is sweeping in as an attempt to strip us not only from our health, healing, and productivity, but something far more important: Our Hope in Jesus. Our focuses are being turned to the things we can see versus the things we yet cannot see in and of ourselves. “Now faith is the substantiating of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1 DBT
Will we forget God’s word in moments of ambiguity, or will we act on our own understanding and attempt to control the outcome? As we, as a people, mustn’t lose hope in God.
What have you put your hope in this year? This month? Your job? Your finances? Our government? Your church?
Hope displaced is a dangerous thing. It can bring deception and disappointment when placed in unreliable sources. I am a walking testament of this. Plenty of times, I have put my hope in people, money, work, and my own will only to be left in discouragement and disbelief. Let me be more transparent. I have lost sleep at night and peace during the day because of anxiety and depression. At times, I lack trust that God will come through for me as it pertains to my finances, my mother’s sobriety, and my mental health. I have seen God time and time again bring back the heads of my enemies without me even having to lift a finger; and yet, there are some situations in which I forget who He is and what He’s done. The more anxiety produced, the more ambiguous the situation, or the more unexpected the hurt and, the less likely I was to pause and gage the placement of my faith. Our hope is only effective when it is properly placed in the hands of our Lord and Savior; our good Shepherd; our Jehovah Jireh. In any other person, place or thing, we are destined to fail.
There is no question that the days we are living in are unprecedented, tragic, and uncertain. Many of us are suffering in tremendous ways. The hope that Paul wrote about was a treatment for the sufferings very we all have, are, and will face. Trials and tribulations do not discriminate, and they did not just appear in 2020. Even after COVID-19 has been conquered (in the name of Jesus), we will continue to experience times of hopelessness and despair. But Paul reminds us that in the wake of tribulation, we, the body of Christ, must maintain a hope, endure for the sake of others, and rejoice. “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:12
Tim Keller stated said, “To get through life, you have to get through suffering, and to get through suffering, you need a living hope.”
When many of us turn on the TV, scroll on our phones, or open our laptops, all we see is what’s wrong. We focus on what destruction and devastation for far too long. You know when a bright light shines in your face, you temporarily cannot see and you have to squint, rub your eyes, or blink several times before you can clearly see again. I believe that’s where some of us are. We have become blinded by the light of it all, and it’s become hard to adjust and refocus our eyes on Truth. If our hope only lies in the things we can see -- fear, anxiety, and uncertainty will win, and we will lose the very life we’re putting all of our hope in to preserve. I encourage you to put your hope in no other thing than God. The world is standing still, but our lives and our faith don’t have to. Perhaps, God has a bigger plan than we can see. I want to be a part of that plan and be able to say I truly put my trust and hope in Him. He is in control; and family, He has slowed down the world for us to take advantage.
As Christians, this is the time to confess and proclaim the hope of the resurrection. Let us fill the silence and uncertainty with the hope that we profess and affirm; for God can be trusted and is faithful. Will you remain hopeful?
“Lazy people want much but get little. But those who work hard will prosper” – Proverbs 13:4
Is your life everything you dreamed of? Have you allowed your faith to guide your vision? Do you feel like you are working hard and prospering?!
6 years ago, my life was a mess. I was divorced with a young child; I was unfulfilled in my career and had no idea where I was supposed to be. I didn’t know what signs to follow, what feelings to believe, or what work was worthy. I didn’t have vision for life and I certainly didn’t have priorities or believe in the hard work necessary to achieve the big things.
Fast forward to today - I am remarried to an incredibly handsome man and we have three amazing kiddos with a fourth on the way, we love big vision, working hard, and achieving the impossible. Our life is BEAUTIFUL. For me - I am a wife, mother, and daughter to the King. I am also a health and wellness coach in direct sales. I enjoy volunteering with the children’s program at church, meal planning and prepping, Disney, budgeting (for real!), and doing the impossible. My husband and I both work part time from home.
But the process of getting to TODAY was dark, it was messy, and often it was without faith. So… how did we get from there to here? A lot of hard work and some pivotal learning moments. I will share one big thing I learned about BALANCE that I pray may allow you some peace.
When I first started leaning into my faith and following a bigger vision for life, I felt so HURRIED. I had finally gotten over my fear of hard work, but I only felt like I was falling flat on my face. I constantly felt pulled in different directions and never quite felt like I was achieving the things I wanted. The hustle didn’t feel like anymore more than running in place. I was all or nothing in every area of my life and by trying to do it all – and I felt like I was failing at everything. If I was successful in my business, I was sacrificing all my family time, if I was successful in my marriage I didn’t have time for my personal growth, if I took enough time in my faith I didn’t have time to focus on my personal health.
Enter – a phrase that changed everything. At a leadership conference I heard a successful businesswoman giving a struggling mama advice by telling her this: “Balance is myth. There is no such thing. There are only priorities.”
That moment changed my life. Because I realized that although I had priorities in my life - every single one of them was a top priority! In following this bigger vision for my life, I was also trying to orchestrate every single step and balance EVERYTHING. I didn’t follow the Lord’s plan at all and made it truly impossible to get everything done.
I have learned that we cannot be all the things all of the time. We can only be ONE THING at a time.
If you struggle with the hustle, if you struggle with trying to be everything to everyone, if you find yourself trying to BALANCE, if you are trying to follow your faith but map out every single step - I encourage you to stop. Slow down, sit down, reflect, and figure out your priorities.
Here are some simple steps I take to ensure my days and my time are aligned with a bigger vision in our life:
Every day you have the power to decide your priorities. You can work hard and create the biggest vision for your life. Your priorities will be different every day – and it will be ever changing because this is real life – and real life can be chaotic. I pray that you can lay down the burden of trying to balance life and enjoy the work without that struggle.
And please know this … the big vision the Lord has laid on your heart – YOU CAN DO IT. You can accomplish anything. Don’t be afraid of the hustle. Don’t fear the vision. Embrace it all with it your conscious priorities. Believe that your hard work will be rewarded and that you can achieve everything you desire.
SONG: You're Gonna Be Okay by Brian and Jenn Johnson
Cricket Mansour, Wife, Mother, and Health & Wellness Coach
“Who is he who speaks and it comes to pass, when the Lord has not commanded it?”
Lamentations 3:37 (NKJV)
It comes as no surprise to any of us that the world is hurting right now and in desperate need of healing. We don’t have to look very far (perhaps, not even past the mirror) to find someone who is longing for physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual healing.
Pain comes in many different forms and thus, healing can take on many different forms. For the purpose of this post, I’m going to focus on emotional pain. It’s important not to compare any one person’s pain to another’s. Pain is relative and when we compare, we can fall into a trap of judging others and/or isolating ourselves out of shame and fear of rejection. There is no such thing as “pain olympics.”
Prior to my senior year of college, I had lived a pretty fortunate, “normal,” and trauma-free existence. My entire world was rocked on April 16, 2007, when my school, Virginia Tech, experienced one of the largest mass-shootings of our country’s history. I was a senior, looking forward to graduation that was set to take place less than a month later. While I was fortunate to not be on-campus at the time of the shooting, the psychological ramifications are something that I still find myself having to work through at times...almost 13 years later.
I want to share some things that have helped me in my process of healing from this trauma.
1. Learning to recognize and cling onto God’s sovereignty. Now, just to be clear, I am not listing this first because it was something that came easily to me. In fact, quite the contrary. This was probably one of the later lessons I learned (and am still learning), but it feels like one of, if not the, most important lessons for me. Just last Sunday at church, I was reminded again of one of my favorite verses: “Who is he who speaks and it comes to pass, when the Lord has not commanded it?” (Lamentations 3:37). This verse is one that my priest often shared with me when I was in the throes of working through the trauma. It reminded me of the fact that God is truly “The Controller of All.” While that’s not at all to say that He caused the shooting to happen, He was still there in the middle of it and was and is ultimately still in control. Of my life. Of my pain. Of everything. And so, even if I experience pain, I can still trust that I am securely tucked away into the palm of His hand. And I can finally say that I would rather live a life that is marred by some pain, but being in my Daddy’s hands, as opposed to a pain-free life (which we all know isn’t possible, anyway) away from Him.
Another nugget I loved from the message at church this past Sunday pertaining to the sovereignty of God that also brought me peace was this: “God doesn’t have to swoop in to save us, because He never stopped holding us.” Praise God for His sovereignty and the fact that He didn’t just create us and then leave us to fend for ourselves!
2. Being honest with myself (and with others) about my thoughts and feelings. Pain sometimes has a way of making us feel very isolated and alone. We convince ourselves that no one else could possibly understand our struggle, and so, we hide. We may hide because we are judging ourselves for being “stuck” (i.e., “Why have I not gotten over this yet? It’s been X amount of time!”) and worry that others will also judge us. And the unfortunate reality is that sometimes other people will. However, it’s important to first acknowledge what we are feeling and then share it with someone we know loves and supports us, no matter what. That could be a family member, a friend, a spiritual mentor, a therapist (more on that, later). Sometimes when we judge ourselves for our emotions, we end up keeping ourselves stuck. I know it seems anti-intuitive because as humans, we immediately try to push away any painful emotions, at just about any cost. However, we find that when we can simply notice the emotions, without judging them or trying to push them away, they end up passing more quickly on their own.
3. Being honest with God about my emotions. So here’s another one that took me some time to learn. I was okay sharing my pain with God, until it turned into some anger toward Him. Then it all of a sudden felt like I had to hide from Him because being angry at Him felt so wrong. However, my priest also encouraged me to take all of my emotions to God, not just the “safe” ones. He reminded me that God is relational and He loves me unconditionally and wants an intimate relationship with me. If I’m angry at a family member or friend and don’t address it, it will put a wedge in our relationship. Same thing with God. I will admit, I felt a lot of healing from finally being willing to share ALL of my emotions with God.
4. Seek professional help. I’m a clinical psychologist, so you may think I’m “paid” to say this, but I’m not. I’m speaking not just as a psychologist, but as someone who also sought therapy to work through my trauma. Therapy doesn’t mean that something is “seriously wrong” or that you are in “crisis” or that you are “crazy.” I wish I could fully articulate the blessing that therapy was for me. It helped me work through my trauma in a healthy way and taught me so much about myself. And honestly, when I learn more about myself, it also helps me align myself with how Christ views me. And that type of healing then extends to how I see others (and how HE sees others)! So really, it’s a win-win!
If you are experiencing pain, of any kind, I hope that you will reach out to someone you trust. And reach out to God - you don’t even need to have the words, just a simple, “Jesus, help me!” is all it takes.
Sylvia Hanna, Clinical Psychologist, Skincare Consultant
“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
We all know the popular cliché, “you are what you eat.” Most people hear that and think food. Unfortunately, we live in a culture that thrives off of junk food and industries making money off of supersized burgers and Sour Patch Kids cereal (yes, that’s a thing, I freaked out, too, when I saw it on the shelves). For the most part, we know that when we choose to eat junk food, we won’t feel good. Our organs start to fail, endurance decreases and energy will start to trickle away until we are left feeling drained and empty. Bad fuel = a car that won’t start.
When I hear that phrase, I also think of it in the spiritual context, “you are what you spiritually eat.” If you choose to consume negativity, hours of Netflix and comparison traps on Instagram, the same thing happens. Our hearts grow weary, energy to trust God declines and our endurance to hold on to hope start to trickle away. We are left feeling drained, again, but this time of good spiritual food.
These two areas of wellness are so tied together, a package deal really. You cannot have one without the other. In the bible, an analogy is given that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit and we are to honor God with our bodies. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20, NIV). Scripture doesn’t just say our bodies are temples, but they are temples OF the Holy Spirit, meaning we hold God inside of us each day. We are chosen to carry the Holy Spirit each day, so what happens if we aren’t feeding our souls in the right way?
Scripture goes on to say our bodies are not our own, that we were bought at a price, and so we are to honor God with our bodies. I read that and realize that when we don’t take care of our physical body, we are refusing to value something that is God’s possession. When we choose to not take care of it, we are choosing to not take care of something that belongs to God. Throughout history, temples have always been built with purpose and created to be a place of beauty where people can come to worship. Temples should be well taken care of, as they are a dwelling place for God to move. What if we saw our earthly bodies in the same lens? What if we consistently valued our body enough to give it the proper nutritional fuel and care it deserved?
God pulled back the curtain on this concept of physical and spiritual wellness about 4 years ago during graduate school. My life in grad school looked something like a juggler at a circus. Dozens of colored balls traveling in a circle, labeled as “straight A’s, volunteer, work, student teach, relationships, sleep, time with God, physical health.” Unfortunately, the “time with God” and “physical health” balls often bounced right out of my juggling routine.
I am not sure when the switch happened, but at some point I realized that I would not be successful post-grad if I didn’t get my physical health and spiritual walk in check. I felt like God was pushing me towards complete obedience in wellness. While I wasn’t totally sure what that was going to look like, I knew that I need to make room for God to show me how to properly take care of my physical body and make room for him to speak to me about what it meant to live deeply with Him each day.
Let me be clear in saying this was not an overnight transformation. Even 4 years later, this blend of physical and spiritual wellness is still something that I have to often submit back to the Lord to ensure I am still walking in obedience. However, that idea of “you are what you eat” could not be more accurate. I work as a health coach now (in addition to teaching) and my main focus is ensuring my clients can learn the importance of prioritizing those areas of wellness to see maximum progress. When we eat well and exercise every day, the brain functions better, metabolism and organs work efficiently, we have more energy and we are actively reducing our risk of chronic diseases. When we spiritually eat well, I believe we reap similar benefits: greater brain functioning reaps greater discernment, increased physical endurance leads to increased spiritual endurance for hardships, and heightened energy for our day-to-day activities heightens greater energy in believing God is working victories in our life. When our body is well, our soul is also well, too.
I want to leave you with a few healthy habits that I have implemented over the years that keep my temple physically and spiritually well each day.
Remember, God has IMMENSE GRACE for us. There is not an expectation to have perfect nutrition and never watch Netflix again. There is power in conviction for areas of your life that aren’t being fed in the right way, so take it just as that. God doesn’t want you to make room for condemnation, just room for you to treat your temple well and place God at the middle of your health so you can reap an amazing harvest.
Written by: Tori Fantasia, Health & PE Teacher, Wellness Coach
Song: Make Room by Jonathan McReynolds
Scripture: 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
“The grass withers and the flowers fade, but the word of our God stands forever.” Isaiah 40:8 NLT
Though not physically tangible in and of itself, I’ve noticed that most people hold on dearly to hope. When we are hopeful about a situation, we are always talking about it. We are dreaming and we hold whatever precious thing near to our heart. We cling to it.
But what happens when your situation, your testimony, the order of life events, the sudden lack of faith or vision, the unanswered prayers, the doubt or the fatigue in believing for something for so long eats away at that hope you once held so tangibly to?
What do you do when you feel there’s nothing left to hope for?
Recently, I’ve been going through chemotherapy. It is currently one of the most enduring times I have ever experienced. It literally takes strength to get up every day. Though rough, every single day since starting my chemotherapy journey on January 8th, I’ve heard the song, “Never Lost” by All Nations. It has rung through my head when I wake up, when I’m in pain, when I feel like worshipping God, or when I feel like yelling at God because I have no idea why this is happening to me in the first place.
I love the lyrics because they ring true to God’s character in that He has never lost a battle before and He never will. That’s most of the song on repeat. It’s a reminder that God does not lose.
That has been my hope I hold on to when I feel like I can’t go on anymore - that God has a perfect score of winning ALL battles (big or small) and that He’ll never lose. That is what I sink my hook of hope into.
My encouragement to you is to guard your hope. Guard it like it is one of the most sacred jewels in your jewelry box protected by armor. If the enemy can snatch away your hope, it will take your perspective off of God and then you’ll walk around feeling defeated. A defeated, downcast life is not one that God has for us!
So, what do you do when you feel like there’s nothing left to hope for?
Written by: Roneka Spady, Every Nation Campus Minister, Divine Unity Community Church
Song: Never Lost by All Nations
Scripture: Isaiah 40:8 NLT
They were all trying to frighten us, thinking, “Their hands will get too weak for the work, and it will not be completed.” But I prayed, “Now strengthen my hands.” Nehemiah 6:9
While Nehemiah served as a cupbearer for a king, he was informed that his home, hundreds of miles away in Jerusalem, had been destroyed. The walls that protected the city were demolished and the gates had been burned down. Immediately, Nehemiah wept, prayed, and fasted before God. A burden for his people weighed on him, and he was granted favor with God to rebuild the wall in Jerusalem. The king released him to return back home, and he provided Nehemiah with an army of protection and other resources for the journey. Nehemiah left the comfort of the palace to fulfill a mission God placed on his heart. What I love about this story is God’s favor and provision over Nehemiah. When God calls us to fulfill a purpose, He will provide everything we need to complete it. In Jerusalem, Nehemiah recruit other men with a shared vision to help him rebuild. God gives him strategy and a team to restore the wall and protect the city.
Now, we all know that we have an adversary who doesn’t like to see God’s plan unfold. The enemy will try to stop us when we decide to live on mission, and we see that all throughout the book of Nehemiah. Three men, Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem, repeatedly try to interfere with the rebuilding of the wall. The used countless tactics to get him to come down from the wall. They mocked him, circulated slander, conspired to kill him, and other unrighteous ploys to distract him. But Nehemiah was a righteous man who knew God and obeyed His word. He knew God’s plan was a plan that could not be ignored nor abandoned. Throughout all of the attacks the enemy threw at Nehemiah, God gave him discernment, wisdom, and strength to withstand and fight against their schemes. Nehemiah did not lose focus of his mission despite the fiery darts that tried to take him out. The hurtful words and deception of Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem did not prevail, and the wall was rebuilt! Don’t let the enemy pull you down from your wall!
What is your “wall”? What burden has God placed on your heart to fix, resolve, or restore? Who are your “haters” (Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem) that keeps you from building? Whose lies are you believing about your calling? If you notice in the reading, Nehemiah never stopped what he was doing to correct or challenge what people were saying about him -- even when they were lying. He stayed focused. He didn’t write a passive aggressive post on Facebook, go moan and complain to a friend, or blast Taylor Swift’s song “Haters Gonna Hate” while secretly plotting his revenge. He was not frightened or anxious. He stayed the course. He drew near to God and prayed for strength. He unceasingly labored and gave his everything to something bigger than himself. In the end, the enemy was defeated.
The next time someone tries to pull you down will you respond by asking God for strength to continue the mission or will you react emotionally and take matters into your own hands?
They were all trying to frighten us, thinking, “Their hands will get too weak for the work, and it will not be completed.” But I prayed, “Now strengthen my hands.” Nehemiah 6:9
I’m not sure who needs to hear this, but I pray your eyes are open to the enemy’s attempt to pull you down from what God has called you to do! May your heart be fully submitted and yielded to God’s will. He will use you to accomplish His great works. You are needed, my friend. You are not discredited from the divine assignment no matter what your friends or family tell you. When you face opposition, I urge you to stay posted on the wall. Do the work God’s called you to do!
Song: "See A Victory" | Elevation Worship
Let us seize and hold tightly the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is reliable and trustworthy and faithful [to His word] Hebrews 10:23 AMP
The week of my 31st birthday, I allowed disappointment to steal my joy, celebration, and belief in God. My mind was clouded with negative thoughts like “You are still alone. You were supposed to be married by now. Your hopes and desires aren’t going to come true. Can you trust God?” These thoughts were seeds to emotional turmoil I felt for three straight days. I was believing the enemy’s lies about the things I was seeing externally; not understanding the pronounced impact those beliefs were having on me inside.
Romans 8:5-6 says Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. God revealed to me that my mind was set on things of the flesh -- my earthly desires and expectations -- not God’s goodness and faithfulness. It led to feeling a great deal of disappointment --“ sadness or displeasure caused by the nonfulfillment of one's hopes or expectations”. My disappointment was birthed by the realization that my desires, His promises, and the prophetic words over my life had not happened when I had expected them to; specifically, the desires of marriage and motherhood. I mourned the unmet expectations of my life, and admittedly, I briefly lost hope.
We often have to wait on the Lord for things we long to see happen in life. I am still praying for the salvation of family members, freedom in my finances, and of course, some hard rock abs and chiseled arms. But when disappointment accompanies us in life’s waiting room -- it can be a dark place. If we hold too tightly to our expectations (especially in long periods of waiting), we will lose sight of GOD and only see empty rooms and closed doors. Our hearts can become heavy with the void instead of full of hope in Him.
Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. Psalm 27:14
Perhaps, you have been where I was just last week. There is something you are longing for, there’s a character trait you are hoping to develop, or a sin pattern you are wanting to break; and the lack of those desires has brought you into despair, displeasure, or the mourning of hopes. It has brought you into a DEEP moment of UNBELIEF. Your foundation is no longer God’s truth, but in your unbelief in His truths. When disappointment doesn’t act solely as an emotional compass to notify our head and heart of where we are emotionally -- it can easily become an endless stream of deception.
Disappointment deceives us when any one of these six statements below becomes our truth. I encourage you to break agreement with and repent from the sins associated with these beliefs.
I have not perfected the ability to continuously align my beliefs and thoughts to God’s, but thankfully, I was able to recognize the enemy’s influence and my own participation in these deceptive thoughts. As a result, the Lord revealed to me key truths that helped me to remove the distraction of disappointment.
The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see. Hebrews 11:1 (MSG)
You will always be disappointed when your desires and expectations are outside of God’s will for your life. When your foundation is in Him, you will remain true to His promises, His timing, His desires, and His truth. His ways are far better than our own. He has not given up on you, so don’t give up on Him! Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.
No other time in my life have I been this convinced that His promises for my life are still true. In the meantime, I will do my very best to focus on my assignment and live a purpose-filled life. I refuse to be distracted any longer -- I hope you will, too.
Song: Prophesy Your Promise by Bryan and Katie Torwalt
See a list of scriptures to meditate on when feeling disappointed