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Entries in Hope (10)

Monday
Nov272017

Three Women Can Prepare Your 'Christmas Heart'

In this Christmas-season UPGRADE, Dawn Wilson invites us to re-read the Christmas story from a fresh perspective, through the stories of three women.

I’ve read the Christmas story in Matthew and Luke over and over again, but what struck me this year was the three women God used in the story of our Messiah’s coming and childhood.

I received the examples of these women as a gift, and their stories can help you prepare your own “Christmas heart.” Allow the Spirit of God to cultivate a heart that respond to and worships the Lord with fresh wonder.

Here are the lessons I unwrapped from these godly ladies.

1. Elizabeth - Learning to Hope in God’s Promises (Luke 1:5-25, 36-80)

The cousin of Jesus’ mother, Elizabeth played an important role of encouragement. As the wife of a Jewish priest, Zechariah, she no doubt encouraged her husband in the ministry. They were both spiritually mature, called righteous and blameless before God and obedient to His commands. But the Jewish people were getting impatient for their Messiah to come.

The Bible says Elizabeth was barren, and when we are introduced to her she was “advanced in years”—past child-bearing age. Yet God was about to do a miracle! While Zechariah served in the temple, the angel Gabriel appeared and gave them not only a pregnancy announcement, but a name for their soon-to-be son: John. The child would fulfill a special prophecy; John would be the “messenger” of God, preparing the way for the Messiah’s coming.

Zechariah doubted God’s messenger and the angel imposed a penalty for his unbelief; but at John’s birth, Zechariah showed he had grown in faith. Perhaps Elizabeth’s faith grew to a higher level too.

Six months after Elizabeth conceived, Mary heard the good news and went to visit her cousin. Mary—also pregnant at that time—experienced the wonder of her own child leaping in her womb as the cousins embraced; and old Elizabeth declared her joy about Mary’s pregnancy even before Mary mentioned it!  

Ever the hope-giver, Elizabeth encouraged young Mary for her own journey.

In due time, Elizabeth’s son grew to minister “in the spirit and power of Elijah” (Luke 1:17) and she indeed saw the wonder of God’s promise.

This Christmas, I want to help people see the wonder of God’s promises, fulfilled in John the Baptist and our Savior, Jesus!

2. Mary - Learning to Trust God with our Future (Matthew 1:18-25; Luke 1:26-56; 2:1-52)

Young and likely still living with her parents, Mary is an example of a woman who surrendered to God’s will and trusted Him for her future. She is described as “highly favored” in scripture, meaning she fully received God’s grace; but she acknowledged her need for a Savior. An ordinary Jewish girl, God chose to use her in an extraordinary way.

She was engaged to, and later married, a carpenter named Joseph. As a virgin, she gave birth to Jesus by the Holy Spirit. She and Joseph had no sexual union until after the birth of Jesus. (They had other children later—Jesus’ half-brothers and sisters.)

Mary is an example to us of trusting God with our future, no matter how uncertain or painful.

She knew God would do a mighty work through her son, God’s “only-begotten” Son, the One who made possible the believer’s sure hope for eternal life.

Mary never received worship, adoration or prayers herself, but she pointed all glory to God alone (Luke 1:46-49).

This Christmas, I want to worship and adore the Lord, and remember my loving Father in heaven has all my tomorrows firmly in His hands.

3. Anna - Learning to Pray until the Answers Come (Luke 2:36-38)

There are only three verses in scripture about Anna, but they are rich in truth.

Like Miriam, Deborah and only a few other women in scripture, Anna was a prophetess. She was also an elder widow dedicated to the Lord. Scholars debate whether she was 84-years-old or 104 when she met Jesus.

Regardless of her age, she never left the temple after her husband’s death. She “worshiped night and day, fasting and praying.”

God's people were waiting and waiting for the Promised One, the coming Messiah.

Anna prayerfully waited too. And her prayers of faith were richly rewarded.

Simeon was a fellow-servant in the temple (verses 22-35). Simeon set the stage for an important response by Anna. After he saw Jesus and said his eyes had seen God’s “salvation”—the one who would enlighten the Gentiles and bring glory to God’s people, Israel—Anna spoke up.

The Bible says she came to the place where Jesus was being dedicated in the temple that very moment and began to “give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.”

Her prayers, all Israel’s prayers, had been answered. The Messiah had finally come!

This Christmas, I want to thank my Father God for the Messiah’s coming, and recognize Him afresh as the Promised One ... MY Promised Savior.

Join with me this Christmas:

  • Hope in God’s promises.
  • Trust God for your future.
  • Pray with confidence and expectancy.

And rejoice! The Redeemer has come!

Do you need hope, faith, a more expectant spirit? How can the example of these three godly women encourage your heart today?

Dawn Wilson, founder and President of Heart Choices Today, is a speaker and author, and the creator of three blogs: Heart Choices Today, LOL with God (with Pam Farrel), and Upgrade with Dawn. She is a contracted researcher/reviewer for Revive Our Hearts and a writer at Crosswalk.com. She and her husband Bob live in Southern California and have two grown, married sons, three granddaughters and a rascally maltipoo, Roscoe.

Graphic of Mary and Elizabeth, a painting by Sebastiano Del Piombo.

 

Thursday
Sep072017

Upgrade Your 'Roots' for a Harvest of Hope

Pam Farrel is a first-class encourager. I've seen her in action and enjoyed her encouragement myself! In this UPLIFT post, Pam encourages us to consider how we might reap a greater harvest of hope in our lives.

Pam says, "We all want to be blessed by God, right? But, do we desire to place ourselves in line to receive the blessing?"

I (Dawn) know that's true. So often I WANT the blessing, but I'm not intentional about preparing for it!

Pam continues . . .

I have decided I want to be like mint. Yes, that lovely tasting green leafy plant.

Its smell is unique and recognizable. Its taste is smooth, fresh, sweet, tasty and comforting.

Yes, if you love mint, your mouth is already watering with the thought of soothing, fresh mint in your tall glass of ice cold tea on a hot summer’s day; that sweet yumminess of mint chip ice cream at the end of a hard day’s labors, or that romantic kiss that happens right after a minty spray.

Yes, we love the impact and affect mint has. But how does mint get to be, well, mint?

Last spring, after the sale of our home, we went to live on our family’s vineyard. On that property is a beautiful garden. My sister-in-law loves mint, like I do, so she planted some in cement buckets buried in the ground.

But she did not know the power of mint!

That mint broke through those containers, spread throughout the entire garden and when it was beginning to break up the asphalt driveway, she knew we all had to take action! I volunteered to take on the challenge of mint removal.

Wow! I had no idea of the strength and power of the mint!

  • First, I tried to chop at the roots. Nope—iron clad!
  • Then I tried to yank at the roots. Forget that, not even weight-lifter could budge this hard cord mint!
  • Finally, I decided to try to out-smart the mint. I investigated the power of the mint. Here is the secret to its strength—the root system.

That cute little green plant you pick in bunches have roots that sink yards deep into the ground and are interwoven and braided into one another in every direction!  

I began to truly admire the tenacity of mint!

Upgrade Your Roots

Standing in the field of mint, in awe of the deep, intertwined root system holding the fragrant mint secure, my mind jumped to Psalm 1.

See, for the past two years, I have been submerged in the Psalms, writing  Discovering Hope in the Psalms: A Creative Biblical Experience.

Psalm 1 begins with that word we all hope for: “Blessed.” We long for the fruit of being blessed; and we desire to be a tree that “yields fruit” and “prospers.”

Verse two reveals the key that unlocks such blessing: “his [her] delight is in the law of the Lord and on his law he meditates day and night.”

Sometimes the fruit people see in my life and family is like that sweet fragrant scent of mint. People often ask me how I have overcome traumatic family of origin issues or how my husband, Bill, and I have formed a lasting marriage and successfully raised children who love and serve God.

My response is always the same: “The power is in the Word.” It is not me, it is the roots God has grown in my life through HIS power!

As I studied Psalm 1, I pondered what it would mean to be a tree planted by streams of water with leaves that NEVER wither.

Following the research trail, I discovered that the “rivers/streams” mentioned are irrigation canals common in the Middle East. Fruit trees, especially the nutritious and delicious date palms, were planted near these waterways to ensure prosperity.

To grow my roots a little deeper, I continued doing word studies on “tree,” “planted,” “yields fruit,” and “prosper.”

  • I responded to God with prayer and praise.
  • I penned a poem in my own psalmist-like way.
  • I prayerfully savored the fruit of these studies on walks down my tree-lined driveway.
  • I sketched a tree with deep roots.
  • Into my Journaling Bible. In short, I sat in the shade of this Psalm 1 tree and reflected on my life.

Then, in God’s perfect timing, a tree on our property fell. It was not a strong wind or a raging storm that toppled it—no, it was a beetle that can do its damage only in drought conditions.

In California, we’ve been on strict water rationing because of a nearly decade-long drought.

The tree appeared healthy, but because of lack of water, it was dead inside.

It was a vivid reminder of what kind of tree I did NOT want to become! And the “living water” of the Word would be the difference!

So, friend, let’s do make it our goal to grasp that blessed life by growing roots that can stand strong no matter the storms life may send.

Or BE MINT, with roots interwoven with others who are also deeply rooted in the Word. Your deep roots will produce a sweet and fragrant life!

Turn on the soaker hose, pull out the sprinklers, and get out your watering can by reading, memorizing, worshipping, meditating on, and creatively responding to the verses God is placing along your path.

Daily study will deepen the roots of your life and help you find and hang on to hope.

And as for that field of mint on our family farm? We decided to let it stay since it is so deeply rooted there so I am thinking of writing a cookbook on 1001 Recipes for the Mighty Mint!

Pam Farrel is the author of 45 books, an international speaker, and relationship expert who seeks to breathe life into people’s most vital relationships through the ministry she runs with her husband, Love-Wise. Today’s blog is adapted from her newest book, Discovering Hope In the Psalms: A Creative Biblical Experience. (Co-authored with Bible teacher  Jean E Jones and artist, Karla Dornacher ) For more Bible study tips and tools to help your roots grow down deep in the Word and your hope to grow sky high, see www.DiscoveringHopeinthePsalms.com

Psalm 1 Graphic adapted, artwork courtesy of artist, Karla Dornacher; Mint photo from Pam Farrel.

Tuesday
Aug012017

A Remodeled Life

Julie Gillies encourages women to know and believe God's Word, and share the stories of how God changes their lives. In this Uplift UPGRADE, she says we all need do-overs, and the good thing is, God is in the transforming, remodeling business!

If you’ve ever lived through a major remodeling project,” Julie says, “you probably have a serious appreciation for the hard work involved.

Oh, don't get me (Dawn) started. While landscaping our front yard in the hot sun last month, my husband sweat buckets! Remodeling anything—a yard, a house, and especially a life—is MAJOR! But the results are worth the effort.

Julie continues . . .

The way I see it, anyone can move into a brand-new house. Zero sweat equity. Instant pretty.

But remodeling takes a willing investor with a keen eye for potential—someone prepared to put a lot of hard work into a far-from-perfect building.

Done right, the results are a gorgeous old home with character, yet filled with all the new stuff you wouldn’t want to live without. The before and after photos are remarkable, and no one who visits your house can believe that it ever looked like that before.

It's truly a labor of love.

My husband, Keith, and I were crazy enough to take on such an endeavor back when we were newly married, young, and willing to invest some serious elbow grease. We had purchased a tiny two-bedroom, one-bathroom, stinky, old, sorry excuse for a house, mostly because it only cost us $55,000.

Its flat, gravel-topped roof needed replacing, the jalousie windows had to go, the scary carpet reeked to high heaven, and the hot water heater needed to be moved out of the kitchen. Add in a garage, new electrical wiring, and paint—lots of paint—and it would be habitable.

Did I mention I was pregnant when we began?

We ended up knocking down walls and adding some extra rooms. It was almost a total do-over. For seven months, we stressed, sweated, and toiled, working far too hard and sleeping far too little.

Then we watched in amazement and great satisfaction as our smelly, rinky-dink place was slowly shaped into something beautiful.

God does this very thing with us.

The Lord deeply values us, His daughters, and sees the potential that others (and often we ourselves) cannot.

He deems us worthy of His investment. His Holy Spirit pinpoints areas in our hearts and lives that need loving restoration, and He gently coaxes us to believe, surrender, and cooperate with Him.

Some of us have sagging foundations. Some of us are a slapdash paint job on rotting boards. Some of us have broken windows where thieves can crawl in.

All of us need a complete do-over.

Like the hot water heater standing awkwardly in the middle of my kitchen, we often recognize when things are out of place. We know when parts of us are broken, and yet we aren’t really sure how to change. We are powerless to make changes apart from Christ.

As the psalmist puts it, Unless the Lord builds a house, the work of the builders is wasted” (Psalm 127:1).

Unless we partner with God by surrendering to the work He is doing, cooperating with His promptings and discipline, and doing our part by saturating our hearts in His Word and spending time with Him in meaningful prayer, our house will remain in the same sagging, sorry shape.

He’s willing. Are we?

Are we willing to deny ourselves, pick up our crosses, and follow Him through the intimate intricacies of deep inner heart work? Will we submit ourselves, hearts wide open, to the One who is able to renew and restore?

Because that is God’s heart for us. He knows the things that have stripped us of our hope, our trust and our dignity. And He is well able to replace all the enemy has stolen from us (Joel 2:25).

Jesus is willing to beautifully restore the years spent languishing in hurt, the broken areas we cover and attempt to hold together on our own, and the dreams we think are irretrievably dead.

When we allow God to have His way by surrendering to His process, reading His Word and truly believing it, and investing in some serious prayer time, we will live an overcoming life—a life that is not held back by issues that once plagued us. Our lives will become testimonies to those around us.

The more we allow Jesus to do in us, the more His glory is revealed. And that is His ultimate goal: a world full of regular people whose hearts and lives have been utterly transformed and radiate His unmistakable image.

Though it can be a long, arduous process, Jesus, with His keen eye, restores us to better than new. He makes us whole. We wind up beautiful, yet functional, and filled with His character.

When we share our amazing before and after stories, no one can believe that we ever lived like that before because our hearts are all sparkly and fresh and new.

It's truly a labor of love.

What area of your life do you need to surrender to the Lord so He can “remodel” you afresh?

Julie K. Gillies is the author of From Hot Mess to Blessed: Hope to Propel Your Soul and the Promises that Change Everything and the devotional, Prayers for a Woman’s Soul. Healed from a traumatic childhood, Julie’s message helps women pray, know, and believe God’s Word. Julie is the joyful wife of Keith, mom of two soldiers and one civilian, and Grammy of four. Find FREE resources and connect with Julie at www.JulieGillies.com .

Graphic adapted, courtesty of Pixabay.

Thursday
Apr132017

Gasp: A Relationship's Last Breath

Cythia Ruchti is a hope-lover, hope giver and hope promoter. In this Relationship UPGRADE, she offers hope for all human relationships (and our ultimate relationship with the Lord).

"Who sits sipping coffee when a dying man or woman lies on the hardwood floor of the coffee shop or the breakroom at the office?" Cynthia says. "Even people with minimal skills know that someone needs to start CPR, call 911, and ask, 'Is there a doctor in the house?'"

At first, I (Dawn) thought this sounded a little like the beginning of a mystery, but knowing Cynthia, I figured it was more likely a powerful life lesson. I was not disappointed!

Cynthia continues . . . 

With relationships—marriage, parent/child, friendships—isn’t that what we too often do?

We sit idly by, caring but not responding.

“That’s for the professionals.” As if that absolves us of the responsibility to act, to do something, even if our skills are amateur at best, even if all we know about CPR is what we’ve seen on TV dramas.

But sometimes the last gasp occurs before the professionals arrive on the scene.

And sometimes the relationship in trouble is our own.

It’s been said that the number one killer of relationships is neglect.

  • How many friendships would still be alive if years, distance, and neglect hadn’t gotten in the way?
  • How many parent/child relationships could be strong and vital, life-giving, if given more attention when they started to fade?
  • How many marriages list “neglect” as one of the reasons for their “failure to thrive”?

Although the following scripture specifically speaks to a community’s forsaking or neglecting their relationship with God, doesn’t it also give a gripping word picture of the way we handle distance in marriage relationships or friendships?

“For our fathers…have forsaken Him and turned their faces away from the dwelling place of the LORD, and have turned their backs. They have also shut the doors of the porch and put out the lamps…” (2 Chronicles 29:6-9 NASB).

What a poignant visual! Leaving a porch light on is an expression of hope. He will come home. She will return. We will be okay. We’ll get through this. It may be long into the night, but we’re going to make it.

In this incident in the Bible, the people had boldly extinguished all evidence of hope. Lights off. We’re done.

After decades of marriage, my husband and I still disagree. Shocking, isn’t it? But even when our disagreements reach what seem to be impossible impasses, neither one of us reaches to shut off the porch light, because hope lingers in our commitment to one another.

Most MARRIED couples can recite the list of relationship CPR (Caring enough to Proactively Resuscitate) instructions:

  1. Maintain frequent date nights, even if you’re empty nesters. Get away from the house and its responsibilities for a while to focus on each other.
  2. Set aside an extended period of time for a getaway at least once a year.
  3. Be intentional about what the other person needs, honoring him (or her) above yourself (See Philippians 2:3. Check out the Phillips version—“Live together in harmony, live together in love, as though you had only one mind and one spirit between you. Never act from motives of rivalry or personal vanity, but in humility think more of each other than you do of yourselves. None of you should think only of his own affairs, but should learn to see things from other people’s point of view.”)
  4. Learn and respect your mate’s love language.

What would that list look like if our connection WITH GOD is the relationship that’s been neglected, left gasping?

  1. Re-establish a regular time to leave all other concerns behind and focus on listening to Him.
  2. Make it a priority to create an extended time for aloneness with the One you love. A silent retreat. A day-long or week-long sabbatical from other responsibilities. Unplugging. Fasting.
  3. Set your own needs aside to concentrate on what God wants from you—worship, adoration, devotion…
  4. Learn and respect God’s love language—OBEDIENCE (John 14:15).

If your human relationships or your connection with God are gasping for air, what CPR measures do you intend to implement?

Cynthia Ruchti tells stories hemmed-in-hope, an ever-lit porch light hope, through her award-winning novels, novellas, devotions, nonfiction, and through speaking events for women and writers. She and her grade-school sweetheart husband live in the heart of Wisconsin, not far from their three children and five (to date) grandchildren. Her latest novel is A Fragile Hope (Abingdon Press). In June, Worthy Publishing releases her book of encouragement and reflections called As My Parents Agehttp://www.cynthiaruchti.com/books/a-fragile-hope/.

Graphic: adapted, Click at Morguefile.

Tuesday
Sep272016

5 Ways to Hope When Life Hurts

Lina Abujamra is a pediatric ER doctor and she's seen a lot of "hurts" in life, but in this Attitude UPGRADE, she offers practical counsel for hope through the tears.

"Wouldn't it be nice if we could take a pill to make the pain go away? But things are never that simple," Lina says. "Some days feel like torture, and it hurts."

Oh, yes, I (Dawn) have looked for that magical bottle of pills; but Lina says there is real hope—we just have to know where to find it. (This article is longer than the usual UPGRADE posts, but I think this is a message so many of us need to hear today.)

Lina continues . . .

Motivational speakers try to teach us to use positivity to overcome our pain. But I've found myself in places in my life where no amount of positive mental thinking will work me out of my pit of despair.

Hope is more than a positive mental attitude. God has given us far more than positivity. He's given us His Son who demonstrated victory by rising from the dead. He's given us His Spirit to enable us to live out the Christian life the way He lived out His: victoriously and triumphantly.

Yet so many of us are failing. I'm embarrassed to tell you how often I've crumbled under the pressure of pain. This crumbling reveals itself in a variety of shapes and forms of my life: misplaced anger, inpatient frustration, whining and complaining, and once in a while, the pit of self-pity and even a few potholes of despair.

But this is not the end of the story.

It was a seven-mile walk from Jerusalem to Emmaus, and on that day the walk felt like an interminable journey of sorrow. (Read Luke 24:13-27).  The two disciples were weighed down by their pain. They had expected God to do the impossible. They had expected the Messiah to take over the world.

Suddenly a man came walking up alongside them. The man was Jesus risen from the dead, but the disciples had not been given the ability to recognize him yet.

They told Him what they were talking about: "Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him" (vv. 19-20).

But the worst was yet to come. The disciples then uttered three fatal words of defeat that were the nail on the coffin of their pain: "But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel" (verse 21).

We. Had. Hoped.

Have you ever uttered these three words of hopelessness, not knowing that victory was already on the way? Have you ever misinterpreted the most painful event in your life without any idea of the miracle God was already working out on your behalf?

I can't keep track of the times that I've given up on God and twisted things around in my head and assumed that my pain was final, that I'd been defeated, while all along God was walking right next to me, preparing the victory for me. You too?

The disciples on the road to Emmaus had put a period were God had put a comma.

They had written off the Lord when God hadn't even started yet. They had sunk into despair when hope was on the way.

It's easy to talk about the life that is unshaken when everything is going well.

People flocked to Jesus when he fed the 5000 and cure diseases. It was at the cross that everyone fled. That's what pain will do. It tests our mettle. It crystallizes what we really believe.

Anyone can boast in the Lord when their dreams have come true and their prayers have been answered. The challenge is to stand strong when life is hard, to hope when hope looks dead.

There are four things I know for sure:

  • Pain exist.
  • Pain has a cause.
  • Pain can be treated but it's far better to treat its cause.
  • Pain doesn't have to define you.

We can talk about the resurrection until we're blue in the face, but the way to show if we really believe it is by watching how we respond to the pain in our lives. When it comes to using the pain in your life as fuel for godliness, here are a few tools you can use for victorious living.

Five Painkillers You Can Use:

1. Lighten Up on the Clichés.

Clichés are nothing more than old-fashioned tweets. Pithy quotes might motivate us for a minute, but their effect is short-lived. What we need is life change.

What I long for is the transformed, powerful life that Christ promised us. We need upside-down, inside-out radical living that no litany of clichés will produce, but is rightfully ours in Christ Jesus by faith. The more of God's Word that we hide in our hearts, the more it will give us strength when we need it the most.

2. Let Go of the Blame Game.

When a kid comes into the ER with a cut, families get caught up in how it happened and whose fault it was. The truth is that it doesn't matter who did what. There's a cut, and it hurts, and it must be fixed.

When Adam and Eve sinned, Adam blamed Eve and Eve blamed the serpent, but the fact remains that all of us humans are still suffering because of today. Instead of blaming each other, Adam and Eve should've acknowledged the wrong and accepted God's mercy, then adapted to their new normal outside of Eden.

When Job went through his painful trials, his wife begged him to blame God and his friends blamed him for his own problems. Unlike Adam and Eve, Job was innocent and had done nothing to deserve his pain, yet the blame game was just as much a part of Job story as it was for our first parents.

Blaming someone else for pain is natural and gives us a temporary sense of control. It might even help us come up with an explanation for the pain. But it doesn't work.

What works far better than the blame game is recognizing God's sovereign control over our lives.

It's understanding that God didn't find Adam and Eve in the garden to shame them but rather to cover them. It's accepting Christ forgiveness for sin. It's extending that same forgiveness to those who seem to be the cause of her pain.

3. Get Off the Self-pity Train.

Self-pity is defined as a self-indulgent attitude concerning our hardships. The problem with self-pity is that it believes it has been wronged. It's an attitude that dislocates the Christian from a sovereign God Who is behind every detail and circumstance.

Charles Spurgeon once said, "God is too good to be unkind. He is too wise to be confused. If I cannot trace His hand, I can always trust his heart."

The biggest lie that Satan will throw your way is the God doesn't care about you anymore, and self-pity slowly feeds that lie. God does care about you (1 Peter 5:7). The self-pity train can kill you if you don't guard against its lies with the truth of God's Word. It's time you jump off that train and run toward grace.

4. Bury Your Past at the Cross.

Paul killed Christians before he became a Christ-follower. Yet God used Paul to write the bulk of the New Testament and to build the church. How did Paul deal with his past? His solution was to bury his past at the foot of the cross (Philippians 3:13-14).

It's time to get rid of the Rolodex of sin. Failure is the best teacher you'll ever find. Learn from it, then let it go.

Your past might be part of who you are, but it has no power over you. Use it to rejoice in God's mercy and grace and move onward and upward. Use it as your platform to highlight God's love and grace and watch God use your past to change your world like He did with the apostle Paul!

5. Leave Your Fears to God.

Pain and fear are often inseparable. What is it that you are afraid of? God's plan isn't to hurt you through your pain but to shape you through it (Proverbs 25:4).

Like a perfect Potter, He works and reworks the clay until it seems good to Him (Jeremiah 18:4). He molds the clay until reflects the beauty He is after.

This process is called sanctification. It's God's work in you through your pain to make you more Christlike. It's a work God started the moment you gave your life to Him and is committed to complete when you finally see Jesus face-to-face.

There comes a time in your life when nothing will do but God Himself—when only the Lord can make sense out of your pain and confusion. Only He can rescue you. Only He understands the depth of your pain.

When the disciples on the road to Emmaus had lost hope, Jesus rebuked them (Luke 24:25-26). Life is never as hopeless as we make it out to be. We are never as alone as we feel. Things are never as unclear as we think.

If we look at the facts too long without a measure of faith, we will sink into despair, and the only way to build our faith is through the living Word of God. When you look at the painful facts in your life to the lens of God's promises, you will find hope for the future.

Few things will change our world like our resolve to hope when it hurts too much. Few things will radically transform our world like our resolve to believe God when everything screams against Him.

Hope has a way of showing up when we're not looking for it. When it does, anything can happen.

Which of these "painkillers" could increase your hope today?

Lina AbuJamra is a Pediatric ER doctor, author, and speaker. Her passion is to apply her life-saving, decision-making, and hope-giving skills from the Emergency Room to rescue and recover people from spiritually deadly situations. She has written three books: Thrive: The Single Life as God IntendedStripped: When God’s Call Turns from Yes to Why Me?; and Resolved: 10 Ways to Stand Strong and live What You Believe. You can connect with her daily at livingwithpower.org.

This post was adapted from Chapter 9 in Lina’s book, Resolved: 10 Ways to Stand Strong and Live What You Believe (Baker Books, 2016).