Am I the only one who thinks 2016 is flying by? Seems like we just celebrated New Year’s, and now we’re headed into summer.
At the beginning of each new year, many folks pick a “word” to motivate them or define what they believe the year will be about. Or perhaps it’s a word they believe God gave them as a promise for their future.
This year a phrase came to me that seemed to fit my vision of the future.
As the concept behind those two little words sunk in, I realized it wasn’t just for me. God wanted me to share it with those visiting this blog. After all, you’re here because you want encouragement. Some of you are walking through a valley. And perhaps, some of you have even lost hope or had your faith shaken by a trial—maybe even recently.
I’ve not blogged much over the last year and a half. To be honest, I’ve been overwhelmed by the number of commitments and stressors in my life and something had to give. After prayer and consideration, the blog was one of those areas.
To be even more transparent with you, my faithful readers, I spent much of this time in a valley. I’ll spare you the details, but family issues dragged me through some tough patches. At times, I felt like I merely treaded water. I'm amazed when I look back that I managed to write anything. By the grace of God, I released two books on Amazon (one of which I'd already written), and then write proposals for two other manuscripts now under consideration at publishers.
If you’ve followed my blog and writing for any length of time, you know my mantra has always been hope, not despair. In fact, that’s the theme of my devotional, While I'm Waiting: Going from despair to hope while praising God and choosing contentment during trials. And perhaps that philosophy is why the enemy attacked me as he did.
God’s strength is the stalwart I’ve always leaned upon. This past year even more so. In addition, He provided friends who raised my arms on tough days, much like Aaron and Hur did for Moses when he grew weary (Exodus 17:12). And when the temptation to despair crept in, I remembered God’s faithfulness in my life—and in the lives of the ancient saints.
For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent and set me high upon a rock…I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. Psalm 27:5, 13-14
We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed… Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:8-9, 16-18
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23
Though I never lost hope in the One True God, my human fortitude waned at times. I’m so thankful for the strength He gave me when mine faltered.
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. Romans 5:1-5
What a beautiful assurance of resting in the peace and hope of God through Jesus! God’s hope alone saw me through some days.
Though some of my personal situation has improved, other aspects became even more challenging. Yet, I’m emerging from the valley and standing at the foot of the mountain again. As I stand here and survey the landscape, I see the sun shining through, and I’m reminded that only God can truly restore hope and give us the promise of a future when all else looks hopeless (Jeremiah 29:11-13). Most of the time that means coming to the end of ourselves and totally trusting Him for everything.
I’d love to hear how you’d been doing since we interacted last. How has your year been so far?
If you have a prayer request, I’d love to pray for you. Please leave a comment or email me confidential requests.
May God richly bless you,
© Laura Hodges Poole
“Canyon Of The Colca River In Southern Peru” image courtesy of xura/FreeDigitalPhotos.net.
“Hope Despair Post-it Papers” image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net.
“Faith and Believe” image courtesy of thepathtraveler/FreeDigitalPhotos.net.
“Sunset On The Mighty Chimborazo Volcano” image courtesy of xura/FreeDigitalPhotos.net.