Category Archives: wait training

Shut the Door-Day 4

Some of God’s best miracles happen behind closed doors.  Jesus instructed his disciples to go into their room and shut the door when they prayed.  Their Father, who “sees in secret,” would reward them, He promised.  We may discover that God gives strength when we’re out of sight. Hidden from people.  Away from distractions.

I’m glad you’ve joined 21 Days of Strength. We’re taking a look at some of the ways God empowers us. But occasionally, He puts us behind a closed door to not just to strengthen us, but to protect us from a situation that is about to get dangerous.

Sometimes, when God plans to judge sin, He tells us to shut the door to protect us from His wrath. “Wait a minute,” you may be saying. “You mean God judges sin here and now—not just in eternity?” You bet. In fact, the Bible is filled with examples of people whose hearts grew so hard that they eventually got what was coming to them in this life. In real time. And in eternity.

Think about the massive flood during the days of Noah. Or the incineration of Sodom and Gomorroah. Or the 40 laps around the wilderness for those Israelites who refused to trust God—even after all the miracles they had witnessed.  The Apostle Paul reminds us that these things happened as “examples and warnings” to us. (1 Corinthians 10:11).

Let’s look at God’s instructions to the children of Israel while slaves in Egypt. “Take a bunch of hyssop and dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and touch the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood that is in the basin. None of you shall go out of the door of his house until the morning”  (Exodus 12:20-22).  In other words, “Shut the door and stay put!”

God was about to do two very dramatic things:

  • First, He was about to judge the Egyptians for their refusal to heed His repeated warnings to release the Jews. He sent a destroying angel to strike down the firstborn son of each Egyptian home, passing over those homes that had blood on their door.  The children of Israel could finally leave after hundreds of years of slavery—and begin their journey to the Promised Land.
  • Second, He provided the Israelites with an important foreshadowing of the redemption which would take place though the coming Messiah. The blood of the Lamb of God, Jesus, would bring forgiveness of sin and protect people from God’s wrath forever.

Remember: God may shut the door–for a season–to protect us. The prophet Isaiah said it this way: “Go, my people, enter your rooms and shut the doors behind you; hide yourselves for a little while until His wrath has passed by. See, the Lord is coming out of His dwelling to punish the people of the earth for their sins” (Isaiah 26:20-21).

My friend, are you discouraged by that “shut door” in your life? God seems to have knocked you off course in a relationship. Or a plan. Or a dearly-held dream.  But as my husband is fond of saying, “Rejection is God’s protection.” God may take us out of the game when He’s preparing to “take care of business.”  He sometimes strengthens us by shielding us while He cleans up a mess that’s not of our making.

So be patient. Seek the Lord. Use this time to grow strong. To prepare for the purpose that awaits you as soon as this storm is over. And don’t forget to look for miracles behind closed doors.


30 Days of Hopeful: Day 29

If you are in the waiting room of hope, you’ll be encouraged by my friend Bethany’s account of her journey toward adoption.  I love the way she opens her heart so you can catch a glimpse of God at work along the way.

GUEST BLOG:  Bethany Kortekaas

“I would feel most comfortable if you and Adam would consider being the adopting parents.”  The request caught me off guard.  Would we be willing? Adoption is born out of hope. Hope for redemption. Hope for the future. Adam and I have been married for six years and have walked the misty road of hope. We got married in our thirties after years of hoping for a spouse. We adopted four embryos after years of hoping for a child. After we lost those children, we were surprised by a pregnancy after years of hoping to experience one. Ten weeks later, a miscarriage left us hoping that God would some day bless us with a child. But how? This road has not been obvious. Our next step has not been clear. God has guided us on with hope and now the next step forward has been revealed.

As we shared our former pregnancy news, a couple asked us to talk with a young lady who had found out she was pregnant. We offered to have her stay with us, encouraged her, and prayed for her during her time of processing. A seed of hope was planted in my heart as I wondered, “Our baby is due in May and hers in April. Would this be like having the twins I have always hoped for?” As I lost our baby, I found out that she was having girl. With open hands, we continued to walk.

Hope is hard and sometimes seems cloudy. Does it mean that if we find something godly to hope for and pray for it that God is obligated to give it to us? Does it mean that after pain, hopefully we will get to see the point? Was it a waste when what you were hoping for is lost? No, no and no. God is too great to be obligated. His plan is too vast for our understanding, but He is too loving to let our hope go to waste.

Romans 5:3-6 says this: “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because He has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with His love.” God’s perspective gives maturity to our hope. There is freedom in hoping when you can trust that His outcome brings about His best.

I do hope that Adam and I will have a family beyond just our dog, Hawkeye. I hope that in four months, we can be the adopting parents that this young lady is hoping we will be. But even more than these, I hope that God will be glorified as we continue on this misty road of hope. Because the day-to-day hopes and dreams are nothing compared to the solid hope of salvation. Jesus came to give hope to the world. We can stand firm in the trials, because God dearly loves us. His ultimate good is better than our hopes in this life and the rich blessings we profit from today. There is no disappointment in the intimacy that comes from leaning hard into Him now during the sorrows and the hopes. His hope brings life.


30 Days of Hopeful: Day 15

Some of your personal hopes and dreams may be big ones.  Enormous, in fact.  A baby. A spouse. The healing of a life threatening disease. God often says a quick “yes” to our prayers. But sometimes, He says “wait.”  Perhaps we have some growing to do before the answer comes.

The reality of life on earth is that we are always waiting for something. Always hoping.   Always dreaming. The challenge is to keep our hope alive in the middle of circumstances we don’t like so much.

We can learn to wait for our answers with joyful expectation. What we don’t want to do is give up. Accept the status quo. Lower our expectations, or worse, find ways to numb out. Too much social media, shopping, work, wine. There are plenty of pain killers out there. Problem is, they often kill our hopes, too.

Here are a few practical ways to kindle your fires of hope—even in the middle of a storm:

  1. First take care of your house–your physical house, that is. You can’t control when your dream comes true, but you can take steps to clean up your act. Be sure to eat well and get enough exercise. Get rid of known sin. Bad habits. Be ruthless. Hunt them down. Hebrews 12:1 challenges us to “throw off whatever hinders and the sin that so easily besets…and run our race with perseverance.”
  2. Take care of your actual house—your home. While you are waiting is a great time to declutter your surroundings.   It can be healing to clear out what you don’t need. Give it away. Simplify. Create structure. Order. Peace.
  3. Explore and develop your spiritual gifts. “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms” (1 Peter 4:10).  You’ll find your life as you give it away.
  4. Rest more. Go to the Lord often. Soak in the promises of His Word. “Come to me you who are heavy laden,” said Jesus, “and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28-30). It takes energy to fight the fight of faith. To hold onto your hope while you wait for your dream.
  5. Don’t travel alone. Find your teammates. God gives you endurance and encouragement through His Word to help you keep hope alive (Hebrews 15:4-6). He also gives us unity in spirit. Fellow believers. Prayer partners. The body of Christ.

 

 


30 Days of Hopeful: Day 12

“How can I grow my hope?”  The woman sounded near-desperate.  She was weary from battling a long illness.  She felt weak.  Unworthy.  Unable to strive any longer.

So just how does one grow hope?  Especially when feeling weak and broken?  It’s not like you can suddenly will hope to appear.  And if hope is only for the strong, then the news is not good for any of us–we’re all weak and broken at times.  But must of us recognize it when hope springs up in our heart.  And we sure know when it’s missing.

What would you say to someone who needs hope?  You may care deeply for your friend or loved one, but you can’t physically give them the hope that lives in your own heart.  You can try to encourage.  Speak words of life.  Point out reasons to dream and not give up.  But you can’t cause hope to magically appear.

God knows we all need hope.  His Word encourages us to grab hope through the good news of the gospel:   “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Romans 15:4 ESV).  Simply put, God’s Word reminds us that hope comes through perseverance, as we draw strength and inspiration  through the Scriptures.

But what if you’re like my friend--unable to endure or even read the Bible for hope?  The next verses read more like a prayer especially for you: “May the God who gives endurance and encouragement…” (Romans 15:5-6 NIV).

Did you catch that? God is the one who gives us the endurance and encouragement we need. We may be weak and faltering, but we can still go to God as His child, and receive the strength and encouragement we desperately need–straight from His hand.

In case we still need one more push toward hope,  the Bible points us to God as the giver of hope itself:  “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 NLT).   One version even refers to Him as the “God of hope” (Romans 15:13 ESV).

So if you need hope today.…and if you’re feeling a little too weak to endure or draw strength from the Scriptures…my prayer is simply that the “God of hope,” Himself, will fill you to overflowing with hope through the mysterious, unexplainable power of His Holy Spirit!

 


30 Days of Hopeful: Day 10

I’m glad you’ve joined us for 30 Days of Hopeful. Perhaps life is hard for you right now–you’re struggling to find hope.  When all seems hopeless, I find encouragement from others who have passed through the furnace and come forth with faith shining. Their stories inspire me to hold onto my hope. I want to share one such story with you.  My friend Ange loves to encourage others with her story of hope.

I met Ange during one of my first missions trips to Rwanda and Burundi. Most everyone I met was a genocide survivor with a hard story to tell. But it was Ange’s journey of agony-turned-into-hope that inspired me most.

Ange was in high school when genocide broke out in Rwanda in 1994. She and fiancé, Emanuel, fled on foot to the neighboring Congo. They married and had baby Edna. The brutal war spilled over into the Congo. Soldiers attacked their refugee camp and Emanuel and Ange, with eighteen-month-old Edna on her back, ran terrified into the forest. They became separated as they fled for their lives.  A few days later while Ange was gathering firewood, soldiers kidnapped little Edna.

Ange ran frantically through the forest searching for the soldiers. She soon discovered the baby had become sick and died. Ange’s heart and her hope were shattered. She hid in the forest for weeks with no clean water, food, fire, or shelter. As she describes it, “It was like we were dead, but still living.”

Ange made her way to Kenya with the help of a relief organization, still searching for her husband. She cried out, “Oh God, You know that my beloved first born was taken away. And you know how I could be happy if I could find my beloved husband! Please Lord I hope you have not forgotten me.” Ange continued to seek God’s purpose for her own life while she waited for her dream to be fulfilled. Sensing a call ministry, she began attending Bible college in Kenya.  God gave Ange hope, encouraging her with these words:

We rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance, character; and character hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us (Romans 5:3-5)

Ange continues her story, “One day, I received the amazing news that my husband was alive! It was like a dream!!! We stayed up all night praising and thanking God!” So, after eight long years, Ange and Emanuel were reunited in Burundi. God soon blessed them with a baby boy they called Cherubim. When I first heard Ange’s story, she had just given birth to twins Joshua and Geoffrey.

Ange shares from her heart: “We have nothing to give our Lord for what He has done for us, so we give Him our thanks: Sacrifice thank offerings to God, fulfill your vows to the Most High, and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you and you will honor me (Psalm 50:14-15).”

Ange loves to encourage others to hold onto hope when times look darkest. I hope you will be strengthened by her story and her prayer for you: “May God bless you and help you to be patient in every situation you may pass through. Glory be to the Lord JESUS. Amen!”