Tag Archives: hope

21 Days of Strength-Day 2

Sooner or later, it’s bound to happen. We reach the end of our strength. We’ve played out.  Hit the wall. You know what I’m talking about. When we’re worn out, our state of mind is affected. Even our faith can falter. As someone once said, “Fatigue makes cowards of us all.” Add to that, the increasingly busy life most of us lead, and you have a sure-fire recipe for exhaustion.  And for the discouragement that follows close on its heels.

So glad you’ve joined us for 21 Days of Strength. For three weeks, our focus will be on strength. How to find it. How to keep it. How to make good use of it. How to receive it from God. I’ll say it again. God is close to us when we’re weak, but He wants to make us strong.

The Bible is honest about human frailty, revealing story after story of men and women who reached the end of their strength. But it also shares secrets of how they found strength in God.

We’ve observed how David “strengthened himself in the Lord after a marauding army of Amalekites raided his village and captured all the women and children.  And how God empowered David and his mighty men to regain all they had lost.

I’ve been thinking back to times in my life when I’ve “hit the wall.” When tough times hit, how do I draw strength from God?  Here are a few simple ways that work for me:

  1. I literally go into my room (or my car) and shut the door. Often I will turn my cell phone and laptop off so I won’t even hear the “ding” from someone trying to contact me.   It was Jesus Himself who reminded His disciples to “go into their room and shut the door” when praying to God (Matthew 6:6).
  2. I take out my Bible and dig in.  I’m alert to promises that speak directly to my heart,  reveal an area of sin, provide wisdom for a tricky problem, add fire to a dream.   Or I may look in my concordance for verses related to the topic I’m wrestling through. As I read, I commit whatever is on my heart to the Lord in prayer. By pouring over God’s Word, I notice promises that shed light on my situation or give me hope.  I can almost feel my faith re-fire. Romans 10:17 puts it this way: “Faith comes by hearing the Word of God.”
  3. I keep watch during the day to notice God at work . I look for the tiny ways He may begin to answer my prayers, solve my problem, fill me with fresh hope and strength. I remember to thank and praise Him. Which in turn, seems to strengthen my faith and breathe even more energy into my tired soul. Psalm 5:3 encourages us to seek God daily and to live with expectant hope: “Morning after morning, I lay my requests before You and eagerly watch for the answers.”

So I’m curious. How do you strengthen yourself in the Lord?


21 Days of Strength-Day 1

God is near to the broken hearted.  He loves us when we’re weak.  But He wants to make us strong. It’s not hard to embrace the concept that God is close to us when we suffer. After all, we love our own children and hold them close when they’re in pain.

We may secretly wonder whether God wants to keep us weak so we’ll be more devoted to Him. Sadly, that’s like saying that as a mom, I would rather my children be sick and wounded so they’ll want to hang around me more. Of course not!  I want to help them return to strength so they can live life to the fullest.

But, I have to confess. I have experienced God’s greatest strength during times when I am broken. I would never have known Jesus as healer if I hadn’t gone through years of infertility and the subsequent healing that resulted in our three children. Nor could I have comprehended God’s mighty power if I hadn’t seen Him set me free from stubborn fears. And of course, I could never have grasped His saving grace if I hadn’t come face to face with my condition as a sinner. Perhaps you have your own stories.

I invite you to join us for 21 Days of Strength. We’ll explore ways to find God’s power during times of weakness, along with stories and practical tips from those who have experienced God’s strength first hand.

Let’s take a few minutes to reflect upon following encounter in 1 Samuel 30. Upon returning from battle, David and his mighty men are horrified to find their village raided and burned, their wives and children taken captive by the violent Amalekites. Click here to read the entire account.

David and his men “wept aloud until they had no strength left to weep.” Can you imagine the sound? The despair? The men were so distressed they even talked of stoning David. What would you do under these circumstances? Where would you turn for strength? For David, one simple sentence says it all: “But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God” (1 Samuel 30:6).

After seeking the Lord, David receives this answer: “Pursue, for you shall surely overtake and shall surely rescue.” Which is exactly what happened. David and his men defeated the Amalekites and returned with all their family members safe and sound, along with all that had been stolen. Their victory was riveting—and complete.

I’ll leave you with this simple question: How do you strengthen yourself in the Lord? I’m hoping that at the end of our 21 Days of Strength, we’ll better understand what  Paul meant when he said, “When I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10).


Day 30: Love Hopes All Things

I’ll never forget the time a good friend listened as I shared the special dream I held close to my heart.  I hadn’t told a soul about my secret hope.  She looked at me and said with conviction, “I’m believing with you that this dream–which I sense is from God–will come true!”  Hope filled my soul.  I breathed in fresh resolve to keep standing on what I believed was a promise from God.  My friend was now “hoping with” me, and that gave me strength.  It was Jesus Himself who said to his followers:  “If two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven” (Matthew 18:19, 20).

Through a remarkable series of circumstances, my dream eventually came true.  As someone once said, “Our dreams are the seeds of reality.”  My hope did become reality–and I feel sure the “prayer of agreement” with my friend helped pave the way.

Love does that, you know.  It shares the dreams of another.  Love hopes with someone.  When you think about it, hope is an action.  A verb.  It’s something you do.  The Bible even tells us that hope is a practical way to show  love:  “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13:7).

Love hopes all things.  That means that nothing within the realm of God’s will is off limits.  Love also bears, believes, and endures all things.  Love believes for our dreams to come true, endures with us when the going gets rough, bears with us when we get weary.  Love characterizes God, for God is love (1 John 4:18).

We are called to carry His love into a broken and dying world.  A weary people, desperate for the “thrill of hope.”  So as we reflect on 30 Days of Hopeful, let’s rejoice in the wonderful assurance of God’s love for us–let’s get a fresh grip on our hopes and dreams.

The Bible tells us a secret: Faith, hope, and love are eternal (1 Corinthians 13:13).   What’s more, love never fails.   And love hopes all things, so a God-given dream cannot die.  Because if our dream is His dream, He will work in us and through us to accomplish His will.

We’ve had 30 days to reflect on hope–30 days to rekindle the fires of our dreams.   Moving forward, let’s remember to be alert and watchful as we go into the world today: Look around you.  Whose dream is dying?   Is there a hurting face in your crowd who needs hope–somebody you can “hope with?” What more fitting season than Christmas to sow seeds of hope into the lives of those who are thirsty for hope.


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 28

Are you feeling weary–lacking in hope today?  For centuries, followers of Christ have recognized that Christmas has a special magic that rekindles hope. My friend Donna encourages us to anticipate the “thrill of hope” that comes our way when we experience surprise blessings from God.

GUEST BLOG: Donna Elyea

Very often I will have a song stuck in my head.  During the Christmas season, that song is often the carol, “O Holy Night,” because my beloved Daddy used to sing that one in our home. As I have been following along with the 30 Days of Hopeful series,  a certain phrase of this carol struck me in a new way and I have been pondering “The thrill of hope, a weary world rejoices, for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.”

I have been a bit weary lately. Life can do that to us. And yet, I have known weariness to come and go in the past. What shakes it for me? Usually something unexpected! A new and glorious gift. Unexpected guests come for an extended visit.  An unanticipated ministry opportunity presents itself.  Or I see an answer to a long-time prayer. My relief from weariness usually does not look like the naps I think I need.

For most of us, life can be very much like a roller coaster, full of unexpected twists and turns. Roller coasters are frightening, exciting, jostling, filled with peaks, valleys, and sudden curves. When weariness overtakes me,  I now know that I am simply in a “valley” and I will climb up with renewed energy again. I am not frightened or thrown off track by the unexpected. I look forward to seeing what surprise the Lord may have for me just around the bend.

Many who ride roller coasters find them thrilling. Those who love the thrill ride them over and over again. Life in Christ is also thrilling – because of the thrill of hope. I believe He is able to do exceedingly abundantly beyond all that I ask or imagine. The Lord offers a hope that does not disappoint. Hope that does not end. Concrete hope, not the mere stuff of feelings. This hope is fueled by faith in the One who knows us intimately and longs to give us abundant life and fill us with an everlasting hope in relationship with Him. What a thrill “ride.”

“Now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works with us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever.” (Ephesians 3:20).