Faith Over Fear

by Candy Arrington @CandyArrington

My mother was a fearful person. As a child, I learned not to approach her unannounced. At times, I’d forget to call her name or make noise before I entered a room. I’ll always remember the look of fear on her face and the way she jumped when I “sneaked up” on her.

As Mama aged, her level of fear increased. My father’s death–nineteen years prior to Mama’s–contributed to her anxiety. She worried constantly about finances, taxes, potential home repairs, the health and safety of her loved ones, and world events.

One day I mentioned something I read in the newspaper and a report I heard on the evening news. “I don’t read the paper anymore or watch the news,” Mama said. “I don’t even like to answer the phone, because I’m afraid it will be bad news.”

I sat down beside my mom, held her hand, and said, “You don’t have to be afraid of the future. God has taken care of you all these years. He isn’t going to abandon you now.” Tears glazed her eyes and her chin quivered. As we held hands, I prayed for her. I asked God to help her trust his unfailing love and power to protect. Then we looked up several verses about fear.

The Bible addresses fear over three hundred times, coupled with the directives to be courageous, strong, remember God’s promises, his faithfulness, protection, and to trust rather than fear.

Today, as we navigate the ever-changing landscape of COVID-19, fear seems to tap us on the shoulder at every turn. Media reports tend to focus on worst-case scenarios, enhancing fears and increasing anxiety. Shortages, protests, political bantering, misinformation, and medical concerns combine to discourage, disillusion, and depress. But we don’t have to allow fear to control our lives.

Near the end of her life, Mama seemed calmer, although anxiety sometimes surfaced. A few months before her death, a hospice worker identified my mother’s fears as classic symptoms of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), the result of some frightening experiences in childhood, including the death of a first-grade friend.

Following my mother’s death, I looked at the flyleaf of her Bible and found two verses in her handwriting:

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 NIV

“Let him have all your worries and cares, for he is always thinking about you and watching everything that concerns you.” 1 Peter 5:7 TLB

I believe these verses and prayer lessened Mama’s fears and provided a measure of peace in the final years of her life. Like my mother, you can make the decision not to let fear control you. Don’t allow COVID-19, or any other challenges you face, to paralyze you with fear and prevent you from following God’s designated path for your life. Fortify yourself with Scripture and prayer and choose faith over fear.

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Faith Over Fear – encouragement from @CandyArrington on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Candy ArringtonAbout the author: Candy Arrington has written hundreds of articles and devotionals, often on tough topics. Her books include AFTERSHOCK: Help, Hope, and Healing in the Wake of Suicide (B & H) and When Your Aging Parent Needs Care: Practical Help for This Season of Life (Harvest House). Candy is a native South Carolinian, who gains writing inspiration from historic architecture, vintage photographs, nature, and the application of Biblical principles to everyday life. Learn more about Candy at www.CandyArrington.com, where you can also read her blog, Forward Motion: Moving Beyond What Holds You Back.

Candy’s book, When Your Aging Parent Needs Care, is a help to those who face the special effort of caring for a parent. It provides support and direction to enable the caregiver to be spiritually, physically, and emotionally prepared for the day to day challenges they face.

Join the conversation: How are you managing fear in light of what we are seeing all around us?

In the Palm of His Hand

by Cindi McMenamin @CindiMcMenamin

…In your book were all written the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them.                                                                                              Psalm 139:16 NASB

It’s easy to feel right now that the world is spinning out of control. Disease runs rampant. The economy is struggling. Our fears or concerns mount. Yet, our God has it all under control. He has the world – and all who are in it – in the palm of His hand.

Psalm 139 tells us how intimately acquainted God is with all of our ways. Not only does that verse tell us God has searched us and known us and that He knows our every whereabout, but it also says He protects us.

“You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me” (verse 5).

What peace there is in knowing God is here with us in the dark, in the light, waking up, going to sleep, going out, and coming in.

Psalm 139 reminds me that I never need to worry about anything concerning my life or the lives of those I love, because of God’s ever-present watchfulness. From Psalm 139 alone, I am assured that God is One who:

  • searches us and knows us from the inside out (verse 1)
  • knows our every action and thought (verses 2-3)
  • knows what we will say before we say it (verse 4)
  • “encircles” us and places His hand of protection upon us (verse 5)
  • follows us everywhere we go – or stays with us when we can’t go anywhere (verses 8-12)
  • formed us and watched over us while we were in the womb (verses 13-15)
  • wrote out our life story in His book before we even lived it – meaning even this time of quarantine doesn’t take Him by surprise (verse 16)
  • thinks innumerable thoughts of us (verses 17-18)
  • knows our concerns and anxieties – especially during uncertain days like these (verse 23)
  • convicts us of our offenses and leads us in the right direction (verse 24)

That Psalm reminds me that God is intimately acquainted with us and our loved ones. And He is aware of what is going on in the hearts and lives of those we can’t be with on a daily basis. It assures me that there is nothing I can do, and no place I can go where His love doesn’t follow. That means there is never a reason to worry or feel alone. I am safe – and you are safe – in the palm of His hand.

God knows every detail of the paths we walk, the decisions we make, the words we say and the actions we take. He also knows every detail about the world we live in. He will never let us out of His sight or out of His heart.

Lord, thank You that You know the condition of this world and the condition of my heart. Thank You that Your love follows me everywhere I go and I am safe and secure in the palm of Your hand.

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In the Palm of His Hand – encouragement from @CindiMcMenamin on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

View More: http://chelseamariephoto.pass.us/cindiAbout the author: Cindi McMenamin is an award-winning writer and national speaker who helps women strengthen their relationship with God and others. She is the author of 17 books including her best-selling When Women Walk Alone (more than 145,000 copies sold), God's Whispers to a Woman's Heart by [Cindi McMenamin]God’s Whispers to a Woman’s Heart, and Drama Free: Finding Peace When Emotions Overwhelm You. For more on her books and resources to strengthen your soul, marriage, and parenting, or for more information on her coaching services to help you write the book on your heart, see her website: www.StrengthForTheSoul.com.

Join the conversation: Which truth from Psalm 139 means the most to you this morning?

 

 

Trusting God in a Season of Uncertainty

by Lee Ann Mancini

I have heard your prayers. I have seen your tears; surely I will heal you.  2 Kings 20:5 NIV

“Hi, Mrs. Mancini,” I heard a faint voice saying. Slowly, I opened my eyes and began to register that, once again, surgery was finished. This time, I had required a complete removal of my thyroid. Only three months prior, I had undergone surgery for avascular necrosis of the third metatarsal. What is that, you ask? It is when the bone in the middle toe of your foot begins to die.

I was carrying a large biblical commentary when, all of a sudden, I somehow managed to drop it on my foot. Unfortunately for me, the book did not land on its flat surface, which would have allowed the weight to be evenly distributed. Instead, the corner of the massive book struck my middle toe like a sharp-pointed knife! Wincing in pain, I told myself with resignation, “Well, that’s going to hurt for a while.” Little did I know that, only eight months later, I would require surgery.

Why do I mention my surgeries?

Well, I suffer from anxiety. Normally, just the thought of having to lie in bed for two weeks with my foot propped up above my heart—or the thought of possibly never being able to talk again should my vocal cords accidentally be cut—would normally have sent me into full panic mode. However, I am thankful to say the Lord was gracious to me, and this did not happen.

We all go through seasons of tests and trials, however, during those two recent health issues, I decided that I would earnestly focus on learning to trust God completely first and foremost. I wanted to rely on the Word of God, pray to the Lord in confidence, and trust in His promises without reservation.

Whenever a fearful thought began creeping into my mind, I would take that thought and bring it directly to Christ. “We demolish arguments and ever pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5 NIV).

Do you earnestly seek the Lord in prayer during difficult times? Do you recite a particular Bible verse to help ease your mind as you feel anxiety creeping in? Or do you focus on the situation and dwell on the problem?

This time I didn’t dwell on the problem, but told my Father that I would accept whatever outcome He had planned for me. I was determined to praise Him no matter what the result. The Lord rewarded me by giving me peace and comfort through the entire process both surgeries entailed.

May the Lord protect and guide your hearts and minds during these very stressful days. May you be drawn closer to the Lord, trusting him and praising him. He promises to give you peace that surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7)!

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Trusting God in a Season of Uncertainty – encouragement from Lee Ann Mancini on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Lee Ann Bio PictureAbout the author: Lee Ann Mancini is an adjunct professor at South Florida Bible College and Theological Seminary. She is the author of the Sea Kids book series and an executive producer of the new Sea Kids animation series.

Lee Ann’s book, Forever with Jesus, teaches children how wonderful heaven is: no more tears, pain, or suffering. When their neighbor passes away, the children in the story learn that they do not have to fear death, because their belief in Jesus guarantees they will live forever with Him.

Join the conversation: What has helped you in dealing with anxiety?

 

Don’t Worry Your Pretty Head

by Rhonda Rhea @RhondaRhea

I’m not going to lie, I allowed my kids to make a few bad hair decisions as they were growing up. I did it for two reasons. 1) I knew I would be able to show them the pictures years later and tease them mercilessly, and 2) if everything was all hair perfection for them growing up, how would they ever learn to be funny?

May I say now, “well-done, me.” Because I have pictures. And the laughter is very satisfying. And also, all my kids are hilarious.

I’m also big enough to admit that sometimes when we look at those pictures, the bad hair is mine. I’d rather call it a bad mousse day. Or as I’ve come to more often refer to it, “Serendipity-Do”—since I never knew exactly how that hair would turn out. Or how the gel would come off.

When I say that I’m big enough to admit it, sometimes I mean my hair was big enough. Big enough for whatever. Oh my, the sheer “bigness” of that hair. I look at the photos of those three-story bangs and wonder how it all held up without girders and trusses. I think the highest hair stood with a lot of teasing, spraying, wishing and even more worrying. Plus another jar and a half of the gel-mousse-plaster-of-Paris of the day.

Back then I also worried on windy days that those bangs might accidentally achieve enough thrust, drag, weight, lift and hairspray to fly me a couple of counties over. Oh the worries of heavy-duty aerodynamic bangs (hair-o-dynamic?). It’s enough to…well…make your hair stand on end. Or turn it gray.

Worry in all aspects of life can be as sticky as cheap mousse. It’s even sneaky. I often convince myself that worry works. After all, most of the things I worry about don’t happen. Doesn’t that mean it’s working?

Even in all its slick sneakiness, there’s something we can do with worry. When we feel we’re coming unglued (not a hair reference), and we don’t know what to do, we have a choice. We can trade in that worry. “Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God,” (Philippians 4:6, CSB).

Trading worry for prayer, petition and thanksgiving? It’s the most amazing exchange. And you’re not even going to believe what comes along with it. A gloriously unexpected peace. We’re told about it in the very next verse. “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7, CSB). A heart-and-mind-guarding peace straight from Jesus Himself!

Seeking Jesus—heart and mind on Him—is the key. He said in Matthew 6:34, “Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow.” He preceded that command with, “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness,” (Matthew 6:33, CSB). When His peace rules, the fears that seem three stories tall one minute, appear appropriately minuscule the next. Is there any worry—anything at all—that can stand up against the perfect peace of God?

God’s peace has proven its ability to stand up against the biggest heartbreaks, the highest life-threats, or even the smallest and goofiest hair events—even events with pictures.

On the pics topic, I’m backing off my kids a hair. Possibly because for every shot I take at one of their styles, they can always pull out a Glamour Shot of mine.

Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you. Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.                                                                                                 Isaiah 41:10 NASB

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Don’t Worry Your Pretty Head – Encouragement from @RhondaRhea (Click to Tweet)

rhonda rheaAbout the author: Rhonda Rhea is a TV personality for Christian Television Network and an award-winning humor columnist for great magazines such as HomeLifeLeading HeartsThe Pathway and many more. She is the author of 17 books, including the Fix-Her-Upper books, co-authored with Beth Duewel, and the hilarious novels, Turtles in the Road and Off-Script & Over-Caffeinated, both co-authored with her daughter, Kaley Rhea.

Off-Script & Over-Caffeinated: A Novel by [Rhea, Kaley, Rhea, Rhonda]

Rhonda and Kaley have just released a new novel, Off-Script and Over-CaffeinatedWhen the Heartcast Channel Movie division announces they’ll briefly be allowing submissions for new Christmas movies, Harlow finds herself paired with a reluctant co-star. Jack Bentley may be the biggest Heartcast Original Movie name in the business, but he is anything but formulaic. 

Rhonda lives near St. Louis with her pastor/hubs and has five grown children. You can read more from Rhonda on her website or Facebook page.

Join the conversation: What do you do to keep your worrying under control?

 

Learning to Listen Well

by Natalie Flake Ford @tearstojoy

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10 NIV

Panic. Dread. Unprecedented Fear. These words describe the emotional turmoil in the car just moments before my daughter’s first driving lesson. After a quick prayer, I gently instructed her on keeping between the lines as well as knowing when to brake and when to speed up. As I did this, my anxious feelings slowly began to dissipate. Peace and calm gradually replaced my fear and anxiety.

In order for my daughter to drive well, we had to turn off distractions (cell phones and radio). As she listened intently to my voice and worked diligently to obey my commands, she gradually learned to drive.

God wants the same for us in our daily lives. Too often distractions drown out his still, quiet voice until we are consumed with doing what the world deems important. The result is becoming preoccupied with worry. Henry Nouwen, a Roman Catholic priest and psychologist, wrote, “Without solitude it is virtually impossible to live a spiritual life.”

If we want to walk in obedience to Christ, we have to remove distractions so that we can focus on His voice. This is easier said than done. Silence can be uncomfortable.

I don’t know about you, but when I get quiet, my mind starts to race. I obsess over my to-do list and struggle with the urge to “do something.” If I am quiet long enough, anxieties, fears, hurtful memories, anger, and pain threaten to consume me.

Uncomfortable with these feelings, I want to stop this “inner chat” and hide in busyness. But to do so would mean missing God’s voice and the peace He offers. When we are still before Him, the Holy Spirit does a healing work in the deep recesses of our heart and soul.

One of my seminary professors required that we spend three hours alone with the Lord. Honestly, I dreaded this assignment and thought it to be a waste of time. But out of obligation, I gathered my Bible, a hymnal, a journal, and my guitar and headed for a local state park.

In the beginning, it felt awkward. My mind wandered, and I continually fought to bring it back to the Word. But as I disciplined myself to be still, I experienced one of the sweetest, most intimate times with the Lord that I’ve ever had. I left that park different than when I arrived. I was filled with contentment, peace, and joy, even though my circumstances remained the same.

Spending three hours alone with God daily is not realistic for most of us. But we can make finding quiet moments a priority, whether it be the few minutes before we get out of bed, turning off the radio in the car, or meditating on the Word during our quiet times.

Consider scheduling time in your calendar for solitude and don’t let anything change that appointment. Get up early on Sundays and spend time preparing your heart for worship — maybe even go to the Church and find a quiet place to pray and listen.

Solitude is not easy. It is awkward at first, but it has the potential to radically sanctify us and make us more like Christ. If Jesus was always intently listening to the Father, how much more do we need to do the same?

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Learning to Listen Well – insight from Natalie Flake Ford, @TearsToJoy on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Natailie Ford headshotAbout the author: Natalie Flake Ford teaches counseling and psychology at Truett McConnell University.  She is also a licensed professional counselor. Dr. Ford is passionate about missions and lives to make Jesus known.

In her book, Tears to Joy, Natalie details the tribulations of dealing with mental illness. Debunking stigma and presenting practical advice, she offers hope to those who have dealt with a loved one’s mental illness or suicide, even to those who have struggled with it themselves.

Join the conversation: How do you manage to incorporate solitude into your life?

Confident Dependence in the Face of Fear

by Jennifer Smith Lane

Last year my husband, an otherwise healthy man in his mid-forties, was diagnosed with cancer. The news blindsided us. Further testing led to the discovery of a second, unrelated cancer in his kidney. Another blow. This was particularly surprising because my husband is a urologist. Not only is kidney cancer his surgical specialty, it has also been the focus of his medical research for nearly two decades.

Suddenly our lives came to a screeching halt. Our world was turned upside down as a treatment plan was mapped out making the next six months look drastically different than what we had planned. If that wasn’t enough, during that same time, we had a water leak in our kitchen forcing us to replace all of the main level flooring, a close family friend died, and our son started having some health problems as well. I felt overwhelmed and afraid.

It’s one thing to say you trust God. It’s another thing to trust God when you are afraid.

Even though God had rescued me from my eating disorder and shown me that He was trustworthy, I still found myself afraid. Could I trust Him to bring me through yet another deep valley of suffering? “As for me, I look to the LORD for His help. I wait CONFIDENTLY for God to save me, and my God will certainly hear me” (Micah 7:7 NLT). Wait confidently, with certainty?

When I’m afraid, I find that confidence and certainty are the exact opposite of how I feel. As I reflected on this, I realized I was afraid because I kept thinking the outcome rested on my shoulders when in actuality it rested on God’s. God was asking me to give my fears over to Him and trust Him, but I didn’t know what that looked like, so I turned to God’s Word for answers.

As I studied the Psalms, I was surprised by how often the psalmist prays in commands. Meaning when he prays, he doesn’t sheepishly skirt around his request. No, he pleads with God saying things like, “Save Me,” “Heal Me,” “Rescue Me,” “Help Me,” and “Vindicate Me.” I thought, how could David be so bold as to pray this way? It’s because David’s confidence rested in God, not in himself. David knew that the God he was crying out to was the same God who created the world and all that is in it. The same God who flooded the earth, parted the Red Sea, turned the Nile into blood, and performed countless other wonders and miracles. The same God who made up a plan to save all of humanity through His Son Jesus Christ. Even though David had a lot to fear, he prayed big because he lived in “confident dependence” (Hosea 12:6 NLT) on our amazing God.

We pray to the same amazing God David did. Don’t let fear hinder your prayer life by limiting our limitless God. The next time you’re facing difficult circumstances, pray like you remember how great God is and that He is on your side.

“But blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in Him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” Jeremiah 17:7-8 NIV

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Confident Dependence in the Face of Fear – insight from Jennifer Smith Lane on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

jennifer smith laneAbout the author: Jennifer Smith Lane is the president and co-founder of the Michigan Eating Disorders Alliance, whose mission is to provide education programs to prevent eating disorders. In addition to her non-profit work, she leads an eating and body image ministry walking alongside women on their recovery journey and empowering them to find freedom in Christ. Jennifer, her husband, and three children live in Michigan.

Jennifer’s new book, Transformed: Eating and Body Image Renewal God’s Way, helps women identify the underlying spiritual issues that keep them stuck in eating and body image issues. It is an inductive Bible study that teaches tools to turn to God for rescue through the spiritual disciplines.

Join the conversation: What is it about God that gives you confidence in Him?

 

 

 

Time Keeps on Ticking

by Candy Arrington @CandyArrington

But I trust in you, O LORD; I say, “You are my God.” My times are in your hands…”        Psalm 31:14-15 NIV

In her declining years, my mother struggled with a variety of health challenges. The combination of fragile bones and unsteadiness on her feet led to a number of falls and breaks. Following surgery to repair a vertebra fracture, and a too-brief sojourn to recovery in physical therapy rehab, I stayed with my mother when she came home.

The first night, after I finally got Mama settled—a box of tissues on the bed, a bell on the nightstand, enough (but not too much) covers, the door cracked just the right amount—I crawled into the guest bed, exhausted. On the bedside table perched an old wind-up clock. No other time indicators were in the room (this was before cell phones dominated our lives). I contemplated winding the clock, but hesitated, thinking of the potential intrusive noise, then decided to wind it anyway.

Big mistake.

For hours, I lay there listening to something akin to the sound track of 60 Minutes.

TICKTICK-ticktick. TICKTICK-ticktick.

After a while, I began to imagine little rhythms in my head to fit the ticking. Even with a pillow over my head, sleep was impossible. I considered taking the clock across the hall to the 1950’s-era tile bathroom, but decided the ticking would only be magnified in there. Finally, I buried the clock under a quilt at the foot of the bed. Although the sound diminished, I could still feel the pulse of the ticking through the mattress.

That night, I had ample opportunity to ponder time, and the fact that except for one incidence recorded in the Old Testament book of Joshua, time doesn’t stand still. Time marches on with each tick of the clock, continually moving us forward. Whether we approach the progression of time with fear or faith is our decision.

The eleventh chapter of the book of Hebrews lists Bible heroes whose faith was notable. Noah is among them. When God told Noah he was going to destroy the world with a flood and that he needed to build an enormous boat, Noah believed Him. Instead of quaking with fear about the impending deluge, or focusing on the time necessary for the task before him, Noah got to work. Doubtless, others scoffed at him for building a boat nowhere near water and the fact that it was taking so many years to build, but Noah stayed focused and finished the job. He looked beyond the obstacles, saw the future through eyes of faith, and trusted God.

Those who gaze into the future with fear are often troubled by the what-ifs: there’s so much that could happen in the unknown. What if I lose my job, run out of money, receive an incurable diagnosis, an aging parent requires full-time care, my teen rebels, or adult child fails to launch? Allowing anxiety and fear to be in charge of our lives is like shackling ourselves to a heavy ball and chain.

It’s hard to move forward when you’re dragging worry and projecting tragedy with every step.

The opposite of fear is faith. Faith believes God is all-knowing, present everywhere at once, and cares about the circumstances of our lives. If we believe God, and trust him, future is not so scary. We can view the ticking of time with anticipation rather than anxiety, knowing, despite what comes next, God will be there to hold our hand and lead, comfort, help, and sustain us.

So the next time you hear a ticking clock, let the rhythm in your head be a song of praise to God for provision, protection, and the courage to move forward with confidence.

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Time Keeps on Ticking – insight from @CandyArrington on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Candy ArringtonAbout the author: Candy Arrington has written hundreds of articles and devotionals, often on tough topics. Her books include AFTERSHOCK: Help, Hope, and Healing in the Wake of Suicide (B & H) and When Your Aging Parent Needs Care: Practical Help for This Season of Life (Harvest House). Candy is a native South Carolinian, who gains writing inspiration from historic architecture, vintage photographs, nature, and the application of Biblical principles to everyday life. Learn more about Candy at www.CandyArrington.com, where you can also read her blog, Forward Motion: Moving Beyond What Holds You Back.

Candy’s book, When Your Aging Parent Needs Care, is a help to those who face the special effort of caring for a parent. It provides support and direction to enable the caregiver to be spiritually, physically, and emotionally prepared for the day to day challenges they face.

Join the conversation: What scares you the most about the future?

 

 

When Our Greatest Need Turns into Our Greatest Blessing

by Jennifer Slattery @JenSlattery

What if your greatest need, your greatest challenge, strategically leads to your greatest blessing?

My mind likes to shoot straight to fear. When our car breaks down, or our daughter struggles, or someone I love experiences a health challenge, I’m tempted to forget. To forget that God is with me, with us. To forget He’s ever present, certain and true. That His love is big enough to cover every need and hurt. But most of all, I’m tempted to forget that He is in my difficulty, using the situation to reveal hidden lies lurking in my heart. Shining His light on what is diseased in order to bring life and light to what’s gone dead.

For years, I felt food-insecure. Even with a full pantry and well-funded savings account, financially, everything felt uncertain. I remembered my time wandering the street of Tacoma, eating potatoes, and let’s be honest, consuming large quantities of malt liquor.

My vision from that time was selective, distorted. I remembered the hard more than God’s hand. And so, I lived in fear. Fear that, at any moment, the life I’d created—that I thought I’d created—would unravel.

In essence, I made much of myself and little of God. I placed my husband’s paycheck, or working car, or our checking account in place of my faithful Provider. Yet, in the deepest recesses of my fearful heart, I intuitively knew that none of those things had the power to carry me. But in focusing on all those lesser, powerless, ever-shifting provisions, I forgot who has always been holding me.

My focus on the “bread” hindered my view of the “Baker,” and this kept me from resting firmly in His embrace.

This was precisely what happened some two thousand years ago, when Jesus and His disciples encountered a large crowd of hungry people. We likely miss the magnitude of this situation as most of us have never truly been food-insecure. When we want something to eat, we run to the store or hit the nearest restaurant. But for ancient humankind, hunger was a real and pressing concern.

And so, seeing the crowd was hungry, Jesus said to Philip, one of His disciples, “You feed them.”

To which Philip replied, in essence, “Um, what?”

“Philip answered Him, ‘It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!’” (John 6:7, NIV).

Peter responded in much the same way, saying “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?” (John 6:8, NIV).

In that moment, their need felt huge, and, it appears, their God felt small.

Have you been there? I have, but the Lord never chastises me or turns me away. Instead, He draws me close and says, “What you have is enough, because I, Who always am enough, will make it enough.”

That’s precisely how He responded to His disciples. He told them to have everyone sit down. Then “Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish” (John 6:10-11, NIV, emphasis added).

Notice: Jesus didn’t just feed the people enough to hold them over until they could find another meal. He gave them as much as they wanted, an over-abundance, because He is the God of abundance. He alone, not our jobs or our paychecks, will meet our needs.

In the middle of your struggle, what lies are rising to the surface? That God doesn’t care? That He won’t provide for or protect you? That He’s distant or not listening?

What does truth say?

Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? and yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So do not fear: you are more valuable than many sparrows.  Matthew 10:29-31 NASB

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When Our Greatest Need Turns into Our Greatest Blessing – @JenSlattery on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Jennifer SlatteryAbout the author: Jennifer Slattery is a writer and speaker who’s addressed women’s groups, church groups, Bible studies, and writers across the nation. She’s the author of Restoring Her Faith and numerous other titles and maintains a devotional blog at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com. As the founder of Wholly Loved Ministries, she and her team love to help women discover, embrace, and live out who they are in Christ. Visit her online to find out more about her speaking or to book her for your next women’s event, and sign up for her free quarterly newsletter HERE to learn of her future appearances, projects, and releases.

Join the conversation: What are you facing today? What might God be showing you through it?

Where to Find Hope When You Fear the Future

by Tammy Kennington @TammyKennington

I can’t sleep. Anxiety has wrapped its vice-grip around my stomach and presses hard on my chest. My turbulent thoughts spin and quicken my pulse. Bile rises in the back of my throat as one silent, dooming message after another ticks across the screen of my mind. Help me, Lord! I don’t utter the words aloud, but they pour from my soul, thick with worry and fear.

I know I’m supposed to pray for the dear ones on my heart. But I can’t even imagine a good outcome. How could anything worthy or beautiful come from an ugly, sin-ridden situation like this one? How can God possibly bring something beautiful from the rubble?

I persist in whispering prayers to the heart of my Father as the day moves on. The situation continues to be on my mind, still preoccupying me at times. But eventually the anxiety begins to fade as He reminds me about His faithful provision to His children, repeated in history time and time again.

When Naomi lost hope, God gave her Ruth.

When Mary heard of Christ’s impending birth, God sent her to Elizabeth.

When David faced the sword of the king, God offered protection through Jonathan.

When Shadrack, Meshack, and Abendego walked through the fire, the Lord stood with them.

When the waves washed over Peter, Jesus pulled him from the depths.

When the enemy laughed because He’d thought he’d overcome, Christ rose from the grave.

We all experience both ends of each spectrum: joy and sorrow, celebration and grief, delight and despair. Because we live in a world designed by God but polluted by the enemy, our experiences will oscillate between glimpses of heaven and encounters with hell.

For. A. Time.

Then Christ will scoop each of His children up into the arms of eternity. The sorrow? Destroyed. The grief? Overcome. The despair? Decimated. Instead, we will only know and remember the love, mercy, and grace of the God who brought us through it all.

I long for the timelessness of all that is good and beautiful, don’t you? In the meantime, though, our wrestling with worry, anxiety and fear can take a back seat to the faithfulness of God.

If He extended grace before the cross, what will He do for you now? Oh, Friend, you are safe beneath His wings.

Perhaps you’re struggling this week in the same way I have. Why not recite these words of hope as a proclamation of God’s love for you? Complete the blanks with your name as a reminder that you are beloved by Him:

When _______________ was without hope, God gave her new life in Jesus.

When ________________ faced impending trials or accusations, God was her shield.

When ________________ walked through the fire, the Lord stood with her.

When the waves washed over _________________, Jesus pulled her from the depths.

While the enemy laughed because He’d thought he’d overcome __________________, Christ had already won her victory.

Print off this list of verses to pray over and recite when the enemy comes at you with fear and anxiety. And fight Satan’s lies with the truth.

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Where to Find Hope When You Fear the Future – insight from @TammyKennington on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Tammy KenningtonAbout the author: Tammy Kennington is a writer, speaker, education workshop presenter, and child abuse awareness advocate. Familiar with the impact of trauma, mental illness, and parenting in the hard places, Tammy leads women toward a deeper understanding of themselves and their relationship with the God who loves them. The author of five children’s nonfiction books, Tammy has Moving From Pain to Peace: A Journey Toward Hope by [Kennington, Tammy]also written articles and devotions for Thriving Family, The Upper Room, MOPS and several other publications.

Does emotional pain and suffering hold you back from experiencing joy? Moving from Pain to Peace provides hope and healing through hands-on study of Biblical truths, journaling and prayer. Why not take the first step toward recovery from your wounds today?

Join the conversation: What helps you the most when you are consumed by anxiety or fear?

Kicking Out Worry

by Cindi McMenamin @CindiMcMenamin

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”  John 14:27 NIV

Is worry the unwelcome guest in your home?

Worry can stress you out, damage your family relationships, and ultimately give you an ulcer.

And the dangerous thing about worry is that it creeps into our lives gradually and makes its home with us before we notice it’s there. It usually enters our front door in the form of two words: What if?

What if I lose my job?

What if I can’t pay this?

What if it’s not benign?

What if my worst fear is realized?

But you don’t have to live with worry anymore. At the root of our “what if” questions and greatest fears is what you and I really believe about God’s character. When our minds play through the various what ifs, the question we are really asking is “What if God isn’t able?” “What if God isn’t good?” “What if God can’t handle this?”

And that is not an attitude, question, or mindset I want dwelling in my home. And I don’t think you do either.

So, it’s time to kick it out the door.

God’s Word tells us: “Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7 CSB).

As you and I give God all of our what ifs and worries He can calm our hearts and remind us that He is in absolute control. Then His peace comes to dwell with us, instead of those fearful thoughts.

When you and I trust God with what is closest to our hearts, we are saying “You, God, are capable. You are trustworthy. And all my worries and what ifs are in vain.”

We are also saying to those around us: “I trust God will work this out in your life and mine,” modeling trust and faith before them.

Give God your concerns today and by doing so, you’ll be kicking worry out of your home and welcoming a new family member: trust.

Lord, my worry factor is directly related to how well I know You. When I truly know You and understand all that You are capable of, I can’t help but trust You. Grow my faith and my relationship with You so I can know You intimately.  There is no more room for worry in my life. Only trust.

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Kicking Out Worry – encouragement from @CindiMcMenamin on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

View More: http://chelseamariephoto.pass.us/cindiAbout the author: Cindi McMenamin is an award-winning writer and national speaker who helps women and couples strengthen their relationship with God and others. She is the author of 17 books. For more on her books and ministry, or to see if her coaching services can help you write your next book, see her website: www.StrengthForTheSoul.com.

Every mom is concerned about her children and teenagers. But when does legitimate care cross the line into fear and worry, which Scripture commands us to avoid? 10 Secrets to Becoming a Worry-Free Mom will start you on the path to worry-free parenting and a positive relationship between you and your kids.

Join the conversation: What characteristic about God is most helpful to you when you start to worry?