3 Truths to Keep Hope Alive

by Grace Fox

Life is flat-out hard sometimes. Stuff happens when we least expect it, and it can send us into a tailspin or drive us to our knees. Sometimes that stuff lingers much longer than we’d like. We tie a knot and hang on for dear life, but fear threatens to slip our grip.

I’m in a season like that right now. I’ve lost four friends in six weeks. The oldest was 53. The others left behind 10 children ages 8 thru 16 years. Two more have been diagnosed with cancer, and one has been fighting for his life, on ECMO, since early December. My heart wants to cry, “Enough already!” and yet the hurt and uncertainty continue to linger.

 Perhaps you can relate. I suspect that, if everyone reading this devotional pooled their stories, we could fill a book. Or two. Or more.

So what’s the key to hanging onto hope during these seasons when they come? Here are three things to remember:

  • God is with us.

Joseph was betrayed by his brothers, sold into slavery, falsely accused of sexual assault, and forgotten in prison. I wonder if he sometimes felt like God had turned His back on him. Nonetheless, Scripture says that God was with him (Genesis 39:2,3,21,23).

The enemy will try to convince us that God has abandoned us, but don’t be deceived. God has not changed. His faithfulness remains the same, therefore, rest assured that He is with us as we deal with difficulty. He will never leave us.

  • Our trials are temporary.

Joseph’s hardships lasted about 14 years. Some of you might think that’s a long time, but others might think, If only mine were so short-lived. No matter the length of time our difficulties stay, it’s easy to lose sight of the truth when we’re in the middle of the mess. The truth is – our trials will not last forever (2 Corinthians 4:17).

Joseph’s hardships lasted until “the time came for [the LORD] to fulfill his word (Psalm 105:19). Ours, too, will end at just the right time. So, again—be encouraged. This too shall pass. We might not know when they’ll end or what the process will look like enroute, but they will not last forever.

  • Our trials are part of a picture that’s bigger than the one we see at this time.

Joseph’s hardships were divinely designed. Psalm 105:17-18 say, “Then he [God] sent someone to Egypt ahead of them—Joseph, who was sold as a slave. There in prison, they bruised his feet with fetters and put his neck in an iron collar. Until the time came to fulfill his word, the LORD tested Joseph’s character.”

Why did God deem it necessary to test Joseph using these means? Because He planned to make Joseph second-in-command in Egypt. God wanted to prepare him for the task, and this was the best way to do it.

God has purposes yet unseen for our lives, too. Every one of the hardships we experience are part of the pruning and honing necessary to prepare us. They’re also designed to make us more like Jesus no matter what our destiny is (Romans 8:28, 29).

Father God, we don’t understand why hard seasons come our way. But we belong to You, and we want Your highest purpose fulfilled in and through us. So help us remember that You’re with us, hard seasons are temporary, and they’re part of a bigger picture than the one we see now. We trust You with our pain. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

This article brought to you be the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is grace-fox.jpeg

About the author: Grace Fox co-directs an international missionary sending agency, speaks at women’s events overseas and across North America, and has authored 12 books. She’s a regular contributor to Mornings with Jesus (Guideposts), a member of the “First 5” writing team for Proverbs 31 Ministries, and co-host of the podcast “Your Daily Bible Verse.” Her new devotional Keeping Hope Alive: Devotions for Strength in the Storm releases today and is available wherever Christian books are sold. www.gracefox.com/blog www.fb.com.gracefox.author

Join the conversation. Are you in a hard season?

Rogue Wave Redemption

by Cherrilynn Bisbano

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son. Romans 8:28-29 ESV

The rooster interrupted my sleep every three hours. I rolled off the uncomfortable church pew and joined the team for breakfast of granola bars and a bottle of water. The pastor had invited us to El Salvador to show “The Jesus Film,” and offered his church as our resting place.

We gathered our gear for the day and the team headed for El Playa de Cuco beach about five hundred yards away. Its meaning, “crazy beach” — was a good name to express the events of the day. We set up the volleyball net, and played with the kids who lived on the beach.

Small huts made of straw and wood transformed the beach into a makeshift village. Mothers nursed their babies and cooked meals on campfires outside while the men sat on logs and chatted.

Volleyball was fun, but I escaped to write in my journal.

Lord, Thank you for a log for our stuff or it would have been taken out to sea by the waves if we left it on the ground! We have not taken showers since yesterday morning. No Power! No Water! We must smell ripe! We are almost playing v-ball in the houses on the beach (water was coming close to us and the homes). I love you Father. Gracias.”

I put my journal away and went to the large log where our backpacks rested. The one I just thanked God for. I heard screaming…

1 pm (journal entry): WIPED OUT by a big wave! Gloria a Dios (Glory to God), no one was hurt but me. 3 kids went under the hut. All of us went flying. I tried to grab the bag and had a hold of it but the wave took the big log right with it. I was behind the log and it knocked me over. My legs are all cut up and bruised! Babies were everywhere. All are fine though. The locals helped us gather our things. A man named Pablo let us use his table and wash off in his water. (He had the only fresh water well within miles of the beach) Pablo gave me some blue ointment for the cuts on my legs.

We thanked Pablo and gave him The Gospel of John. We left the beach to gather our thoughts, have a soda, and clean our gear. We praised God for keeping us safe as we remembered the verse.

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.” Isaiah  43:2 ESV

The next morning I wrote. Visited Pablo. He loved the peanut butter (peanut butter is a delicacy there). But, he really loved the book at read into the morning.

The next day we said our goodbyes, traveled to Honduras, and boarded a plane home to Rhode Island. Later, the Pastor of the church told us Pablo is now a child of God and leads others to Jesus. God used a rouge wave to save a soul.

My dear friend, I know life is difficult. Will you praise Him with me for taking the difficult and mundane to accomplish His purposes?

This article has been brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Cherrilynn Bisbano is an award-winning writer in both fiction and non-fiction. She is a coach, ghostwriter, editor, and speaker. She is honored to be a member of AWSA.

Shine Don't Whine

You can find her published in several online magazines and blogs along with books.  Her latest book, Shine Don’t Whine, released in October 2020. Cherrilynn proudly served in the Navy and Air National Guard. She lives with her son, Michael, Jr., and husband of 22 years. Cherrilynn loves Christ, Chocolate, coffee, and Cats. You will often find her on the beach sea glass hunting.

Join the conversation: Have you seen God take a “rogue wave” in your life and use it for good?

Trusting the Master

by Debbie Wilson

I felt like a traitor luring my standard poodle into my vet’s lab room. I did it to save his life. But Max didn’t know that. Did he think I was heartless to let the vet draw blood from his thin leg—again?

For months after we learned Max has Addison’s disease, the vet had to draw his blood to check his electrolyte and hormone levels. One week Max refused to go with the technician. So instead of handing her the leash, I followed her, and he followed me.

Max’s trust in me made me consider the conditions I’ve put on fully trusting my Master in painful situations. I’ve thought if only I knew the purpose of my pain then I’d be able to trust God better. But was that true?

Imagine me trying to explain Max’s condition to him. I could read him the symptoms off the Internet. I could show him his lab reports. I could remind him how he almost died. But would he have understood any of it? Of course not. I know the pain of the treatment is brief and the benefits are lasting. All he knows is I keep bringing him back for more needles.

How much greater is God’s knowledge than mine as He takes me through a trial! Sometimes God allows me to see the benefit of my pain. But more often the “whys” remain unanswered.

Isaiah 55:8-9 says, “‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts’” (NIV).

The difference between my thoughts and my dog’s is relatively small when compared to the vast disparity between God’s thoughts and mine. If Max can’t understand why I have his blood drawn, why would I think I could ever understand God’s ways with me?

But God has not left me without assurance. He has promised:

  • “For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison” (2 Cor. 4:17 NIV).
  • “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Rom. 8:18 NIV).

Life on this planet is a vapor. But how we live here affects our eternity. Pain, loss, and confusion are opportunities to trust our Master. The pain is real, but if He allows it then we know He will use it to conform us to the image of Christ (Romans 8:28-29). And I can trust that my pain and the tears will never go unnoticed by my very personal God.

When I see Max romp across the yard without a symptom of Addison’s, I thank God for blood tests and shots. I remember how sick he was without them. He doesn’t understand the connection. He doesn’t need to. Max only needs to know that I take care of him.

“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?” Romans 8:31 NASB

debbie wilsonAbout the author: Debbie W. Wilson is an ordinary woman who has experienced an extraordinary God. Drawing from her personal walk with Christ, twenty-four years as a Christian counselor, and decades as a Bible teacher, Debbie speaks and writes to help women discover relevant faith. She is the author of Little Women, Big God and Give Yourself a Break. She and her husband, Larry, founded Lighthouse Ministries in 1991. Share her journey to refreshing faith at her blog.

Free Book Contest!  Arise Daily will use a random number generator to pick a winner from today’s comments. To enter our contest for Debbie’s book, Little Women Big God,  please comment below.  By posting in our comments, you are giving us permission to share your name if you win!  If you have an outside the US mailing address, your prize could be substituted with an e-book of our choice.

Join the conversation: What things in your life have caused you to question God?