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?

The Value of Brokenness

by Tammy Kennington @TammyKennington

Shallow lines marked half-moons at the edges of my mouth, and the first shades of gray had begun threading themselves through my hair when I encountered soul-rocking, spirit-deep pain. Not one area of my life remained untouched.

Emotionally? I was immersed in depression, anxiety, and hopelessness. Relationally? My marriage and children seemed irreparable. Spiritually? My faith teetered haphazardly on the corners of anger and bitterness.

Weren’t women who loved God supposed to live out quiet, uncomplicated lives by the time they’d exhaled over forty shimmering candles I was as broken as I’d ever been, but I couldn’t avoid reality with childlike innocence or avoidance as I’d done before.

The person I’d been shattered into a thousand pieces—like my grandmother’s fine china did when the buffet’s contents tumbled onto the dining room floor. Shards of cream and pink flowers scattered; a haphazard array of brokenness.

An experience most of us has had at one time or another, brokenness comes in all shapes and forms.

Today, some of you may be wrestling with the brokenness of relationships. Perhaps you weren’t loved well as a child, you’ve been betrayed by a dear friend, or the divorce papers on the table mock the hope you embraced in your youth.

Others might be struggling with the on-going, relentless pain of mental illness, grief, or disease. The foot you place on the floor each morning feels almost as forced as the prayers catching in your throat.

Or, perhaps, the brokenness that burdens you was borne from lies you’ve believed about yourself. Maybe you’ve adopted an I’ll-prove-I’m-worth-saving approach to God, attempting to show Him you deserve His love only to realize striving and imperfection have brought you to your knees.

Brokenness is painful. We balk at its presence and fervently pray God will take it from us. Sometimes He does. But even if He doesn’t, there is nothing beyond the power of the Master.

Like a Kinstugi craftsman mending the broken remains of a Japanese tea bowl with lines of gold dust and resin, the One who restores all things bends intimately over His beloved treasure. Gently, He refashions what was into something new—a living, breathing representation of hope marked by old scars and transformed by grace.

The mending takes time and patience as the artist touches first one sharp edge to another, softening hard places with His healing touch and fitting disjointed, incongruent  pieces into one complete work bearing a mark of newness despite evidence of struggle. Hardship. Life.

Christ, too, knew brokenness. A “man of sorrows”, Jesus was betrayed by friends and family, suffered abuse at the hands of jealous men, and foretold His own suffering with the words, “This is My body which is broken for you.” (1 Corinthians 11:24)

He accepted brokenness on our behalf.

Because of Christ’s willingness to bear the weight of sin and shame? Because His hands were pierced with nails? Because He experienced death and resurrection? Our brokenness is subject to Him.

While the pain and suffering of living this side of heaven can seem overwhelming, its value is the testimony of hope the Master reveals in and through His work in our hearts; threads of His faithfulness shining bright in an everyday woman’s life.

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise. Psalm 51:17 NASB

TWEETABLE
The Value of Brokenness – insight and encouragement 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: Please share your experience with brokenness, whether from your past or where you are today. We can all learn from each other.

Set Free

by Tammy Kennington

I didn’t know her, but the vulnerable thoughts she’d written pierced my heart: “I realized where I was stuck. I was stuck in jealousy–wanting the childhood she had. Wanting. Wishing. But, not having.”

She spoke of jealousy, but I heard something different in her words. Grief. Yearning. Broken-hearted longing. If I had to guess? This woman, like so many, grew up in dysfunction.

She may have been raised in a home with an empty pantry and only harsh, angry words to nourish a girl’s hungry soul. Hers may have been the home other children politely refused to visit because they’d heard the shouting and cursing seeping from the walls in the dark of the night. Or, she might have been the child shivering beneath the covers because the heating bill had been neglected in favor of another bottle of her stepfather’s favorite whiskey.

If that is part of your story? I. Am. Sorry. Something is terribly broken in a world where children grow up with hungry stomachs and hungrier hearts.

You can do something different, dear one.

And if we are honest, we all might admit the truth… even the best families are dysfunctional in one way or another. While not everyone experienced a childhood without a father or cleaned up after an addicted parent, we all know this one thing.

Our. Parents. Were. Not. Perfect.

And, of course, neither are we.

So how can dysfunctional, messed-up people break the chains of familial bondage? Is it even possible to rid ourselves of unwanted habits that have hitched a ride from one generation to the next?

Yes, but not our own power. Instead, we can turn to the one who is All-Powerful.

“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners…” (Isaiah 61:1 NIV)

But to begin moving in that direction? We need to recognize the hurts and habits that have moved into our marriages and families uninvited. Call them out. Denounce their destructiveness and invite the Holy Spirit into the walls of our homes and hearts.

Unabated sarcasm? Angry outbursts? Shutting down? Shutting out? Whatever the sin. Name it, friend, and He will begin to unfasten the chains.

Invite His correction. Accept His instruction. Trust His direction.

There isn’t a stronghold that can stand when we invite the Helper into our sin-created, self-mandated cage. The walls of resistance are shaken, doors burst open and we step into the light of freedom the moment we acknowledge our weakness.

There may be times we wander back into the dark den that once held us captive, but we don’t belong there. Remember, the day we trusted Jesus we were set free from bondage. The door stands open. Let’s trust Him enough to step across the threshold.

It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.   Galatians 5:1 NASB

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 hopes to lead 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 also written articles and devotions for Thriving Family, The Upper Room, MOPS and several other publications. When she isn’t writing, Tammy is likely discovering unmatched socks and candy wrappers tucked beneath the cushions of the couch or drinking a cup of Calming Chamomile tea as her children configure a boxing ring in the front yard with traffic cones and twine.

Join the conversation: From what strongholds has God released you?

Congratulations to our first week winner: Allyson King!!

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Crossing the Jordan

by Tammy Kennington

“And the priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firm on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan while all Israel crossed on dry ground, until all the nation had finished crossing the Jordan.” Joshua 3:17 NASB

It was a glorious day, one that Israel had long awaited. God was bringing them into the Promised Land, the land of milk and honey. Their entrance was a memorable one, as the waters flowing from upstream began to pile up into a heap, miraculously allowing them to walk in on dry ground. It was a dramatic sign of God’s approval and support, a visual picture of what He had already promised for His nation: “Every place on which the sole of your foot treads, I have given it to you.” (Joshua 1:3 NASB)

He calls each of us to follow Him into His Promised Land as well. But sometimes there is no “dry land” to be found. Sometimes God doesn’t meet our expectations. What happens when we’ve slipped a toe into the edge of the Jordan and suddenly we’re neck-deep in the river; disillusioned and doubting the call of the One who promised us beauty…bounty…blessing on the other side? What happens when our hopes or dreams are dashed against the rocks–shattered and floating further from our reach?

Do we blame Him for letting us down? For leaving us. For our struggle against the rushing water as we’re dragged somewhere unknown and unanticipated?

Instead of trusting that our Rescuer has already journeyed into the depths for us, we are tempted to give in to the pull of the current. Drifting. Doubting. Denouncing Him in our inability to see clearly from this side of the river to the other.

At times, I’ve been overwhelmed by the dark waves. Smashed against the river bottom. Sputtering for air. Shouting my doubts into the mist. Because suffering? It hurts. And sometimes I’ve felt like I’m drowning even in my living.

Some of you are crossing your personal Jordan right now. Cancer. Anxiety. Mental illness. Divorce. Death. Pain so big it’d be easy to lose sight of the largeness and power of God. My heart aches for that journey you’re taking right now–the one causing fear unequaled. Feelings of aloneness. Deep soul-sorrow.

Can I remind you? He is El Roi–the God who sees. He is Yishmael–the God who hears. He is Adonai–the sovereign Lord, who loves you perfectly. And He is the God who walks on the water–right next to you…reaching out for your hand…and reassuring, “It’s me, don’t be afraid.”

If we can trust Jesus with eternity, let’s trust Him with our today–even as we totter toward His beckoning hand over the next wave.

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, nor will the flame burn you.” Isaiah 43:2 NASB

Tammy Kennington About the author: Tammy Kennington is a writer, speaker, and child abuse awareness advocate. Familiar with the impact of trauma, mental illness, and parenting in the hard places, Tammy hopes to lead 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’s work has also been featured by Thriving Family, The Upper Room, Light from the Word, and others. You can meet regularly with Tammy at Mercy Multiplied.

Free Book Contest!  Arise Daily will use a random number generator to pick a winner from today’s comments. To enter our contest for Tammy’s children’s book for 8 to 11 year olds, Penguins,  (Exploring our Oceans: 21st Century Skills Library), 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: Have you been overwhelmed by the waves in life?

Come to the Quiet Place

by Tammy Kennington

The mound of dishes extends to the uppermost edge of the kitchen sink, and reluctantly, I begin the process of methodically rinsing each plate, bowl, and glass before depositing it in the dishwasher. I have just enough time to finish peeling the baked-on oatmeal from the insides of the crockpot before my daughter rushes around the corner with a look of concern etched across her delicate features.

“Mommy, I need help with my math. NOW,” she emphasizes.

Casting a quick glance toward the stove, I notice the pot on the right back burner is spitting angrily across the surface. With a sigh, I quickly twist the knob to low and turn my attention to the middle-school girl planted directly in front of me. She is a diminutive package of tears and foot-tapping frustration, and I can’t wait for the school week to end and give us both a break from homework.

In that moment, the dogs begin barking uncontrollably—probably at a wayward rabbit passing through the yard—and a hungry teen-aged boy utters something about being hungry.

Me? I just want to go to bed. And I wonder why some days seem much longer than the standard 24 hours.

Jesus recognized this same weariness in his disciples.

Their day had been overflowing with prayer, preaching, and healings. The people–needy and desperate–longed for someone to make a difference…to change their lives…to offer hope. By the busy day’s end, the men were as empty as my freshly rinsed sink. Do you ever feel it, too? The need to be filled up…restored…replenished?

Jesus offers us the answer. He beckons gently, calling each of us to spend time at his feet. “…Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest” (Mark 6:31 NIV).

Make your appointment with the Prince of Peace, friend. Breathe in the rest only He provides. Step away from the pressures of the immediate and discover soul treasure in the Eternal. He’s waiting to meet with you today.

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-29 ESV

Tammy KenningtonAbout the author: Tammy Kennington is a writer, speaker, 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’s work has also been featured by Thriving Family, The Upper Room, Light from the Word, and others. You can meet regularly with Tammy at Mercy Multiplied.

Free Book Contest!  Arise Daily will use a random number generator to pick a winner from today’s comments. To enter our contest for Tammy’s children’s book for 8 to 11 year olds, Penguins,  (Exploring our Oceans: 21st Century Skills Library), 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 do you do when you spend time with the Lord? Share what works for you.

Engraved on His Hands

by Tammy Kennington

The familiar ping of the cell phone alerted me to a new message. A hurting friend and I had been discussing the razor-edged struggles of the hard in her life. A loved one had said things. Done things. She wanted to know–could the relationship recover?

I paused before responding. I didn’t see the way. I didn’t know how the hurt could be redeemed. But God did. The words I chose? With God, all things are possible.

Tears blurred my miniature screen when this dear one answered. I feel worthless.

I understood these words. I had owned them for years. And I wonder…how many of us have been in that place? How many of us have felt the thrust of the enemy’s arrow digging into our hearts with messages that overshadow the love letters from God in His Word?

Maybe you’ve believed the lies, too. The messages burning in your heart may have been lodged there since childhood—words spoken by a parent, a teacher, or peers. Perhaps you were burdened with the weight of worthlessness when a marriage begun with promises ended in betrayal. Is it possible that your past—the sins you can’t seem to forget—deems you worthless?

Not in God’s eyes. Jesus wants to affirm you. What He offers is no mere positive mantra for personal repetition or word of false praise. He wants to give you so much more.

Jesus is calling us to follow him. As he called the disciples away from their fishing, He shouts out your name–a personal invitation to leave your own nets behind–those things that entangle and threaten to drag you into dark waters. He calls us to leave them in the sand, Friend. Like refuse scattered along the water’s edge after a storm, you can shed your hurts, cast off the lies, and release your burdens.

I’m not suggesting that Jesus is an easy answer. The world is still a place of broken people. Suffering continues. Tears still flow. Certainly, Jesus didn’t mince words when he said, “I’ve told you all this so that trusting me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace. In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I’ve conquered the world” (John 16:31-33 MSG).

The God of the universe and creator of all things loves you so passionately that when He spread His arms wide on the cross He was dying for you. You are that valuable. “Can a mother forget her nursing child? Can she feel no love for a child she has borne? Even if that were possible, I would never forget you! See, I have engraved your name on the palms of my hands” (Isaiah 49:15-16 NLT).

With Jesus, it is very personal. Even in all of our difficulty and doubts, let’s respond to His grace and love. Will you follow after Him in your present? Because one beautiful day in the future we’ll celebrate a heavenly homecoming and fully understand just how much He loves us.

 “So the LORD said to Moses, “I will also do this thing that you have spoken; for you have found grace in My sight, and I know you by name.” Exodus 33:17 NKJV

Tammy KenningtonAbout the author: Tammy Kennington is a writer, speaker, 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’s work has also been featured by Thriving Family, The Upper Room, Light from the Word, and others. You can meet regularly with Tammy at Mercy Multiplied.

Free Book Contest!  Arise Daily will use a random number generator to pick a winner from today’s comments. To enter our contest for Tammy’s children’s book for 8 to 11 year olds, Penguins,  (Exploring our Oceans: 21st Century Skills Library), 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 are the messages embedded in your heart that you need to cast off?

Life Reborn

by Tammy Kennington

\In the still of the morning, my small world is quiet and peaceful. The muffled whir of the washing machine and rhythmic inhale and exhale of my old, sleeping dog just behind my chair are the only sounds. A few breakfast dishes litter the kitchen counter and I ignore a freshly dried pile of darks perched on the couch.

Enfolding a warm cup of tea in my hands, I pause and whisper a prayer of thanks. For a new day. For family and friends. For safety.

Yet, my thoughts continue to focus elsewhere—returning again and again to the images I’d seen splashed across the television screen. People franticly veering left and right, desperate to escape a madman’s deadly rampage during a country music concert. Mental footage of homes laid waste by raging winds and water like a child’s scattered set of broken Lincoln Logs. The eerie, glowing skyline of a city poised above the charred remains of what had once represented the lives of hundreds of people. A human right’s activist gripping photos of a recent Syrian massacre in which babies gasped helplessly for elusive, life-giving air.

Suddenly, my peaceful morning transforms and I’m overcome with feelings of helplessness.  Hopelessness. Grief.

What hope is there for a world that destroys itself? For people brought to their knees by forces beyond their influence? For victims of the evils of terrorism and hate?

I’m reminded of a moment of vulnerability and, perhaps, even accusation when Lazarus’ sister, Mary, runs to meet Christ as he approaches her home. “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

Mary held Jesus responsible for her brother’s death. Why didn’t you come, Jesus? All of this pain—my pain—could have been avoided if only you’d done something.

Can you hear the unspoken words? Have you ever thought them yourself? Why, God? This just isn’t right.

But, the beauty in this story? Jesus wept.

He felt Mary’s pain. He felt death’s presence. He grieved the brokenness of a world meant for more.

The story doesn’t end there, though. With the trail of tears still wet on his cheeks, Jesus called Lazarus from death to life.

“Lazarus, come out!”

Healing cannot go any deeper than life reborn and that is what the Life-Giving God shouts out—to you and me. To the men and women crying out for hope. This isn’t the sort of Pollyanna, feel-good hope borne of positive thinking or some falsely produced, happily-ever-after emotion from within.

Hope is real, dear Friend, and His name is Jesus.

He sheds tears over the pain of His people, but He is powerful enough to break even the chains of death.

There is a forever tomorrow.
There is refuge in Someone.
There is Light in the darkness.

Do you hear Him calling you today? “Child, come out!”

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” John 11:25-26 NIV

Tammy KenningtonAbout the author: Tammy Kennington is a writer, speaker, and child abuse awareness advocate. Familiar with the impact of trauma, mental illness, and parenting in the hard places, Tammy hopes to lead 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’s work has also been featured by Thriving Family, The Upper Room, Light from the Word, and others. You can meet regularly with Tammy at Mercy Multiplied.

Free Book Contest!  Arise Daily will use a random number generator to pick a winner from today’s comments. To enter our contest for Tammy’s children’s book for 8 to 11 year olds, Penguins,  (Exploring our Oceans: 21st Century Skills Library), 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 are things that have challenged your ability to hope? How has God responded to your cry for answers?