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Entries in Dawn Wilson (77)

Thursday
Jun272019

Fears, Fears ... Go Away!

Dawn Wilson is the creator of Upgrade with Dawn. In this Biblical Thinking UPGRADE, she gets honest about her fears and how the Lord has encouraged her to confront them with His truth.

I argued with the Lord a bit.

“I’m not a fearful person; I know better than that.”

But the Lord pressed a few examples into my thoughts and I had to admit, I was filled with more fears than I thought.

When my children were small, I feared for their safety. Then they grew up and I found out—once a mama, always a mama—I still had fears for their safety. And I added my grandchildren to that fear list too! I was afraid of my husband’s safety in his many travels too.

Many fears have come, but I’ve suppressed them all rather than dealing with them biblically.

Then, this past January, I was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma. Talk about fears!

Somehow, that first day in the hospital, I kept repeating a verse I learned long ago: “Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in you” (Psalm 56:3).

Still, my mantra from February through late April was pretty much, “Fears, fears… go away!”

All that time, my cancer treatment wasn’t working, and I became anxious and afraid.

Maybe I going to only live a year, I thought. I started downgrading my priorities list to something simpler and more manageable. What would I want to accomplish if I only had one year to live?

I started developing a plan, and the only time I cried was when I thought of leaving my family members.

Thankfully, in early May, my oncologist decided to upgrade my cancer treatment. He prescribed a super-expensive drug, which the Lord graciously covered for almost five months through a nonprofit grant.

But my fears that the drug wouldn’t work—or that it would tank my hemoglobin, one of the oncologist’s concerns—continued.

Beneath the surface ... subtle fears. But fears that still had a grip on my heart.

In many ways, I was trying to trust the Lord through all this. I chose to praise and worship Him. I wrote about my struggle on Facebook. I tried to be honest about how I was trying to overcome my fears; and many friends—I call them #TeamDawn—encouraged me.

  • "You're in God's grip."
  • "I'm praying God will completely heal you."
  • "Keep trusting!"

Most people praised me for being a good example. They recognized the battle, but also some of my victories in trusting God.

Yet the toxic thinking continued. Especially in the middle of the night when I couldn't sleep.

And then around Mother’s Day, one of my daughters-in-love, Tracy, gave me a book. Switch on Your Brain by cognitive neuroscientist, Dr. Caroline Leaf,* who is also a Christian. It's heavy-duty science, but fascinating to realize how science is catching up with the Bible!

The book affirmed me in all that I’ve taught for many years: As we think, so we come to believe, and so we choose. My ministry, Heart Choices Today, is built on that simple-yet-profound concept.

We build our thoughts, choices and habits based on what we’re thinking.

As I read the book, the Lord began to speak to me about my toxic thinking and the fears and anxieties that wouldn’t seem to go away no matter how I wished them to leave.

There was a lot at stake! And Dr. Leaf made a strong case:

She wrote that fear alone triggers more than 1,400 known physical and chemical responses in our bodies, activating more than 30 different hormones.

Left unchecked, toxic thoughts (like fear) create ideal conditions for illnesses.

I figured "unchecked" fears weren't going to help me battle my illness!

So I decided to do what the book recommended. I'm a writer, but I don't journal. Yet using Dr. Leaf's processyou'll have to get the book to read about that—I began a 21-Day Detox to confront my anxious thoughts and fears. I chose scriptures to study and I am memorizing key verses to make them a deeper part of my life—replacing toxic thinking with strengthening, biblical truth.

It's an ongoing process, but here are some things I've already discovered during my Detox from the scriptures I'm studying.

  1. Fear does not come from God (2 Timothy 1:7). It is a learned response.
  2. God gives me a spirit of power, love and a sound mind (also 2 Timothy 1:7). A sound mind is right thinking!
  3. It is possible to be in “bondage” to fear—or any other fleshly attitude (Romans 8:15). This verse is talking about fear we suffered before knowing Christ, but now we have a Heavenly Father, and the Spirit does not make us “slaves” to fears.
  4. God’s presence, strength and help allow us to not be fearful (Isaiah 41:10). He’s got a firm grip on me!
  5. Whenever we are afraid, we can choose to trust the Lord (Psalm 56:3-4). That was the only verse I could remember in the hospital in January—but it was enough!
  6. God will never leave or forsake me, and because of that, He wants me to be “strong and courageous” (Deuteronomy 31:6).
  7. I can cast all my burdens, including fearful times, on the Lord, and He will sustain me— strengthen, support and encourage me, and cheer me up! (Psalm 55:22).
  8. I don’t need to be afraid of bad news (but instead need to live in light of the “good news”); and when I think rightly, my heart will be firm and steady, not afraid (Psalm 112:7-8).
  9. I don’t need to be fearful or anxious about anything, but instead, I can pray about everything, with thanksgiving, and God will give me His peace… and He will then guard my heart and mind in Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7).
  10. Like a loving father with a trusting child, God holds my right hand; and He is the One who helps me (Isaiah 41:13).
  11. The peace Jesus gives us is not like the world’s concept of peace (John 14:27). Though some of the world’s solutions may work if they are based on biblical truth—whether they give God credit or not—Jesus’ peace is a gift from Him, and an answer to my fears.
  12. When fears and anxiety arise in me, I can turn to the Lord and His consolation (comforting) will restore my joy (Psalm 94:19).
  13. God expects/commands me to “be strong and courageous” and not afraid (Joshua 1:9)—because He is with me.
  14. God redeemed me and I am His. Like the children of Israel, I never need to fear that I am forgotten (Isaiah 43:1).
  15. Anxiety and fear is like a heavy weight in the emotions, but a “kind word” of encouragement from God (or others) can cheer the heart (Proverbs 12:25). (I am so thankful for my #TeamDawn prayer warriors and encouragers!)
  16. I don’t need to worry or fear about tomorrow (Matthew 6:34); I need to live in day-tight compartments. God is already in my tomorrows.
  17. I can cast (throw) all my fears and anxieties on the Lord, knowing He cares about me and what I’m going through (1 Peter 5:7).
  18. Even if I must walk through the darkest valley—the “shadow of death”—I do not need to fear, because God is and will be with me to protect and comfort me (Psalm 23:4).
  19. The Lord is my light and salvation, my stronghold—whom (or what) shall I fear (Psalm 27:1).
  20. God is my refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble (Psalm 46:1); and verse 10 says, “Be still and know that I am God….” I am challenged to be still and know my “refuge more.”
  21. When I seek the Lord, He responds; and He wants to deliver me from all my fears (Psalm 34:4).
  22. When I call out to God, He answers and He is with me in my troubles (Psalm 91:15), rescuing me and honoring me (for trusting Him).
  23. The Lord doesn’t want me to worry about the details of my life (Matthew 6:25), but He is concerned about those details. He will provide, but He wants me to know there is more to life than what’s going on with my body.
  24. I can be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power (Ephesians 6:10)—and He gives me the tools for standing strong (the Armor of God, vv. 11-18).
  25. I want the peace of Christ to rule in my heart (Colossians 3:15). I will subject my fears to His control and be thankful for His loving Lordship in my life.

Obviously, I’m going beyond the recommended 21-Day Detox. I want to continue building positive reinforcement thoughts into my life. I want right thinking, godly thinking about my fears, to become my new habit of life.

This is what Paul means when He writes of “renewing the mind” (Romans 12:2) instead of following the unhealthy “pattern” of this world. Scientists are finally beginning to see the brain as having "renewable" characteristics. Biblically, a renewed mind is a Word-founded, Spirit-controlled mind—and from our mind, our thoughts, come our beliefs, choices and habits.

It's the best way I know to make the fears go away ... or at least to confront them God's way.

Is fear a biggie in your life? Or is it something else? Begin now to replace toxic thinking with biblical thinking.

(*NOTE: You might want to read the book I recommended, Switch On Your Brain—there is also a workbook if you want that—to understand how the brain works from a scientific viewpoint, and rejoice that science is finally catching up with God’s truth about our thinking!)

Dawn Wilson, founder and President of Heart Choices Today, is a speaker and author, and the creator the blog, Upgrade with Dawn. She is a contracted researcher/reviewer for Revive Our Hearts, and a writer at Christianity.com (wiki posts) and Crosswalk.com. She and her husband Bob live in Southern California and have two grown, married sons, three granddaughters and a rascally maltipoo, Roscoe.

Graphic adapted, courtesty of M. McKein at Pixabay.

Thursday
May092019

Left Unsaid: Two Perspectives

In this Relationship UPGRADE, Dawn Wilson reminds us there are words best left unsaid, but others that need to be said.

"Words, along with all the manifestations of Christlike love, are a key to good relationships," Dawn says, "but do we truly care how we use our words?"

Ecclesiastes 3:7 tells us there is “a time to be silent and a time to speak,” and the wise Christian will learn when and what words are appropriate.

I. Some Words Need to Be Left Unsaid.

There’s a time to be silent.

I cannot count all the times I’ve “bit my tongue” during my marriage. Once I actually bit it as I started to say something sarcastic, then shut my mouth quickly and my tongue ended up between my teeth. My sarcasm bit me back!

Words can bless and encourage, but wisdom guards the tongue, knowing how hurtful and destructive words can be.

Words best left unsaid come from heart issues.

For example:

  • Haughty words come from a proud heart.
  • Ungrateful words come from a selfish heart.
  • Condemning words come from a jealous heart or an unforgiving heart.

James warns we need to bridle our tongues (James 1:26) or tame them if we want to live as a true Christ-follower. We must discipline the tongue, because it is unruly and rebellious.

My friend Kimberly Wagner shared 10 excellent ways to guard and tame the tongue. My favorite is to learn the H-A-L-T Principle. Learn to restrain your words—shut your mouth—and delay conversations when you are Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired. (Smart lady!)

Basically, in the flesh, we tend to spout off with "corrupting talk," but the Holy Spirit can give us the wisdom and grace to speak life-giving words (Ephesians 4:29).

II. Some Words Must Never Be Left Unsaid.

Yes, there's a time to be silent. But then, there’s a time to speak up!

Many Christians who have learned when to be silent have forgotten what it means to not be silent when speaking up is important, helpful, or sometimes even crucial.

1. We need to speak up about our greatest love—Jesus!

We need to fearlessly speak up about Jesus, because we have the promise that the Holy Spirit will help us (Mark 13:11) and His Word will not return to Him empty (Isaiah 55:11).

David Robertson, a minister in Dundee, Scotland, wrote that he was once a “secret Christian” because he wasn’t sure he could bear the social stigma of living in post-Christian Scotland. He says a group of Christians at his school asked if he would speak on their behalf in a debate and he reluctantly agreed.

After the debate, the head of the English department congratulated his "performance," but added, “You almost had me persuaded that you really were a Christian.” Robertson replied, “Sir, I am. And that is the last time anyone will say that to me.”

Robertson learned to speak up—what he calls “ordinary, courageous speaking”—out of love for the Lord.

“We speak up because we love Jesus and we want to see Him glorified,” he said. “We speak up, not to defend ourselves, but because we love those we are speaking to and want them to share in the greatest gift of all: Christ.”

2. We need to speak up when evil seems to prevail.

In a culture gone wild, with social norms crumbling and evil prevailing, Christians can’t sit back and “observe.” We have to speak up.

Rather than running away and hiding, we need to turn and face the enemy and speak the truth.

How the enemy responds is not our responsibility. Peter and John responded to the rulers who told them not to speak in the name of Jesus anymore (Acts 4:13-20) because they knew their culture’s only hope was the Savior.

“… we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard,” they said.

We don’t have to “win” arguments. We only have to stand up and speak up, and tell people God’s perspective as found in the Word.

It’s not about our opinions; it’s His truth.

When we speak the truth—always with the motive of love (Ephesians 4:14-15)—the Holy Spirit can use our words to make an impression for righteousness in the world and help our spiritual brothers and sisters mature into Christ.

3. We need to speak up when our brothers or sisters struggle or hurt.

Christians are meant to speak encouraging words to one another to build each other up (1 Thessalonians 5:11), especially in times of struggle or pain.

We may think about sharing words of comfort, encouragement, challenge or hope ... but unless we act and actually speak up, how will our friends and family be helped?

Words of encouragement are sometimes like soothing oil, helping others to bear up under their burdens (Galatians 6:2). Other times they are like motivating cheerleaders, lifting people up (Proverbs 12:25) and stirring them up to love and good works (Hebrews 10:23-25).

What should be left unsaid, and what should not be left unsaid?

It might be wise to examine our hearts regularly, because we must never forget: the tongue has power to hurt and also power to heal.

"Death and Life are in the power of the tongue...." (Proverbs 18:21).

What about you? Do you need to seek forgiveness for hurtful, destructive words? Are there words someone in your circle of influence desperately needs to hear?

Dawn Wilson, founder and President of Heart Choices Today, is a speaker and author, and the creator the blog, Upgrade with Dawn. She is a contracted researcher/reviewer for Revive Our Hearts  and a writer at Crosswalk.com. She and her husband Bob live in Southern California and have two grown, married sons, three granddaughters and a rascally maltipoo, Roscoe.

Graphic adapted, courtesy of Prawny at Morguefile.

Wednesday
Apr172019

Hope for the Hurting at Easter

In this pre-Easter UPGRADE, Dawn acknowledges the pain of those who hurt during this celebratory season, but points back to the purpose, promise and power of the resurrection.

"My daddy died near Easter, years ago," Dawn says. "It was a deeply painful time for me, but also a time of great hope."

During those days I chose to breathe out the pain and breath in the presence of God. It's the only way I felt I could survive the great loss.

I remember sitting in church that Easter, weeping over Daddy's passing, but then weeping with joy as we celebrated the risen Savior. It was bittersweet on so many levels.

I've since thought about those I know who hurt during many holidays.

  • Those who lost their income at Christmas.
  • Those who lost their home to fire at Thanksgiving.
  • Those who recalled their family losses on Mother's Day and Father's Day.
  • Those who lost their health with a sudden "diagnosis" at any time of year when others are celebrating.

So much pain.

But the key words there are "lost" and "losses." Yes, losing people and things we love is painful, but the bigger picture for the Christian is the purpose, promise and power of the Lord's resurrection and how that can and should impact our lives.

1. The Purpose of the Resurrection

I have to admit, my first reaction to a friend who shared truth with me when my Daddy died was to want to choke her! "Just remember what Jesus did; we have victory over all those ugly emotions now," she said.

How insensitive, I thought.

But after I calmed down, I knew she was—at the root of truth—correct.

It was normal to grieve. I'd lost my dear daddy! But it was also right to take my raw emotions to Jesus—my risen Savior—who understood everything about me and my circumstances.

  • He came to reach out to us in our pain and separation from God.
  • He came to die for our sin and reconcile us to God.
  • He came to live a perfect life as an example of righteousness.
  • And in His resurrection, He came to conquer the effects of every evil, every false thing, every painful thing that would touch our lives.

The simple truth of Easter is—Jesus died, was buried and rose again (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). But there was so much more in God's purpose for the resurrection.

  • The purpose of the resurrection was to show the immense power of God. He is absolutely sovereign over life and death. Only the awesome Creator of life can resurrect life after death.
  • The purpose of the resurrection was also to show us who Jesus claimed to be. Because He is truly the Son of God—the long-awaited Messiah—His resurrection authenticated His ministry and the "sign of Jonah" (Matthew 16:1-4). It proved He was God's "Holy One" who would never experience "corruption" (Psalm 16:10; Acts 13:32-37).
  • The purpose of the resurrection was to forgive us and set us free from every sin (Acts 13:38-39). He can only set us free because He actually did what He said He would do—rise from the dead (Acts 17:2-3; Mark 8:31; 9:31; 10:34).

We can rest—even in times of frustration, confusion or pain—in God's great picture purpose for the resurrection of Christ.

2. The Promise of the Resurrection

The promise of the resurrection is that God would indeed reverse the ugliness of sin and death and give us victory over the grave—there remains no "sting" in death (1 Corinthians 15:54-55). He is indeed the resurrection and the life (John 11:25).

The promise is that because He lives, we too shall live (John 14:19). He is "the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep" (1 Corinthians 15:20).

Though we hurt when loved ones pass away, we can have confidence that we will once again see and recognize all our loved ones who have died in Christ.

Why? We will see Jesus, be raised from the dead and instantly be present with the Lord (Titus 2:13; 1 Corinthians 15:12-57). This togetherness is suggested by the events in the "rapture" of the Church (1 Thessalonians 4:17).

And we can believe that the God who loves us and is faithful is working for our good and His glory.

Any loss on earth is meant to be overshadowed by our Father's great lovingkindness now and in heaven.

3. The Power of the Resurrection

Because Jesus rose from the dead and sits at the right hand of the Father (Hebrews 10:12), we get to experience the power of His resurrection.

We are to experience that power now, not just in eternity in heaven.

  • We will find power as we respond to God's grace. As we repent of our sins and confess them, embracing God's forgiveness and grace. (Ephesians 2:4-5; Titus 3:4-7; 2 Corinthians 12:9)
  • We will find power as we exchange the emptiness of "religion" for a dynamic relationship with the Lord through faith. (Romans 4:4-5; 11:6)
  • We will find power as we serve the Lord. 1 Corinthians 15:58 says, "Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourself fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain." This is true because it is God who gives us the "victory" through His Son (v. 57).
  • We will find power as we begin to embrace eternal priorities. (Matthew 6:33)
  • We will find power as we learn to die to our selfish desires and agendas. (Romans 12:1-2)
  • We will find power as we anticipate God working on our behalf in ways we cannot imagine, as we surrender to and trust Him. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
  • And we will find power as we remember God will give us new bodies (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18) and make all things new (Isaiah 43:18-19; 65:17; Revelation 21:5; Ephesians 2:15; 4:24; Hebrews 8:13).

When I think only about the hurts in my life—the losses and pain—life is harder to endure. But when I think about the power of the resurrection, something within me stirs: HOPE!

The power of the resurrection is our hope in God who raised His Son to new life—the same God who desires to raise us and our loved ones in Christ to new life as well.

He is the same great God who will restore all that is broken and bless us with blessings beyond our imagination. (Ephesians 1:3-14; 1 Corinthians 2:9)

That is the hope for the hurting at Easter.

Are you hurting today? How can a more intentional focus on the purpose, promise and power of Jesus' resurrection help you with your struggles?

Dawn Wilson, founder and President of Heart Choices Today, is a speaker and author, and the creator the blog, Upgrade with Dawn. She is a contracted researcher/reviewer for Revive Our Hearts  and a writer at Crosswalk.com. She and her husband Bob live in Southern California and have two grown, married sons, three granddaughters and a rascally maltipoo, Roscoe.

Graphic vector adapted, courtesy of MKencad at Lightstock.

Thursday
Mar282019

Counsel Your Heart—with Truth Talk

In this Biblical Thinking UPGRADE, Dawn says we need to be careful what we say to our hearts. While we're surrounded by discouraging worldviews and perspectives, the right kind of counsel can be life-giving.

I appreciate these words by Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: "We should not be controlled by our circumstances or by our emotions. We need to counsel our hearts according to truth."

Nancy said those words in 2016 in the midst of a divisive, confusing and polarizing election in America. But she has said the same words many times over in various women's conferences and on the radio; and I've found the concept of "counseling our hearts" powerful and helpful in making wise choices.

"We need to go back to God's Word and remind ourselves of bedrock, solid foundational truth," Nancy says.

With a recent cancer diagnosis, I've found the need to counsel my own heart especially urgent, because I have an enemy who is doing his best to sow lies in my frightened heart.

  • Lies about the goodness of God.
  • Lies about my worth.
  • Lies about the future.

Oh, how I need the truth of God's Word to permeate my mind and soul every day.

In an effort to counter Satan's lies, I began collecting scriptures and faithful Christians' comments about helpful Bible verses. I call my collection "Truth Talk for Hurting Hearts"—but truth talk is important to face every human need and frailty, not just when we're hurting.

The world tries to help.

Some people turn to religion, but religion without the Power Source in our lives—a living relationship with Jesus Christ—doesn't bring lasting change.

Many others turn to psychology for answers, but they may get only half-truths. For example, the sciences of the mind and good mental health promote proper "self-esteem" and "self-worth," and certainly this sounds positive. Who wouldn't want a good sense of personal worth.

But the whole truth is, without God, we are and can do nothing (John 15:4-5; Jeremiah 10:23; Galatians 6:3). Our worth is tied up in who He is, who we are in Him and what He says about us.

I am struck by Peter's words in John 6:68:  

"Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life."

Peter understood the life-giving words of the Lord regarding his eternal soul. But the Word of God is powerful to speak to us in many other ways—not only about our salvation. We see this throughout Psalm 119.

When I was a younger Christian, I came to believe in the power of self-talk for overcoming bad attitudes, behaviors, habits and addictions.

But with maturity, I realized self-talk per se is not as important as telling ourselves the truth.

We can use self-talk to bolster our own agenda and get our own way. We may even lie to ourselves to accomplish our purposes. Instead—

God wants us to use "truth talk" to remind ourselves what He has said.

Here's how I've been counseling my own heart. Perhaps it will help others navigate the tough, confusing circumstances of life.

1. Discover the truth.

You can't discover—and apply—the truth of God's Word if you aren't reading it. Studying it. Meditating on and memorizing it.

We are to search the scriptures, looking for treasured truth about the Lord. If we seek Him, we will find Him (1 Chronicles 28:9; Matthew 6:33). We will come to know Him as He truly is, not as the culture misquotes and misrepresents Him.

2. Proclaim the truth.

To proclaim something is to announce it officially or publicly, to declare something is important and emphasize it.

Essentially, we act on the truth of God's Word when we respond to it, first by making it known.

We might speak it, write it, or share it in a post or meme. We testify to its power.  We leave a legacy of truth-telling.

3. Counsel with the truth.

To counsel is to share wise advice. But for the Christian it is so much more, because we are handling the Word of God. It is treasured counsel, life-giving truth and hope-filled practical principles.

We're meant to counsel not only our own hearts, but to encourage others' hearts in their times of need as well (1 Thessalonians 5:11).

The scriptures are powerful (Hebrews 4:12) and must dwell in us "richly" (Colossians 3:16). We can trust what God has told us.

Counseling our hearts is one way to LIVE OUT the truth of scripture—to rely on and practice it in our daily lives.

I recently fought a hard battle with Satan about God's goodness. 

"Why would a good God give you cancer?" my enemy said.

My recourse was to study the goodness of the Lord—my Father God's sovereign and awesome providence. I discovered deep truths about God's character, began to speak and write about those truths, and intentionally counseled my heart.

Before long, the ugly accusations ceased. Satan's attempts to make me bitter only turned into praise for God! (In other words, the devil wasn't happy.)

I know the enemy has more strategies to bring me down, but I also know the greatest resource to do battle with Satan's lies is the wonderful Word of God.

I intend to keep on counseling my heart with biblical "truth talk."

How about you? Are you struggling with a tough diagnosis? A frustrating circumstance? A disheartening relationship? An inner war that you feel you're losing? What truth from scripture can you use today to counsel your heart?

Dawn Wilson, founder and President of Heart Choices Today, is a speaker and author, and the creator the blog, Upgrade with Dawn. She is a contracted researcher/reviewer for Revive Our Hearts  and a writer at Crosswalk.com. She and her husband Bob live in Southern California and have two grown, married sons, three granddaughters and a rascally maltipoo, Roscoe.


Saturday
Mar022019

Grasping God's Ropes of Hope

In this Biblical Thinking UPGRADE, Dawn Wilson shares how a medical diagnosis caused her to re-evaluate a familiar biblical word.

"As a Christian," Dawn says, "I believe in eternal hope, but the word "hope" was never a word I gravitated to or used much otherwise, because I mistakenly thought it was—I confess—for weak and "emotional" believers.

"Never mind that the word is found repeatedly throughout scripture: 129 times in 121 verses!"

Dawn continues . . .

I want to be honest and authentic here.

A medical diagnosis in mid-January, 2019, totally changed my perspective, perhaps because I was suddenly the one who was weak and needing hope. The doctor said I have an incurable disease, and my thoughts and emotions scattered everywhere.

Oh, how I needed hope in the moment I received that life-changing report.

What I discovered is, first, what "hope" is not, and second, how all hope for the Christian is linked to the surety of hope in Christ throughout our lives as well as in eternity. God cares about us womb to tomb, and He sends us ropes of hope to remind us of His presence every day.

From womb to tomb, God is there!

I discovered many "ropes of hope" God sent my way during my health crisis. Let me share a little of what God is teaching me:

1. What Biblical Hope Is NOT

Hope is not doubt or any shade of doubt. It's not related to a feeling, but rather a reality based on truth.

We show a measure of doubt or uncertainty when we say some doubt-filled things. Things like:

  • "I hope it doesn't snow tomorrow." (But it just might.)
  • "I hope I win the lottery." (But with the millions who bought tickets, fat chance!)
  • "I sure hope I'm going to heaven." (But don't you want to know for sure?)

The Old Testament saints didn't relate to God with "hope so" faith.  The Hebrew word for "hope" is batah. It is related to the concept of security and confidence. The concept of doubt was not connected with hope in the Jewish mindset.

We see this in verses like Psalm 16:9:  

"Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure."

In the New Testament, the word for "hope" is the Greek words elpis and elpizo.

For the most part, we don't see doubt running rampant in New Testament saints either. In fact, their proclamations we're more like "There's no doubt about it!"confident statements of assurance. God worked in their hearts to build their faith and hope.

Even doubting Thomas didn't doubt for long. The Lord changed his doubts to confident faith, the basis for gratitude and hope.

We see this confidence in Hebrews 11:1: "Now faith is being sure of what we HOPE for and certain of what we do not see." Properly read, "The Faith Chapter" (Hebrews 11) oozes with confidence in God in the midst of great trials; it was faith in action.)

And that brings me to a second concept about hope.

2. What Biblical Hope IS

Biblical hope is founded in faith—and in a faithful God.

Biblical hope is the confident expectation or assurance Christ-followers have based upon the One who has proven Himself faithful time and time again. In other words, biblical hope is built on faith (Romans 8:24; Titus 2:13)

It's based on a sure foundation—Jesus, the solid "Rock" of our salvation. Jesus said, "Because I live, you also will live" (John 14:19). Believing that, we have great hope.

When we trust the words, "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has eternal life" (John 6:47), we are expressing confidence in the One who died to set us free from sin's shakles and give us life with Him in heaven.

Biblical hope is founded on:

  • God's Word,
  • God's character, and
  • Our Savior's finished work.

God promised His children "the hope of eternal life" from before time began (Titus 1:2); and Christians are to testify to this living hope whenever anyone asks us about our confidence in God and His provision—the Gospel, God's plan of salvation (1 Peter 3:15).

Grasping Ropes of Hope

I read a great illustration about the difference between faith and hope:

The relationship between faith and hope can be illustrated in the joy a child feels when his father tells him they are going to an amusement part tomorrow. The child believes that he will go to the amusement part, based on his father's word—that is FAITH. At the same time, that belief within the child kindles an irrepressible joy—that is HOPE.

The child's natural trust in his father's promise is the faith; the child's squeals of delight and jumping in place are the expressions of the hope. Faith and hope are complementary. Faith is grounded in the reality of the past [God's faithful word]; hope is looking to the reality of the future....."

The truth is, since 1971, I have believed my Father's Word about eternal life. I staked my whole life now and forever on that truth. I know God has purpose even in my illness.

As Pastor Alan Redpath once said:

"There is nothing, no circumstance, no trouble, no testing that can ever touch me until, first of all, it has come past God and past Christ, right through to me. If it has come that far, it has come with a great purpose."

When I received my medical diagnosis, hope really came into play. Through hope, I have learned to express hope-filled joy—the childlike "squeals of delight"—even in the midst of bothersome side effects and extreme exhaustion. I not only believe God is sustaining me and I have an eternal home with Him; I'm getting more excited about going to heaven. 

Pam Farrel wrote about joy in her own difficult situation in her creative devotional study experience: Discovering Hope in the Psalms:

"When friends would ask, 'How are you?' I didn't know how to answer. So I went to the Word and read Psalm 30:5... JOY! That's what I needed. I immediately went on a joy hunt ...

"Joy was becoming my lighthouse of hope. ...

"That's the power of the Word. Its joy is not only your lighthouse; God multiplies the light as you share your hope and praise Him."

These days, I take action quicker when I feel overwhelmed:

1. God wants me to be tough.

So when Satan schemes and tells me lies about the future, I stay in the fight and remind him where he's going! And I remind him of God's words. In doing so, I gain FRESHLY-INSTILLED hope.

2. God wants me to stay thankful.

So when compassionate friends write or call to tell me they are praying for me, and share words of scripture, I am grateful; and as I praise God for them bolstering my faith, I see FRIEND-SHARED hope grow.

3. God wants me to embrace truth.

So when tears come because I cannot bear the thought of someday leaving those I love, FAITH-BASED hope reminds me I will see all my Christ-trusting friends and family throughout eternity.

In other words, I sow solid biblical fortitude, heart gratitude and powerful truths among my tears—and they blossom into many beautiful things.

I am grateful I'm not alone in this hope journey.

So many people from all the seasons of my life are sending their love, encouraging me, helping me in practical ways, and bearing this burden with me.

I'm thankful for all these strong Ropes of Hope I'm receiving that help me "bear up" under this new trial.

These days, scriptures about hope come alive. They are not for "weak Christians," they are for broken believers who chose to trust God and not themselves in their hour of need. They are for me!

John Piper wrote:

"Hoping in God does not come naturally for sinners like us. We must preach it to ourselves, and preach diligently and forcefully, or we will give way to a downcast and disquieted spirit."

One of the most powerful actions I'm taking these days is to do just that—to preach to myself. To stand against Satan's lies and argue down the disquieting emotions within me as I allow God's Word to "throw me a rope of hope."

But I must grasp those ropes firmly.

I feel like the psalmist when he wrestled with his emotions and then counseled his heart:

"Why am I so depressed? Why this turmoil within me? (The STRUGGLE)

"Put your hope in God, for I will still praise Him, my Savior and my God." (The SOLUTION!)

(Psalm 42:5, HCSB)

We all have a choice in how we will respond to trials and great difficulties. Seeing from God's perspective—knowing our sovereign God makes no mistakes and He is up to something wonderful—increases our hope.

As Dr. David Jeremiah wrote in A Bend in the Road:

"How will you choose to deal with your personal crisis—as an emergency or an opportunity? A stumbling block or a steppingstone?

"The moment you and I can begin to see things through the heavenly lens, the picture becomes bearable—and we find new strength."

Perhaps you struggling today with a heavy burden, desperately needing hope. God is the only sure foundation for your hope. The Lord is constantly throwing you "ropes of hope." Slow down and become more aware of them. Grasp for them. They will not break.

In trusting Him, you will see your hope grow.

What biblical truths can you believe today, and not only believe, but preach to yourself so you can overcome doubts and rejoice in hope? Who can you throw a "rope of hope" to today?

Dawn Wilson, founder and President of Heart Choices Today, is a speaker and author, and the creator the blog, Upgrade with Dawn. She is a contracted researcher/reviewer for Revive Our Hearts  and a writer at Crosswalk.com. She and her husband Bob live in Southern California and have two grown, married sons, three granddaughters and a rascally maltipoo, Roscoe.

Graphic adapted, courtesy of Conger Design at Pixabay.