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Entries in Hope (20)

Tuesday
Apr232019

Hope When It Hurts

I've read a lot of articles about hope lately, and many of them were "fluff," but Shonda Savage Whitworth's article is deep truth, because it comes from a deep rooting in the Word of God. In this Biblical Thinking UPGRADE, she encourages us to seek true hope when we hurt.

"My dreams for my family’s future shattered when my oldest son was sentenced to prison," Shonda says.

"His conviction demolished the good mother image I erected in my mind. With this image decimated, my emotions spiraled into a dark abyss."

I (Dawn) know several families with incarcerated children, and they all deal with tough issues, some struggling everyday with hope.

Shonda continues . . .

After my son began his life in state prison, my life of being held captive by guilt, shame, and condemnation started. Despair enveloped me like a heavy fog keeping the light from shining in my life.

We read in Proverbs:

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life” (Proverbs 13:12, NLT).

The anguish gave way to hopelessness, and I was diagnosed “situational adjustment disorder,” which is a classification of anxiety and depression.

My personal life stalled while the world around me moved forward.

While the life I had and the future I expected dissipated, I knew I could not remain stuck in the sorrow. My family needed me to be present in their lives.

This realization allowed a ray of sunshine to peek through the fog of despair and I encouraged myself in the Lord, just as David did when he was greatly distressed. 

Here are three ways I found hope when it hurt.

1. Praising God

In my pain, I played worship music and sang along to praise the Lord. Many times, the words to the worship songs triggered tears, so I just cried out, “No matter what, You are God.”

Dr. John G. Mitchell wrote, “To give thanks when you don’t feel like it is not hypocrisy; it’s obedience.”

Hebrews 13:15 tells us, Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name” (NKJV).

There are times when giving thanks out of obedience is a sacrifice, but the reward is worth it.

Through worship, my focus turned to the Lord and off of my circumstances. As a result, new hope poured into my spirit.

2. Meditating on the Word

A colleague told me, “Shonda, be sure you put your hope in God because man will fail you.” In hindsight, I realized that I put my hope in the attorney and the justice system instead of God.

To pull myself out of the darkness, I read the Bible daily and Scriptures about hope popped up. As I meditated on the word, I learned hope in God is our expectation in what He can do, not what I can do or what any other person does.

Then I came across Zechariah 9:12:

“Return to your fortress, you prisoners of hope; even now I announce that I will restore twice as much to you” (NIV).

At that moment,

I chose to be a prisoner of hope instead of a prisoner of despair.

As a prisoner of hope, I released my expectations of man and the system and placed my confidence in the Lord.

3. Praying

Before the tragic events unfolded that led to my son’s imprisonment, my prayer was “Lord, I ask You to hedge him in so he cannot follow his own path” (based on Hosea 2:6).

I believed my prodigal son would find his way home. Instead, he went to prison.

During the months leading up to the trial, I prayed for my son’s freedom. After his conviction, my hope dissolved and my desire to pray evaporated.

As I meditated on Scriptures, Jesus taught the disciples to pray, “Your will be done” (Matthew 6:10) And Jesus prayed, “nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done” (Luke 22:42).

My prayers were the opposite, so I began to pray like Jesus taught and modeled. As a result, my perspective changed.

I now see how prison saved my son’s life—both in the eternal and in the natural.

In my hurt, I found hope as I offered up the sacrifice of praise, meditated on the Word of God daily, and prayed God’s will.

Through these daily disciplines,

  • the fog of despair lifted,
  • my good mother image has been replaced with knowing who I am in Christ,
  • and my life is moving forward filled with joy and peace as I know God, my source of hope.

If you’ve lost hope due to hurtful circumstances in your life, my prayer for you is from Romans 15:13:

“I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit” (NLT).

Are you struggling with hope today? Which of these three ways to find hope when you hurt is missing or lacking in your life? How can you change that today?

Shonda Savage Whitworth is the founder and president of Fortress of Hope Ministries, Inc., giving hope to those with incarcerated family members. She is a speaker and author who connects with her audiences through her transparent testimony of personal tribulations and triumphs in Christ. Her book, Appeal to the Courts of Heaven: Prayers for Prisoners and Prison Families, is scheduled to release in the fall of 2019. You can read more about Shonda’s unexpected prison family journey on her blog

Graphic adapted, courtesy ofLechenie Narkomanii at Pixabay.

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
Apr042019

Discovering the Courage in DisCOURAGEment

Kathy C. Willis has been a huge encouragement in my life over the past few years, and she even reached out to help my mom and sister in a time of great difficulty. And she does all this from a deep well of courage in facing her own trials. I couldn't wait to get this Attitudes UPGRADE.

Kathy asks, “Do you find yourself in a season of discouragement? Let’s see what we can do to turn this around so you can enter springtime with renewed hope.”

Yes, I (Dawn) need encouragement right now, and maybe you do too. I love her imagery of entering spring with "renewed hope," because sometimes our hope needs a super-boost just to get through another day.

Kathy continues . . .

My personality doesn’t easily get discouraged, but after back-to-back-to-back setbacks, I found myself weary and stuck.

My self-talk leant itself to defeat.

“Why bother? Something outside my control will interfere with my good intentions and cut me short of the goals I believe God has put in my path.”

No, I knew that wasn’t true. If God wanted it done, He’d make sure nothing got in the way. But this messy middle between start and finish was interfering with my usual optimistic energy and drive.

It was time for me to apply the same advice I give others who struggle with discouragement.

1. How Do You Feel?

The first step is to hone in on the actual emotion.

Am I:

  • Disappointed?
  • Depressed?
  • Dismayed?
  • Blue?
  • Hopeless?

2. Create Your "Hit List."

Whatever the emotion, it’s good to evaluate the source of the feeling.

I ask myself questions to isolate the instigator. I call this my HIT LIST, because it’s ways I tend to get hit. Your hit list might be different.

I ask myself:

  • Am I letting what someone else said or did cause me to lose track of my joy and peace?
  • Am I falling into comparison traps?
  • Do I have unrealistic expectations of myself?
  • Does God feel far away?
  • Do I have any health issues or fatigue that is impacting how I feel?
  • Am I in a toxic relationship that drains me or influences me in a negative way?

Once you’ve identified your hit list, it’s time to determine the best steps to move away from discouragement and back into the land of encouragement.

3. Move from Discouragement to Encouragement.

  1. Determine what helped you prior times. What caused the discouragement to diminish or go away?
  2. Practice biblical self-talk. Speak to yourself in a way that aligns with Bible principles and with how God views you. Not how you view yourself or how you think others might view you.
  3. Lean in to God. Focus on His character and attributes. It doesn’t matter so much if you measure up to the “ought to’s.” Instead, it’s all about trusting the holy God, knowing He’s got this!
  4. Hunker into God’s love. Even when you’re discouraged, God wants to be with you. Your Papa God wants to encourage you! “But God, who encourages those who are discouraged, encouraged us by the arrival of Titus.” (2 Corinthians 7:6 NLT)
  5. Anchor your focus on a Bible verse. Meditate on the meaning of that verse as you go about your day. Let it be a part of you, just like a song sticks with you all day long.
  6. Find a worship song with lyrics that encourage your heart.
  7. Get more sleep, but not too much sleep. (I bought a Fitbit designed to help me evaluate my sleep, so I could see not only how little sleep I get, but that I don’t get enough deep sleep.)
  8. Find a project to be a part of that benefits someone else. It’s difficult for a servant mindset and discouragement to coexist for very long.

Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again— my Savior and my God!” (Psalm 42:11 NLT)

Give yourself time.

It takes a while for feelings to catch up to reality, and sometimes our feelings even lie to us.

It’s more important to cling to the truths of God’s Word. These will never let us down.

What will you do to seek encouragement or seek to encourage someone else this week?

God’s Grin Gal, Kathy Carlton Willis, shines the light on what holds you back so you can grow. She’s a speaker and author with over a thousand articles online and in print, as well as her Bible study, Grin with Grace; and she is featured on CBN. She and her husband Russ live in Texas with their new puppy, an adorable Boston Terrier named Hettie.

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.

Thursday
Dec062018

Living Beyond the 'But'

Kolleen Lucariello always makes me think outside the box, spiritually. In this Christmastime, Spiritual Life UPGRADE, she considers two people God used, in His own timing, to help prepare the way for Jesus' first coming.

"I’ve never been a fan of the 'but'," Kolleen says. "Well, that’s not entirely true; I can handle “but then God” moments; however, the 'but' that follows an apology? The one that says, 'I’m sorry I… but you.' No thank you.

'Equally as unappealing is the 'but' that attaches to you, becoming the heartache of your story."

When I (Dawn) think abut the situations in my own life where the word "but" stopped me in my tracks spiritually and in my writing, I know what Kolleen's saying is true. I needed more faith and hope!

Kolleen continues . . .

Luke wrote about a couple who had a "but" attached to their story—Zechariah and Elizabeth, the parents of John the Baptist.

It would seem as though they were the couple rocking at life. Zechariah was a Jewish priest serving in the temple, and his wife, Elizabeth, was a direct descendant of Aaron.

“They were both lovers of God, living virtuously and following the commandments of the Lord fully” (Luke 1:5-6, TPT).

They were the couple we look at today and think, Wow. They’ve got it all! Prestige from the family name, and they were solid believers, living righteously before the Lord.

Yet, behind everything they were doing right was one word they couldn’t escape—"but."

The "but" holding them hostage?

But they were childless since Elizabeth was barren, and now they both were quite old” (Luke 1:7, TPT—The Passion Translation—emphasis mine).

I’m fairly certain Elizabeth would’ve given anything to escape the pain of the "but."

In a culture where great significance was placed on motherhood, one word stole that from her.

  • "But" took away her ability to present her husband with a son, and replaced it with shame.
  • "But" also took away Zechariah’s ability to believe the angel, Gabriel, when he appeared to him and gave him the exciting news he was indeed going to be a dad.

The "but" had followed them for so long, doubt took over the prayerful heart that once held hope.

That can happen to anyone who has found but attached to his or her story. "But" has followed a good many faithful prayers of the righteous.

Perhaps you:

  • prayed faithfully for your children, and raised them in a home that honors God, but you’re still waiting for the return of the prodigal.
  • pray faithfully for your marriage to find healing and restoration, but have yet to see any hope of change.
  • fought hard for that job, but lost it anyway.

Like Zechariah and Elizabeth, have prayed for your womb to hold a baby, but the pregnancy test was negative one more time.

The "but" behind our hopes can be a painful word—one we’d like to escape, but can’t—even in our attempts to do everything right.

Like many we think: I’ve prayed. I’ve done everything I knew to do. I’ve tried to live righteously, BUT I don’t see, I don’t feel, and I don’t hear.

Hope can be hard to hold on to when we focus on the "but" of our story.

It’s easy to get lost in disappointment.

However, part of Gabriel’s message to Zechariah was that his son would arrive at the appointed time (Luke 1:20).

Not their time—the appointed time.

Who knows the appointed time? Only God. And until that time comes we must live in the "so it was" like Zechariah and Elizabeth did.

So it was that while he was serving ... his lot fell (to him) to burn incense" (Luke 1:8 NKVJ, emphasis mine).

Even though they dragged a "but" behind them for all these years, they remained faithful to serve the Lord. It was in this particular moment of serving that the angel showed up.

Imagine if Zechariah had missed it, because he decided to give up on God for not answering their prayer—in their time. God knew the plan for John was to prepare the way for Jesus (Matthew 3).

It was all in the timing.   

We upgrade our lives when, regardless of the "but" attached to our story, we live with hope in the "so it was."

  1. So it was—she prayed without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17).
  2. So it waseven with the evidence of things not seen, she still had faith in what she hoped for (Hebrews 11:1).
  3. So it was—she refused to lean on her own understanding, and instead trusted in the timing of the Lord (Proverbs 3:5).

What is the "but" attached to you, and how are you managing your faith in the "so it was" moment?

Kolleen Lucariello, #TheABCGirl, is the author of the devotional book, The ABC's of Who God Says I Am; and as a speaker, she speaks into women's lives "one letter at a time." Kolleen and her high school sweetheart, Pat, reside in Central New York. She's a mother of three married children and Mimi to four incredible grandkids. For more information about Kolleen, visit her website.