Persevere Through Hope

Don’t give up. Have you ever heard those words and thought, “Sure. Fine for you to say, but you don’t know what I’m going through here.” I’ve been on that path right beside you. I know how it feels. You know – like if you had a towel. you’d throw it in. There are many reasons not to throw in the towel or call it quits or give up on that thing you know is worth the effort.

When my grandson Tyler was in preschool he wanted to carry the basket while shopping with my daughter. As each item was added to that little red basket, the weight got heavier and heavier. My daughter observed this and offered to take the basket herself, but he said, “No, I’ll persevere.” It was a significant burden for a little guy, but he insisted on carrying the load until they reached their destination – the checkout, the relief station, the completion.

If we could define the storybook life, we would all fill up our baskets with perfect health, sports without injury, relationships with no rejection, scrumptious food with no calories, kind acts, no bullies, all fun and pain would be absent. Even though full, our baskets would be a light as air, as weightless as happiness.

That isn’t how it is though. Life is a contact sport and sometimes it can really beat us up. We live in a fallen world full of sadness, sickness, baskets that grow heavy with burdens. But we are implored to not give up. In fact, Hebrews 10:36 spells it out for us. “You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.” If you read that entire chapter you will see that people lived with conflicts, insurmountable afflictions and they suffered greatly. “I’ll persevere.” became their mantra.

Maybe you never feel like giving in. You might never reach the saturation point and wonder how you can go on. If you’re that person, reach out to others who need your courage. The word encourage means to instill courage in others. Be the person who touches the heart of the hurting.

If you are on the edge of giving up and questioning how you can take one more step, here’s your answer. Yes, you can. It’s called hope. 

Help someone else. Do something for another person, expecting nothing in return.

Organize your private world – this might take some thought and effort but this is powerful. Organize your private world means thinking through and writing down what is important to you. You don’t have to love writing to jot down what you want your life to look like. Organizing your private world also includes getting rid of clutter in your living space that blurs your focus and becomes a distraction. A little bit of clutter is a byproduct of a full life, but when it becomes a distraction. A little bit of clutter is a byproduct of a full life, but when it becomes too much, it’s a burden, not a blessing.

Pray. You knew this was coming, but I can’t apologize for bringing it up over and over. You can even pray, “Lord please remove burden, but if you choose not to take it, at least lift the weight.” The more prayer you put in your basket, the less room there is for all those burdens. If you want to know the benefits of prayer, read James 5.

Embrace opportunities. This might sound impossible because when we feel defeated, we don’t recognize opportunities. Opportunities aren’t always seen with human eyes, they are often seen only with the heart. Sometimes we have to remember where we are in our life journey. “Focus on what you have not on what you’ve lost. Capitalize on what you can do, not on what you cannot.”

So here we go. Hope to continue. Hope to persevere. Hope shared with others. Hope to last a lifetime.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4



When to pray

Has someone you’ve known in the past or even talked with recently, come to your mind and you can’t seem to get past your thoughts of them?  Maybe that’s an open door to pray for them. Just take a moment and ask God to give them joy, a good experience, a healing touch … make something up.  God knows just what they need, even before you ask, but pray God’s best for them.

A young girl with a painful, sprained ankle waited to be treated in the emergency room of a small hospital in upper Michigan. Her father, there to comfort and support his daughter wondered why the attending physician seemed preoccupied. When the doctor stepped from the room to take a phone call, the situation had to be confronted. Here was a child, in pain and needing the undivided attention of the doctor who was disappearing to take a phone call – more than once. I know what you’re thinking? I might have been thinking the same thing.

The doctor explained, “A traumatic accident happened on Mackinac Island and I was helping the doctor at the med station there with a risky procedure.” Would that explanation change your assumption? Would it have altered your next act?

This father went to his young daughter and said “We need to pray for that person on the Island who has just gone through this traumatic accident.”  They didn’t know it then, but they would later discover they were praying life and God’s protection for a member of their own church congregation back home.  The emergency room doctor was instructing the doctor on Mackinac Island how to insert a chest tube in a precarious top down position, instead of the normal from the bottom up.  The doctor was clearly distracted – I’m thankful that he was;  but even more than that, I’m thankful that John and Ashley realized in that moment God would hear their prayers for this unknown person a hundred miles away.   James 5:16 “The fervent prayer of a righteous person has great effectiveness.”

Life is uncertain, even unstable sometimes. From Isaiah 43, I share this excerpt to give you hope and courage when you need it.  “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;  You are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you; Do not be afraid, for I am with you;….“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing!”

The accident is in the past and while I won’t ever forget it, I know that it was for a purpose known only to God and he will bring something new from it. Something I need to learn or act on? Perhaps.  All I know is, I am seeking God’s direction and guidance and if I’ve ever needed Him, it’s now.

The Quest For Better – Part 2

Yesterday’s post was all about the choices we make how we want them to lead to better, but maybe they just lead to different. Today is …. Well, today is different.

What about individuals who battle long term illness; or those left behind by loved ones who have died, some unexpectedly through trauma? That’s a tough one. When the choice wasn’t theirs to make; when their vision for the future was shattered in an instant; when it’s easier to see the defective instead of the effective, what then? How can they transform bitter into better? The only answer is God and His word; immersion in scripture because that is the only healing for a shattered spirit. We can’t go on to better until our spirit is put back together. In these times we lack peace and our vision which was so vivid yesterday, is today clouded over by loss. The New Living Translation of Philippians 4:6-7 expresses it well “Do not worry. Learn to pray about everything. Give thanks to God as you ask Him for what you need. The peace of God is much greater than the human mind can understand. This peace will keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Pray through the day; moment by moment. It’s a choice to exchange bitter for better. I love these verses in Ephesians 4:26-27 from the Message “Go ahead and be angry. You do well to be angry—but don’t use your anger as fuel for revenge. And don’t stay angry. Don’t go to bed angry. Don’t give the Devil that kind of foothold in your life.” Be angry – tell God how you feel; but don’t stay angry. To stay angry invites Satan to come in and take up residence in your heart. Remember that shattered spirit? God and Satan cannot coexist in the same place. Kick Satan out so God can have all of your spirit; all of you. What would Jesus do? Well, look what he did in Matthew 4:10. From the Message “Jesus’ refusal was curt: “Beat it, Satan!” He backed his rebuke with a third quotation from Deuteronomy: “Worship the Lord your God, and only him. Serve him with absolute single-heartedness.” Beat it, Satan. Get out of my way – better coming through!

In Colossians 2:6-7 Paul reveals the secret to better. “My [Paul] counsel for you is simple and straightforward: Just go ahead with what you’ve been given. You received Christ Jesus, the Master; now live him. You’re deeply rooted in him… know how to live in faith …. Do what you’ve been taught. School’s out; quit studying the subject and start living it! And live in thanksgiving.

Then Paul gives us the big, flashing yellow caution light. He knows how vulnerable we are to the opinions of over people. How often do we run to human counsel when God is right there! So let’s continue with Colossians 2:8-12 “Watch out for people who try to dazzle you with big words and intellectual double-talk. They want to drag you off into endless arguments and fruitless debate. That’s not the way of Christ. God expresses himself clearly. You don’t need a telescope, a microscope, or a horoscope to realize the fullness of Christ, and the emptiness of the universe without him. When you come to him, that fullness comes together for you, too. His power extends over everything.”

My prayer is that this has helped raise you up a little bit and gives you courage to keep going.