Hope for the Hurting
When we focus on what we have the opportunity to be thankful for, a subtle shift takes place in our heart and in our mind. The focus moves from ourselves and our own circumstances to God and His generosity, goodness, and faithfulness.
I can look back and see how my struggle to fully trust God has been much like a game of tug of war. At times I trust Him so easily, yet at other times, I seem to fight with all my might by trying to achieve in my own strength rather than trusting His. So I began to seek out how to trust God more quickly and completely.
Sometimes we say we want to get well, yet we aren’t really willing to do what it will take. We are more comfortable in our known misery than in the discomfort of the unknown.
God desires his children to be healthy. He wants healing for us more than we want it for ourselves. God desires a relationship with us more than our healing.
Maintaining peace and joy during a crisis depends on where we direct our attention. Worrying takes my eyes off God, and puts them on myself and my circumstances, to operate in my own knowledge and strength. That robs me of peace and joy. Living moment by moment, however, trusting God’s provision for the moment, and being thankful for that provision, keeps my focus off my problem and focuses on the solver of my problem. This keeps me in perfect peace.
During a time in my life when I was at a particularly low point, I was unable to do very little. I could not get up and go to work as I was accustomed. I was unable to care for my family. Even showering and dressing took more energy and effort than I could summon. I was so sick that all I could do was sleep, listen, and read. It was a time in my life that I despised, yet at the same time cherished.
God does not call us to a life of perfection. He desires us to have a willing heart. It’s not about perfection, it’s about progress. When you are tempted to give up because you have tried and fallen short of the goal or the expectations of yourself or others, take a moment to take a deep breath, assess the situation, course-correct the situation and your thoughts and attitude about the situation, and try again. Remember, it’s not about perfection…it’s about progress.
Part of what perpetuates our penchant to hide behind a mask, is our inclination to compare ourselves to others. By comparing ourselves to others, we hold ourselves up to the image that they desire for others to see…the public mask they put on display. So we compare ourselves to others who were not given the same personalities, gifts, and talents as we so we will always fall short if we try to measure ourselves against others as our standard. Yet we must align ourselves instead with what we know to be true. The Bible says that we each are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14).
When someone is depressed, they have a choice to make: to either let depression define them or to desire joy bad enough to seek after it with obedience and sacrifice. Jesus offered us the same joy he had; the fullest possible joy. What I’ve learned is that thanksgiving and gratitude is the doorway to joy. As Proverbs tells us, we are what we think in our heart. As we become increasingly grateful, God exchanges our worries and sorrow with His peace, joy, and abundant life. Our circumstances may not change, but our mindset does.
My strength was failing. Sorrow was all I could taste. Hope was more than I could bear. I didn’t know what the next day would bring, but I couldn’t stand more of the same. If I was going to fight for my physical and emotional health to return, I didn’t want to be left unchanged. I prayed repeatedly that this torment that I endured would not be wasted and that the Lord would use this experience to draw me closer to Him, AND to help someone else.
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