Pneumonia, a concussion, cancer, staff changes, financial strain, relationship disappointments, and professional stress, are just a few of the trials we encountered in rapid succession over the course of a year. We seemed to be assaulted by one after another like slipping over Niagra falls in a barrel. We felt naked and unprotected, in a free fall we couldn’t control and didn’t sign up for.
We are warned that in this life we will have trouble.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
Yet in His graciousness, Jesus first gave his offer of peace. He knew how hard it would be. He knew the pain it would involve. He knew how broken we would become by being battered in life’s storms. Yet he first offered His assurance of peace because if we trust Him, His peace will see us through any trouble we encounter.
He tells us to “take heart” because He is our answer to all our trouble. He has already defeated the enemy and won our victory on the cross. He defeated death and rose from the grave—He’s unstoppable. And He admonishes us that when times are so difficult we don’t know how we’ll make it, to stay encouraged and hold on to our peace, because He has already assured our victory.
The thing about trials is that they are guaranteed to shape us: shape our attitudes, shape our behaviors, even shape our emotions. They can be a tool of the enemy to breed discouragement, doubt, and despair. These times either reinforce what we know to be true or prey on our vulnerability to subtly convince us of lies.
Our best chance of maintaining our peace and coming through trials without succumbing to the enemy’s influence is to establish our beliefs BEFORE the trials hit. When we know what we believe, know the foundation of our beliefs, we can stand firm on them in the midst of the storm.
When others hear what we’ve endured just in the past year, many have commented, “I don’t know how you do it. I don’t think I could manage as well as you are, if I was in your shoes.” And yet, I frequently find myself reflecting on the fact that I don’t know how others without a faith in a good God cope with such heartache and uncertainty.
In every painful circumstance, when I haven’t known what to do and I don’t understand how or why God has allowed us to walk through the valley, or how He’ll see me through, I’ve had to choose to trust His character.
When the way is unclear, when the road is rocky and painful, when my heart feels shattered, I have to remind myself of what I believe, what I know to be true.
-God loves me undeniably and forever.
“I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.” (Jeremiah 31:3)
-Nothing (no trial, no circumstance, no mishap) can separate me from His love.
“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow–not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.” (Romans 8:38)
-I am never alone.
“God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”” (Hebrews 13:5)
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6)
-God’s plans for me are good, and include not only a future, but HOPE!
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
-While I can only see the present moment, He will use my pain and turn it into something good.
“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” (Romans 8:28)
-God doesn’t withhold anything good from His children.
“For the LORD God is our sun and our shield. He gives us grace and glory. The LORD will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right.” (Psalm 84:11)
-Anything is possible if He calls me to it.
“Jesus replied, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.” (Luke 18:27)
In the hard times, the valleys, the desert places when I’m tempted to give up, give in, or listen to the doubt-inducing whispers of the enemy, I must come back to my foundational beliefs and stand firm, knowing in what and whom I believe. He is the only one I should allow to direct my path.
“Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.”
What do you know to be true and believe without a doubt? I’d love to hear it in the comments below.
Because of Him, #HopePrevails!
(If you have a question you’d like Dr. B to answer, contact her here now. Your name and identity will be kept confidential.)
A short brief about Hope Prevails.
Insights from a Doctor’s Personal Journey through Depression
Dr. Michelle Bengtson
Speaking from personal and professional experience, a neuropsychologist unpacks what depression is, shows how it affects us spiritually, and offers hope for living the abundant life.
Neuropsychologist Offers Hope to Those Struggling with Depression
-By 2020, depression will be our greatest epidemic worldwide
- An estimated 350 million people worldwide suffer from some form of depression
- As with the bestselling My Stroke of Insight, the author experienced the same condition she treats
- Helpful features include personal stories, biblical truths, prayers, and music recommendations
In Hope Prevails, Dr. Bengtson writes with deep compassion and empathy, blending her extensive training and faith, to offer readers a hope that is grounded in God’s love and grace. She helps readers understand what depression is, how it affects them spiritually, and what, by God’s grace, it cannot do. The result is a treatment plan that addresses the whole person—not just chemical imbalances in the brain.
For those who struggle with depression and those that want to help them, Hope Prevails offers real hope for the future.
Hope Prevails is available now wherever books are sold. To find out more, see: https://drmichellebengtson.com/hope-prevails-book/.