Hope When it Feels Like Hell

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. – (Romans 12:12, NIV)

Be happy because of the hope you have. Be patient when you have troubles. Pray all the time. – (Romans 12:12, ERV)

Do not forget to rejoice, for hope is always just around the corner. Hold up through the hard times that are coming, and devote yourselves to prayer. – (Romans 12:12, VOICE)

 

This morning, this is the very reminder that I needed the most. I know there are stages of grief, particularly when something so traumatic takes place with a parent, especially a parent who has filled the role of both mother and father, coach and teacher, friend and confidant, leader, example, pastor, sole grandparent to my children, and so much more. Anger seems to be the stage in this process that both my sister and I are in. Between the frustration of the questions of why her, the outrage at the details and the seeming disclosure violations, the paperwork battle to place her near family (which is far less costly than the dang hospital), to simply being just plain mad that it happened to OUR mom. We would never wish this on another, but why her? I know no one has the answers, and quite frankly, I would probably throat punch anyone who tried to give me answers. In fact, I woke myself in the night saying “throat punch”, as my left arm shot forward with a balled fist. Thankfully, I was facing the opposite direction of my Viking, and he was soundly sleeping. Finding joy in the hope is particularly difficult when we feel like we are on hold. Patience in static spots is not a strength of mom’s, Meg’s nor mine. Prayer, we can do, as I know so many of you are too. Perhaps that is the point of this post. Please pray for joy in hope, patience in all of this, and ever be faithful to continue to contend for mom’s complete and total healing.

 

Find joy in the hope, 05031906408349317511433862260.jpg

Of what lies ahead;

For fear’s a liar,

No matter what’s said.

God is far greater,

Than all that we face;

We must be patient,

It’s His, not our pace.

In everything,

Choose seek God and pray;

no matter what’s seen,

God will make a way.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are bigger than our frustration and anger and grief. Thank You that You hold us in Your hands and ride out our rage, waiting lovingly to embrace us with Your joy, peace and comfort. Forgive us for allowing fear a foothold based on our limited understanding. Teach us to trust You more. Show us how to find joy in the hope of all that lies ahead, patience in the here and now, and to pray without ceasing. Lead us to love well, all those around us, so that they may recognize Your heart for them through us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, even in this, for we know that You alone can bring beauty from ashes and hope from despair. Amen.

 

© Shannon Elizabeth Grabrick and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

 

To all who mourn in Israel He will give: beauty for ashes; joy instead of mourning; praise instead of heaviness. For God has planted them like strong and graceful oaks for His own glory. – Isaiah 61:3

 

The Hope that Upholds

Don’t forget to rejoice, for hope is always just around the corner. Hold up through the hard times that are coming and devote yourselves to prayer. – (Romans 12:12, VOICE)

Be happy because of the hope you have. Be patient when you have troubles. Pray all the time. – (Romans 12:12, ERV)

 

This is a timely reminder, as this particular stretch of the school year is the longest and most difficult season. Students struggle to stay focused, and stress out over the impending state testing. Furthermore, I think they begin to realize that the year is drawing to a close, and the sense of security that has been established at school, will be gone in six short weeks. As the benefactor of the bad behaviors, it is often difficult to remember that there is reason for the rebellion. I am called to pray and be patient, as I have hope in knowing that there is so much more than the difficult days that I feel stuck in at times, in the right now. God has promised so much more. Despite what I see or experience in the present, I can be happy and rejoice in the knowledge that there is hope that lies in what is yet to come. The incredible thing that I find, is that often when I am able to fix my eyes on the joy that lies before me, rather than the rough that I am in, those around me seem to grab hold of the joy as well, and something changes – even if it is only a glimmer of good in what had seemingly gone horribly wrong. May we ever remember our reason to rejoice and have patience in our times of trouble. Let our first response be to pray, as hope in Him will light our way.

 

When hard times come near,Enter With Thanksgiving

Forget not rejoice;

For in Christ there’s hope,

Our happiest choice.

Let us ever pray,

In good times and bad;

For He’s the answer,

And makes our hearts glad.

No matter what’s seen,

In Him we shall know;

Hope that’s forever,

As love and grace flow.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we can have joy and rejoice in You, because of the hope that You alone provide. No matter what we see or what we are living in, there is always better that will come through You. Thank You that when we pray to You, You hear our prayers. Thank You that You give us patience when we are in the midst of the difficult. Forgive us for our lack of hope and joy, as we forget to set our hearts to pray in all things. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would devote ourselves to pray in all things and at all times, so that we would be patient in times of trouble, and have hope no matter what we see. Show us how to love others, so that we would offer Your goodness and grace in such a way that they too would come to know the hope that is found in You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we rejoice in the hope we have in You, and choose to pray at all times. Amen.

© Shannon Elizabeth Moreno and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ. – Ephesians 2:4-5

To Choose to Trust

Though at times we feel alone, we never truly are, for the Lord is ever near. This is especially comforting when facing the new. It is in the unknowns that fear tends to rise up, and uncertainty and self-doubt seek to find space in the equation. However, when we choose to trust, and to seek the Lord in the midst of the new and the unknown, His words to us are much like His words in Isaiah.

 

So don’t be afraid. I am here, with you; don’t be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, help you. I am here with My right hand to make right and to hold you up. – (Isaiah 41:10, VOICE)

 

If the Lord tells us to not be afraid, what have we to fear? All that is now, is temporary, but that which is yet to come, is eternal. If God is for us, who can stand against us? No mountain is too high, no valley too low, nor sea too wide for Christ to come alongside and strengthen and equip us to overcome whatever lies before us.

 

After all, it is I, the Eternal One your God, who has hold of your right hand, Who whispers in your ear, “Don’t be afraid. I will help you.” – (Isaiah 41:13, VOICE)

 

God has a hold of us and will help us, we need to trust Him and reach out our hands to Him. As we give Him our fear, He returns to us, His strength, courage, help and hope. He cares about the little things and the larger ones. Nothing is too small to escape His concern, nor too much trouble for He who created and cares for us all. May we go forward, without fear, trusting in Him who will be our help and hold us up with His holy right hand.

 

Do not let the new,Dispelling Discouragement

Cause terror to reign;

For Christ is our strength,

And makes our path plain.

Hand all fear to God,

Do not be dismayed;

For He is our help,

Through whom strength’s displayed.

The Lord holds us up,

Takes us by the hand;

Whispers, “I will help,”

Gives us strength to stand.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we need not fear with You. Thank You that You are our help and our hope, and that nothing is too difficult for You. Forgive us for our fears and doubts, and teach us to trust You more. Show us how to believe big in the little things and the large. Help us to love others well, so that they too might find courage and strength to press forward when fear attempts to derail. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust in You to be our strength to move forward, even when things seem beyond what we can fathom. Amen.

© Shannon Elizabeth Moreno and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

Shout aloud and sing for joy. – Isaiah 12:6

 

Encourage Each Other

But encourage each other every day, while you still have something called “today.” Help each other so that none of you will be fooled by sin and become too hard to change. – (Hebrews 3:13, ERV)

 

To live life as God intended, we need to be in community. He created the body so that we could mutually encourage each other to walk in His ways and be whom He calls us to be. Also, when we are invested in one another, we are accountable for what we say and do, and tend to be better protected from the snares of sin. May we sow where we are planted, and choose to invest and encourage in those who are in the community in which we dwell. Let us hold one another up, so that none will become entangled by the snares of sin, nor lost to a life they’re not meant to lead.

 

We all have been called, Encourage Each Other

to choose to invest;

in community,

to give and be blessed.

Part of a body,

to walk alongside;

each other in love,

to help do what’s right.

Also to protect,

from the snares of sin;

together there’s strength,

to stand, fight and win.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You created us for community. Thank You that when we invest in each other, You use the relationships that we are in to encourage and protect us from the snares of sin. Forgive us for being too “busy”, or not prioritizing time to be invested daily in the body. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would be willing to encourage and lift up those around us each day, and live according to all that You say. Show us how to love all those who are around us well. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek to encourage and walk beside those in which You have placed within our community. Amen.

© Shannon Elizabeth Moreno and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present.

Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. – 2 Corinthians 3:5

As One

“Live creatively, friends.  If someone falls into sin, forgivingly restore him, saving your critical comments for yourself.  You might be needing forgiveness before the day’s out.  Stoop down and reach out to those who are oppressed.  Share their burdens, and so complete Christ’s law.  If you think you are too good for that, you are badly deceived.” – (Galatians 6:1-3, The Message)

None of us ought ever think ourselves so strong, that we have no need for one another, nor that we are above bearing one another’s burdens.  As a body of believers, we are called to love, encourage, correct, help, and hold up one another, as Christ freely does unto each of us.  We need each other to help encourage and stay the course to which we are called.  If one of us begins wander, a gentle correction, presented in love by a sister or brother, is far more likely to reset proper bearings, than gossip or glares felt from afar.  One welcomes a return to what is right, the other shames the sinner to stay stuck in their straying.

May we reach out,As One

a helping hand;

when there is need,

in our fellow man.

Let us respond,

in love alone;

to help correct,

point back to Your throne.

May we lift up,

the poor, oppressed;

bring what we can,

as we have been blessed.

Let us do life,

in purpose, one;

to honor God,

the glorious One.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You do not call us to live out our walks on our own, but You call us to community – to be a body of believers together.  Thank You that You created us to work together, helping and encouraging one another to grow more deeply in our faith in You.  Forgive us for neglecting needs around us, or for ignoring something spoken for our benefit by another.  Teach us to trust You more, and use us to encourage and build up the body.  May we be humble and loving, patient and kind; wiling to speak and to listen as You instruct us to do.  Let our hearts see others as You see them, and help us to be Your hands and voice to those around us.  May many come to know You as their Savior, as we walk in obedience to all that You ask.  Be glorified in how we live as community.  Amen.

© Shannon Elizabeth Moreno and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present.

God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me.

– Genesis 21:6

Lift Up Our Leaders

“When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it.  Aaron and Hur held his hands up – one on one side, one on the other – so that his hands remained steady till sunset.” – (Exodus 17:12)

This passage comes from the story in Exodus 17, when the Amalekites came to attack the Israelites.  Whenever Moses’ hands were raised, the Israelites were winning, yet if he lowered his hands, the Amalekites would take the lead.  Though Moses was a strong leader, called by God, he was still subject to human frailty.  He grew weary, as all of us do.  Fortunately, Moses had men who came along side him, and saw the need in their leader, and extended the practical help that was possible for them to supply.

We too, need to lift up our spiritual leaders.  Our pastors shoulder a tremendous responsibility, and readily work around the clock.  Though they may be physically present during office hours, their hours of service extend well beyond the traditional work day.  Medical emergencies, family crisis, and personal problems are just a few of the after hours calls that these selfless servants readily answer.  They too, grow weary, despite their being both called and equipped for the position.  Praying for our pastors is a must.  Offering encouragement and whatever else the Lord may ask, are practical ways in which we too, can lift up the hands of our leaders.  “Let us not grow weary of doing good…” (Galatians 6:9)

For those who serve,Lift Up Our Leaders

give tirelessly;

let us lift up,

support prayerfully.

Reach out our hands,

speak words to exhort;

let gratitude,

be what we report.

Let our hearts hear,

how we might too, bless;

encouragement,

ways to offer rest.

Father, be near,

to the ones You’ve called;

protect them, Lord,

these blessings installed.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for those whom You have called and equipped to lead.  Thank You for their faithfulness to listen to You, so that they may answer all that You ask, and serve You and the body whom You’ve called them to lead.  Please protect them and their families, and bless and refresh them with sweet rest.  Forgive us for not always lifting up our leaders, and help us to do a better job of praying for and encouraging our pastors, as You call us to do.  May we come along side them and lift up their hands when they grow weary, and may we bless and encourage them as You ask us to do.  May many come to know You as we love one another well, and may they recognize a place where people are loved and cared for – from pastor to each person that is present.  Let Your light and love be evident in us, through all that we say and do.  Be glorified, our good and gracious God.  Amen.

© Shannon Elizabeth Moreno and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present.