Look up, look down, look all around...
and hope will be found...
in God alone.
That's not quite the version we sang as children, but it's just something that flowed from my heart as I began this sixth chapter titled "Look Up: Hope in God, My Soul." Check what others took from this chapter by going to Lelia's. Or sit back and reap whatever encouragement I can sow to you, dear ones.
Unshakable and fearless that's to be desired. Not falling into despair.
We can be:
~Overcome with fear
~Shaken by doubt
~Bonded in guilt
~Intimidated by despair
Or we can be:
~Grounded in hope
~Anchored by hope
~Living full of hope
~Clinging to hope
Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Psalm 42:5
Many times in the busyness of the day, I can feel something not right within me. I have to literally stop and ask myself what is the piece of sand rubbing in my shell. I, then, can recognize it again--oh yeah--I'm hurt over a friend's comment, I'm worried over a relative's spiritual state, I'm self-conscious about a conversation, I'm regretful over a harsh word, I'm bothered by an insensitive reaction...whatever it is, my heart must stop and face it again. Instead of letting the busyness of the day cover it.
Jennifer says "Christians who have every reason to hope experience feelings of hopelessness." Though the examples previously given do not cause me to feel despair and hopelessness, I do feel overcome with these feelings more times than not regarding more serious situations. Along with that, comes the guilt of knowing I have so much for which to be thankful and hopeful, yet...yet, I can be filled with sadness, disappointment, blues, depression, despair, and hopelessness...shamefully so, for me.
Emerson wrote "Life is a train of moods like a string of beads." However, I want my string to be made of unshakeable and unbreakable material. A string that is worn and torn is likely to break dispersing all the beads on the floor. God is my string. He will not break. He will not be shaken. Our beads will be secure on the string of God. He can keep our moods in tact. He can keep our beads together.
Jennifer gives a wonderful illustration of us being like a table with four even and sturdy legs: emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual.
Emotions can: give false conclusions, take over, cause despair, enslave, deplete.
Instead they should: serve, strengthen, compliment the truth.
"Our problems usually have less to do with our circumstances than with the way we choose to feel about them." Amen, sister. You speak right to my heart and convict me. I know this is so true for me. I can get wrapped up in my feelings of: worry, fear, what ifs, uncertainty, sadness, concern, hurt, etc. However, this is really just all in vain. I do not need to worry over my future. It doesn't matter. All that matters is that I am in my Father's Hands. Period. Worrying past that is just ridiculous. Plum ri-dic-u-lous!
Jennifer mentioned the three basic components of our physical leg: rest, food, and exercise. If we examine each of these, we an see they all boil down to two things: discipline and desire. We have to discipline ourselves to get adequate rest. We have to discipline ourselves to eat healthy. We have to discipline ourselves to exercise regularly. We must also desire to do each of these, or rather, desire the results of them. The health of our soul and thought life does have much to do with our physical state. Our bodies are His temples.
Jennifer shares "With way too much idle mental time, I overanalyzed my marriage and husband. The results were unreasonable expectations, despair, and frustration." Oh how I can see me in that. I remember so many nights I would ask beloved if he minded we watch Wheel of Fortune as I felt bored. He questioned whether I was bored with him. I now see it was my need to be mentally challenged. (Some may think I'm mentally challenged but that's beside the point...I mean to be challenged mentally, stay with me now.) In reflection, I see my mind was craving challenge. I needed my mind to work, to figure, to solve. Mentally, my mind seems to be at its best and fulfilled when I'm extremely busy at work. The down times can be torture on my brain. In the latter of my marriage, I now can see how I was playing solitaire and computer games to challenge my brain. I wasn't active in Bible studies or small groups so I didn't get challenged there. My mind is now being challenged with so many things: two Bible studies, faithful Bible reading, and continual thoughts of words to write for the Lord. Jennifer states this leg is the one frequently neglected. That is easy to see
"When the spiritual leg of your table isn't secure, the weakness isn't always obvious. This seems to be the invisible leg, but it is really the weight-bearing leg of the table." I hear ya now, Jenn. My weakness in my marriage wasn't obvious to me either as it involved my spiritual leg. Mine was off-kilter and boy did the symptoms show up in my other three legs. In retrospect, I can see how my spiritual needs weren't met and everything failed in me physically, emotionally, and mentally. I see in each of these areas where I had major issues and ailments as a result of my spiritual leg becoming very unstable and shaky. (No sleep, illnesses, extreme moods, intense stress...I could go on.)
The deepest longing of my soul was to commune more closely with God. When that wasn't happening I looked to the other three legs, only to be frustrated and disappointed because they could not substitute my need of a closer walk with God.
Once our four legs are secure, our table will be solid. Then, we must choose hope. Jennifer's section on 'Hope in God' was very convicting to me. By not purposely choosing hope, I'm choosing despair by default. No, wait, I don't want the default. Why in the world would I, you, we willingly choose despair over hope? We shouldn't. We can't anticipate hope will cause a burst of optimism but it can most definitely shift our focus onto the potential. That's a definite start, amen?!
What promises from God do you need to remind your soul of to help you not lose hope?
These are only a few of the promises that first came to mind. May they give you some encouragement also.
~He is good to us as we wait on Him. Lam. 3:25
~He has plans and hope for us. Jer. 29:11
~He will work for our good. Rom. 8:28
~He will direct our paths. Prov. 3:6
~What He's joined together no man can separate. Matt. 19:6
~He is sovereign and in control. Psalm 3:19
I'm attaching my hope in God to the promises of God. How about you? Do you have some promises from God on which you can cling? Cling tight!
Hoping in Him,
I hope you can see the detail in the ice on my bush. The snow storm caused a lot of chaos but boy did it provide a lot of beauty. Click on it to enlarge. Magnificent.