Tag Archives: hope

I Am Not Afraid

Words of Grace

I am not afraid.

But I am!  I am afraid of lots of things: the future, driving, tests, failure as a parent, getting mugged, health problems, death.  Sometimes my fear stops me from doing anything.  Sometimes it just occupies my thoughts and takes away my joy.  But, to be honest, it’s almost always there.  How can I not be afraid?

When someone tells us not to be afraid, as though it were a simple thing to do, they either miss the point of what’s happening in our hearts or they don’t care.  Emotions are difficult to turn on and off, particularly negative ones.  It isn’t as though we want to be afraid.

I think this is why the Scripture talks so much about living in the light.  The darkness holds our fears.  Not knowing, or knowing just part of the truth or believing lies—those are the things that give strength to our fears.  When the light shines on our situation, we often find that there really was nothing to fear.

We all know that turning the light on in the room chases away the things that seem to lurk in the shadows.  But what if we turn on the light and something really scary is standing there?  We understand that many of the fears that trouble us are not real.  They are fantasies or misunderstandings or lies.  But not everything that frightens us is false.  We do face financial difficulties, health problems, relationship stresses, and more.  These things are real and challenging.  The pain and trouble they bring to us are things we would certainly like to avoid.

But do we need to be afraid of them?  That’s the question.

And the answer is, “No!”

Most of us have a healthy fear of pain, but we understand it and accept it as part of our lives.  The same is true with most of our minor fears.  But the biggest fear we face is damage or change to our identity.  “Will I be the same after x happens?”  Losing a job or a loved one or a home—what we fear most in these things is the change in us.  Will weakness steal my security or joy or confidence?  Will I have to become a different person?

That’s why I like to teach about identity.  As long as my identity is based on what I do or my life situation, then my identity is always at risk.  When my identity is secure in Jesus, it will not change.  I will not change because He who is my life will not change.  Minor changes will happen, of course, but who I am in Christ will never change.

Everything in this world is outside my relationship with Jesus.  Inside that relationship there is security and peace forever.  He is my strength.  He is my hope.  He is my peace.

I will not be afraid of what people can do to me or of what the world around me can do.  I will not be afraid of the changes time will bring.  I will not be afraid of my weaknesses.  I will look to Him and remember my peace.

Therefore we will not fear, Even though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; though its waters roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with its swelling.  Psalm 46:2-3 (NKJV)

 

I am not afraid.

I know that He is with me.

I will look to Him and find my peace.

Nothing can change who I am in Him.

I am not afraid.

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Recuperating?

It’s Narcissist Friday!    

 

The holidays are winding down and people in relationship with narcissists are settling back to whatever passes for normal life.  The spouse/parent/friend/co-worker/sibling narcissist has been himself/herself.

I hope you had a great holiday!  I hope that your narcissist was reasonable and got along well with others and you.  But if that didn’t happen, if you are still stressed, here are some thoughts.

  1. Survival is Victory – You thought the situation would be terrible.  Maybe it was, but you survived.  You thought your heart would break, but it didn’t.  You thought you wouldn’t be able to stand it again, but you did.  You survived.  Good for you!  I call that a victory.
  2. That which does not kill you makes you stronger – Okay, I don’t believe that in every case, but you will find yourself stronger in the days to come.  You learned some things and you will understand them as you sort them out over time.  And you are seeing yourself in a new light.  You are not the defeated victim that you used to be.
  3. Be kind to yourself – You are probably exhausted.  The holidays do that themselves, but narcissists can be especially trying during holidays.  Stress comes with a price.  Give yourself a break.  Understand why you are drained.
  4. Forgive yourself – You may replay the situation in your mind now and think of things you could have said or done.  That’s normal and it is normal to feel a little frustrated that you didn’t do those things.  But let it go.  You can’t hold yourself accountable for errors or omissions while you are under that kind of stress.  And, you know, it might have just made things worse.
  5. Forgive the narcissist – I might get hate email on this one, but remember that forgiveness is for you.  You cannot spend hours and days reliving the offenses.  You probably won’t forget, but you have to let yourself move on.  Nor do you have to open yourself to the narcissist again.  Forgiveness is not about making yourself more vulnerable or trying to forget what was done.  Forgiveness is about your decision not to hold onto the offense and give it continuing power in your life.
  6. Move into the future – Things are changing.  You are more aware than you were.  You are learning how to handle some of the things he/she does.  You are getting stronger.  You are beginning to see yourself as a separate person, a person of value.  All of that is good.  This year will not be like last year.
  7. There is hope – There is always hope.  Pray and seek the Lord.  Let Him love you.  Let Him be your strength and your joy.  Find life apart from the pain.  Our hope is in the Lord.  He can do anything.

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What I know about you. . .

. . . you are hope-full!

 

Depression is many things.  We know today that depression can be a chemical imbalance.  We know that depression can be seasonal.  Some say that depression is anger, others say sadness, still others say loneliness.  I suspect many people feel all of these at the same time and much more.  But I think a common thread runs through depression, no matter how it is caused.  Depression is a loss of hope.

Where do you go when hope is gone?  What do you do?  Try harder?  Work smarter or faster?  When your car is stuck in the snow bank, does it help to spin the tires faster?  No, when hope is gone, giving up seems reasonable.  Depression, for some people, is that closed loop between the logical decision to give up and the heart desire for something to be different.

I have believed for years that there is a strong correlation in our hearts between hope and help.  In fact, the Greek word for hope sounds like help.  The Scriptures use help to communicate assistance or comfort or relief.  But help isn’t what we need when we are discouraged.  In those times when we look ahead and see no change, no progress, despair comes easily—not because we have no help, but because we know that more help won’t help.  We need hope.

We need something outside ourselves.  When trying harder doesn’t do it and we have tried all the ways we know or care to try, there just isn’t any more we can draw out of ourselves.  The legalist comes along and tells us to stop being sad or angry, to put a smile on our faces and push forward, but we have done all that and it didn’t help.  The old line, “If it’s going to be, it’s up to me,” is a lie.  We think, “If it’s up to me, it isn’t going to be.”

And we need a person.  More and better rules or methods aren’t the answer.  An idol of rock or wood won’t be enough.  Another book to read, another class to attend, another trick to try—these things aren’t what we need.  They all tell us to draw more from ourselves and we are tired.  Drugs may help to soften the pain and exercise may cause new blood to flow in our veins, but what do we do when there just isn’t any more, when we have given all we have to the cause?

And we need a person bigger than the people we know.  As long as our helper is “just like me” we have little hope.  Certainly others can encourage and love, but the hope we need is more than they can provide.  We need someone bigger than this world, someone who is stronger than the problems of life.  Fellow sufferers are important, but they don’t give us hope.

There is a Person who loves you, Someone who is bigger than your problems, bigger than the world.  He has come to you in Jesus.  Jesus is the Lord God Almighty in human flesh.  Somehow, by a great mystery, God came into our world TO BE OUR HOPE!

And you and I have hope.  There is no problem that can overcome us, because we look to Him.  There is no situation that can move us to despair, because He is there and He is real.  And He has promised that those who come to Him through Jesus will find life and freedom and love forever.

One of the verses of Amazing Grace we often skip over is so important for us.

The Lord has promised good to me…

His word my hope secures.

He will my shield and portion be

As long as life endures.

 

David certainly understood this.  He struggled with his feelings.  I think he suffered from depression.  Like us, he forgot from time to time that God was with him and loved him.  He began to look at the opposition he faced or the troubles he suffered and his own weakness.  When he did that, he began to despair.  But God lovingly and patiently drew David back and so many of the Psalms end with praises to the Lord.  God was David’s hope.

 

Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance. Psalm 42:5

 When we struggle, the Lord is our hope.  When the world seems to be too much, there is One who is bigger.  When we can draw nothing more from ourselves, He is there with plenty.

But listen: if you know someone who is struggling, be sure to remind them in love of the One who loves them.  Don’t tell them to have more faith or to buck it up because of Jesus.  Tell them they are loved and there is One who is greater than their problems.

There is hope in the Lord.  The day of peace will come.  The future is good.  The results of your project are in His hands.  He loves your children more than you do.  There is no failure for those who walk with Him.  There is no sin that can separate you from Him.

Those who belong to Jesus are full of hope, even when they forget.

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What does it mean to have eternal life?

If you ask ten people on the street what eternal life is, they would probably all answer something along the lines of living forever.  If you ask ten people at church, they might add that this is what you get when you pray to accept Jesus.  But when the Bible talks about eternal life it means something far more than just living forever.

There is a different perspective.  For many people life just isn’t good enough to consider extending it for eternity.  The only hope for them is to have a substantially different life.  They don’t look forward so much to living forever, but to living in privilege.  Streets of gold, mansions, the wonders and beauties of Heaven are promises toward which many people look.  In fact, if you were to ask church people to describe Heaven, many of them would tell about something much like this life, only a lot better.  Heaven is where you get all the ice cream you want.  Heaven is where bad things are not allowed.  Heaven is only for good people.  If eternal life doesn’t offer something better than this life, some wouldn’t want it.

But we may be misunderstanding the whole idea of eternal life.  I think we would all agree that things would have to get a lot better in order for us to choose to live this life forever.  But let’s say that it does get better.  Let’s say that in Heaven you and I will get everything we want.  Would that really be Heaven?  Is there life in getting everything I want?  Or does real life require some striving?  Is success real and valued when it comes all the time?  And could any of us be trusted if we got everything we want?  Wouldn’t that kind of life be a narcissistic dream?

No, eternal life is something more.  I think we cheat ourselves and misrepresent the Lord and His gift when we think of eternal life only in a future and glorious sense.  The Heaven we were taught about may be true in many regards, but it is not the whole story.

Over the next week, I will be sharing some thoughts about eternal life.  You may find them challenging, but if you understand, I think you will find them to be very encouraging—even “life” changing!

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