Hope and a Future {Coffee for Your Heart}

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Today Holley’s Coffee for Your Heart writing prompt was about encouragement that our hearts need to hear. It’s so sweet and so special to me that as I sat to write a post about hope for a future, Holley’s post was on the very same thing. With such special timing I can’t help but pause and savor the sweetness of the moments God reminds us we never walk alone.

Today I’m reminded that we must fight to keep our eyes before us, always waiting with a gracious hope that believes in the light even when it only flickers from a distance. Today I’m reminded that we must look to the horizon instead of the raging waters. There is a bright future beyond a gloomy place; there is a hope beyond this aching. It’s easy to believe that things will always be this way, but today is fresh and new and leading us to a place that once again blossoms. Today may look an awful lot like yesterday, but it’s brand new and even if it frightens us to the core, we can bravely look at the day unfolding and say with faith, This is the day that the Lord has made, and I believe He will fill it with the wonders of His love.
He draws near to us with tenderness and compassion, in the aching and in the unfolding. Though we may not see how, there is a future full of hope and full of love unfolding for us day by day. May we find the courage to believe this today and always.

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When Exhaustion Feels Like Hopelessness

If you’ve felt the heaviness of exhaustion pull upon your body,

And felt depletion so burdening it began to speak into your heart…

If exhaustion has brought such heaviness to your eyes that you cannot lift them up to see the glow of hope,

And it has blurred images of pain into realities of despair…

If you’ve felt bruised by sorrow and feel tirelessly tired,

Please let me share this light with you:

Exhaustion and hopeless can feel strikingly similar when severe.

Oh, what a freeing truth this was for me; I hope it will be as freeing for you.

When exhaustion weighs so heavily that you feel it speak louder than your hope,

Please listen. Not to the despair, but to your body as it confides its aches and pains with you.

Please hear your body as it tells you it cannot take anymore.

It’s time for rest.

Rest well, sweet friend. Let sleep replenish you; let rest revive you.

Remember despair comes as an stowaway,

Don’t let your exhaustion be its host.

For weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning {Psalm 30:5)

Rest revives as God redeems.

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” ~Matthew 11:28-30

When You Feel You’ve Exhausted The Search of a Cure

Have you ever been graced with a sweet moment of companionship within a Bible story? A moment where the story relates to you so deeply you feel as if God was speaking to you through it? It’s such a lovely kind of moment. A sense of awe wraps your heart as your souls relaxes into the peace of His presence. A few weeks ago, I had one of those moments. Matthew, Mark, and Luke tell the tale, but Mark shares a few special details that melted my heart. Let me share:

A woman in the crowd had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding. She had suffered a great deal from many doctors, and over the years she had spent everything she had to pay them, but she had gotten no better. In fact, she had gotten worse. She had heard about Jesus, so she came up behind him through the crowd and touched his robe. For she thought to herself, “If I can just touch his robe, I will be healed.” Immediately the bleeding stopped, and she could feel in her body that she had been healed of her terrible condition. (Mark 5:25-29)

As the story continues, Jesus turns around in the crowd in search of the woman. When they meet, he tells her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace. Your suffering is over.”

Do you ever feel like this woman? Going from doctor to doctor, trying medicine after medicine and remedy after remedy, trying diets and herbs and supplements, traveling to specialists, having lists of tests, but never finding a cure? I find this story deeply encouraging for a few reasons and I hope you will, too. This woman is certainly an inspirational testament of faith, as she has suffered for many years yet still kept hopeful and faithful, even among disappointments. But another beautiful thing is that God’s love is so transforming that it doesn’t matter how complicated or hopeless our diseases seem this side of heaven, He can cure each of them instantly. He didn’t give this woman a form to fill out about her symptoms and ask her about her diagnosis. He sure didn’t need to do that! She believed, He loved, and healing came at once. It certainly doesn’t mean we should stop trying our treatments, because surely He can use those for His good, too! But it does mean that even if we try and try and nothing seems to help, it’s never hopeless, for He will come again and all pain and sorrow will fall away. So we take our supplements and try our treatments and see our doctors and trust that healing can come in any way, but we know that even if it takes longer than we expected, we’re drawing nearer and nearer each and every day.

When You Feel Lonely

As September unfolds and brings a new season, and the chill of Autumn begins to touch our towns,

I hope you find yourself warmed by the sweet embrace of loving company.

And if your days feel cold with loneliness and isolation, I pray that you will nestle into hope.

I hope you find a moment of courage to lift your eyes and your heart just a little higher, in order that you may see the loving heart of our Lord, outstretched for you.

I hope you’re reminded that our lonely times aren’t really barrenempty, untouched times but pruned ones.

I hope you’re reminded that there is a coming Love more abundant than any we can imagine,

A Home where He will wipe every tear from our eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain (Revelation 21:4).

If we can lift our eyes and our hearts a little higher than our hurts, even for just a moment, and look into the face of our Savior, we can trust He will comfort us with His mercy and teach us of His harvest.

Our gracious Savior is with us, Our God who places the lonely in families (Psalm 68:6).

I pray you will let Him draw near and whisper healing truth into your aching heart.

There’s so much joy ahead, friends. There’s so much joy around.

I hope this Fall season leaves you with little reminders of how all seasons will be redeemed;

I hope you let your worries fall away like the leaves of the trees.

You will grieve, but your grief will suddenly turn to wonderful joy. It will be like a woman suffering the pains of labor. When her child is born, her anguish gives way to joy because she has brought a new baby into the world. So you have sorrow now, but I will see you again; then you will rejoice, and no one can rob you of that joy. ~John 16:20-22

Week Three: Your Illness is Not Your Fault

A few years ago, I came across a prayer blog for a captivating little girl named Daisy. Simply looking at her freckly little face instantly revealed what a bubbly, intelligent, unique soul was dancing around inside of her. It took one peak at a post about her to fall in love with that sweet little kindergartener. Heart warmed, spirits lifted, mind refreshed.

With great sorrow but even greater faith, her family shared that Daisy had been diagnosed with cancer. They shared updates about her grueling battles with the illness, along with very cheerful and touching stories about her life and vivacious personality; a personality as charming as they come! If Daisy’s life could speak for itself, I imagine it would speak with bravery and tenderness as it said, “Cancer is horrible, but life isn’t.”

Just a few days after Daisy was first diagnosed with cancer, her father gave a sermon at his home church entitled, “When My Heart Is Overwhelmed.”  This was the first time I had heard Britt Merrick speak, and it touched me in a way that I haven’t been able to forget since that day. He said many things in that sermon, but I felt one of the most powerful and influential things was this:

I will tell you that it takes more faith to endure Christ not healing your daughter than it does to see Him heal your daughter.

This is a truth that I pray warms and ignites in your heart in a way that changes your blame forever. Illness is not a punishment for a lack of faith. Illness brings an endurance, courage, hope, and belief in Christ that far extends the kind of faith that is only present when things are going okay. It surpasses that faith in lavish ways. When you face agonizing circumstances, God is not turning His back on you. God is reaching His hand and His pure heart out to you.

It heavies my heart to share that this year, Daisy passed away. Her family shared her memorial service on their blog, and it was a service of such deep faith and celebration of God that I cannot speak of it without tears of admiration. Daisy’s mother, Kate, walked onto the stage full of daisies with tears and courage both filling her eyes and shared words that I have held deeply in my heart ever since. She said that “Daisy’s faith in God was like a covenant, not a contract.” These words captivate me. A covenant faith; a faith based on promise rather than circumstance. This is what our illnesses give us an opportunity for, the opportunity to grow with God in a way that isn’t shaken by the sorrows of the world, but endures all things safely wrapped in His embrace.

I pray that this story will help you see that illness doesn’t fall upon us because we’re unworthy of good health. Illness touches the hearts and lives of people without consideration of what they believe or how they’ll handle it. Illness comes, and it breaks, and it steals, and it overwhelms, and it even kills, but it does not punish. We are under grace, and filled with it as well. Our gracious God doesn’t strike us down, but lifts us up. I pray that you will accept this bold truth, and let it dissolve the lies you’ve been pierced with for too long.

Your illness is not your fault.

{If you’d like to read the original post 5 Truths Your Heart Needs to be Reminded, please click here!)

Week One: You Are Not Alone in Your Illness

I was so touched by the opportunity to connect with some of you through my post, 5 Truths Your Heart Needs to be Reminded. Your kind words and inspirational stories were so moving. Since there was such a meaningful response, I decided to dig deeper into that post and share more with you. For the next few weeks, let’s take another look at why these truths are so significant. Please join me as we discuss one truth each week for the next few weeks! I look forward to sharing this journey with you 🙂

~Week One: You Are Not Alone in Your Illness~

John 16 that has been one of the most comforting Bible chapters for me in my pain. During this chapter, Jesus has been ministering to His disciples about the coming terror of His crucifixion, and preparing them for the overwhelming sorrow they will experience. But in the midst of that, He is promising them His authority to overcome even this horrific death, and reassuring them of the unshakable joy that will thrill their hearts when He returns for them. As I read His words, “In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” I feel hope ignite in my heart and peace soothe my soul. Though I’ve never seen His gentle face, I can vividly imagine the expressions upon it as He spoke. Empathy, hope, loyalty, humility, victory. After sharing His heart with them, offering them His peace, He says,

“But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when you will be scattered, each one going his own way, leaving me alone. Yet I am not alone because the Father is with me.” (John 16:32)

These words have touched and resonated with my aching heart, and I imagine that they must with yours, too. Although we feel truth in this statement for a different reason, many of our hearts can still feel the sting of the pain. You have scattered, each one going your own way, leaving me alone. We have experienced heart-wrenching times of feeling abandoned during our illnesses. But it is not this part of the statement that is so bold, so powerful, so timelessly true as what Jesus says next.

But I am not alone, for my Father is with me.

I truly believe this is one of the greatest truths we can delight our hearts with. I believe this is one of the most powerful truths we can accept in our trials of illness. Let our hearts reflect and hold tightly to this truth. For we are designed to share relationships with other humans, but we are sustained by a relationship with God. Although fellowship delights us and thrills our soul, it is but a taste of what unity with Christ is.

So what does it mean that God is with you in your struggles?

It means that He understands the agony of the pain you are enduring, because He felt these very things.

It means that He hears the cries of your heart as you suffer and is there to soothe you with His peace.

It means He understands the warfare your body is immersed in and has designed a rescue plan for you.

It means that He came before you to conquer death before it could ever touch your precious existence.

It means He has counted each tear that has flowed from your beautiful eyes, and that He knows the day that He will wipe them away and bring you to His eternal sanctuary where there will be no more pain or sorrow or tears.

It means He holds the seeds of faith you have planted in Him and will blossom them into blessings more beautiful than an endless field of fresh flowers.

The sustaining truth of “God with us” is a firm promise that God is able to fill our hearts, minds, bodies and souls with a peace that surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7). To feel the spirit of His joy dwelling in your heart, despite any circumstance, must be one of the most magical and refreshing feeling known to a believer’s heart. It is positively divine! It’s so awe-striking to be lifted from gloom and sorrow into the shining hope Christ illuminates into our souls.

There are moments when we cannot see or feel or even imagine hope, but it is still alive and active and ready to lift us out of these lonely places. God is ready to wrap you up in His loving kindness. Community exists, companionship exists, family exists, and there is hope for all of these even in the most grueling of illnesses. I cannot word it any more lovely than Jamie Tworkowski has in his vision statement for the movement To Write Love On Her Arms, so I will gratefully share his words with you:

We live in a difficult world, a broken world. We believe everyone can relate to pain, all of us live with questions, and all of us get stuck in moments. You need to know you’re not alone in the places you feel stuck.

We all wake to the human condition. We wake to mystery and beauty, but also to tragedy and loss. Millions of people live with problems of pain. Millions of homes are filled with questions—moments, and seasons, and cycles that come as thieves and aim to stay. We know pain is very real. It is our privilege to suggest that hope is real and help is real.

You need to know rescue is possible, freedom is possible, God is still in the business of redemption. We’re seeing it happen.

I pray that these words will encourage your heart and sit well with your soul. May you always remember that hope and love are your faithful companions, and you are not alone.

{If you’d like to read the original post 5 Truths Your Heart Needs to be Reminded, please click here!)