Tag Archives: hope

Closed Doors, Open Hearts

Yesterday, my husband and I found ourselves staring at yet another closed door in a season that has been full of them.

As followers of Christ, what do we do with those moments when He allows doors to close…and there is no sign that an open door is in the future anytime soon?

1) Allow yourself to feel the feelings that rise to the surface: disappointment, sadness, confusion, fear, even anger. Our feelings are powerful and it is pointless to deny them. So don’t try. Pour out your heart to your God who is always listening. (Psalm 62:8)

2) Remember that you don’t have allow your feelings to be in the driver’s seat. After acknowledging them, relegate them to the place they belong: in the background, not in the forefront.

It has taken me years to learn this. I used to live in a very reactive way; I allowed my feelings to dictate what my day would look like.

The result was a rollercoaster ride and that’s only fun for a few wild moments at an amusement park. It’s no way to live a life.

Then Jesus  taught me how to live by the truth of His Word…NOT by my circumstances, which could change on a dime.

It’s the difference between standing on solid rock and standing on quicksand.

I have become proactive in that I now prioritize His Word over my feelings.

For example, after getting that news yesterday, my feelings rose up and LOUDLY said, “I can’t do this anymore. It’s too hard. I’m exhausted. When will this end?”

And through the gift of  His Word, Jesus spoke truth and comfort to my heart:

“Susan, you have strength for all things through Me. I empower you. You are ready for anything and equal to anything through Me. I infuse inner strength into You…My grace is enough for you (sufficient against any danger and enables you to bear the trouble)…My strength and power are made perfect and show themselves most effective in your weakness…Remember, you are waiting for ME: not an event…expect Me. Hope in Me. Live close to Me and I will renew your strength so that you will run and not be weary…Your times are in MY hands… I am guiding you along these unfamiliar paths. I will  turn the darkness into light and I will make the rough places smooth. I will not forsake you…I will NEVER stop doing good to you.” (Philippians 4:13; 2 Corinthians 12:9; Isaiah 40:31; Psalm 31:15; Isaiah 42:16; Jeremiah 32:40).

3) Preach the Gospel–the Good News– to yourself every single day..especially when dealing with disappointment.

Our pastor in Florida taught us this and it is the KEY to living a victorious, peaceful, and incredibly joyful life, even in the midst of pain.

As a result of the Fall, I am sinner, saved by grace alone. Jesus absorbed the righteous wrath of the Father against sin on my behalf so that I might be forgiven and free.

I don’t ever want to get over that!

As Pastor Tullian so rightly declares, “Once God rescues sinners, His plan isn’t to steer them beyond the gospel but to move them more deeply into it.”

One way to do this is to read books on the subject of Christ’s radical sacrifice on our behalf. One of my favorites is  A Violent Grace by Michael Card. I read it prior to Easter every year and every single time, I am driven to my knees in worship to my beautiful Savior. Just mediate on  the following statements from this slim volume for a little while as a way to put whatever your current situation may be into perspective:

He was born to die so I could be born to new life.

He suffered temptation so I could experience victory.

He was betrayed that I might know His faithfulness.

He was arrested and bound so I could be rescued from bondage.

He stood trial alone that I might have an advocate.

He was wounded so I could be healed.

He endured mockery so I could know dignity and joy.

He was condemned so the truth could set me free.

He was crowned with thorns so I might crown Him with praise.

He was nailed to the cross so I might escape judgment.

He was stretched out between thieves so I could know the reach of Love.

He suffered thirst so I can drink Living Water.

He said, “It is finished” so I could begin my walk of faith.

He was God’s Lamb slain so I could claim His sacrifice as my own.

He was forsaken by the Father so I would never be rejected.

He chose the shame of weakness so I could know the hope of glory.

He shed His blood so I could be white as snow.

His heart was pierced so mine could be made whole.

He died and was buried so the grave could not hold me.

He rose again so I might experience eternal life.

He is known by His scars so I will take up my cross and follow Him.   —-Michael Card

I can trust a Savior like this with every closed door.

He has already opened the most important door of all for me: the door into His glorious Presence for all eternity. (John 3:16; John 1:12).

So, I will dry my tears.

I will move on from this closed door, knowing that no season lasts forever and that one day, the right door WILL open wide.

Until then, I will keep moving forward. I will trust Him with what I cannot understand. I will praise Him. I will celebrate His never-ending goodness to me.  I will thank Him for His many gifts. I will stay in His Word.

And I will hope.

“God is too good to be unkind and He is too wise to be mistaken. And when we cannot trace His hand, we must trust His heart.”—Spurgeon



Filed under Devotions

Fresh Hope

The cracks were beginning to show.

As the week wore on, I exhibited impatience, irritation, and was often dangerously close to tears.

His still small voice  was calling to me…to pay attention…that something in my soul wasn’t right and He needed to tend to it.

I was weary.

Thankful, grateful, trusting…yet still weary.

It has been a long road, these past two years, as my family and I have wrestled with a prolonged trial that tests our faith every day…that stretches us to our limits…then teaches us how to go beyond…only to discover:

*more of Him

*the fact that true Joy is possible even in the midst of pain and tears

*that He is always willing to fill us with His unlimited strength…and in our weakness, we are miraculously made strong

*life does not consist in the abundance of our possessions

*wonders truly do unfold everywhere to those with eyes to see.

Yet there are days when the grind feels relentless and that is what Saturday felt like for me.

I heard Him whisper, “Come to Me…” (Matthew 11:28).

So I slipped away, closed the door, and poured my heart out to Him…all the mixed feelings, weariness, sadness, fear…it all came out like a flood as He listened…

and felt what I felt (Hebrews 4:15)

…collected all my tears in His bottle (Psalm 56:8 )

…whispered His forgiveness that mercifully covers all the ugly (Psalm 103:12)

…reminded me of His promises of unfailing love and deep kindness and good plans… (Romans 8:28; Romans 8:38-39; Jeremiah 29:11)

My mind then flashed back to Pastor Steve’s message at church last week. He spoke on Proverbs 13:12: “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when dreams come true at last, there is life and joy.” (Living Bible). He explained that the word for “deferred” in the original language refers to the Enemy’s ploy to try to take us captive, to entice us away from Christ in an attempt to cruelly steal our hope and leave us weak, weary, and worn out…feeling that we have no place to turn other than the paltry and empty coping  mechanisms of the world system.

Anger rose up within me. The Enemy cannot have my Hope!

He is a loser and a liar and I will not give him the satisfaction of falling for his pathetic ploys.

My God IS my Hope. He never changes. He is FOR me. He is ALWAYS victorious. He is in FULL control. He WILL rescue me.

He is guiding and leading me along this hard path, continually showing me His faithfulness and kindness, offering me His strength and His joy in the midst.

I just need to remember.

As if on cue, my eyes fell on a Sheila Walsh book that I have had for a year and just recently picked up again. It is called Beautiful Things Happen When A Woman Trusts God. I felt led to open to where I had left off reading and these are the words I saw:

You are not forgotten. God sees you. In His perfect time, you will see Him do what only He can do.”

Peace and joy flooded my heart as tears spilled from my eyes.

One of the many things I love about Jesus is the fact that He so often reaches into my days in such tender unexpected ways, breathing fresh hope into my heart just when I need it the most.

Come To Me

When you are hurting, come to Me

and I will bind your wounds.

When you need to be assured, come to Me

and I will give you My embrace.

When you can no longer go on, come to Me

and I will carry you.

When you need comfort, come to Me

and I will wipe your tears.

When you are uncertain of My love, come to Me

And I will speak My heart to you. —Unknown

May the God of your hope so fill you with peace and joy in believing…that by the power of the Holy Spirit, you may abound and be overflowing (bubbling over) with hope.–Romans 15:13


Filed under Devotions

The Cycle of Grief

I was completely taken by surprise that writing yesterday’s tribute to my dad unleashed a torrent of grief within me.

While it has been nine years since he died and I miss him everyday, I thought that the days of deep grieving marked by bouts of sobbing were over.

Not so.

Grief is a funny thing. One moment you can be doing just fine and the next you are plunged into the reality of your loss all over again and grief crashes into your day like ocean waves pounding over a sea wall during a storm.

The body remembers.

I experienced this truth twice since my dad died.

The first thing I heard that last morning as I walked into my dad’s ICU room was Elton John singing “Daniel.”  For some reason, the nurse had turned on the radio and it was playing softly in the backround.  At that moment, I said to myself, “I never want to hear this song again.”  I just knew that hearing that song would forever take me right back to that moment in time; a moment that I was wishing with all my heart was not happening.

And it did.

Two years later, I walked into a CVS store to pick up an anniversary card. Just as I got to the card aisle, “Daniel” came over the speakers…and I just froze. I wanted to run out of the store but I literally could not move and the tears just started to flow. The cards blurred before my eyes and while I was physically standing in that aisle, my mind had taken me right back to that room in the ICU. Once the song ended, I dried my tears, purchased my card, and walked back into the Florida sunshine, reminded afresh that I was a daughter without an earthly father.

The second time this happened was just two months ago. I was enjoying a date with my husband and we had been having a wonderful day, full of laughter and good conversation. We decided to get some lunch and had just been seated at the restaurant when “Daniel” began to play over the loudspeakers. Right before my husband’s eyes, his wife, who had just a second ago been laughing, suddenly dissolved into tears and was overwhelmed with the pain of searing loss.

I have learned that when grief makes a sudden and surprising appearance that it is okay.

It is normal.

It is a sign of how strongly and fully we loved.

It is important to let the tears flow, feel the loss, remember the joys.

But above all, allow Hope to reign.

After my dad died, I had to find an outfit for his funeral, so I went to the mall by myself one afternoon. It was early December and the mall was festively decorated.  Happy Christmas music was streaming  through the sound system and everywhere I looked people were smiling and laughing. It was almost more than I could bear. It felt cruel that there was all this merriment surrounding me while my heart was broken.

After purchasing an outfit, I walked to my car and with each step, my anger grew. I resented the fact that the Christmas season was in full swing with all its brightness…while my life now seemed covered in a heavy blanket of gray…dull and colorless.

I got into the car and slammed my door shut, angry tears beginning to spill as I poured out my heart to Jesus.

Suddenly, His still, small voice spoke to my spirit: “Be glad that it is Christmas.”

His tender voice was unmistakable but the message confused me.

“How, Lord?” I asked.

Because Christmas is a celebration of the fact that I came!”

Right there, in a crowded parking lot in Bethel Park, Pennsylvania, the radiant colors of Joy returned to my life.

As a Christian, I do not grieve without hope (I Thessalonians 4:13-14). Because Jesus came to this earth, lived a perfect life, paid the penalty for my sin on the cross, died, and rose again, death is not the end…it is only the beginning of eternity.

My dad knew Jesus as his Savior and as a result, the moment he left this earth, he was ushered into the presence of Christ. He is more alive now than he ever was. I will see him again…all because Jesus came!

Our relationship has not ended…it has only been interrupted.

Jesus reminded me of this the night my dad died. Unable to sleep when we returned home from the hospital, I found my dad’s Bible. He read it everyday and kept a ribbon to mark where he had left off. I opened it to see what he had been reading that last day and saw this: “…we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 5:8)

My dad was HOME. His earthly journey was complete. He was face to face with his risen Savior and he now  “knows God in that deep, personal union, that utter euphoria of experiencing Him.” –Joni Eareckson Tada, When God Weeps.

Our hope as Christians is not wishful thinking…our Hope is the very Person of Jesus Christ and the reality of His resurrection. Therefore, that hope is “a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul” (Hebrews 6:19)..even (especially) when our hearts are breaking.

So yes, the tears will come and grief will still break into our days at the most unexpected of times.

However, we do not have to stay in that place of grief; we do not have to settle down there. There is always Hope, no matter how deep the pain…because Jesus came.

“There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief…and unspeakable love.”–Washington Irving.


Filed under The Cycle of Grief