Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Encouragement for Times of Loss

Today I want to share a devotion from my friend Wayne Hastings' new bookThe Way Back from Loss: Reassembling the Pieces of a Broken Life, published by Howard Books

Through this sixty day devotional, Wayne provides a step-by-step path through the sometimes paralyzing confusion and frightening uncertainty of loss. The readings and quotes lead a wounded soul into the loving arms of the only One who truly understands your journey and knows the course of your future. 

"Hope Floats" (devotional number 39) is my personal favorite. Wayne says, "Hope doesn't sink us into the black hole of worry and angst; it floats. It keeps our head above water." 

Here's the devotion in its entirety.

Hope Floats

“The vision of His glory gives hope to those deluded by the importance of society by revealing our citizenship is not of this world.”[i] —Anne Graham Lotz

Today’s Verse: “Through [Christ] . . . we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” (Romans 5:2–5 NKJV)

We can never underestimate the value of hope as we go through difficult situations. We can look at all that’s happening to us or around us and feel hopeless, or we can choose to be people who are full of hope in spite of what is happening, what others are saying, or how we’re feeling.
Unfortunately we spend too much of our lives thinking. We agitate, cogitate, and worry. We suppose that if we think about something long enough, something will automatically happen or eventually change. It often doesn’t because we are so quick to worry about things that are totally out of our direct control.
Hope is far better. It’s the positive expectation that something good is going to happen to us. We don’t need to think about it—simply expect it. Instead of trying to think things through, we can hope on purpose.
Hope doesn’t sink us into the black hole of worry and angst; it floats. It keeps our head above water. It leads to joy and, as Paul reminds us in today’s verse, it doesn’t disappoint.
So, what if we don’t see what we’re hoping for? The answer is maybe we’re hoping for the wrong things.
Our hope shouldn’t be in things, or our own planned outcomes. Our hope needs to rest in God—who He is and what He has promised. Our hope needs to rest on a foundation that:
   God loves us.
   God has a plan for us.
   God will never leave us.
   God sent His Son to die for us.
   God works all things out for our good.
Tough circumstances don’t simply disappear, but we can experience God through it all. There is eternal value in this day. We need to approach it with a hope based on who God is and what He has promised. We must stop overthinking things, give our minds and hearts to God, and float on His life-saving hope.
INSIGHT: Develop an attitude of expectancy and hope based on who God is and what He has promised.
PRAYER: Ask God to help you hope on purpose. Ask Him to help you take any thoughts of hopelessness captive to Him and erase them with His promises. Thank Him that He wants you to live in joy and for helping you grow in your faith.
   Study Psalms 30:5; 144:1 and Zechariah 9:12. What are the promises found in these verses? What does it mean to you to be a “prisoner of hope”?
   Understand that you need to make a decision to be happy, rejoice, and have hope. It won’t simply come upon you; you need to take hold of hope on purpose. The Enemy doesn’t care about your things or your feelings. He wants your joy. It’s up to you to hold fast to your hope and renew it daily.
   Discover how hope releases joy. Look up scriptures that clearly show you God’s promises to bring you hope and joy. Don’t settle for “I’ll be happy when . . . ” thinking, but rather focus on His hope for you today.

[i] Anne Graham Lotz, The Vision of HIs Glory, (Nashville, Thomas Nelson, Inc., 1996, 1997, 2009), 54

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