Tag Archives: Psalms

Overcoming Darkness

1 Nov

I’ll never forget our family trip to Carlsbad Caverns, New Mexico. Deep within the earth, I beheld unimaginable formations that sent my young imagination into overdrive. At one point, the guides turned off every light and the darkness became overwhelming. I held my hand close to my eyes, yet couldn’t see it even as I touched my nose. Although Papa seemed invisible, I felt his presence and his nearness kept me from being afraid.

Were you ever in a place so dark that you despaired of ever finding your way? My darkest places have been pits of despair or fear-filled emotional caverns. Hopelessness is such a liar. It envelops you and whispers there is no escape, no cure, no solution. Don’t believe it. Even though Father is invisible, He’s with you. You don’t have to remain lost, because God is literally the light at the end of your tunnel.

It is you who light my lamp; the Lord, my God, lights up my darkness (Psalm 18:28 NRSV).

Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow (James 1:17 NASB95).

Please don’t trust unreliable emotions; instead, depend on Scripture. “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105 NRSV). God’s word will guide you one step at a time. What does that mean in a practical sense? It requires taking charge of your thoughts, which control your emotions. Quit repeating the same hopeless messages. Replace error with truth. Try writing some of the following verses on note cards and post them as visible reminders of God’s character and promises.

As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the Lord is flawless. He is a shield for all who take refuge in him. Psalm 18:30 NIV

The Lord your God is with you; his power gives you victory. The Lord will take delight in you, and in his love he will give you new life. He will sing and be joyful over you, (Zephaniah 3:17 GNB).

If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given you (James 1:5 NRSV).

May God, the source of hope, fill you with joy and peace through your faith in him. Then you will overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:13 GW).

God never promised a comfortable life, free from trials or suffering. In fact, Paul said, “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18 NASB95).  That’s why we are to “Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer” (Romans 12:12 NRSV).

I’ve experienced my share of heartache, setbacks, and challenges since God pulled me out of my darkest pit and filled me with hope. In spite of those dark places, Jesus remains my peace (Ephesians 2:14), my joy (John 17:13), and my light. I pray you’ll accept the light He offers.

In [Jesus Christ] was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it (John 1:4–5 NIV).

How Many Chances?

25 Oct

Do you ever get tired of yourself? A friend recently said, “I get so tired of me.” This person had misplaced something—yet again. Sometimes our bodies disappoint us by not performing as they once did. Maybe we’re sick of an endless cycle of busyness that prevents us from intimacy with God. We may feel defeated by a disagreeable habit. Perhaps we exercised or ate healthy for a time but gradually fell back into our old identity as a snacking-couch-potato. We intend to spend more quality time with family and friends, but good intentions dissolve into procrastination.

At such times, we’re tempted to give up and convince ourselves it doesn’t matter. Jumping off the merry-go-round seems to take more effort or self-discipline than we possess. That’s where I was not long ago.

“But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:21–23 NRSV). Every day is a new day with God—for us and for others.

Peter came to Jesus and asked him, “Lord, how often do I have to forgive a believer who wrongs me? Seven times?” Jesus answered him, “I tell you, not just seven times, but seventy times seven. (Matthew 18:21–22 GW). That’s the standard for second chances for others as well as for us.

Rabbis traditionally taught an offended person should forgive three times. Peter, no doubt thought he was generous in proposing seven chances. Not even close. Jesus declares 490+ do-overs. We’re to offer the same limitless forgiveness God offers us. The situation isn’t hopeless even when we offend God by not loving and serving His people, not taking care of His temple (our bodies), or wasting the time He gives. It’s never too late too late for a fresh start.

Receiving another chance doesn’t mean we won’t experiences consequences of past behavior. We lose things, forfeit precious time with God, put on weight, and damage relationships. We may need to ask for help or seek an accountability partner, but a new start is possible.

The solution remains the same—renew our minds and be transformed. Believe the truth. Without realizing it, when we feel hopeless, we believe a lie about who God is and how much He loves us (John 3:16). We also believe a lie about ourselves. We forget Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (NKJV). I can’t claim this verse and begin performing brain surgery. However, I can accomplish all God uniquely planned for me (Ephesians 2:10).

I find both peace and excitement living in the center of God’s will. I experience anxiety, stress, and frustration doing life on my own. I need the Spirit of Christ to forgive and empower me. I’m so grateful for second chances.

O Lord, you are so good, so ready to forgive, so full of unfailing love for all who ask for your help. (Psalm 86:5 NLT).