Appreciating Your Present

 

golden gift
“Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That’s why it’s called the present.”

 

This Christmas, did you feel satisfied with your gifts?

Now, I know you think I expect you to say “yes,” as if that were the only right answer, but let’s just be honest here for a minute – do you truly feel satisfied with what you received for Christmas this year?

There are many different types of gifts, whether they be material or intangible. Today, we’re going to talk about both of these categories that encompass a wide spectrum of things.

I can already imagine what you might be thinking at this point – “Oh great; this is another cliched post about being thankful for what you already have and not being greedy or materialistic, right?”

Well, get ready, because the answer to that cynical question is a big, fat

NOPE.

So, let’s get started as we delve into today’s complex topic, shall we?

First of all, we all know that Christmas is supposed to be “the most wonderful time of the year.”

blue gift

I apologize in advance if that previous sentence got the song stuck in your head, but I don’t apologize for using it in this context. Granted, there are countless wonderful things about this season that are capable of making people happy. I won’t waste time by listing all the things we’re already MORE than familiar with, but I’m sure you understand what I’m talking about. Yes, the season itself holds an abundance of positive elements that are allegedly supposed to bring joy to people, yet does the so-called “magic of the season” always do the trick?

Unfortunately, the sad but true answer is no.

No amount of Christmas cookies, rich food, decorations, or fun activities can truly fill the void people feel that exists within them throughout the rest of the entire year. For every person who might identify as a “Who” from Whoville or a Bob Crachett from Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” there is always going to be another person who, whether intentionally or not, identifies as a Grinch or a Scrooge to be their perfect foil.

Regardless of where you fall into these two categories, there are going to be some years where you just won’t be feeling as much of the Christmas spirit as you think you should, or at least what you think society expects you to feel.

There is a variety of circumstances that can contribute to people feeling more “ho-hum” rather than “ho ho ho” during this time of year – the annual stress of preparation, financial complications, family strife, hectic work schedules, contagious illnesses, and many other things.

In addition, there is one other possible circumstance that can make people say “Bah, humbug!” during the holidays – being single.

Yes, with all the sappy love songs about keeping each other warm, wanting no other gifts than their “presence” or heart, and how Christmas isn’t the same without the other person around, the radio and other media shoves these romantic cliches into single people’s ears whether they like it or not. Add onto the sappy Christmas music the effects of social media, where people shamelessly flaunt their relationship statuses of “dating,” “engaged”, or “married” more than ever, and you have single people wanting to throw a rock solid loaf of fruitcake at their computer screen or sleep in their beds until after New Year’s is over.

Is it wrong to feel unhappy when we experience these things at Christmastime? No, but it is very normal, especially when people are suffering from all these circumstances combined.

So, the question is, how can we be truly happy when we don’t have all (or any) of the things we want before, during, or after Christmastime?

gift of joy

The first thing we need to remember is that personal happiness is based on changing circumstances, while true joy is based on knowledge of and a relationship with God. We might not be anywhere near where we want to be in life, nor may we have all the material possessions we desire, but the most important aspect of our circumstances must always be where we stand with God. Just as it’s so incredibly easy to take our material things for granted while coveting more stuff, it’s also dangerously easy to take our Creator for granted, even during the very holiday that is meant to celebrate Him.

We can become so focused on the circumstances in our lives that we wish we could change, that we might be oblivious to the possibility that God is trying to change us through those very circumstances.

Even though the frustration or sorrow of our difficult circumstances may seem inescapable, there is one solution that actually works, if you’re willing to try it. When your thoughts are overwhelming you, and you feel stressed or helpless about your current situation, that is precisely when you should turn to the One Who sees all and understands all. Seeking God’s face in His Word or through prayer is the absolute best way to dispel all these various emotional problems we have amidst life’s turmoil.

When you find it hard to celebrate the seasonal festivities with everyone else around you because of the pain or worries in your heart, God wants you to draw close to Him and cling to Him for comfort. Every circumstance we go through that is capable of making us cry is meant to help us cry out to our Heavenly Father. Once we acknowledge that the situation (whatever it might be) is out of our control, we then allow ourselves to have the courage we need to fully trust God with it, just like we’re supposed to. After we succeed in this crucial step, we unlock the key to true, fulfilling joy in our lives that lasts all throughout the year, not just Christmas, which is…

Being perfectly content with our present circumstances, regardless of our limited understanding.

Screen Shot 2017-12-30 at 8.25.05 PM

Just like how Christmas presents are supposed to be a surprise to their recipients, God’s plan for our lives is meant to be an exciting journey, a thrilling mystery that we uncover one step at a time, each and every day. When it comes to Christmas gifts, we usually make lists when we’re children of all the many things we want; as adults, we drop a few not-so-subtle hints here and there to the people that care about us. Although we hope to receive the things we wanted, that is not exactly always the case. There are certainly contributing factors to not receiving specific things we wanted, such as financial strain, item availability, or mail delivery arrival issues. More often than not, these factors are out of people’s control, and should not be mistaken as a lack of love or consideration for our desires. Therefore, whenever we are disappointed by the things we receive (or don’t receive) for Christmas, we should try our best to be understanding of the efforts of those who gave them to us.

The same exact thing applies to God in how He handles the circumstances of our lives. We don’t always get exactly what we want, but sometimes that is for the best in God’s eyes, since He knows everything.

Other times, it’s simply a matter of not getting what we want exactly when we want it. It’s our responsibility to acknowledge God as our Heavenly Father, Who owes us NOTHING, but chooses to bless us far more than we deserve anyway. We, however, are merely His children who can only understand things from our limited perspective. If we can have enough faith in His goodness to trust Him, then we should be satisfied with whatever outcome He chooses to give us. After all, our personal happiness is nothing in comparison to the importance of God’s glory in our lives. Are we living this life to please ourselves, or giving it as a sacrifice to the One Who sacrificed His own life for us?

When we are brave enough to ask ourselves the hard-hitting question above, it is then that we discover the real, honest truth about our hearts. We as Christians are supposed to be thankful and satisfied with what God has given us no matter what, but are we really? If not, then it’s high time that we reassess our spiritual priorities. Sometimes we can be guilty of greed, pride, and selfishness in its ugliest forms, but other times, personal discontent can be the result of unintentional ignorance and a misunderstanding of God’s plans for us. Either way, we must confess these feelings to God in prayer and ask Him to forgive us. He is always faithful to do so, and He gives us more grace to persevere in the life He’s called us to in spite of all the difficulties. We must always remember that God still loves us and that the trials we go through should not be mistaken for Him punishing us out of cruelty like Satan wants us to believe.

 

Here are some special verses from God’s Word to help you learn how to appreciate your present:

 

Psalm 16:8 ~ “I have set the Lord always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.

Psalm 27:14 ~ “Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.”

Psalm 38:15 ~ “For in thee, O Lord, do I hope: thou wilt hear, O Lord my God.”

Psalm 39:7 ~ “And now, Lord, what wait I for? my hope is in thee.”

Psalm 42:11 ~ “Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.”

Psalm 120:1 ~ “In my distress I cried unto the Lord, and he heard me.

Psalm 139:5 ~ “Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me.

Psalm 142:1,2, & 5 ~ “I cried unto the Lord with my voice; with my voice unto the Lord did I make my supplication. I poured out my complaint before him; I shewed before him my trouble.

I cried unto thee, O Lord: I said, Thou art my refuge and my portion in the land of the living.”

Jeremiah 29:11 ~ “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.”

Matthew 6:25,33 ~ “Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”

Luke 22:42 ~ “ Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.”

John 16:22 ~ “And ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you.

Romans 14:17 ~ “For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.

Romans 15:13 ~ “Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.

1 Corinthians 10:13 ~ “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”

Philippians 4:11 ~ “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.”

Hebrews 4:15 ~ “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

Hebrews 12:2 ~ “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Hebrews 13:5-6 ~ “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.

James 1:2-3 ~ “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.”

1 Peter 5:7 ~ “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.

 

Once you learn how to fully appreciate the gift of your present, true Christian joy will always be within your grasp.

Paper present

I realize that this subject is one I’ve thoroughly exhausted on this blog already, but it is such an important lesson for Christians to learn, since it is reoccurring for all of us. Trusting God no matter what and keeping your joy in all circumstances is a lifelong challenge that we have to face while on this earth. With these words, I’m not just speaking to you, but to myself. This is the very topic that has been on my heart lately, which is why I chose to write about it to help others like myself. So this post actually was about contentment, but not for material things – spiritual ones instead. While God doesn’t expect us to like whatever trials we face, He does expect us to trust Him and learn more about His unconditional love for us. The more we get to know our Heavenly Father, the closer we will be to Him, and understand His ways. For that reason alone, difficult circumstances should be a source of true joy for us, acting as a stimulant for bonding with the Lover of our souls. Even if we don’t have what we want in our lives right now, we can be satisfied by our Savior’s love for us. In this manner, we can sincerely appreciate our present, given to us by the Giver of all things. Your present is waiting for you right now… all you have to do is accept it.

– Gloria D. Hopkins

Getting Cozy In Christ

Girl with cozy sweater
Wrap yourself up in the warmth of Jesus’ love for you!

It’s officially sweater season!

During this time of year, the current popular fashion trend of wearing oversized sweaters couldn’t be more fitting. When the fall weather brings harsh winds and gusts of cold air, we need all the protection we can get so we don’t risk getting frostbite or hypothermia. Aside from the practical reasons to wear sweaters, people like me just can’t wait to unveil their fall wardrobe that’s jam-packed with sweaters, hoodies, jackets, and anything else that will keep them looking stylish and feeling warm. Sweaters are super comfortable, and they can be even more fun to wear than normal shirts because of how stretchy they usually are. Without a doubt, sweaters are my favorite part my closet! Whenever I put one on, it feels like someone is giving me a warm, loving hug throughout the entire day!

You know what else is very comforting that will keep you feeling warm everywhere you go? Jesus’ love for you.

cozy sweater

That’s right, the affectionate reassurance of Jesus’ daily presence with you is something that you can take great pleasure in every single day. No matter how cold and harsh people might be in the outside, unsaved world, Jesus’ love for you is something that is always there for you. When you wake up in the morning and see His beautiful sunrise, let it remind you of the brightness of His glory and the light of His holiness. Every time I see sunlight during any time of day, it always reminds me of God’s presence with me and of Jesus’ wonderful love for me. Although I realize the sun is not the Creator Himself, it is a strong visual symbol of His identity for me. When I’m driving by myself in the morning, and I see the soft rays of light stretching through the sky, God gently brings my attention to His constant presence with me.

Jesus’ faithful, loving presence is a soft place of solace for you, even on your hardest days.

tired sweater girl

At the end of the day, no matter how rough my time was at work or how rude people might have been to me, Jesus’ love is a soothing embrace that I can look forward to snuggling into the minute I’m alone. I try my best to please Him every day, even though I know I’m FAR from perfect, and I can feel Him smiling on me because He knows my heart was in the right place. I hope and trust that you who are reading this have shared similar experiences to mine with God also. When people mistreat you through their careless actions and unkind words, just remember Who it is that loves you unconditionally. He is the only One that you should truly care about pleasing in your life, and the thoughts and opinions of other people are actually irrelevant in comparison.

In order to feel the warmth of Jesus’ love for you every day, you must first remember to put Him on.

sad sweater girl

The only way to experience lasting comfort in your daily life is by making good use of the glorious Gift that was given to you at salvation. Just as a sweater can’t keep you warm from the cold if you never wear it or forget to put it on, you’ll have a hard time remembering Jesus’ love for you if you neglect to acknowledge Him every day. This does not mean that His love isn’t there for you if you forget about Him, it just means you won’t consciously feel it or be aware of it as much than if you had remembered Him. Why settle for feeling sad, unwanted, or unloved the whole day when you can feel joyful, accepted, and loved unconditionally because of Jesus? Jesus cares about you, and God is your Heavenly Father if you are already saved. Whether you live all by yourself, have very few friends, or simply don’t get to spend much time with the people you love, God’s presence with you is the one constant that will NEVER go away. If you’re single, you never have to be lonely because God is always there for you. If you feel like you have no one to talk to, God is always ready and willing to listen. If you wish you had pleasant company, God is the best Source of it that you could possibly turn to.

Here are some verses to help you remember the cozy comfort of Jesus’ love for you at all times:

Deuteronomy 31:6 ~ “ Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the Lord thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.

Joshua 1:9 ~ “Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.”

Psalm 16:8 ~ “I have set the Lord always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.

Psalm 25:5 ~ “Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day.

Psalm 34:18 ~ “The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.”

 

Psalm 139:7-12 ~ “Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea;

Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me. Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee.”

Isaiah 6:3 ~ “And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.

Isaiah 43:2 ~ “When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.”

Jeremiah 23:23-24 ~ “Am I a God at hand, saith the Lord, and not a God afar off? Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the Lord. Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the Lord.”

 

John 14:16 ~ “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;

John 14:26 ~ “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.”

John 16:7 ~ “Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.

Acts 17:27-28 ~ “That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.

Hebrews 13:5 ~ “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.”

 

Are you ready to face the cold, outside world with the protection of Jesus’ warm, loving presence?

Irish sweater girl

While you are busy collecting all the sweaters you can for the coming winter months, make sure you are equipped with the benefits of the most important sweater of all – the sweater of eternal salvation. Your sweaters won’t do you any good locked in the closet while you go outside, and neither will you be prepared to face the world without acknowledging God’s presence and Jesus’ love for you. God is the perfect Parent of all time, and He cares about you far more than your earthly parents ever could, so take time to appreciate Him as you’re on your way out the door each morning. Whether you’re still living with your parents like I am, or if you’re already out on your own, you will ALWAYS need God in your life. He is the only One Whom you must truly depend on for everything. Wrap yourself up in His warm love for you by praying to Him, which doesn’t have to be fancy, but just a simple, pleasant conversation with Him. When you take the time to get cozy in Christ, the cold, harsh wind of this fallen world will never shake you.

– Gloria D. Hopkins

Speak Up, Don’t Give Up!

 

Alone At Sea
Please don’t choose to end it all, when you don’t know the end of it all.

 

I realize that September is nearly over already, but I feel compelled to write about this subject before it passes: National Suicide Awareness Month. While I am happy that there is a specific month dedicated to making people more mindful of this issue, I wish that our society would realize just how serious it is throughout the entire year, as this problem will never completely go away while this dark, fallen world exists.

There are countless people in this world who suffer from depression, which as a condition itself comes in many different forms. It is far more than just a negative emotional state; it is medically proven to be a mental illness that strongly affects one’s emotions and sense of rationality. However, I’m not writing this post to elaborate on the complex definition of depression – I’m writing this to help those who might be struggling with it, and also people who have loved ones in their lives that are also struggling with it.

Before I continue, let me clarify that the entire reason I started this blog was for the purpose of encouraging people to keep their joy in spite of dark circumstances. Satan’s primary goal when attacking Christians is to steal their joy. He achieves this by causing them to focus far too much on all the many negative things in their lives instead of God and His goodness. You see, because Satan hates God so much, he goes out of his way to convince people, including Christians, that God is not the good, loving Creator that He says He is. Satan even tells himself this lie to justify his rebellion against God when he still lived in Heaven. Satan reasons that if he can’t win against God, then he wants to pull as many people into the darkness with him as he possibly can.

Now, Christians have already been saved from the darkness of Hell, but they are still not immune to emotional and spiritual darkness.

God has already won the victory over Satan, death, and Hell, and Christians who have accepted Him are granted eternal security. Satan knows this, and he HATES that there is absolutely NOTHING he can do about it. God’s power will ALWAYS be superior to his, and Satan can never change that fact. However, Satan is certainly not above being petty against God, because he is the biggest sore loser in the entire universe. Even though Satan cannot counteract what Christ did for us at Calvary, he resorts to an alternative strategy to try to destroy Christians’ lives – he wants to render them completely useless for God’s service in this world.

“Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:” ~ Colossians 1:12-14

 

Painful Reflection
Artist credit: Geoffrey Jones

 

Satan knows that a Christian who is filled with God’s power will be victorious over him, so he makes it his primary goal to convince Christians that they are powerless over their lives. He relentlessly attacks people by taunting them with the difficult life circumstances they face and drives them into despair and agony by reminding them that they are helpless to do anything to change their miserable condition. Satan wants to emphasize how Christians don’t possess God’s power over their circumstances themselves and wants to keep them ignorant of the fact that they are capable of spiritually and emotionally rising above the circumstances that he (Satan) is using to harm them.

“There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” ~ 1 Corinthians 10:13

Once a Christian makes the heartbreaking decision to end his or her own life, Satan rejoices at winning a trophy against God.

Now, please don’t misinterpret the above statement. After receiving salvation, a person belongs to God for all eternity, and Satan can never possess custody of his or her soul again. However, if a Christian chooses to kill himself, Satan sees his death as one less warrior in God’s army to be used in the ongoing spiritual battle against him. The more Christians that Satan can take out of the fight, the less opposition he’ll have to face in this world, meaning that the billions of other lost souls that exist will have a much stronger chance of remaining lost forever, doomed to Hell.

“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” ~ Ephesians 6:12

Therefore, committing suicide as a Christian is not only a sin, but it is also STEALING a valuable servant and potential warrior from God Himself.

When Jesus died on the cross for your sins, He gave everything He had just so you could be freed from Satan’s evil clutches and join Him in Heaven forever someday. Jesus gave you this opportunity through His glorious act of unconditional love on the cross, even though you had the option of never loving Him back. Jesus gave up His own life because He loved you enough to rescue you from the punishment of sin; He didn’t make His ultimate sacrifice just so you could throw your life away and all of your limitless potential you had to serve Him. Through the blood of Jesus Christ, God literally bought you back from Satan himself, since he is the god of this present world. After you accept salvation, Satan and the love of self are no longer your true masters – God alone is. Without trying to sound harsh or judgmental, my friend who is reading this, what right do you have to rob God of the service of your life that He rightfully purchased with the blood of His precious Son?

“What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” ~ 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Now that I have explained the tragic loss of suicide from God’s perspective, allow me to just talk to you as a friend.

First of all, let me just say that I know exactly what it feels like to struggle with suicidal thoughts. In my life, I have been through several dark experiences that Satan has tried to use to destroy me to the very best of his ability. These include being bullied severely during my entire childhood at school – in elementary, middle, and high school; being involved in an extremely emotionally abusive romantic relationship; being betrayed by people whom I thought were my real friends, and the list goes on and on. I fully realize that I am not the only one who has suffered these things, but that in no way detracts from the great deal of pain I have been through because of them all. In fact, to this very day I still have to ask God to help me deal with the emotional scars that I’ve gained from my difficult past. There are certain negative things that will trigger my memory, which just so happens to be photographic, and my brain doesn’t need help remembering what it already holds onto so vividly whether I like it or not.

Mood Ring Finger
I’ve worn this mood ring on my right middle finger since the summer of 2013, the last time I was really struggling. Half of it changes color, and the other half glows in the dark. My mom bought it for me at the beach when she was trying to help distract me from my pain. I have worn it every day ever since to remind me of my mom’s love for me, and also to remind me to keep glowing in the dark.

The way that people have treated me throughout the course of my relatively brief lifetime has taken an immense toll on my personal self esteem. Because of this, I am not ashamed to admit that I still struggle with issues such as my self worth, since many people made me feel like I was never good enough for them, and that nothing I did could ever please them. Satan loves it when I feel this way, because he wants me to forget about how God sees me in His eyes – which is a valuable soul that He created, and sent His Son to rescue from Hell by dying on the cross for me. Whenever I’m tempted with suicidal thoughts, I remind myself of how I belong to God in both body and soul, and I have no right to steal from Him what He has already rightfully bought.

 

So I say all that to say this –

 

I know what it’s like to feel overwhelmed with the rainstorm of your own emotions.

 

Alone In the Rain

I have endured many sleepless nights where I was drowning in my own tears, helplessly engulfed in the sea of personal sorrow. My mind has the potential to be my own greatest enemy, if I allow it to be. When I don’t give God full control over my thoughts, I can very easily be dragged down into the depths of despair if I’m not careful. My negative emotions, if left unchecked, can numb me to the outside world around me to the point where I don’t even notice all the other many people who are suffering from their own pain. That’s the thing about Satan’s strategy of self-pity – he wants us to be so wrapped up in our own problems that we won’t have any time left to care about those around us. Who knows how different things would be if we took the time to ask other people how they’re doing, and discovered that they’re struggling with the same problems that we are? Not only would we be helping other people to see that they’re not alone, but we’d also be helping ourselves to find out that WE’RE not alone after all like we thought!

If you feel like you just can’t take it anymore, please, by all means, TELL SOMEBODY. Speak up, just don’t give up! Don’t feel ashamed to be honest about how you’re feeling with someone you trust. Believe me, that person would much rather have you tell them NOW about your problems than feel guilty for the rest of their life after you’re gone because they didn’t know you were struggling. You are NOT a bother by telling someone whom you trust about the issues you deal with, even if you might feel like it sometimes. You might have had other people treat you like a bother in the past, which is what probably led to these negative feelings you’re having now. However, if you can find someone that you believe is willing to listen to you, they will assure you that your feelings are perfectly valid and worthy of consideration. Be aware that Satan will whisper lies in your mind that everyone else doesn’t have time for you or your problems, because he wants to keep you from the help you need.

Furthermore, Satan seeks to isolate you physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

 

Alone In The Mist

When you’re feeling depressed to the point of having suicidal thoughts, your natural instinct is to shut yourself off from other people, simply because you assume that nobody else understands what you’re going through. However, this is the worst possible thing you can do, since Satan loves to attack us when we’re most vulnerable, just like the roaring lion the Bible describes him as. He attacks when you’re locked away in your bedroom, silently crying in anguish as you play the same sad songs you relate to on repeat. He attacks when you’re out in public and you see other people around you who appear to be perfectly happy, enjoying all the different things you wish you had. He attacks when you go through your daily routine at work or school, through the comments or actions of other people that may or may not be intended to hurt you. I know exactly how Satan approaches his prey, because I myself have been his targeted victim in all of these scenarios.

Instead of hiding out in your room or anywhere else you go to avoid other people, try seeking out those who you feel you can trust, even if you don’t think they’ll ever understand how you feel. Chances are, you’ll wind up surprised at just how understanding other people can be in spite of your pre-existing judgments. Even if there is no one in your everyday life that you truly feel you can trust, you can seek out the help of professional counselors, as their whole career is about providing the listening ear you need and desire. If you cannot afford professional counseling, another option is seeking out someone involved in a ministry who has a godly testimony that has been proven over a long period of time. Whatever you decide to do, make sure that you spend sufficient time in prayer about it first. Don’t neglect the resources that are available and designed to help you. Remember, your physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being as a whole is the most important thing you can invest in for your life.

 

You life HAS MEANING, and the unique touch that you give to this world would forever be sincerely missed.

 

Handprint

Whether you realize it or not, your life is important and special, because God created it ON PURPOSE. You do not exist for no reason! Every single person who has ever lived was made by the hands of an Almighty Creator because He wanted them to be a part of His living Masterpiece. There are countless other lives that you touch every day which you are unaware of, and will most likely remain unaware of until you get to Heaven. Once there, God will reveal to you all the many other people who were affected by your life in a positive way, regardless of how significant you felt your words or actions were. That is the true definition of eternal riches – affecting and influencing other people’s lives so their souls can have hope and happiness forever.

Refuse to believe Satan’s lie that “everyone else would be better off without you.” The only thing he can do is tempt you with his evil influence; YOU are the one who has the free will to make a decision. If you need help resisting Satan’s attacks, pray to God to give you the strength, courage, and determination you need to fend him off. Satan is persistent, so don’t expect to see the last of him if you succeed in pushing him away the first time. Become resolute in your heart that you will turn to God for help every single time you need Him when it comes to this deadly temptation. If you feel that you lack the ability to achieve victory in this area on your own, ask God to send you someone who can be your human guardian angel. Just remember, the amount of emotional pain that you’re feeling right now will NEVER outweigh the pain of everyone around you once you’re gone.

 

If you know someone who is severely depressed and struggling with suicidal thoughts, please try to be sensitive to their feelings and HELP them.

 

Depression

Whether it’s a friend, family member, or just a casual acquaintance, anyone you know could be secretly struggling with suicidal thoughts on the inside. Because these feelings are symptoms of severe depression, they also make the person feel too ashamed to talk about it voluntarily. Society has placed a negative stigma on this issue for years, but recently it seems to be getting progressively better about being sensitive to it. We should always be concerned and care about the well-being of others, but if we ever have good, solid reason to suspect that someone is sincerely struggling emotionally, we ought to go out of our way to reach out to them. Suicidal feelings are a result of the notion that nobody cares about the person, and that no one would care enough to ask how they’re doing. You never know how much of a difference you could make in someone’s life if you decide to step up and show that you care about them. In fact, the difference just might be that you helped save their life.

The correct way to approach the issue is by just being a friend to that person. DON’T treat them like a freak who has something wrong with them. DON’T come across as patronizing or condescending. Just talk to them, ask open-ended, non-threatening questions, and BE THERE to listen. You don’t have to be a licensed therapist to listen to someone else’s problems – being a friend to someone includes being their personal confidant, with whom they can share their deepest thoughts, feelings, and secrets. Do little things for them to help them out, such as chores or errands that they might lack the emotional or physical energy to do. Surprise them with little things you know they like. Write them an encouraging note or letter to express just how important they are to you. Or, if writing by hand isn’t your thing, just a simple text message or email to let them know you’re thinking and praying about them would suffice. No matter what you choose to do, make sure that person knows that you have love for them in your heart, as God’s unconditional love is what makes ALL the difference.

Here is the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, if you or someone else you know is struggling and needs help RIGHT AWAY:

Call 1-800-273-8255

You are NOT alone.

– Gloria D. Hopkins

 

Save

Going Over The Edge

Sailing Over the Edge
Fear not the future’s abyss, for God’s strong hands will never miss!

Do you remember from history class how people used to believe that the earth was flat?

During the medieval/renaissance period, it was commonly accepted by everyone that our world was completely flat. Scientists, astronomers, and cartographers from that time did not fully understand the true shape of our beautiful planet. This was due to a universal ignorance of facts, but they simply didn’t realize it at the time. Whenever maps were made for sailors who went to explore the New World, the artists would depict the ocean with its usual horizontal surface, but also portrayed the very edge of it as falling straight down as if it were a waterfall. Many times, these same mapmakers would draw pictures of giant sea monsters waiting at the bottom, ready to devour approaching ships in the jaws of death as soon as they sailed over the edge.

Flat Earth
A great dragon from beneath the earth and sea waits eagerly to swallow explorers whole.

Other medieval maps were designed similarly, showing the waters surrounding the New World infested with all sorts of aquatic monstrosities. From giant krakens to sea serpents, cartographers from the Middle Ages let their imaginations run wild when it came to portraying uncharted territory. While it’s logical to say that the ocean has its fair share of dangers, it’s most likely that half the creatures the mapmakers came up with were nothing more than purely mythological. However, we DO know that tales of dragons and other colossal beasts were commonplace back then, so seeing them included in the artwork of maps from that time period is not surprising.

You may ask, “What was the purpose of all this? Were the sea monsters just included merely for the sake of decoration on the maps?”

That might indeed be the case, given that medieval artwork in all its forms tended to be highly elaborate. However, such a hypothesis is only derived from simple speculation. I believe the reason sea monsters were included on medieval maps was much more meaningful. When you think about all the many tales and legends about dragons and other monsters from back then, they were usually describing fearsome beasts that had to be reckoned with, representing the age-old struggle between good and evil. Note: the key word here is “fearsome.” When cartographers from the medieval and renaissance period drew their maps of the New World, they were trying to illustrate the great unknown that they had never seen before. Since they didn’t have any idea what sort of things lay ahead of them in the lands across the waves, in their minds it made perfect sense to associate that dangerous uncertainty with dragons and other types of sea monsters. As you can see in the picture below, they would write on their maps the ominous warning, “Here be dragons.”

Here Be Dragons

With all of these frightening images, you can imagine how terrified the New World explorers probably were.

Just think of how they might have been extremely excited to go out and discover the New World, only to grow increasingly full of dread at the possibility of being eaten alive by a vicious sea monster! They truly feared that the moment they sailed out into the great unknown and passed over the edge of the earth, the head of a gigantic beast would pop up out of the abyss and swallow them whole! Any voyage at sea back then was already full of great peril as it was; certainly the people’s ignorant yet imaginative mindset didn’t do anything to help calm the sailors’ nerves! There are two famous phrases that say “We have met the enemy, and he is us,” and “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” When your most formidable fear is created by your own mind, then you’re really in for some trouble!

However, what would our world be like today had they not found the courage to venture out into the Great Unknown?

For starters, there would be no advanced western hemisphere. Many different countries that are part of our modern society simply would not exist if the New World explorers had chosen to stay home because of their fear and anxiety. Yes, there were many different cultures of people living in those lands for thousands of years before the explorers arrived, but our world history would be very different if the explorers let their fears get the best of them. All of the European settlers would have remained in the Old World, where they would continue to be oppressed by their countries’ respective monarchies. They would not only be oppressed by the government of absolute monarchy, but also by the rule of the Church which claimed to hold total power and control over the kings themselves. Any religious system that believes man should be worshiped and honored on the same level of God Himself is critically fallible in its thinking. Without religious freedom or a fair system of government, it is highly unlikely that European civilization would have survived much longer than the Renaissance.

In other words, our world would have remained stuck in the Dark Ages.

With religious and political freedom at stake, it’s a blessing that God enabled the New World explorers to embark upon their dangerous quests. Each sea voyage required the sailors to face the treacherous waves, violent thunderstorms, and of course, whatever mysterious perils awaited them in the new lands ahead. Even though the original explorers were not Christians, as far as we know, it was still the divine providence of God that they were brave enough to risk their lives on the high seas. A whole new world of adventure was ready and waiting to be explored, a gateway to golden opportunities for freedom of all kinds.

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Columbus’s Ship At Sea (Artist unknown)

In some regards, we Christians can strongly relate to the olden explorers. Whether or not we learn from their achievements all depends on how much we are willing to trust God. Even though the New World explorers lived centuries before us, they still have much in common with us since they were humans just like we are.

 

There are three ways that we as Christians are like the New World explorers before they left the Old World:

 

  1. Just like the medieval mindset believed that the Earth was flat, we Christians have a very limited perspective of God’s divine, ultimate plan.

    In our everyday lives, we are only able to see the present circumstances that God allows us to see. At first, this might seem rather unfair from our point of view, however, we must also remember that God is omniscient, and knows exactly what He’s doing in our lives. With our finite minds, we would be simply incapable of handling the sheer weight and amount of information that God is aware of constantly. From our perspective here on Earth, we can only see the physical flat horizon of our planet, and also the flat horizon of our circumstances. The only way we can discover what lies ahead of us is by stepping forward in faith, trusting in God’s inherent goodness. The terrain that lies immediately before us may be rough, but God knows that smooth meadows and valleys are just up ahead in the distance. We may be asked to climb high mountains, yet they are not insurmountable with the help of our omnipotent Creator.

    Screen Shot 2017-08-31 at 12.07.48 AM
    God is our Captain, and His Word our Compass.

    Even though we cannot see what’s in the distance, we can choose to trust God as He guides us every step of the way. He is our Lord, we are His servants. He is our Leader, we are his followers. He is our King, we are His subjects. He made this world and our lives with His very own hands, so we can safely rest as He navigates our charted course.

  2. Just as the explorers possessed a fear of the “Great Unknown,” we also fear the “Great Unknown” of our future.

    When we go through periods of trial and testing, sometimes it’s easy to forget that God is in complete control. Whatever situation befalls us, whether it’s the death of a loved one, financial difficulty, losing a job, moving to a new place, or experiencing frequent disappointment in relationships or friendships, we must remember that God is always GOOD, no matter what. Even when life proves itself to be “unfair” in our eyes, we should assess exactly WHY we were put on this Earth in the first place – for the purpose of bringing God pleasure and His rightful glory. We might have a hard time understanding why bad or disappointing things happen to us, but as Christians it is our responsibility to keep trusting God’s hand. Our immediate future may be uncertain or “unknown,” but we DO have assurance of our eternal future. If we are willing to trust God with the keeping of our souls at salvation, why are we so unwilling to trust Him with the minor details of our daily lives? There is absolutely NOTHING in this entire universe that can separate us from His unconditional love; God expresses that fact explicitly several times throughout His Word.
    SEA SERPENT
    A sea serpent emerges from the depths. (Artist credit: Robert [Bob] Eggleton)

    When we face “fearsome beasts” of uncertain circumstances in our lives, we should ask God to give us the courage to confront them, because He doesn’t ask or expect us to do it alone. Rather, God desires the opposite: He wants us to fully rely on Him for everything in our lives, acknowledging His strength instead of our weakness, since without Him, we can do nothing.
  3. Just like the historic explorers, we are capable of great discoveries in our own lives.When we decide to completely trust God with our future, He will fully reveal His plan for us one day at a time. It is our duty, however, to make sure that we stay close to Him through prayer and reading His Word. Consulting with our Creator daily reinforces the fact that our will is subject to His. If we are obedient and faithful, we will find that God’s goodness is far greater than we could ever imagine. His divine design is carefully unfolded each day with the utmost care, and we are but small players that are part of His grand Masterpiece. Through this process, we will discover the true nature of God, and become more acquainted with His character. At the same time, we’ll also discover for ourselves just exactly what our true nature is, and hopefully prove to become what God desires us to be – the image of His Only Son, Jesus Christ.
    The_arrival_of_Christopher_Colombus_to_America,_1492
    “The Discovery of America by Christopher Columbus” (Artist unknown)

    Just as the discovery of the New World was essential for the growth of modern civilization, the discoveries we make about God and ourselves during trials and testing are essential for our growth as Christians. If we do not venture outside the “Old World” of our personal comfort zones, then we forfeit the chance to receive the “New World” promises that God has given us.

    Here are several passages from God’s Holy Word to comfort us whenever we must go over the edge:

    Genesis 13:15 ~ “For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever.

    Exodus 6:8 ~ “And I will bring you in unto the land, concerning the which I did swear to give it to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob; and I will give it you for an heritage: I am the Lord.

    Leviticus 20:24 ~ “But I have said unto you, Ye shall inherit their land, and I will give it unto you to possess it, a land that floweth with milk and honey: I am the Lord your God, which have separated you from other people.

    Deuteronomy 9:1 ~ “Hear, O Israel: Thou art to pass over Jordan this day, to go in to possess nations greater and mightier than thyself, cities great and fenced up to heaven,

    Joshua 5:6 ~ “For the children of Israel walked forty years in the wilderness, till all the people that were men of war, which came out of Egypt, were consumed, because they obeyed not the voice of the Lord: unto whom the Lord sware that he would not shew them the land, which the Lord sware unto their fathers that he would give us, a land that floweth with milk and honey.

    Joshua 23:14 ~ “And, behold, this day I am going the way of all the earth: and ye know in all your hearts and in all your souls, that not one thing hath failed of all the good things which the Lord your God spake concerning you; all are come to pass unto you, and not one thing hath failed thereof.

    Judges 2:1 ~ “And an angel of the Lord came up from Gilgal to Bochim, and said, I made you to go up out of Egypt, and have brought you unto the land which I sware unto your fathers; and I said, I will never break my covenant with you.

    Psalm 34:4 ~ “I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.

    Psalm 91:4-6 ~ “He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler. Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.”

    Isaiah 26:3 ~ “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.

    Isaiah 27:1 ~ “In that day the LORD with his sore and great and strong sword shall punish leviathan the piercing serpent, even leviathan that crooked serpent; and he shall slay the dragon that is in the sea.”

    Isaiah 41:10 ~ “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.

    Jeremiah 29:11 ~ “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.

    Micah 7:19 ~ “He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.”

    John 14:27 ~ “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

    Romans 8:32 ~ “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?

    Romans 8:37-39 ~ “Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

    1 Corinthians 1:20 ~ “For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us.

    1 Corinthians 10:13 ~ “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

    2 Corinthians 12:9 ~ “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

    Phillippians 3:13 ~ “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,”

    Phillippians 4:19 ~ “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

    2 Peter 1:4 ~ “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

    1 John 2:25 ~ “And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life.

    1 John 4:4 ~ “Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.”

    Revelation 4:11 ~ “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.”

    So, are you ready to go over the edge into uncharted territory?

    sea-ocean-horizon-clouds-gray

    Perhaps God has sent you on a personal voyage of exploration in your life. If so, what fears are holding you back from it? Christopher Columbus and other explorers like him either requested permission from or received direct orders from kings to go forth into the New World, hoping to bring back news of lands filled with material wealth. The explorers mainly sought a “Northwest Passage”, which they thought would lead them straight from Europe to Asia. Little did they know at the time that an entire continent lay between them and the Orient! The “Northwest Passage” they desired to find did not exist after all, but they still reached a new land full of opportunities. Because of this unexpected surprise, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella rewarded Columbus and his men with great riches.

    If we are obedient to God’s call in our lives, God will reward us for being faithful to Him, in both eternal riches and sometimes earthly riches also. However, we will forfeit these rewards if we lack faith in Him. Had Columbus listened to his crew men when they wanted to turn back, he never would have discovered America, thus failing the quest appointed to him by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. We do not want to fail our Heavenly King when He has already invested so much in us and our future! We might not always get exactly what we want out of life or what we were looking for, but it will always turn out for the best if we keep God on His throne in our hearts.

    There are plenty of biblical examples where God asked one of His servants to leave behind something familiar in order to gain something better in return, such as Abraham, for instance. In fact, the entire meaning of Christianity itself is all about forsaking sin in favor of receiving eternal life from God. We can only receive new blessings from God if we are obedient to Him and trust His goodness. Don’t let Satan, the dragon in the sea, cause you to forfeit your future just because he strikes fear into your heart! Remember that God is far more powerful than he is, and He has already won the victory against him!

    – Gloria D. Hopkins

Five Reasons You’re Always Special To God

heart-jewels
We must always try to understand that our worth is found in His hands.

Did you know that you are special?

On Valentine’s Day, our society promotes romantic relationships with a special someone. However, this day is not always favorable in the eyes of those who lack a relationship with someone special. In fact, many people downright despise or despair of this holiday, simply because they feel unhappy about the fact that they are lonely. It is a sad truth indeed that our culture has become so oblivious to the real meaning of love, and often ignores that love is not limited to romantic relationships. The result of this faulty mindset causes many people everywhere to believe that if they aren’t in a romantic relationship with someone at any given moment of time, that there is something wrong with them. Of course, this belief inevitably leads to even more heartbreak for those who act on it, as they will never be satisfied with another person who is just as empty and broken as they are.

But I’m not writing this to present the dreary facts that we already know of in this world. I’m here to tell you that regardless of your relationship status during this past Valentine’s Day, you are incredibly special to Someone Who loves you more than you could possibly imagine. Your worth is found in God alone, not a person. Any time you doubt that, ask yourself this question – Who made me, God, or a person? The answer is obviously God. Although He created humans with the physical ability to give birth to other humans, God is the One Who fashioned and formed every detail of your physical and spiritual existence inside your mother’s womb. Your very essence, called a soul, is a gift from God when He breathed life into you. Because you were made by such a powerful, talented Creator, He thought you were valuable enough to save from an eternal death as punishment for sin in a horrible place called Hell. That’s why He sent His Son Jesus to take your punishment so you would never have to go to such a terrible place. God wanted you to not just live forever, but to live forever with Him in Heaven.

You may ask, “Why would God bother taking the time to help someone like me?”

The answer is simple – He loves you.

God’s love is so unconditional towards us, that it’s nearly impossible for us to understand why He would care so much about us when we’re so sinful, and He is perfect. The good news is, we don’t have to understand. We merely need to accept the fact that we are loved by Him. Even though accepting that we are loved doesn’t require understanding, it does help to remember the reasons why we’re special to Him, so we can be joyful every day.

Here are five reasons why you are ALWAYS special to God:

1. You are His own creation.

paints

 

As a person formed by God’s own hands, you are an original, unrepeatable work of art. No amount of similarities between you and other people will ever change that. Because you are God’s work of art, you are valuable, precious, and special to Him. The color of your hair, eyes, and skin was handpicked by Him. Your personality, emotions, and heart were all carefully selected with His specific purpose in mind. The voice you have is certifiable proof that you are an irreplaceable copy, as it will always be different from the sounds of other voices around you. The combination of all these elements is what makes you unique, and therefore special to God. Just as an artist would never throw away his masterpiece, God never wants to lose you, the Masterpiece that He made.

2. He put you on this earth for a specific purpose.

pencil-on-paper

The very fact that God made you means He has a special plan in store for your life. He didn’t create you for no reason. God is a God of meaning and fulfillment, not randomness and chaos. God made you because He knew that people you encounter throughout your life would need someone like you, to affect them for their benefit. Although there are many people in the world, the lives you touch of those where God has placed you are equally important as those who live far away. You were specially designed by your Creator to be an instrument of blessing to others around you. The talents and abilities you possess are gifts from Him to use in His service. It is up to you to realize what gifts you have, and to develop them into becoming their full potential that God wants them to be. While there are many people in this world with similar talents, God has placed each person exactly where they are needed, regardless of who has the greater skills in those particular talents. So the next time you feel discouraged about feeling inferior to someone else’s supposedly superior skills, just remember that God designed you to have the unique capacity of abilities He gave you in order to fulfill the specific need or calling for your life.

3. You were made in His own image.

mirror-reflection

When God made you, He poured a likeness of Himself into the very core of your being. You, as a person, possess the abilities to think, feel, and speak, unlike animals that function from their God-given instincts. The reason you are able to mentally process your thoughts and emotions and communicate them through your words is because God desired to have a special creation with whom He could share a personal relationship. God gave every human being a soul, a spirit, and a body, which are a direct reflection of the Holy Trinity that is comprised of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Your soul is the essence of your identity, the manifestation of who you are as a person. Your spirit is your divine life source that allows you to worship God and communicate with Him directly. Your body is but a temporary vessel that encases these two intangible, yet very real things that are your existence. Because God made man so much like Himself in this incredibly special way, He couldn’t bear to see His divine image shattered by sin. In a sense, God was a part of man, and man was a part of Him, since God breathed the breath of life into man’s very nostrils.

4. He literally moved Heaven and Earth just so you could be with Him again.

side-earth

 

It’s no exaggeration to say that God used all of His power necessary to restore man’s lost relationship with Him. Because of the reasons listed above, you are SO special to God, that He was willing to give up the very best thing He had – His only Son, Jesus Christ. For thousands of years, while the history of mankind was unfolding on Earth, God was devising a Master plan to redeem His favorite creation that was formed in His likeness. Instead of despairing over man’s choice to sin over obedience to Him, God mercifully gave him an alternative option that would save man from eternal punishment in Hell. God decided to send His absolutely perfect and holy Son Jesus from the shining realm of Heaven into this dark, wicked world, full of the depravity of man’s sinful heart. In order to do this, God orchestrated events throughout Earth’s history that would eventually bring about the promised coming of the Messiah, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. God’s hand was behind everything from the very beginning. Man’s foolish mistake did nothing to change how much God loved him in spite of his sin. God not only sent His Son to die for the sins of the whole world, but He also did it for you personally. The beauty of the gospel message is this: No matter how many people have ever lived in this world, Jesus died to save each and every one of them, including you.

5. If you know Him personally, You are His beloved child.

gods-child

 

Once you have decided to receive salvation by accepting Jesus as your personal Savior, you are officially adopted into God’s family. As a member of God’s family, you are blessed with the riches of His grace, love, and mercy. You have access to the privilege of prayer, which is the gift of constant communication with God at any time you desire. God is no longer an estranged Being Who is separated from you by your sin; He is your kind, caring, compassionate Father, Who is more than willing to meet your every need. Any time you want to talk to Him, He’s there to listen with all ears, provided that you are right with Him in your heart by confessing any sin that might be there. God already knows every single thing about you, yet He is always eager to hear about your day and whatever it is that’s on your mind. You are precious to Him, and He has promised to make you an eternal heir to His heavenly Kingdom once you are redeemed. God understands that as His child, you are inclined to fail Him often; but that does not stop Him from loving you. Nothing can ever separate you from His love after salvation, not even the Devil himself. You never have to worry about being disowned by God if you mess up from time to time. You will always have a place in His eternal, righteous family, because as His child, you belong to Him.

 

Here are some verses to further confirm why you are always special to God:

 

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 ~ “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.”

Matthew 10:29-31 ~ “Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.”

Matthew 13:45-46 ~ “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.”

Genesis 1:26-27 ~ “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

Genesis 2:7 ~ “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.”

Jeremiah 1:4-5 ~ “Then the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.

Jeremiah 29:11 ~ “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.”

Jeremiah 31:3 ~ “The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.”

Ephesians 2:10 ~ “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”

Psalm 119:73-74 ~ “Thy hands have made me and fashioned me: give me understanding, that I may learn thy commandments. They that fear thee will be glad when they see me; because I have hoped in thy word.”

Psalm 139:13-14 ~ “For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.”

Psalm 139:16 ~ “Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.

 Isaiah 64:8 ~ “But now, O Lord, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand.


Romans 8:32 ~ “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?

 

Your identity is not found in a special someone, but in Someone Who KNOWS you’re special.

pearl-of-great-price

 

Instead of focusing on people who fail you with their artificial, changing “love,” focus on God, Who will NEVER fail you with His real, unchanging love. Don’t let Satan deceive you into thinking that your worth is dependent on other people’s treatment of you. No matter what any person says to you or about you, nothing will ever change how special you truly are in God’s eyes. However, it’s not enough just to be told that you are valuable to God; you need to make a conscious decision to believe it for yourself. It’s one thing to know something inside of your head, but it’s a different thing entirely to sincerely believe it within your heart. The next time you hear a subtle voice in your head silently whispering that you’re not special, recognize it as the voice of Satan, and tell the Devil to go straight back to Hell where he belongs. Don’t choose to dwell on painful memories of your past, when instead you can revel in the joy of God’s love for you in the present! Ask God daily to help you remember how much He loves you, and He will be sure to remind you in His unique, affectionate way. Never forget that you ARE valuable to Him, and your life is of infinite worth.

– Gloria D. Hopkins

Easter Is Not “The End.”

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Jesus will always be there for us on the road of life.

The Lord Jesus came back to life on the third day, but the story doesn’t end there.

When most people celebrate Easter each year, they usually tend to focus on the climax of our Savior’s sacrifice, namely His death and subsequent resurrection. However, the rest of the story sometimes gets unintentionally overlooked, the part where Jesus spends a short period of time walking on Earth in His new body. After Jesus arose from the tomb, He walked alongside His disciples on Emmaus road, and also visited some of His faithful followers inside their homes for food and fellowship.

The purpose for Him doing this was not only to provide living proof of His glorious miracle, but also to show His followers that He still cared about them and loved them very much. You see, from a human perspective, it would seem that the first thing Jesus would want to do is go back to Heaven immediately, after He had endured so much suffering here on Earth. Yet our Savior was the very Portrait of unselfishness as He went out of His way to spend time with those He loved before He ascended into the golden clouds of Heaven.

Why is this part of the Easter story so important to remember?

While it may be easy to see the latter part of the Easter story as less exciting, there are many meaningful lessons to be derived from our Lord’s final chapter on Earth. When I think about this part of the story, the first thing it reminds me of is how much Jesus loves us. He certainly didn’t have to stay behind and spend extra time with people, but He chose to because He loved them. He could have decided to leave for Heaven immediately, letting His followers believe the miracle of His resurrection by faith alone; but He wanted to show up in person before their very eyes to make their faith whole and complete.

The next thing this part of the story reminds me of is how the Lord desires to comfort us. When Jesus walked and talked with His disciples and other followers after His resurrection, He was calming their hearts from the fear they had of the Jewish leaders. Jesus knew that His followers would undoubtedly face persecution for their faith in Him, and wanted to assure them that any future attacks on their faith should not dissuade or discourage them. The disciples and other followers of Jesus would have felt absolutely helpless against the world without the loving, comforting words they received from Him.

The last thing this part of the story reminds me of is how the miracle of Easter continued to give people hope even after the Lord’s resurrection. When Jesus visited His disciples and followers, He encouraged them by telling them that the story wasn’t over yet. He let them know that another Comforter would come to them, the Holy Spirit, and that someday He would return again a second time as King of the whole Earth. Even more exciting news for His followers was the fact that after Jesus’ second coming, they would all ascend up into Heaven to live with Him for all eternity.

For Christians, the Easter story continues to go on every day in their hearts.

When I was younger, I used to be sad the day after Easter, thinking that because the official holiday was over, that meant we could no longer celebrate the Lord’s resurrection. However, now that I am older, I have realized that Christians NEVER have to stop celebrating Easter; in fact, they should be celebrating it EVERY DAY! You see, the Lord IS risen. That is a present state of being. Yes, He arose from the grave over 2,000 years ago, but He is still alive! Because He is still alive today, and sitting at God’s right hand in Heaven, Christians should ALWAYS have a cause to rejoice and be glad in their hearts! The story of Jesus’ Easter miracle is eternal, and those who know Him in their hearts will always have a reason to celebrate it, because He conquered the grave by coming back to life! What a wonderful thought it is to meditate upon! The Lord Jesus Christ provided a way for us to have eternal life through His temporary death on the cross. Because of His sacrifice, those who believe on Him can partake of His joy daily, and enter into eternity with a sense of fulfillment for their existence.

How can we continue to celebrate Easter after the official day is over?

There are many ways to continue celebrating Easter as a Christian, and not surprisingly they aren’t that different than what Christians should be doing to worship God daily. The best way to celebrate Easter every day is by offering praise and thanks to God for all that He has done for us. Specifically, we should thank Him for the amazing sacrifice of unconditional love that His Son Jesus performed on the cross for our sake. The more we show God our constant appreciation of His love for us, the more He will be inclined to show it to us more apparently each day. Also, another way to honor Easter in your heart every day is by simply remembering the events of Jesus’ loving sacrifice. The more you ponder upon the details of His journey on earth and all He endured to secure your eternal life, the more you will feel grateful to Him. Place yourself back in time over 2,000 years ago on the morning that Jesus Christ arose – imagine that you are one of His disciples, eagerly anticipating His imminent resurrection. Once you fully consider all of the circumstances surrounding the miracle of Easter, you will experience the great joy that the disciples felt when they ran to the tomb and found it empty!

What does the rest of the Easter story mean for us today?

The miracle of Easter provides eternal hope for mankind, ensuring that God is powerful enough to save us from spiritual death. After Jesus Christ ascended up into Heaven, His disciples were watching Him with their eyes lifted up to the clouds in the sky. Immediately after Jesus’ ascension, an angel appeared to them and commanded that they get busy doing the Lord’s work to further His eternal kingdom of reconciled souls. In the same way, we should also be busy today, doing our best to give the world an example of Christ’s love. While we should celebrate the miracle of Easter every day in our hearts, we should also be looking forward to eternity, and possess a sense of urgency about the countless lost souls that are at stake. When the Lord does eventually return, He should be able to find us diligent in His service, spreading the truth of the gospel and winning souls back to Him. We are not to forget about Christ’s return, but instead be eagerly awaiting Him when He decides to appear in the clouds of Heaven.

 

Here are the Lord’s own Words and promises to help us celebrate Easter every day:

 

Luke 24: 13-32 “And, behold, two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem about threescore furlongs. And they talked together of all these things which had happened. And it came to pass, that, while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them. But their eyes were holden that they should not know him.

“And he said unto them, ‘What manner of communications are these that ye have one to another, as ye walk, and are sad?’ And the one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answering said unto him, ‘Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to pass there in these days?’ And he said unto them, ‘What things?’ And they said unto him, ‘Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people:  And how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him.

“‘But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, today is the third day since these things were done. Yea, and certain women also of our company made us astonished, which were early at the sepulchre; And when they found not his body, they came, saying, that they had also seen a vision of angels, which said that he was alive. And certain of them which were with us went to the sepulchre, and found it even so as the women had said: but him they saw not.’

“Then he said unto them, ‘O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?’ And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself. And they drew nigh unto the village, whither they went: and he made as though he would have gone further. But they constrained him, saying, Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. And he went in to tarry with them.

“And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them. And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight. And they said one to another, ‘Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?'”

John 14:1-3 ~ “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.”

John 14:16-18 ~ “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.
I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.

Matthew 16:27 ~ “For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.

Matthew 24:30-31 ~ “And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.”

Matthew 28:6 ~ “He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.

Acts 1:9-11 ~ “And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward Heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; Which also said, ‘Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into Heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into Heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into Heaven.'”

Psalm 51:12 ~ “Restore to me the joy of Your salvation And sustain me with a willing spirit.”

 

In the meantime, while Jesus is physically in Heaven, He is always with us spiritually.

 

Just as Jesus surprised His disciples by walking with them on the Emmaus road, He is always desiring to walk with us on our journey down the road of life. Whenever we need His help, He is there to guide us and also to comfort us. His Holy Spirit lives within the hearts of those who believe on Him, so that they are never alone under any circumstances. Jesus was more than willing to teach His followers more about Him as they walked together, and He is also happy to teach us too, answering our questions about life’s tricky twists and turns. The Lord certainly has not left us comfortless, as He stated in His Word: He gave us His Holy Spirit, His Word, and the privilege of constant communication with His Father in Heaven through prayer.

Jesus is a Friend that sticks closer than a brother, and He will always be there for us no matter what, as He has promised to never leave us nor forsake us. While we serve Him each day, we can look forward to His glorious return in the golden clouds of Heaven. If you do not know Him today, I sincerely encourage you to meet Him today – He is waiting for you on the top of a hill along the road of life, lovingly reaching out His hand for you to join Him so you can walk together. Will you accept His invitation of eternal fellowship by asking Him to come into your heart and save you? The Savior is waiting for you, calling you by name to come follow Him before the sun sets and eternity begins.

– Gloria D. Hopkins

Why It’s NOT A Sin To Be Sad

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It’s time for Christians to stop believing the popular myth that we have to be happy all the time.

Sometimes it’s just hard to be happy.

We all have bad days where everything around us seems to appear a mournful shade of grey. The tricky thing is, with human emotions being so complicated, there doesn’t even need to be a specific reason for us to feel this way. In our fallen world, we have to deal with sadness and other negative feelings as a way of life. While some people are born with natural dispositions that are more prone to these feelings than others, the truth is everyone is susceptible to experiencing the emotions that make the world lose its color.

Now, I know what you’re probably thinking: this is a negative post about promoting self-pity. Such a statement is quite contrary to my true purpose in writing this. My reason for writing this comes from a simple desire to clear up some common misconceptions that Christians might have about experiencing sadness and more complex emotional states, such as depression. My intention is that you will be comforted and reassured after reading this post, rather than wallowing in despair.

So let’s begin our re-assessment of sadness. We’ll begin with a few false ideas that some Christians have about it first.

Myth #1 –

If you’re feeling sad or depressed, it means you’re not right with God, and have sin in your life.

Unfortunately, I have heard this belief come out of many different Christians’ mouths. While it is always possible for a person to have sin, it is not a sin to be feeling sad or depressed in and of itself. Sadness entered the world as a result of sin, but it is not a sin to be sad. To hold this opinion is ignorant; to say it to someone who is struggling with sadness or depression is downright insensitive. If you make such an assumption about someone who is experiencing these feelings, you’ll end up sounding like the Pharisees in the New Testament, who claimed that a blind man was born that way because of his parents’ sin. To blame someone’s emotional pain on their sin without taking time to correctly understand their situation is an extremely hurtful thing to do.

Also, when Jesus Himself was here on this earth, He too experienced sadness, just like us. When his good friend Lazarus died, the Bible tells us that Jesus wept, and had compassion and empathy for Lazarus’ sisters, Mary and Martha. Whenever he was rejected time and time again by people in different places, I’m sure Jesus was grieved like anyone would be. Of course, Jesus’ most awful experience with sadness had to be all of the events leading up to His death on the cross. Agony in Gethsemane, betrayal by one of His own disciples, being falsely accused by the Pharisees, being denied not once, but THREE times in a row by Peter, his other disciple, being mocked, physically abused, harassed, condemned to die as an unjust punishment, and ultimately abandoned by His own Father in Heaven – ALL of these things caused our Savior unimaginable sorrow.

Now we all know that Jesus was entirely perfect and holy without sin; so to say that feeling sad is a sin or to be depressed means you’re not right with God is ridiculous. Believing such a thing would be implying that Jesus was a sinner, which is blasphemy.

Myth #2 –

If you’re sad or depressed, it means you’re not thankful enough for the things in your life.

While this might be true in some cases, it is unwise to make this assumption about someone based on a shallow judgment. Practicing thankfulness is a helpful way to overcome sadness and depression, but it is by no means a magical cure to solve all of our emotional problems. For example, if a family loses a loved one, they may be thankful for the time they were blessed to have their relative with them, but they would still feel a great deal of grief because that person passed away. In a more common situation, a person might feel very thankful to God, but still feel sad for whatever reasons or circumstances they’re experiencing.

A biblical example of this would be Job, who lost everything he had except for his life, and still refused to blame God. Job was a very wealthy man living in ancient times who loved God more than all his many possessions. When God chose to test his faithfulness by allowing Satan to oppress him, Job had every reason in his flesh to give up on God and question His goodness, but he didn’t, at least not for long. Job acknowledged that God had given him everything he had in life, and that it was His right to take it all away if He so chose. However, Job was extremely depressed and sorrowful after losing his family, just as any normal person would be. Being sad about his circumstances didn’t make him ungrateful or any less of a Christian.

It is very important for us to understand that how we respond to negative circumstances does not always determine our spirituality in other areas. We can still be thankful to God while not particularly happy about our given circumstances. It might not be easy, but it is possible.

Myth #3 –

If you’re sad or depressed, it means you’re being selfish or too self-absorbed.

Now I have heard this one too many times to count. It infuriates me to no end when I hear people display such ignorance and insensitivity. While experiencing sadness and depression can cause people to isolate themselves from others, it is not fair at all to automatically label them as selfish or self-absorbed. Even more outrageous is when people say, “You’re not the only one who’s gone/going through this,” or “There are so many other people out there who have it worse than you,” or “Stop being over-dramatic and exaggerating your situation.” Saying these things to someone who has a legitimate reason for being upset is distasteful to say the very least. For one thing, these statements and other ones like them are hurtful, because they invalidate that person’s feelings. They don’t hear it as encouragement or helpful words; they hear it as subtle criticism directed at them for how they’re reacting. For another thing, these statements diminish the seriousness of that person’s situation. Would it be right to say to a person who has cancer, “You’re not the only person who has this or has had it happen to them; get over it”? Of course not! People who are experiencing sadness or depression are dealing with a serious sickness just like cancer, except it’s emotional instead of physical.

In the Bible, there were many different people who were sick and needed Jesus’ healing power. Whether they were blind, crippled, leprous, or even already dead, they each had a serious need that deserved to be acknowledged and validated. When they cried out for Jesus to help them, did He talk down to them and tell them that their problems weren’t as important as everyone else’s? NO! Jesus displayed His infinite compassion for mankind when He was on this earth, proving His love for humanity. Even if some of His disciples tried to convince Him to keep moving and walk away from them, our Lord and Savior didn’t listen to them. He cared about every single person he healed, since he was acquainted with their souls before they were even born. Not once did Jesus ever criticize a person who needed Him and confessed their faith in Him. Jesus treated every person he healed with the same amount of respect and concern that he gave to everyone else.

We should all try to be more understanding of a sad or depressed person’s situation before we label them as selfish or self-absorbed. Just as Jesus had compassion and took pity on those who needed Him, we must do the same for those around us who are struggling with sadness and depression.

If you’re feeling sad or depressed, God understands, and it’s okay.

Now that we have debunked some of these popular Christian myths about sadness, hopefully you have gained a better understanding of how God views this emotion. It is completely natural to experience it, and it is NOT a sin. However, there will be some people who will try to quote Philippians 4:4, where it says “Rejoice in the Lord always” to disagree with this post. It is important to note the difference between happiness and joy: Happiness is a temporary state based on circumstances, while joy is eternal hope in spite of circumstances. You can still have your Christian joy while feeling sad at the same time. When Jesus’ followers witnessed His death on the cross, they were sad that He died, but they held onto His promise that He would rise again. That hope they kept was the definition of their joy in spite of the negative circumstances. I would encourage you to hold onto your joy, no matter how sad or depressed you might be feeling. At the same time, however, I’m here to tell you that there is no need for you to feel guilty or ashamed of being sad or depressed. God knows and understands your pain, and all the reasons for it. He is always there to comfort you and heal your heart. He wants to help you.

Here are God’s eternal words of promise and truth to assure you:

Psalm 34:18 ~ “The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.

Hebrews 4:15 ~ “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

Isaiah 53:3 ~ “He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Psalm 56:8 ~ “Thou tellest my wanderings: put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book?

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 ~ “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

Psalm 55:22 ~ “Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.”

1 Peter 5:7 ~ “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.”

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 ~ “Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.”

While it is not a sin to be sad or depressed, God doesn’t want you to stay that way forever. I want to assure you that no matter what you are going through right now, God is capable of healing ANY kind of damage within a human heart. The process cannot be rushed, though; He is a Master Healer that does things delicately with intricate care. You must be willing to trust Him and take His hand as He performs a beautiful miracle in your life. If you keep your eyes fixed on Him with steadfast, unwavering faith, you will be amazed at the wonderful things He can help you achieve and overcome. Trust me, He certainly will.

– Gloria D. Hopkins

Why Loneliness Can Be A Good Thing

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Could it be that loneliness is God’s silent call to you?

Loneliness.

We have all felt it at some point in our lives, to varying degrees each time it occurs. It is an integral part of the human condition because of our sin-cursed world. It is something that most people desperately try to avoid or escape, only to find it sneak up on them unexpectedly.

How did loneliness first begin?

The answer can be found in Genesis chapter 3, when Adam and Eve separated themselves from God’s fellowship because of their deliberate sin. Their disobedience caused darkness to enter their hearts, which God, the Holy Father, can have no part with, since He is the very essence of purity and light. Cast out of a perfect paradise in the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve were forced to face their future in the world virtually alone, because they used to walk and talk with God every day before they sinned.

As a result, all of their future descendants would feel a gaping emptiness inside them due to missing God’s loving presence. Countless tears have been shed by many people because of that very first loneliness. Human loneliness is the product of desiring independence apart from God. We were created for His pleasure, to fellowship with Him, and when that fellowship was broken, our souls were broken as well. As humans, we crave affection and interaction with others, so naturally we seek these things in spending time with other people; but the unfortunate reality is, we cannot fill our empty vessels with vessels that are just as empty as we are. It is impossible to find true fulfillment and connection with others who are seeking the exact same thing. God designed us this way in order to draw us back to Him, the only true Source of ultimate fulfillment.

We commonly associate loneliness with being a social outcast, a misfit, or a loner, who has very few to no friends at all. However, anyone can experience loneliness, even with many friends in their social group. A lot of times, loneliness occurs because we feel misunderstood by our peers. Even those who are closest to us are capable of misunderstanding us as a person, since everyone is created as a unique individual.

So what is the solution to this persistent problem?

Because loneliness is an ever-present problem that plagues people’s minds, it is difficult to identify one simple solution for it, since everyone deals with it in different ways. My advice would be this though: try changing your perspective on loneliness instead of trying to make it go away. Trying to permanently get rid of loneliness is like trying to prevent it from raining ever again. It is an inevitable part of this fallen world.

Now, I’m about to suggest something that will seem downright ridiculous to most people, and it will probably shock you the first time you read it –

The next time you’re feeling lonely, embrace it as a gift from God.

“WHAT?!” You may ask. “How can you expect anyone to view an emotion so painful as a gift from God? That’s crazy!”And your reaction would be completely natural and expected. But let me ask you this: If we never felt lonely, would we feel any desire or need to seek God’s presence? Of course not, because then we’d be entirely self-sufficient. That’s why God designed us this way, to need Him at all times, because we really are nothing without Him. We were created to love and worship Him with all our hearts, and if those actions are missing, our lives are vain and empty.

Does God know what it’s like to be lonely?

Jesus, the Son of God Himself, was certainly no stranger to loneliness. The Bible tells us that He was despised and rejected of men (Isaiah 53:3). Apart from His twelve disciples and those who believed on Him, nearly everyone else in Israel hated Him, particularly the religious leaders of the time. In fact, they hated Him so much that they wanted to kill Him when He had done absolutely nothing wrong. During His death on the cross, Jesus experienced the most painful loneliness of all: being separated from His holy Father because of Him bearing our sin. For the first time in the infinite existence of the Holy Trinity, God the Father turned His back on His only Son, Whom He loved so much. Jesus cried out in agony, “My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?!” Apart from the excruciating physical pain He was feeling from being tortured, and the horrible betrayal by His own human creations, the anguish of His Father abandoning Him was unlike any pain Jesus had ever felt before.

However, there is good news: because of Jesus’ heartbreaking moment of loneliness and separation from His Father on the cross, we have the chance to accept His wonderful gift of salvation, allowing us to be reunited in divine fellowship with God forever! Because of Jesus’ sacrifice, earthly loneliness will be a thing of the past in Heaven if we accept His gift and believe on His holy Name.

But what are we going to do about loneliness until eternity happens?

This is where the miraculous wonder of God’s grace comes in. God is so powerful that He can take something extremely painful in our lives and use it for good – for our spiritual benefit and for His glory. When we’re feeling lonely, we can allow it to consume us emotionally to the point where we’re drowning in self pity; OR we can quiet our hearts, and listen to the whispers of the Holy Spirit:

“I want you. I made you. I want you to seek me, and find me. I want to share a close, intimate relationship with you. I want to show you that no one person on this earth is capable of wholly understanding your soul like I do. You are a priceless treasure, and I sacrificed so much just so I could get to know you.  Please come to me, and tell me everything that’s in your heart. I long to be your best friend, and dearest companion. Know that I love you more than you could ever possibly imagine.”

God understands how our hearts hurt when we’re lonely. He created the human heart, didn’t He? He feels our every pain, and cares for us deeply. When we feel lonely, God is crying out to us, entreating us to come be with Him. Allow His arms to embrace you with His love, and open your heart to all the warm, Heavenly affection He has for you. Show God your appreciation for Him by giving Him the fellowship with you He deserves. His Son’s blood paid for our souls; don’t let Jesus’ sacrifice be in vain!

So the next time you feel lonely, turn to the One Who understands you best. Jesus is waiting patiently for you to answer His call. Will you listen to His silent cries? It would be shameful to grieve Jesus by ignoring Him when He is the divine Antidote to our painful condition. Don’t make the mistake of making Jesus sad when He loves you so much. Perhaps it is that when you feel lonely, He feels lonely as well, and misses your company.

Here are some verses to assure us that with God, we are never truly alone:

Isaiah 41:10 ~ “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”

Psalms 27:10 ~ “When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up.”

Romans 8:39 ~ “Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Matthew 28:20b ~ “…And, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.”

1 Peter 5:7 ~ “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.”

John 14:18 ~I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.”

1 John 4:13 ~ “Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit.”

Psalms 62:8 ~ “Trust in him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before him: God is a refuge for us. Selah.”

Hebrews 13:5 ~ “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.”

These are many affirmations that God is always with us, no matter how lonely we might feel. Let these verses be an encouragement to your heart whenever loneliness occurs, and your soul will be comforted by God’s amazing, unending love.

– Gloria D. Hopkins