Faithful, Not Forgetful

Does it ever feel like the train of life keeps moving along without you?

Have you ever lost something valuable on a ride before?

We’ve all been there at some point – you’re blissfully enjoying a peaceful ride while out in public somewhere, maybe on a bus, boat, or train, and you get so caught up in the ride itself, that by the time you get off, you completely forget something important behind. The after effects of feeling relaxed take a few minutes to wear off, and you realize too late that something very important is missing. Your first instinct is to contact the company responsible for the vehicle, inquiring about your missing item. They have an employee search the vehicle for you, but inform you that it’s nowhere to be found, suggesting that perhaps it fell out during the ride at some point. Unfortunately in some cases, the company has a zero liability policy, and if they can’t find your possessions, your valuable object is gone forever, never to be seen again. You wish more than anything that you could get it back, but this particular object is already lost beyond all hope. People will tell you to just replace it, but it was more than just an object to you; perhaps it had some sort of special meaning and sentimental value for you.

You start to blame yourself, thinking that if you had just asked the driver or conductor to stop or turn around sooner, you might have been able to save it. However, contemplating the hypothetical circumstances proves to be futile, as nothing can be done at that point. You feel sad about the loss of your valuable possession, but have to accept that it’s gone no matter what.

Perhaps you feel like God has forgotten you, leaving you behind just like the scenario described above.

There may be opportunities, circumstances, goals, and many other things that you clung to with all your heart, trying your best to keep them safe everywhere you went. However, you may feel as though these things have been taken, lost, or broken due to forces outside your control. You may quite literally feel left hanging, wondering what in the world is going to happen to you next. You sigh and pass the time as best as you can, but constantly wonder when God is going to “come back for you” and pick you up again. The waiting feels endless, and you grow more and more anxious with each passing day. You start to believe that you’ll remain in this forgotten place forever, in spite of what you’ve been told or taught about God’s goodness all your life.

Even though life has no “round trip” ticket, you can rest assured that God has not missed you on any of His “stops.”

Just when you feel like abandoning all hope about the lost things that were important to you, God has a way of reminding you that He still cares, regardless of how it might appear to you. Maybe you decided to leave the important thing behind you already, quite literally leaving it in God’s hands. Time passes, and you happen to be going about your day, when news reaches you about this thing that you had previously signed off as long gone. No matter what the context of your circumstances is, God might show you later on how He was guiding you along the right path the whole time, sparing you from hidden dangers, or redirecting your course. He lovingly and gently acknowledges your situation, while reassuring you that He has you exactly where you need to be. God is faithful to remember you in all the details of your life, because what is important to your life situation is always important to Him. God knows that everything close to you has meaning, and even if something feels lost forever, He is there to remind you that He will never leave you nor forsake you.

– Gloria D. Hopkins

Weary, But Worthy

“Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matthew 26:41)

Do you ever have days where you just feel like you can’t do anything?

I don’t mean the common human condition of laziness, where you just don’t feel like, or want to do anything, nor do I mean the days where you feel like you can’t do anything right. I’m talking about fatigue – physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual fatigue. The mornings when you have to sometimes literally drag yourself out of bed, because you dread facing another day of the same responsibilities and the same difficulties you faced the day before. Do you find yourself frequently saying, “God, I just CAN’T do this?” Don’t worry, you’re not the first person to feel this way, and you certainly won’t be the last; so don’t despair –

you’re not alone.

We all face the issue of burnout, which can result from a variety of reasons. Common factors include: stress from work, family issues, relationship conflict, overextending one’s self, dealing with difficult coworkers, disorganization at home, and also inner turmoil caused by trauma. Depression and anxiety are two of the most common mental diseases in the world, and absolutely anyone can be susceptible to it, regardless of their individual circumstances. Even if things in your life seem to flowing smoothly, it’s easy to get trapped in a whirlpool of wondering what the point of everything is. No matter if the sun is shining outside, if you feel demotivated and distressed on the inside, there will probably be a rain cloud pouring in your heart and mind. If you’ve caught yourself staring at your daily surroundings, feeling like you’re trapped in some kind of invisible cage of existence, I know exactly how that feels.

Because we have an inner idea of what our version of “normal” is supposed to be like, it can be very easy to get too hard on ourselves.

On the days when we simply feel too worn out to function, we might be capable of performing our daily duties like a robot that’s just following its programming, while neglecting to take care of the inner part of ourselves that needs the most attention. We might just get through the day, checking off boxes on our to do list, but by the time we crawl into bed at night, we still feel empty and unfulfilled. Even if our day was brimming with productivity, it might never feel like it’s enough according to our personal standards of success, especially if these standards are formed by our toxic culture of comparison through social media. As Christians trying to do our best for God, we can sometimes judge ourselves too harshly when we have days like this, calling ourselves “failures” in our minds. While we should never excuse laziness in our lives, the Lord wants us to know that He understands our every weakness. When Jesus asked His disciples to be on watch with Him in the garden for one hour, on the night He would be captured by the Pharisees, they all fell asleep before they even realized it! “And He cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, ‘What, could ye not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.'” (Matthew 26:40-41)

God, in His infinite love, mercy, and wisdom, is all too aware of the human frailties that afflict us on a daily basis.

It’s so easy to fall victim to extreme negative thinking, calling ourselves worthless servants of Christ, all because we feel incapable of accomplishing as much as we’d like to on certain days. However, our hearts should be filled with encouragement, because our Savior’s heart is full of compassionate thoughts toward us. “For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust.” (Psalm 103:14) On the days when we feel overwhelmed and burned out from our every day routines, He wants us to remember this simple fact for ourselves too. Surely, if God Himself can exercise patience with us, we can extend the same kind of grace to our own failings when we need it the most. Many times of feelings of failure are caused by a hidden layer of pride in our hearts that we aren’t aware of, falling prey to the idea that we always have to take care of everything by ourselves, without God’s help. When this happens though, we often forget to take care of the most important part we need to fulfill our regular tasks – our inner well being. Just as we need to make time for our physical self care, spiritual and emotional self care is also a must if we are to stay functioning for the next twenty-four hours.

We are not qualified to do tasks based on our own strength; our Creator qualifies us based on His own strength.

When we feel like we just can’t make it through another day without another physical or emotional breakdown, we must remember that our strength to function does not lie within ourselves. We are not qualified as God’s servants because of our innate capability, which is already hindered by our sinful nature; we are qualified only because God has asked us to be His appointed servants. We can do absolutely nothing in and of ourselves, this includes breathing and moving. Nothing we are capable of can be possible outside of God’s direct influence, because He created us to be dependent on Him for everything. This is not meant to be taken as a personal insult, it’s merely the basic fact of our Creation by Him. It’s important that we try to persevere through the strength of the Lord, because He has valuable assignments for us to fulfill that He has blessed us with the privilege of being used for. Even if we feel like we can go no further, He is there to give us a loving pep talk and pick us back up again. “Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.” (1 Thessalonians 5:24)

Even if we disappoint ourselves with our daily depression, God will always comfort us because He truly cares.

The woes of life can certainly make us feel weary, unwilling to face another day of the same old circumstances. Sometimes we might feel confined in an eternal time loop, just like in the movie “Groundhog Day.” God wants us to know that we can always turn to Him for emotional comfort and support, because He knows what we face each day better than anyone else does. Since He lives inside our hearts, He is constantly aware of every difficulty we face, whether it’s internal or external conflict. The Devil wants us to begin each day feeling defeated from the moment we wake up, dreading the next twenty-four hours because we feel personally incompetent. However, he has no final authority on our destiny, because our Savior has already declared the victory over us that is valid through all eternity. Our feelings and struggles are valid too, but God can help us overcome them if we ask for His help daily like we’re supposed to. “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.” (1 John 4:4) So even though we may be afflicted and weary of life itself, we are still worthy of the calling God has chosen for us, because He lives within us and has declared us worthy.

“Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance.” (Psalm 42:5)

“Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. For we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.” (2 Corinthians 4:9-11)

“And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” (Galatians 6:9)

– Gloria D. Hopkins

Unscripted: Following the Director’s Cut

Whether the hard events of our life are a normal theatrical release or an extended edition, we all can be tempted to sit in the Director’s chair.

“Mister Director, this is not the script I wanted…”

LIFE. Nobody gets out of it alive, ironically, yet strangely, such short statements are hardly a source of consolation for those whose experiences are anything but ideal. We all grow up having hopes and dreams for our future, at any age, but what happens when the facts of our serious disappointments don’t measure up to our expectations? It was William Shakespeare who famously once said, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players;” (As You Like It), and his assessment is pretty accurate to the truth. While we are not puppets, because we have the divine gift of free will, we are still insignificant chess pieces in the grand scheme of God’s ultimate purpose and plan for the universe that HE created. The very word “history” itself combines the words “his” and “story,” showing God’s relation to mankind which He made with His own hands. With this knowledge, all humans created in His divine image are faced with a perpetual burning question that is universal to the human experience in this sinful, fallen world:

What are we supposed to do when we feel like the Director isn’t following the script we imagined for ourselves? Do we panic when we feel helpless about what’s happening onscreen?

We all think we have some idea of how our lives should go, based on society’s expectations and pressure it puts on us, which in turn, are founded on events that have transpired since the Garden of Eden. This is further complicated when we create our own imagined scenarios in our hearts and heads that generate from our innermost desires and thoughts. We all have a very unique backstory, with different set pieces, characters, conflicts, tension, action, and themes. All of these elements combined form an original script that plays out the story of our lives. Based on all of the established information in the introduction of the script, we as humans try our best to guess the plot before it has a chance to play out. However, no matter how many plot twists await us in our lives, God doesn’t believe in giving us spoilers.

Since we know that it is His divine prerogative as the Director of our life story to orchestrate the events we see unfold, why is it so difficult for us to trust Him with the ultimate outcome?

There are many reasons for this, and thankfully for our sake, our Creator is more than compassionate enough to understand our natural, human reactions to these unexpected plot twists. He also has divine wisdom to compensate for our limitations in trusting Him.

Here are just a few common reasons that account for our universal, human struggle –

Reason #1: We can only see through the scope of the lens of our limited, finite perspective.

This might run the risk of sounding oversimplified, but we are humans, and God is GOD. Only He can see the ultimate end of all things, in every sense of the phrase. As the Alpha and Omega, He is the Author and Finisher of the script He’s written for His creations. Since we are not infinite as He is, we don’t have the divine advantage of knowing not only the future, but also every imaginable circumstance that provides the context of the lives of every single person on the planet. Because we only have access to our own script one page at a time, it can be easy for us to start questioning our role that we play in our own plot, or even the plot itself. We must remember that even though we are limited to our own perspective on the stage of our lives, the Divine Director can see everything on the set of His Creation from ALL angles. He can move cameras and set pieces around that we probably are not even aware exist in our script, much less have the power to control them. God is determined to make the greatest production possible through the resources of His infinite power. Even if our personal perspective is out of focus, we can find peace in knowing that our Director commands the overall view of our original production.

Reason #2: We cannot control the roles others choose to play in our lives.

When we are carrying out the scenes in our scripts, we interact with a full cast of characters of all kinds. These characters all have their own unique scripts too, which they can choose to follow or turn down at will. Just like actors and actresses, people can and do affect our lives in multiple ways, for better or worse. Some who initially choose to sign onto the project of our scripts might suddenly decide to walk off the set at any time, for any reason. Alternatively, the divine Director might make His own executive decision to write them out of the script. Sometimes this is simply because of outstanding circumstances in their own scripts beyond their control; other times it is because of a deliberate decision they choose to make. Although they said they were dedicated to the role they chose to play in our lives, for whatever reasons they decided that the part just wasn’t for them. They fully know the part they were supposed to play, but they refuse to stick to the script and abandon the project altogether. Whether the reasons they had for walking away for were valid, or born of pure selfishness, we cannot force them to honor their metaphorical contract with us. Does this mean the divine Director necessarily approves of their choice, or the way they may have unprofessionally exited stage left?

Not always.

But, regardless of their decision, the Director knows that the show must go on. He doesn’t throw away our whole script just because some people choose to not follow it along with us.

Reason #3: Our plot tends to unfold in the darkness of the film Developer’s studio.

Our Director has been planning the plots of our lives since before we were born, and is intent on bringing them to an expected end. Just as God had plans for the Universe in the darkness of the Void before Creation, He has plans for us long before our moment of conception in our mother’s womb. Since one of the greatest mysteries of the universe is the miracle of new human life itself, it is no wonder that the details of our lives are hidden away in a metaphysical dimension that only God Himself holds the key to. Rather than assuming God keeps secrets from us out of malice, however, we should realize that the greatest artists of any sort do their best work in solitude, and the Master Artist of all Creation is no different. Although it is easy for us to conclude that God is withholding details from us about our lives because He doesn’t want us to know, we should look at His strategy through the lens of His love instead, knowing that He is guarding His artistic process because He’s busy doing His best work for us.

Reason #4: We care about the reviews we receive from a critical audience.

It’s all too easy for us to compare scripts with other people around us, and think that our Director has unfairly given them a better part than us. We can fall into the trap of jealousy, bitterness, covetousness, and resentment towards other people, even if they haven’t done anything wrong to purposely make us envy their personal circumstances. Although we put this unfair pressure on ourselves on a regular basis all on our own, it also can result from pressure we feel from the outside world to “get our act together,” or to “look the part.” It is our responsibility to know that we are only obligated to answer to God Himself, and we are not placed in this production to please people who might happen to be onlookers. Our earthly audience should not be our top priority. We have a duty to make sure we carry out our roles to the best of our ability in order to fulfill the divine Director’s vision for ultimate good. It will be easier for us to stick to our assigned scripts and roles when we remember that His final review is the only one that truly matters.

Here are some Director’s notes that show He understands how difficult it is for His cast to work under pressure:

Psalm 103:14 – “For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.”

Isaiah 55:8-9 – “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

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.”

1 Corinthians 10:3 – ““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 1:6 – “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:”

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 – “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.”

James 1:2-4 – “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.”

Revelation 22:13 – “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.”

Instead of having us abandon the project completely, our Director is willing to let us “take five.”

Unfortunately, we don’t get a choice in the scripts that life hands to us; however, we do have a say in how we choose to play our parts. Thankfully, our Director is patient enough to give us all the time we need to process our roles and understand the direction He wants us to take with our individual performance. Our script was written by His loving hand, even if the details of the setting and plot don’t seem that way. We all have specific parts of our script that we wish with all our hearts could be “redacted,” whether those details were already written into our script or added by our own choices. We don’t get to pick and choose our circumstances, but we can control the way we respond to them. Every day that God allows us to live is another chance to shoot another scene, and because of the current, fallen condition of our world, some scenes might require several takes. Because our divine Director is understanding and compassionate, He may allow us to “take five” in between those “takes,” whether those translate into five weeks, months, or years. God is willing to work with us if we are willing to work with Him. The only option that is completely off the table is throwing away the script, because we do not possess that authority. No matter how many difficult plot twists occur that were unscripted in our heads, we have to accept the unacceptable whether we understand it or not. Our scripts may not make a bit of sense to us, and we do not have to like them, but we are expected to cooperate with our Director out of love, faithfulness, and obedience. If we make a conscious effort to follow the vision of the divine Director’s cut, He will bring our story to an expected end.

– Gloria D. Hopkins

Generating Power

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Winter has come – …Are you prepared?

 

Where does your warmth come from?

Now that winter is finally here in its full force, you must have all the essentials necessary to survive the cold elements: soft, thick, insulated clothes, lots of moisturizing lotion, lip balms to spare, a heavy coat or weatherproof jacket, a fluffy scarf and hat, fuzzy gloves or plush mittens, fleece-lined pants or leggings, and sturdy boots for walking in the snow. Most people use these things during the cold months, and if they don’t already have them, they put them on their shopping list. However, while these things are all helpful for sustaining internal body temperature, most people neglect to prioritize another essential supply in their daily routine that is actually the most important of all.

That particular supply item is none other than the power of the Holy Spirit in their hearts.

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Yes, even Christians who have the Holy Spirit living inside of them can sometimes forget to take full advantage of His supernatural strength, which they need each and every day. When we pass by on the power of the Holy Spirit, we are also passing by access to His wonderful, daily blessings. Without using the power of God, made accessible to us by the Lord Jesus Christ, man is left in his natural state, stranded on the cold outside looking in to the warmth of God’s love. (James 1:23-24 ~ “For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.”)

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This neglectful choice is comparable to someone who has lost all power in a huge snowstorm, yet also owns a personal power generator and deliberately chooses not to use it. What good is it to own such an important resource, if you forget or choose not to use it? It simply makes no sense. Likewise, we also go through many different forms of power outages in our Christian lives. We endure countless seasons of suffering and trials, times when we are all tempted to feel like just giving up. (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.”) Why would we make the mistake of relying on our own strength to overcome life’s numerous obstacles? Whether the reason is personal pride or unintentional ignorance, we should take care to remember exactly Who it is that truly takes care of us. (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.”)

We must also remember that there are many others around us in our everyday lives who depend on us to be a spiritual power source of encouragement for them.

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Whether these people are born again Christians or not, we have a responsibility to them to show forth the warmth and light of God’s love, grace, hope and joy. How can people stay warm from the harsh, bitter cold of the fallen world we live in if we don’t offer them any sort of spiritual refuge? (1 Peter 3:15 ~ “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:”) Therefore, it is our duty to not only take care of our own spiritual well being but also to look after everyone else as a natural side effect. This is God’s great and glorious purpose – that through His power we not only receive a blessing for ourselves, but share that same blessing with others. (John 7:38 ~ “He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.”) Even if the unsaved people we know continue to reject the blessing of God’s love we show them, they can never say when they stand before God someday that it was never offered to them.

In order to generate God’s power in our everyday lives, we must follow His instructions.

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God wants us to exercise our faith in Him daily by praying to Him and reading His Word. It’s been preached and taught countless times over the years, and its truth remains the same. People have tried unsuccessfully to live their lives without this strategy, and end up miserable with their results. (John 15:5 ~ “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.”) The power generator itself is our heart, and in order for it to function properly, we need to be connected to the proper outlet and source of energy. To do this well, we need to use the wireless cables that connect us to God, which are effective prayer and sincere reading of Scripture. God wants to know how much we truly want Him in our lives, and its our job to prove that to Him. We must seek Him with our whole heart, and only then will we find Him.  (Jeremiah 29:13 ~ “And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.”) Once we have disciplined ourselves to do this every single day, we will be generating spiritual power to bless ourselves and others around us before we know it.

– Gloria D. Hopkins

The Dragon in the Dungeon

 

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Are you brave enough to slay the Dragon who is trying to devour your mind?

 

Deep within the castle of a person’s mind, there is a dark dungeon.

This dungeon holds hostage many unpleasant thoughts, including bad memories of all kinds which we desperately wish we could forget. As Christians who have accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as our personal Savior, we know that God sits on the throne of our hearts and minds; nevertheless, this dungeon still exists for all of our earthly lives. The black shadows of former things that continually cause us pain are determined to resurface in our minds, no matter how hard we try to ignore them. Even though we might earnestly ask God to help us defeat them, we constantly struggle to achieve the victory in keeping these metaphorical monsters in the dungeon where they belong.

Still, there is an even GREATER monster that lies deep in the dungeon who is responsible for setting these dark shadows free…

A destructive Dragon, who is so bitter about his own future imprisonment that he wishes for nothing more than the total and utter defeat of mankind, Christians included.

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This Dragon is none other than Satan himself, whom the Bible describes as “that old Serpent.” (Revelation 12:9) He is hateful and spiteful, full of nothing but malice and contempt for mankind. He is painfully aware of the fact that Jesus Christ dealt him a deathblow on the cross, and since he can’t do anything to change his fate, he’ll do everything he can to drag down all the people he can with him. His attitude is, “If I’m doomed to darkness and despair for all eternity, then I refuse to be the only one!” Even if he can’t drag born again Christians to Hell with him, he’ll try with all his might to drag down the thoughts in their minds, as well as the emotions in their hearts. Satan knows full well that God reigns as King in the throne room of Christians’ hearts, but he still seeks to destroy them within the dungeon of their minds. He realizes that infiltrating the walls of their castles and attacking from within is the most effective way to ensure their defeat.

“But how did this Dragon get in?” you may ask. “How can he possibly sneak his way inside a fortress where a mighty King reigns supreme?”

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The answer is simple – the royal guards fell asleep on their watch. Being constantly vigilant on a daily basis is quite tiresome, as you would probably imagine. The royal guards that are supposed to protect the castle of a Christian’s mind are godly habits that everyone absolutely MUST take the time to develop. These habits include meaningful, Spirit-filled prayer, and Bible reading. Doing these things each day will remind the guards of their duty to keep the royal fortress safe from Satan’s attacks. However, every once in a while, even when the guards are doing their very best to stay awake, that crafty creature still finds a way to creep inside the castle, evading the watchful eyes of the guards who would try to keep him at bay. This is because Satan is incredibly subtle, just as he chose to possess the body of a slithering, silent serpent in the garden of Eden. It’s not always easy to recognize when he’s moving in for the kill, even with our best efforts to remain vigilant. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:” – (1 Peter 5:8)

Once the Dragon realizes he has made a successful entrance unnoticed, he proceeds to wander the endless, abysmal halls of a person’s thoughts and consciousness, sniffing out the passages to a person’s greatest weaknesses.

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Satan knows that if he can distract your thoughts away from the awareness of God’s presence and power within you, he can easily have access to roam freely wherever he will. Remember, this castle is a metaphor of your mind, so if you see or hear something that might turn your thoughts from God or the things that please Him, Satan takes the opportunity and runs with it. That sly serpent is able to spy on you in secret, taking note of the things that upset you, frustrate you, or stoke the fires of unmet desires. As he makes his way through the dark, hollow halls, he leaves a trail of temptations to follow behind him, confidently expecting you to take the bait and leave the safety of the King’s quarters. This is why it’s so important to keep you thoughts focused on Christ, Who would have you to fix your eyes on Him at all times so you won’t be led astray. All too often, however, we follow the Dragon’s alluring scent, who promises us a false sense of security in entertaining the thoughts of our flesh. For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.” – (Romans 8:5)

After succeeding in leading us away from safety, the Dragon delves down deep into the dark dungeons of despair, where he knows all of our worst memories are held prisoners.

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Reaching the very core of what makes our minds most vulnerable, the Dragon knows he has us right where he wants us. He seeks to ignite the torches hanging on the damp walls, releasing the fearsome phantoms of former things. While there may be many cells containing painful pieces of the past, the Dragon purposely unshackles the memories we hate most to deal us the greatest possible harm. Once he sets them free, the Dragon stirs them up by fueling them with his fire. He causes us to believe the lies we’ve battled for many years, forged in our thoughts by the actions and words of other people, or even ourselves. Satan wraps his scaly tail around us, hoping to crush us to death as he forces us to confront the powerful pain of our inescapable memories. He knows that if he can isolate us in the shadowy dungeon of our past, he can easily make us feel lost in a labyrinth of endless distress and sorrow. The mighty, arrogant Dragon whispers his hateful lies in our ears, wanting to steal our hope and joy, the greatest gifts from God. To add insult to injury, he even blames us for being so weak and easily overcome, making us feel guilty for allowing him to invade our castle in the first place. “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)

How can we possibly escape the death grip of the Dragon in the dungeon? By crying out to our King and looking upon His light.

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In spite of the strong hold Satan might gain upon our thoughts in his attack, he forgot one important fact – our mind’s castle is still GOD’S stronghold. We have to muster the courage to call for God’s help in order to overcome the Devil and claim the victory. Instead of being clouded by confusion and cares from our past, we must remember that Jesus is deeply concerned for our mind’s well-being; He CARES about us! “Casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you.” – (1 Peter 5:7) / “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,” – (Philippians 3:13) It’s our responsibility to sound the royal alarm to alert the Holy Spirit of the Devil’s presence in the dungeon of our memories. He was already aware of it to begin with, but He was anxiously awaiting our call for His help, acknowledging our need for Him. While the all-powerful King might not be available to physically help us in our mental and emotional predicaments, He is more than willing to send us the strength we need to withstand Satan and all His subtle snares. “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) That prideful, selfish, wrathful Dragon might consider himself king of the castle, but he will never truly succeed in his quest to destroy us as long as we ask God for His help in slaying Him. “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.” – (1 John 4:4) That wiley wyvern has already received a mortal wound at the hands of Jesus Christ through His death on the cross, yet he continues to return in search of his revenge while he still can! With the aid of our loving, kind, all-powerful King, we can cast out that slinking serpent by turning over our bad memories to Him each and every time they resurface in our minds, keeping them captive forever. “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;” – (2 Corinthians 10:5) Then, and ONLY then, will we be able to truly defeat the Dragon in the dungeon!

– Gloria D. Hopkins

Why It’s OK To Be “Broken”

shattered reflection

Many have said that we’re all a little broken.

To some extent, that statement is true. Whether we like it or not, we have all gone through something (or several things) in our lives that left us in a very dark place for a very long time. When we finally emerged from the situation, we found that we could never be the same way again, the way we used to be before it happened.

Yes, these are the dark circumstances that scar us, the situations that Satan uses to try to destroy us. If you think you haven’t experienced a traumatic event in your life yet, you can almost count on it to happen at some point in the future. For those of us who have already survived dark circumstances, however, we know just how hard it can be to reclaim our inner peace and heal our broken hearts.

Sometimes it feels like we’ll never get better.

Emotional breakdown

No matter how much time passes after our traumatic experiences, it often feels like we’ll never reach the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. It seems to be taking forever for our hearts to heal, despite our desire to just “get over” whatever it was that happened to us. We tell ourselves that there must be something wrong with us, since there are many things to be thankful about, and yet we still can’t force ourselves to just “be happy.” Other people might tell us to stop whining, complaining, or feeling sorry for ourselves, because there are so many people in the world who might have it worse. While in some cases we might be guilty of falling into self-pity, and there are certainly always going to be other people who “have it worse” than us, that in NO way invalidates the pain that we feel in the aftermath of a traumatic event.

If your heart is feeling pain for a long period of time, then there has to be a valid reason for it, regardless of what other people say.

Fortunately for us though, our lives aren’t supposed to revolve around what other people say about us. When they fail to understand what we’re going through without making an effort to help or listen, they have no right to judge or criticize our pain. If we know the Lord as our personal Savior, He will ALWAYS understand what we feel and why we feel it. His Word promises that He is close to the brokenhearted, and that truth will never, ever change. (Psalm 34:18 ~ “The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.”)

Just remember: whatever pain you’re going through, God will use to make you new.

When people say that everything happens for a reason, it’s not some random chance of fate that was the result of some explosion in the vast cosmos. Even though God doesn’t like to see us in pain, He has a divine purpose for our suffering. God desires to make us stronger in Him by strengthening our faith in the midst of trials. (James 1:3-4 ~ “Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.”) It’s a long, tedious process to build strength, whether in a physical or spiritual context. The end results aren’t going to happen overnight, even though we wish they could. Therefore, it is hugely unfair for us to beat ourselves up emotionally just because we’re not in a better place yet like we want to be.

Depression black and white

Healing TAKES TIME.

That’s all there is to it.

If you try to rush through it, you’ll have an exercise in futility, even with your best attempts. Don’t try to deny your pain, just accept it. It is only by acknowledging and accepting our feelings that we are able to finally move past them. That’s why it’s called a “grieving process,” not a “grieving express.”

By denying or ignoring our pain, we are only prolonging it. God seeks to help us through it if we have the courage to acknowledge our need for Him. He wants you to know that you are not alone and that it is perfectly okay to be feeling the way that you do. God isn’t going to shame you or make you feel guilty about the emotions He gave you; He wants to help you learn how to handle them. They are there for an important reason, and that reason is most likely a natural reaction to whatever traumatic event you went through.

 

However, there is a far greater important reason that you experience pain in your life.

 

Remember the Sunday school song “This Little Light of Mine?”

 

That doesn’t just apply to the context of having a godly, Christian testimony in your personal lifestyle. It also applies to the light of the Holy Spirit that you have inside you from the moment of your salvation. The light of the Holy Spirit isn’t just there for the conviction of sins; it’s also there to inspire other people with what God is doing in your life. People around you might notice that you’re going through a dark time in your life, but they’ll also be able to see that you’re still shining with the joy of the Lord in your heart because you trust God and His goodness.

They’ll look at you, and they’ll say to themselves, “Hey, that guy or girl has every right or reason to give up in life, but they’re still going strong because of God’s help! I want to have that kind of strength in my life too!”

That is what this blog, called “Do You Glow In the Dark?”, is all about – not necessarily about shining exclusively to unsaved people for their need of salvation, but shining to the unsaved AND Christian population to prove that it is possible to keep your joy in spite of dark circumstances.

(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.”)

It's OK To Be A Glowstick copy

So don’t look at your current condition and despair of your life, even if you do feel “stuck.” You might feel broken because of what life has thrown at you, but that does not detract from your value as a person whatsoever. You are still incredibly special, as a human being that God made with His own hands, no matter what other people (or you yourself) tell you. Your purpose in this world will prevail, regardless of your pain. I don’t want you to look in the mirror, gazing at your brokenness, and think that there is something wrong with you. YOU ARE NOT WORTHLESS just because terrible things happened to you. You never have been, nor will you ever be, worthless. God is going to use you and your story as a powerful testimony to bless other people and improve their lives. You are a beautiful creation of a loving, Almighty God, and nothing He allows to happen in your life will ever go to waste. That’s why it’s okay to be a glowstick – whatever God allows to happen in your life that breaks you will also allow you to shine for Him.

– Gloria D. Hopkins

Mirror Madness

 

Alice portal
Don’t look so hard into the glass that you shatter your self-image!

 

“Who am I? What am I supposed to be? Where do I fit in the world?”

These three questions are commonly asked by every single person in the world at some point in their lives, often becoming recurring questions. Our society has a severe case of missing identity, which is ironic considering how prevalent selfishness and narcissism are in our culture today. In the process of elevating himself to the level of worship that God deserves, man has sadly lost sight of his true identity that can only be seen through the Creator he tries so desperately to ignore.

Man has stared at his reflection in the mirror so intently, that he has shattered the glass from the impact of his efforts. Staring at the looking glass for too long is not a good thing whatsoever, and vanity concerning our outward appearance can blind us to the inward reflection that really matters. After finding nothing but emptiness behind the shards of glass, man is constantly grasping for anything he can use as a substitute for God’s presence and purpose in his life.

The issue of having a personal identity crisis is more pressing now than ever before, and Christians are no exception. If we do not solidify our identity in Christ in our minds early on, then Satan will surely try to snatch it away from us. In order to prevent that from happening, we must assess some fundamental truths that are grounded in God’s Word, thereby finding the answers to these perpetually vexing questions. Once we are assured of God’s truth concerning who we are, we can permanently protect ourselves from Satan’s attempt at identity theft.

 

Let’s take a look at these three questions one by one, and see if we can make sense of them in this nonsensical world of ours, shall we?

 

1. “Who are you?”

 

Alice and the Caterpillar.jpg
“Alice Meets the Caterpillar” from ALICE’S ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND, by Lewis Carroll, with illustrations by John Tenniel. Macmillan and Co, London, 1898.

 

In Lewis Carroll’s book Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland, the titular character Alice is a little girl who tumbles down a rabbit hole, only to find herself in a strange world full of talking animals and various other forms of nonsense. After going through several frustrations at the beginning of her adventure, Alice meets a caterpillar who acts rather sophisticated and stuffy, much like a grown-up. He asks her to recite a few poems from memory, just like her schoolteachers always expected of her back home. The caterpillar also asks Alice a simple question, about her identity. Due to the strange experiences she had up to that point, Alice replies to him that she’s not at all sure who she is anymore. In fact, she explains that she had changed several times already since that morning, referring to how she mysteriously grew and shrank in size earlier in the story. This was an intentional metaphor that Lewis Carroll was using to illustrate the challenges of growing up. When we grow older, our physical appearance changes, as do our personal interests to some extent. Some of these changes are under our control, while many of them are not.

Perhaps the greatest change we undergo throughout life is the transformation of our minds – we all start out as happy, innocent children, but are soon exposed to the harsh realities of our sinful, fallen world. The negative circumstances we experience in life have the potential to either make us or break us, and the first outcome is only achievable with God’s help. Just like Alice in her dreamworld of Wonderland, we are often confused by our ever-changing surroundings, feeling lost and helpless in the upsetting events going on around us. However, when we seek God’s face in the midst of troubling circumstances, He can guide us onto the right path in spite of all the utter nonsense.

God has a special plan for each and every one of us; He makes that very clear in His Word. He created us to be unique individuals that are totally different from anyone else He made. You are a work of art from God’s own hands, and if you know Him as your personal Savior, you are also His adopted child. It’s so easy for us to look at other people and compare ourselves to them, whether its’ our personalities, advantages, or abilities, that we often forget that God made us special all on our own. We don’t need validation from any other person on the planet to confirm our worth; we just need to remind ourselves of what we already know to be true. Before we were saved, our former identity was that of a hopeless sinner lost in darkness, but after salvation, we took on a new identity of a redeemed child of God who has been returned to the light. It’s not for us to look at others and wish that we were just like them; God wants us to be content with exactly who He made us.

2.  “What are you supposed to be?”

 

Cards Attacking Alice
“Alice defends herself against the Queen of Hearts’ army of cards” from ALICE’S ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND, by Lewis Carroll, with illustrations by John Tenniel. Macmillan and Co, London, 1898.

 

Throughout Alice’s entire journey, she is constantly judged, criticized, and questioned by the curious and madcap residents of Wonderland. The White Rabbit, having poor eyesight, confuses Alice with his housemaid, Mary Ann, and begins to obnoxiously order her around with his list of demands. Alice is also wrongly called a “stupid girl” by other middle-aged, female characters such as the Duchess. The Mad Hatter and March Hare accuse her of being rude for accidentally barging in on their private tea party, even though she had no way of knowing what was going on. The Cheshire Cat suggests that Alice is just as crazy as he is, for the mere fact that she found her way into Wonderland. Last but not least, the Queen of Hearts claims that Alice is a criminal for painting her white roses red, and repeatedly orders the removal of Alice’s head every time she is slightly offended by her. Sadly, even though this book is about a fantasy world, Lewis Carroll accurately portrayed the cold reality of how many adults think it’s okay to emotionally abuse and ridicule children, often for no valid reason. Thankfully, by the end of the story, Alice finds the courage to stand up for herself and silence her insufferable attackers. If there is any character that perfectly fits this modern phrase, “I came out here to have a good time, and I’m honestly feeling so attacked right now,” it’s Alice.

In our real-world lives, we often encounter many different people who think they can tell us who we are or what they think we should be. The most common scenario for this to occur is with our relatives, who sometimes make the mistake of thinking they know exactly what’s best for us just because they share our same blood. We can all think of at least one person, whether it’s a relative or not, who constantly oversteps their authority in our lives by assuming they know all the details about our future. There are also plenty of other times when we have been misunderstood by other people for pointless reasons, causing unnecessary conflict due to their closed mindset. Well, other people need to take a step down from the judge’s seat, because that position is reserved for God alone. While helpful guidance and wisdom are beneficial when they come from a loving heart, unwanted orders and prejudice are destructive when other people are just being nosy or critical. Just like Alice was on a literal trial in the book, she also had her patience tried past the point of no return. We need to ask God for the grace and patience we need to deal with other people who think they can take His place in our lives.

What you are supposed to be is a matter that is strictly between you and God Himself. As I stated before, He designed you for a very special purpose in His mind. He has promised that He is going to fulfill that purpose for your life until the second coming of His Son, Jesus. God always finishes the projects He starts, which is far more than I can say for myself as both a writer and artist. He’s not going to leave you hanging as an incomplete draft or a half-empty canvas! He’s going to sculpt you and mold you persistently throughout your entire life until He decides that you’re done. When other people fail to understand what He is doing with your life at the present moment, that’s not God’s fault, nor is it yours. In fact, it’s not meant to be for other people to understand, because God’s ways are much higher than our ways! God is supposed to get the glory for everything He creates, and your life story is no exception. Along the way though, it’s our job to stay close to Him always so He can guide us on this journey of divine transformation.

3. Where do you fit in the world?

 

Alice being left alone
“Alice watches the White Rabbit walk past her in the low, dark hallway” from ALICE’S ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND, by Lewis Carroll, with illustrations by John Tenniel. Macmillan and Co, London, 1898.

 

Several times during Alice’s adventure, she falls into some distressing situations that cause her to (understandably) ask for help from the citizens of Wonderland. In this picture, Alice has just experienced the strange phenomenon of growing to be nine feet high inside a closed, narrow corridor, unable to escape or return to her normal size. Feeling rather frightened like any regular child would in this situation, Alice begins to cry until she floods the entire room with her enormous tears. Eventually, she notices the White Rabbit casually passing by, who appears to take absolutely zero notice of her in this awful predicament. He just strolls by quietly as if he were the only one in the room, going on about his day as if Alice doesn’t even exist. Poor Alice had just grown into the size of a giant, and yet it was as if she were invisible! Later on in the story, she stumbles across the tea party hosted by the Mad Hatter and March Hare, where there were plenty of chairs to sit in, but they adamantly claimed there was no room for her. Lewis Carroll was portraying how adults often tend to ignore children and treat them as nobodies, or otherwise make them feel like an afterthought. Everyone in Wonderland was going about their business and doing their own thing, but nobody cared enough to help Alice find her way home. She was just a lost little girl who felt like she didn’t belong in their world, but that actually turned out to be a good thing. In the end, it was Alice’s sanity prevailing over all the nonsense that saved her life and provided her escape!

In our lives, all too often we feel like absolutely no one cares about us, or at least cares enough to truly help us with our problems. Even if they do care, they might be too preoccupied with their own problems to take time out of their busy schedules for us. We could be going through an extremely difficult time, but nobody seems to notice us struggling. Everybody has their own issues, so why would they want to help us, right? Many times it feels like we might as well be invisible as far as other people noticing us is concerned. Aside from people not noticing our struggles, it also can feel like we just don’t belong in society, at least not in the same way everyone else seems to. From childhood on through adulthood, our lives will be filled with other people who shun us or reject us altogether, simply because their preconceived notions about us preclude them from getting to know us and accept us. Here’s some good news, however – it’s okay if we don’t fit in with everyone else or the world around us in general, because we’re not supposed to. Individuals we come across in our lives and society as a whole will always expect us to conform to their perfect, artificial mold, built from their own shallow standards and limited perspective. Don’t despair of being stuck in this impossible situation, though, because Jesus Christ Himself was not immune to the shallow judgments of people in this world. Jesus, being the Son of God, was completely PERFECT, and yet He STILL wasn’t good enough for some people! Just like Alice in her story, Jesus was the only truly sane Person when it was really everyone else who had the problem!

If there is any comfort to be found in the rejection or dismissal of man, it’s knowing that our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, suffered the very same things. When other people ignore us and make us feel like we’re invisible, Jesus is there to put His arm around us, providing unconditional love and support. When we’re struggling with difficult situations, and no one seems to notice or care about our predicament, Jesus is there to help and comfort us in our distress and sorrow. In addition, God is the One Who guides us along our life’s journey, showing us exactly where we need to be to fulfill His purpose for us. Even if other people don’t give us the time of day, we’re still important to God, and our lives will always matter to Him. We are wonderfully accepted in the love of Christ, and He is our sympathetic High Priest Who cares deeply about each and every one of our troubles. While other individuals may underestimate us, our abilities, and our potential, God is fully aware of what we are capable of accomplishing through Him with His help. We don’t need to belong in the world of other people’s approval, because we already belong to the One Whose approval matters most!

 

Here are some verses to help us confirm our identity in Christ, as daily affirmations when we look in the mirror each day:

 

Reflection

2 Corinthians 5:17 ~ “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”

Ephesians 1:5-7 ~ “Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;”

Proverbs 3:5 ~ “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.”

Isaiah 54:5 ~ “For thy Maker is thine husband; the Lord of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called.”

Romans 8:38-39 ~ “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.”

Romans 9:20 ~ “Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?”

Romans 14:8 ~ “For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s.”

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.

2 Corinthians 11:2 ~ “For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.”

John 10:28 ~ “And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.”

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 15:15-17 ~ “Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you. Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you. These things I command you, that ye love one another.

Philippians 1:6 ~ “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:”

Jeremiah 20:11-13 ~ “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. Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.

Galatians 3:26-29 ~ “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”

 

There is only one way to cure mirror madness – by acknowledging Whose reflection we should be cultivating.

Forest mirror

I think we can all strongly identify with little Alice wanting to escape the perplexing world of Wonderland, full of “whos,” “whats,” “wheres,” “whens,” “whys,” and “hows.” With so many tricky questions flying around our heads at such a rapid speed, we’re bound to question our sanity at some point or other. However, this happens when we try to find our own way in the flesh, rather than consulting God and His ways. If we try to contemplate the above three questions by ourselves apart from God, we will most surely be driven to madness by our inability to find the answers. It is first of all our responsibility to remember that we are the creations of God, the Creator, and after that acknowledgment, everything else should fall into place. Discovering our true identity is a life-long journey, and at times it can be very difficult, but that should never discourage us from giving up on it. God Himself has placed these three questions in our hearts so that we will be compelled to rely upon Him, having no choice but to seek Him for the right answers. When we turn to the world’s tactics of defining our identity, we will find nothing but confusion sent by the Devil himself. Fortunately, we know that God is not the Author of confusion, and He wants us to be informed of the divine plan that He has laid out for us. For every single person who has ever lived, God has designed a grand Master plan for their lives that they can potentially follow if they choose to seek His will. Each unique individual will have a unique life story all his own, but regardless of the many different designs, God desires all of us to conform to the image of His Son, Jesus. “What would Jesus do?” has been a popular catchphrase among Christians for years, and it applies to all areas of our lives. When it comes to determining the purpose and direction of our lives, we can do no better than do exactly what Jesus did while He was on Earth, and will always do – trust God, and seek His Father’s will. Rather than saying “All ways are MY ways!” like the Queen of Hearts, we should say “All ways are THY ways!”

– Gloria D. Hopkins

Looking Over the Summit

Triumph.jpg
So you’ve reached the peak of personal success – now, what comes next?

As we recently welcomed a brand new year, it’s also time to welcome an all-new adventure!

So, it’s now 2018. We have officially turned the page from yesterday to reveal a new beginning for the present and the future. Whether we’re ready or not, time is going to just keep flying on by, regardless of us noticing it. The new year is a time of celebration, in two different contexts – leaving behind the past and all its negative memories, while also embracing the present and future with all their positive possibilities!

Perhaps this past year was more than a little bit rough for you, as I know it was for me. You know what? Don’t let it keep you down, for there is still a whole new world out there for you to explore! Maybe you just accomplished a HUGE personal goal over this past year that has been gnawing at you relentlessly for years. If so, I wish you a whole-hearted congratulations for that important triumph! You’ve definitely earned it! If this past year prevented you from achieving all that you hoped you would, don’t let that discourage you – this year is another brand new chance for you to make it happen!

After wishing you a heartfelt congratulations over your achievements or ongoing goals, I just have three helpful tips of advice to give you:

1. Don’t get stuck on the summit!

Snowy mountain

You’ve spent a long time trying to climb this mountain, and it took you a whole lot of effort just to get this far, so I understand the desire and need to stop and take a rest. However, don’t let this temporary resting period become your final destination! You don’t want the achievement of your goals to be a trap, where you stay stuck on the very top and have no idea how to get down again! Remember, life on this earth is a journey, and if you know Christ as your personal Savior, then Heaven is your final destination! In the meantime, we are supposed to be advancing the Kingdom of our Heavenly Father as much as we can with the precious time He has allowed us. There is a time for everything, just as the Scriptures say, for celebration and resting – but don’t let that be the only phase of your life just yet! God seldom calls His people to do just one thing for Him throughout the course of their lives, and if there is one specific calling, it usually has several components that go along with it. After you’ve finished recognizing your hard work and reaping the rewards of your labor, ask God to help you seek the next path on your way down, which leads us to my next tip…

2. Don’t be discouraged by the valley that lies before you.

Mountain Trail

As you prepare to descend the steep slope leading away from the previous summit in your life, you’ll surely discover a brand new, challenging obstacle course standing in your way. We have to remember that there are as many lows in life as there are highs, and accept them all with equal courage and humility. I understand the fear that comes from stepping out of secure, familiar territory very well. During this past year, my family had to move away from the place I called home for the last twenty-two years of my life. The location we moved to was more familiar to my parents, but I was too young to remember living there when I was just a baby. I only mention this to tell you that you’re not alone when it comes to facing daunting obstacles in life, for the purpose of helping you and providing comfort. Try your best to not view these winding valleys in a negative way – instead, view them as exciting opportunities for endless discoveries! Sure, it can be a little bit unsettling, but that’s the exciting part. When descending a mountain into the valley below, you don’t always know what you’re going to find: it could be a beautiful river full of crisp, refreshing spring water, a dense forest with lots of dark shadows, or a barren landscape with little more than sharp rocks and dead shrubbery. Whatever you might find at the bottom, just know that God has a purpose for it, and holds your best interest deep within His heart. After all, without exploring the valleys, we wouldn’t be able to proceed further on our journey, which leads us to my next tip…

3. Boldly explore the chain of mountains that the Lord has laid out for your life!

Sitting on the peak

Once you finish accomplishing one goal or dream in your life, don’t be afraid to pursue another! You’ll find that your life is full of more possibilities than you realize, if you give it some careful consideration. We only have one life on this earth, so in that sense, we really do only live once, but that’s all the more reason to live it wisely! What we do with the time God has given to us makes all the difference in our quality of life. It’s up to us to form the proper priorities that please our Creator, by learning which ones fulfill His purpose for us, and which ones don’t. Rather than being sad or feeling apathetic after completing our achievements, we should be reinspired to conquer whatever new worlds God has called us to! The ending slope of one mountain is usually connected to another, and that’s just what we need to keep our lives interesting! As we take the necessary courage to look out beyond the horizon of our surroundings, we should not be filled with fear over what lies before us, but full of awe and hope. How boring would it be if God chose to only give us one quest in our lives? Be inspired to do all you can, while you can before the Lord escorts us up to Heaven someday!

 

The Lord is our travel Guide in this grand expedition we call life, so let’s take a look at His Special Map for directions to our ultimate destination:

Mountain path

Deuteronomy 5:33 ~ “ Ye shall walk in all the ways which the Lord your God hath commanded you, that ye may live, and that it may be well with you, and that ye may prolong your days in the land which ye shall possess.

Deuteronomy 13:4 ~ “Ye shall walk after the Lord your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him.

Deuteronomy 31:8 ~ “And the Lord, he it is that doth go before thee; he will be with thee, he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed.”

Joshua 14:8-9 ~ “Nevertheless my brethren that went up with me made the heart of the people melt: but I wholly followed the Lord my God. So Moses swore on that day, saying, ‘Surely the land on which your foot has trodden will be an inheritance to you and to your children forever, because you have followed the LORD my God fully.’

Sunwashed Mountain

Psalm 23 ~ “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.”

Psalm 27:33 ~ “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in his way.”

Psalm 40:2 ~ “He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings.

Psalm 119:133 ~ “Order my steps in thy word: and let not any iniquity have dominion over me.”

Proverbs 3:5-6 ~ “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”

Isaiah 48:17 ~ “Thus saith the Lord, thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel; I am the Lord thy God which teacheth thee to profit, which leadeth thee by the way that thou shouldest go.

Jeremiah 2:2 ~ “Go and cry in the ears of Jerusalem, saying, Thus saith the Lord; I remember thee, the kindness of thy youth, the love of thine espousals, when thou wentest after me in the wilderness, in a land that was not sown.”

Jeremiah 3:19 ~ “”Then I said, ‘How I would set you among My sons And give you a pleasant land, The most beautiful inheritance of the nations!’ And I said, ‘You shall call Me, My Father, And not turn away from following Me.'”

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.”

John 8:12 ~ “Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

John 12:26 ~ “If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour.”

Philippians 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,

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.”

 

Now that I’ve shared these tips of advice with you, take them with you as you enjoy scaling the slopes of success and exploring the peaks of prosperity!

I'm ready

Our life is meant to be one grand adventure, with many winding roads and twisting turns. The journey we travel cannot be lived in one place, otherwise it simply isn’t a journey. We can’t allow ourselves to be satisfied while staying in one spot – it is our divine privilege and duty to keep on exploring the paths God has for us, while staying connected to Him through the spiritual ground of His Word and the special power of prayer. With God’s help, we can set our sights on any mountain He wants us to climb, so long as we have faith the size of a tiny little mustard seed. Just like the nun sings to Maria in the classic movie, The Sound of Music, we truly can “climb every mountain” we face in our lives, by keeping our faith in God and overcoming our fears. After succeeding in the dreams and goals God has given to us, we still have so much to look forward to as long as we live, both in this life and the next. It’s our job to just be brave enough to look over the summit, and see the beautiful view for ourselves.

– Gloria D. Hopkins

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

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

 

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