Hopelessness Hurts

Psalm 34; 17-20  When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all. He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken.

It’s no surprise that I am using Psalm 34 in this devotional.  My family will all tell you that Psalm 34 is the story of my life, my most treasured scripture among many treasured scriptures.     It became my most favorite during one of the hardest and most hopeless times of my life.  I held onto verse 17 when there was nothing around me, no person, no dream, no hope to sustain me.  Indeed, I was crying out for help and honestly, I didn’t believe there was help available.  I chose to believe these words, I didn’t feel them.  I took them in as I would aspirin for a headache, not believing that those little pills would do their work and affect the condition of my head.

Turns out I didn’t have to understand how putting scripture in worked in my spirit any more than I had to understand how the aspirin in my mouth transformed my body to impact my throbbing head.  This was one of the four things I did out of sheer obedience, even though my emotions were not in it and I didn’t “believe” any of it would make a difference.  What did I do?   Well, here you go:

COMPASSION–   I had to show compassion for someone else.   To this day if I am struggling with feeling down, I get in my car, go to the mall or Walmart, or somewhere, and simply walk around and say nice, random things to strangers-  “I love your dress.  Your smile is contagious.  Could I help you carry that?  Wow, I just saw you do such a kind thing.” I search for things are are true and speak them.  Sometimes I will just go to a restaurant and look around and ask the Lord to show me whose meal He’d like for me to buy anonymously.  And I obey, get the server to handle the paperwork, and simply watch the response of someone being blessed for no reason.  It’s amazing how simply seeing another person being blessed (you can’t really do this one online) can change your perspective.  (It actually becomes a habit and I just do it for the sake of it these days.  It’s a great cost/benefit analysis.  No real cost to speak a kind word.  Incredible benefit to all involved.  It’s a bargain!)

CONFESSION–   Sit down with a notebook (or your keyboard) and ask the Lord to bring to remembrance anything and everything you’ve ever done that needs confession, and even perhaps some humbling action on your part to ask for forgiveness, or to return something that isn’t yours, or whatever you need to do to make amends.   Ask for the Lord’s forgiveness and forgive yourself- line item by line item as He brings them to your mind.   You will be amazed at the things He might bring to mind, some going back to childhood.  This has to be done in a quiet place, with praise music on preferably, and with a willingness to open your deep, deep heart to yourself and to Him.  If you’re not there, then start at whatever is true.  If you’re not there, then ask Him to make you willing to be willing to do this.    Anything left in the dark, unconfessed, grows fungus and can turn to shame, sometimes shame that is so deep in the subconscious that you don’t even know it’s controlling you, and it very well may be.   And remember- we cannot excuse our #2 sin just because the “other guy” had a #8 sin in the same circumstance.  We are still accountable. This takes time but consider if you had cancer in your body, would you make the time for treatment?  How much more important is a cancer in your spirit?  Please make the time.

CONSIDER THE CROSS–   In the same regard,  sit down and write a list of things that the Lord brings to mind that have been done to you, to cause you injury and pain of any sort.   Let the Lord’s spirit reveal them to you.  Typically these will come fast once they start flowing.   Write them down.  Go through each one of them, slowly, and ask yourself if the cross is enough.  If you decide that the cross is enough, then put that one thing on the cross and thank Jesus that His death was big enough to cover that sin.   Make a conscious and willful decision to forgive whomever requires forgiveness (and oddly enough, you may at times need to forgive God, not because He did anything wrong but because you are holding Him accountable).  Release the emotions of these injuries in a safe form and find your freedom.    And remember, when you forgive, it doesn’t mean the other guy is let off the hook. It means you’ve handed him/her over to God to deal with (finally) and believe me, that is not necessarily a picnic. God’s justice is much more efficient than ours, yet tempered by His love.

CONSUME–  As mentioned above, find any and all appropriate scriptures for where you are and consume them deep into yourself.   Read them, memorize them.  Spend much time in the Word.  If you desire to do nothing, then get tapes of scripture and play them through your iPod.  Play them when you are in the shower (not on your iPod, haha), play them when you’re in the car, when you’re asleep.  Take them in like you would swallow medicine for a physical illness.   ( I have posted some good ones below.) THIS IS CRUCIAL!!!

And remember, make a willful choice for life.   CHOOSE life.   CHOOSE hope.  CHOOSE joy-  regardless of how it feels.

Takeaway:  Feeling hopeless is an awful and difficult place to be, for sure.  And sometimes when people say, “just get it together” it pushes you deeper into despair because you are keenly aware that you are incapable.  And sometimes we ARE incapable of bringing ourselves out of despair and hopelessness.  But God is able.   Here, too, we find that it requires some action on our part (obedience) in order to receive our freedom (blessing) but there are steps we can choose to take, or we can at least pray to want to take, and God will meet us where we are.  

Prayer:   Father, You alone are my Hope.  Lord, I will be honest with You as to where I am.  Meet me here, Lord.  Move me to the place where You want me to be.  If that means I pray for the desire to take the steps I need to take, then I pray that prayer.    I trust Your word, that You will never leave me or forsake me. I choose to believe that, even though it doesn’t feel true.    Reveal Your love to me, please Lord, and guide my steps to freedom.   Father, I need you.  I surrender to You.  Teach me what is true.  

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Philippians 4:6-7  Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

1 Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

Matthew 11:28-30  Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

James 5:13 Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise.

Isaiah 40:31  But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

Revelation 21:4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

Luke 1:37  For nothing will be impossible with God.

Romans 12:2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.

Philippians 4:19  And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Psalm 91:1-16  He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler. You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day, …

Romans 15:13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

Romans 9:16  So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.

John 10:10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

1 Timothy 2:4 Who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

Galatians 5:1 For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20  Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

Romans 8:7-8  For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

John 3:16  “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

John 6:44  No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.

Isaiah 45:22  “Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other.

2 Corinthians 12:9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Acts 17:30   The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent,

1 Peter 1:2  According to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you.

2 Timothy 1:9  Who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began,

Romans 9:19-20  You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?”

Mark 5:36 But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.”

Psalm 13: 4-5 How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me? Consider and answer me, O Lord my God; light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death, lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,” lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.

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