“May the God of Hope fill you with all Joy and Peace as you trust in Him, so you may overflow with Hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13
Since 1991 I have referred to Romans 15:13 as, “My Desert Storm Verse.” As a military family we were very much aware of the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in August of 1990. Massive loads of supplies and troops were ferried overseas to various places with the hope that an international show of force would cause Iraq to leave Kuwait. Instead, their leader, Saddam Hussein, seemed to relish the attention as he talked about, “The battle of all battles.” I was still up watching the late night news on January 15; our three children had already gone to bed. I was trying to get good and sleepy before going to bed because my husband, a C-5 pilot, was away AGAIN. He had been on many missions supporting Desert Shield (the precursor of Desert Storm) and I knew my brother, also in the military, was “somewhere” overseas. Like many others, keeping up with the news had become an obsession for me. The program had just wrapped up (there was no news according to them) when the phone rang. I picked up the receiver and I heard my husband’s voice saying, “Kat, Kat, it’s me! I’m on the ramp in Spain trying to stall taking off. I’m listening to radio signals all around the Med (Mediterranean) saying they’ve closed the airspace over the Saudi area . . . I think the war is starting!”
Trying to stay calm, I promised to pray as I hung up the phone. Within moments, thinking about the potential devastation any war can bring on innocent people, I realized that I was really scared! I thought about the possibility of my children losing their dad, of losing my brother and of other friends and their families that would be caught up in (what would now be called) Desert Storm. I remember running to my Bible, picking it up and crying out to God for help. I didn’t know what I was looking for but I trusted that God would guide me to what I needed. I don’t know how I ended up in Paul’s letter to the Romans, but I do remember speed reading down the page until I read the first five words of verse 13: “May the God of Hope . . .” My mind came to a screeching halt (literally); it was as if cold water had been thrown in my face (in a good way.) I thought, “Oh, yeah . . . I serve a God of Hope!” I could feel my heart start to calm as I took in the verse in its entirety: “May the God of Hope fill you with all Joy and Peace, as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with Hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” I was grateful for the clarity given:
- To weather any storm well (be it a storm that comes up suddenly, or one you’ve dreaded and hoped would never come) it is best to be intentional in looking to our “God of Hope.” That will always be the key to maintaining a spirit of joy and peace.
As I sat and reflected on what God was showing me, I remembered the lesson I learned studying Philippians many years before: I can have joy in spite of circumstance and I can have joy in spite of people, through Christ who strengthens me.” Yes! The pieces of the puzzle settled neatly into place as my heart took in the latter part of the verse that instructs us to:
- Be lavish (“overflowing”) in sharing our God-centered hope, joy and peace with those in need.
I do not know how long I sat up that night, reflecting on God’s faithfulness. What I can tell you is that it changed me. More than that, God blessed me with the encouragement that when there is a crisis, there are always other people to care for in His Strength . . . where the “natural” meets the “supernatural”~ KA-POW! (For more insight, see September 21 entry: When God Enters . . . KA-POW!)
This brings us (finally!) to helping our hurting friends. Up to this point we have prayerfully checked and rechecked our motives; we have asked God to help us see our friends with His eyes as we have listened to their stories. Where do we go from there?
- The wisdom and perspective that we need is in the Scripture. God has given us His Word to help us unlock the mystery of how to minister to one another as He cares for us.
- FAITH in His Son serves as the key to unlocking those mysteries as the Holy Spirit leads.
Sadly, I believe we have lost our confidence in God’s ability to lead us. I recognized this when I first started counseling. I work with women from every age and background. ALL were shaky when it came to applying Scriptural truths to their problems because they were not biblical thinkers. Simply knowing Bible verses apart from the context of Scripture (the actual framework) often was not enough to support them in weathering trials. I think the problem is that we bury ourselves in a myriad of books, Bible studies and Scripture memorization but leave off personally soaking in the Scriptures. That is why I developed Journey Notes Praise Journaling for my clients. Over the past 18 years, clients faithful to do their Journey Notes have consistently demonstrated a marked improvement in their overall ability to face their problems. It is such an awesome privilege to watch their faith mature as they learn to give thanks to God in even the darkest of times. Be assured that God is wonderfully faithful as we run to His Word- like I did that dark January night!
You love and care about your friends? God loves and cares about them more. You may think, “But I don’t know the Scriptures as well as you appear to . . . I don’t know where to start!
- Begin on your knees, in humility and in faith as you look to and trust God to shepherd your mind and heart.
- Consider starting a Journey Notes Praise Journal [check out the Side Bar] to help you gain access to God’s Throne of Wisdom and Grace.
- In faith, give thanks to God for His love and mercy extended to you through His precious Son, our Lord Jesus. Also, give thanks for your friend as you remember that God’s love for them supersedes your own.
- As you open your Bible, ask God to give you a teachable heart as He directs you to the path He would have you take. Not sure where to go? Remember what Paul wrote in II Timothy 3:16, 17, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” Don’t be intimidated. If “all Scripture is God-breathed” you really can’t go wrong! The point is to START and then TRUST God to BLESS you as you rely on His Spirit to lead you in FAITH.
To help you get started here are some of the Scriptures we use in the Counseling Room:
- Take in Jeremiah 17: 5-10 as a reminder of how our choices impact our perceptions.
- Read any of the Epistles: I and II Peter make a good starting place.
- Consider any of the Gospels, brimful of opportunity to better know and serve your Savior.
- I like going to the Old Testament to hear God’s heart and voice in Genesis 4: 1-7 (God’s first counsel recorded in Scripture given to an angry Cain), Isaiah 30:15-22 (God’s prescription for His own to enjoy full lives is given as well as our foolish tendencies listed.)
- Of course, the Psalms and Proverbs are always good. I urge you to avoid using the Psalms to suit what you want to say; take in the Psalm in its entirety. Psalms 1, 23-25, 30-37, 46, 51, 73, 91, 119, and 139 are some of my favorites, but they are all good! I have found Proverbs 3 and 31:10-31 especially helpful over the years.
To be effective helpers to our friends we need to READ and learn from Scripture with teachable hearts. We then must REFLECT on what we have read and how it applies to our lives. Lastly, we are called to OWN what God has taught us by actually applying it as His Spirit leads. Think of it this way: part of the emergency procedures on a commercial flight instructs passengers to put their oxygen masks on before helping their weaker neighbor (probably a child). The wisdom behind this is? The weaker neighbor will continue to need help to survive the emergency, so it is imperative that their helper survive too.
What is our bottom line in helping others? We earn the privilege of serving and helping as we walk daily with our God of Hope, ministering as He leads us.
All to His Glory!