Hope That Rises Through Change . . . .

Change is rarely something I seek but have come to appreciate.  My husband and I, married for almost forty-eight years, have lived in the same house for more than thirty of those years. We’ve made many changes to the house over time, but the placement of the couch in the living room has not changed since the day we moved in. (Just to clarify, we did replace the couch–twenty years ago!)

Yet we have learned to appreciate change–largely through our kids.  We enjoyed them when they lived at home (for the most part), but celebrated when they became contributing members of society, married, and gifted us with our seven grandchildren.  Last year we entered a new stage of change when our oldest grandchild left home to serve in the Army–much sooner than we were ready for.  But we have been gratified to see the fruit of that change . . . the man that he is becoming.

Change can be difficult and even unwelcome.
But we have learned that when change comes (not if),
God is always–always(!)–good!

Change is in the air . . . .

Meaningful change has come to the Counseling Room.  I wasn’t looking for it, but there has been a noticeable shift of attitude in the majority of Clients seeking help:

  • When I became a Counselor more than two decades ago, Clients sought help dealing with their problems–period.

Clients back then were open to looking at the Bible, much the same way that we do today, but their focus (and probably my own) was mainly on resolving their problem(s).

In recent years, change having to do with the long-term goals of Clients, has made work in the Counseling Room gratifying.:

  • Where resolving problems was the emphasis in the past, the majority of Clients today are expressing a “desire to grow spiritually” as their primary goal of Counseling.  

This is how one Client expressed it recently:

“I’ve been in [secular] Counseling for 2 years and nothing much has changed.
I’ve ‘vented’ for countless hours and filled journals that need to be burned.
Now I’m realizing that nothing’s going to change,
apart from God changing me.
I want . . . no, I NEED to know God better!”*

What has caused this change? My thought is that as our times have become increasingly uncertain, and as what is “right” and what is“wrong” have become blurred within society, people are looking for clarity and with it, HOPE.  In essence, this shift has taken place because hearts are craving what Jesus spoke of in Matthew 5:6,

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they shall be satisfied.”

There is a palpable “hunger and thirst” being manifested in the Counseling Room, like I have never experienced before.  I have found that the only way to satisfy that longing, is to bring God’s Voice (manifested through the Scriptures) into every conversation that takes place..

But the change doesn’t stop there.  Clients are more committed to actively continuing that conversation with God by doing their Journey Notes.  (to the point of challenging me to re-enter into doing Journey Notes myself.)  Every time we meet, I count it a joy and privilege to watch their faces and to listen to what God has taught them since our previous Session.  Please don’t get me wrong, there are still the harsh realities in their lives that need to be faced and worked through.  But even so, HOPE continues to burn brightly as the Voice of the Shepherd ministers to both our hearts.

As I write this,  I marvel at the freshness of HOPE received as God’s Spirit ministers to hearts through words written more than two thousand years ago.  Consider the wisdom of the Apostle Paul who wrote:

“And HOPE does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
You see, at just the right time, when we were still sinners,
Christ died for the ungodly.
Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person . . .
but God demonstrates His own love for us in this:
While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Romans 5:5, 7 & 8

How do you respond to change?  Do you give way to fear or get angry as you try to cling to what was? Or do you lean into God when change hits, determined to trust and embrace every lesson He has for you?

This week I discovered fresh insight into dealing with challenging times in Psalm 143, especially verses 5 and 6:

“I remember the days of long ago;
I meditate on all your works
and consider what your hands have done.
I spread out my hands to you;
I thirst for you like a parched land.” 

At first glance we may perceive only a glimmer of light on the horizon of our lives. But as we remember God’s faithfulness to us in the past and we thirst expectantly for God to work out His best, we discover HOPE rising as it renews and floods our senses.

That promise of HOPE in God’s steadfast love continues in verses 8 and 12:

“Let the morning bring me word of Your unfailing love,
for I have put my trust in You.
Show me the way I should go,
for to You I entrust my life . . . .
In Your unfailing love, silence my enemies;
destroy all my foes,
for I am Your servant.”

No matter what you are facing, no matter how dark things may appear, our God of HOPE will never abandon you.  Do you have a friend who needs help but feel as if your efforts are going nowhere?  Then I encourage you to bring God’s Voice into your conversation for the direction and HOPE found only in Him.

“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.”

Romans 15:13

All to His Glory!

*In no way do I mean to disparage the value of secular counseling–certainly there is a place for it in a hurting, fallen world.  However, the benefits of Biblical Counseling–learning to look at problems and ourselves from God’s perspective–is largely ignored and opportunities for personal growth never realized.

 

A Timeless Hope That Lessens the Sting . . . .

I don’t remember the last time I was stung by a bee, but it alway surprises me when the intensity of the pain seems to take my breath away.  Almost comically, my next thought invariably is, “Man! I totally forgot how much a bee’s sting hurts!”

This past year, our family was stung hard by news that no one ever wants to hear.  Barely one year ago, our son Luke was diagnosed with cancer.  We had hoped surgery and radiation would take care of it, but this fall he had to receive twenty-one chemotherapy infusions.   The week of Luke’s last treatment, we were stung again when we learned that our daughter-in-love, Shannon (Luke’s wife), also has cancer that requires immediate surgery.

I have to be honest, when the paralyzing jolt of “cancer” hit, it stung us harder than anything else ever has. Feeling as if our world was falling apart, it was more than we could bear.  It was then, that we cried out, “Please God, help!”

It never ceases to amaze me how quickly He answers our cries for help; how His Spirit reminded us of Scripture that helped us through previous battles and how He brought to light new passages that have deepened our faith:

“Now HOPE does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”
Romans 5:5, (NKJV)

“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.
Romans 15:13

“Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because,
having stood the test,that person will receive the crown of life
that the Lord has promised to those who love Him.
When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.”
For God cannot be tempted by evil,nor does He tempt anyone . . . . “

James 1:12, 13

The rawness of life can sting us hard at times, yet, when we are knocked down and lack the strength needed to get up–God supplies.  He provides the perspective needed to enable us to stand, as He dusts us off and sends us in the direction He would have us go.  In Him we have a TIMELESS HOPE who will carry us through even the darkest hour:

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power.
Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers
of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes,
you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
Ephesians 6:10-13

Are you struggling right now at the unfairness of life?  Do you find yourself grumbling inwardly as the sting of bitterness and resentment intensify and everything around you seems hopeless?  As a dear friend said to me many years ago, “Kathie, if you are talking to yourself when you are angry or hurt, you are probably sinning.  Talk to God instead and He will help you like nothing else can!”  I Peter 3:15 sets the tone well for switching our spiritual gears from hopelessness to a growing, intentional, God-centered faith that is bent on loving others:

“But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord.
Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you
to give the reason for the HOPE that you have within you. But do this with gentleness and respect . . . .”

 I Peter 3:15

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As I reflect on the TIMELESS HOPE that is ours through Christ, my mind brings me full-circle.  Suddenly, I am back in the Garden before sin mucked everything up, wondering . . . “were bees in the Garden of Eden?”  Understanding their role in pollination and being appreciative of the natural sweetness of their labor (honey), I believe the answer is, “yes!”  Even as things are now, I admit that I enjoy watching them do their work in my garden–keeping a respectful distance of course!  But did they sting with such a vengeance then?  I think not.  As I look out to our garden, winter has barely settled in.  I do not know what the future holds, yet I already long for spring.  When I think about the sting of suffering and heartache that are so much a part of this life, I yearn for the return of Christ Jesus, when the Promise will be fulfilled and the sting . . . no more!

“And He who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’”
Revelation 21:5

Come Lord Jesus . . . COME!

 All to His Glory!