Where the End of Hopelessness Begins for You

Theology offers something essential in your struggle.

There’s not much we can be sure of today. We live in a culture of broken promises, broken relationships, shallow friendships, and flawed leaders. And that’s just at church.

Where the End of Hopelessness Begins for You

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After a number of stabbing disappointments, we can come to the place where we expect little else. We can choose to hope for nothing in hopes we won’t be disappointed. When we focus on the here and now—and especially on all the pain life has handed us—the black hole of hopelessness sucks us in and surrounds us.

To the marvelous promise that “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose,” we need to ponder the rhetorical question that follows: “If God is for us, who is against us?” (Rom. 8:28, 31).

The question gives context to those painful parts of God’s sovereignty in our lives.

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Why Your Life in Christ is Supposed to Hurt

Finding the key to pressing on in spite of your pain.

Any woman who has experienced childbirth understands. Any helpless man who has witnessed childbirth, like me (twice), gets it to a degree. That’s why the Bible uses the experience as a metaphor of our lives.

Why Your Life in Christ is Supposed to Hurt

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The whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. And not only this, but also we ourselves . . . groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. —Romans 8:22–23

We would all love to have an emotional epidural to where we didn’t feel the pain of life. But that won’t happen.

God doesn’t give us a way to avoid the hurt.

But He does tell us what to think so we can make it through the struggle.

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Israel’s Negev Gives Enormous Hope for Your Barren Life

Nothing can stop God from fulfilling His promises.

Nothing can stop God from fulfilling His promises to those who believe in Him. In the mean time, it takes great vision to see something where there is nothing. Israel’s Negev provides a great example.

Israel's Negev Gives Enormous Hope for Your Barren Life

(Photo: Sculpture garden at Sde Boker, by שי קסל CC-BY-2.5, via Wikimedia Commons)

Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, saw the vast expanse of Israel’s Negev as something that offered great potential. In 1953, he settled in the kibbutz Sde Boker, urging Israelis to help him tame the Negev into a new society for Israel.

To many, the idea seemed no more than a pipe dream. As a result, the plea fell on deaf ears, for the arid region receives barely eight inches of rain per year.

In the Negev, life has one uncompromising requirement: water. Through this simple need in the same land, God taught His people a life-giving lesson.

We can drink from it as well.

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Why Your Life of Faith Has Gaps

What we must understand if we hope to maintain a life of faith.

The Bible doesn’t tell us everything. Not even close. That’s because there are huge gaps between most events. Oh, to be sure, the Bible tells us all we need to know. But it leaves out most of the details that scratch our curious itches.

Most of life is gaps.

(Photo: The Zin Valley in the Aravah of Israel. Picture by Noam Armonn)

For starters:

  • What did Jesus look like?
  • Was Nehemiah bowlegged?
  • Did Martha have a sidesplitting laugh?
  • Was David more handsome than Brad Pitt?

We’ll never know. And this offers a huge encouragement in our life of faith.

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How to Respond When God Demands from You Something Impossible

The surprising benefits of understanding your limitations.

We tend to expect God to act in ways we can understand. We work, and so God provides money. We pray, and so God answers prayer. We do this, and so God does that. In other words, we see God as the effect and ourselves as the cause.

How to Respond When God Demands from You Something Impossible

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Life is all about God responding, it seems, and if we do nothing, neither will God.

This isn’t true, obviously. But it’s how we feel.

So, what if we’re in a situation where we can do nothing? What happens when we can no longer be the cause?

When God demands from you something impossible?

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Valley of Achor: How to Change Your Trouble to Triumph

Why You Should Never Give up if You're in a Hopeless Place

Some places hoard bad memories. Maybe it was your hometown or even your home. The events associated with that place have forever tainted its memories. The Valley of Achor was such a site.

Valley of Achor: How to Change Your Trouble to Triumph

(Photo: The Wadi Qilt, perhaps the Valley of Achor. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

After Joshua’s victory at Jericho, the Israelites suffered defeat at Ai because a man named Achan had buried banned spoils of war under his tent (Joshua 7:1, 21). Following this event, the Valley of Achor served as a reminder of failure, of setback, and of defeat.

But God would change the place from a site of trouble to a place of triumph.

He can do the same for you.

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How the Spring Blows Open Your Backdoor to Hope

The Ultimate Earth Day Still to Come

Not long ago I walked down a country road and saw the spring leaves popping from the trees. Literally a week earlier the branches had nothing. One week! It got me to thinking.

How the Spring Blows Open Your Backdoor to Hope

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All the potential for the trees to leaf lay hidden, dormant all winter, until something inside the trees awakened them from sleep. Life was there all the time, hiding behind death, until something cued it to resurrect.

If this is how the earth responds to the stimulus of spring every year, how much more potential lay dormant—awaiting the moment God removes the effects of fallen humanity from our planet? Talk about an Earth Day!

The Bible uses this truth to encourage us in our struggles.

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The Kidron Valley – How Your Burial Can Point to Your Faith

Even after death, we can have a powerful witness to the living.

Have you thought where you’ll be buried? The place where someone chooses to get buried is always significant.

  • A hometown family plot is common.
  • The place where one’s ashes are scattered or stored often holds a special association.
  • Even unknown soldiers who die in battle occasionally receive a prominent interment.
The Kidron Valley with olive trees and graves

(Photo: The Kidron Valley with olives trees and graves. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

But in Israel, a burial place often exposed one’s faith. The tombs beside the Kidron Valley bear witness to this truth.

Each one offers a connection to resurrection.

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When You’re Ready—But Nothing Happens

Two reasons may explain why.

You’re ready for a change. You’ve asked God to open a new door in your life, and He has taken years to prepare you for it. Finally, you’re ready. There’s just one problem. Nothing happens.

When You are Ready—But Nothing Happens

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The plan of God includes preparation and waiting. But why do you have to keep waiting once God has prepared you? What else must you do for God to open the door?

The Apostle Peter experienced something that may explain why your progress is delayed.

After you read this post, you’ll understand what you can do in the mean time.

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Good Friday Gives Your Shame a Choice

Understand the choice between sin's penalty and sin's remedy.

Good Friday wasn’t so good for Judas. The guilt-ridden betrayer of Jesus hung himself and then fell headlong, spilling his innards. Hence, the residents later named the place where it happened, “Akeldema,” or “Field of Blood” (Acts 1:18-19).

Judas may have chosen this place to die for a specific reason.

Good Friday Gives Your Shame a Choice

(Photo: Monastery of St Onuphrius, traditional Akeldema, courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Today, the peaceful Monastery of St. Onuphrius at Akeldema offers no clue to the fact that Judas killed himself at that site—nor does it reveal the Hinnom Valley’s sordid history.

  • Horrific atrocities occurred in the Hinnom Valley during the days of Judah’s kings (2 Chronicles 33:6; Jeremiah 7:31).
  • In Jesus’ day, the city dump lay in this gorge. Some suggest that fires continually burned the trash, and so Jesus used the smoldering landfill of Gehenna as an illustration of hell’s eternal flames (Mark 9:43).

Because Jesus compared the Hinnom Valley to hell, one has to wonder if this is the reason Judas’s desperate regret led him to end his life in this ravine.

Like Judas, you have failed. But Judas’ shame doesn’t have to be yours.

Good Friday gives your shame a choice.

Peter shows us why.

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