From Despair to Hope

We all go through struggles and hard times. Life is not fair. There are times of sadness, despair, and regret. The Psalmist paints a picture of someone trapped in an emotional downward spiral. Everything seems overwhelming and yet, in the end, they were able to say that there is encouragement in seeking God’s help. Why? Because God hears us.

There are two types of trauma that brings the kind of despair that we read in today’s passage. There is the trauma of “not getting what we need” , and then there is the trauma of “getting something that we should have never received.” The first is the result of neglect and abandonment, the second from abuse. But the good news is that God hears us in our despair and He can help us. Life brings each of us inescapable traumas that block maturity.

God’s redemptive activity comes to us in two ways: He brings healing to our traumas, and adopts us into His family. Both ways boost us through our blocks to maturity, along the way to wholeness, With these boosts, we will be able to live from the hearts He gave us, our true identities will emerge, and our relationships with family and community will be characterized by joy.

Today, praise God for His healing. It is there for you as you bring your pain to Him. Also, praise God for His family. It is through the fellowship and love from each other that we are made whole and can experience the joy He has for us.

“Save me, O God, for the floodwaters are up to my neck. Deeper and deeper I sink into the mire; I can’t find a foothold. I am in deep water, and the floods overwhelm me. I am exhausted from crying for help; my throat is parched. My eyes are swollen with weeping, waiting for my God to help me.” – “Let all who seek God’s help be encouraged. For the LORD hears the cries of the needy.”
Psalms 69: 1-3, 32-33 (NLT)

 

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The Balm of Truth Heals & Sets Us Free

Nothing hurts, and nothing heals like the truth. Facing the truth is sometimes like getting a shot from the doctor. Facing the truth sometimes brings a sting, but eventually, healing will come, and we will feel better.

The truth heals us and restores us when we place our lives in the hands of God. Without placing our life in Christ’s love and grace, the truth can only hurt us, and there are even times when the truth can maim and traumatize us. However, God has organized things in such a way as to bless us and heal us when we are with Him and when we rejoice in knowing the truth.

The truth heals and restores our soul because when we live and immerse ourselves in the truth, eventually the truth will lead us to God. We are healed and restored by the truth because the truth always leads us to a place where we find comfort and love in His presence.

The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth is this…God loves us beyond our ability to fully comprehend. All the hurt, trauma, and tragedy of this life can be washed away in the truth of God’s love and grace if we are willing to be His child.

This washing away of our darkness is how the truth heals and restores us. After we are washed clean by Christ’s love, we find ourselves being wrapped up in His arms. In the washing away of our lies and deceptions, we begin to see clearly our Savior who stands by us every second of our life. We also see He wants us to join Him in Heaven after our mission on earth has been completed.

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Learning to Trust

Trust is learned. And once one learns to withhold trust it’s hard to “unlearn.” If people aren’t trustworthy, our sense of security is shaken.

It may be a parent who mistreated or didn’t protect you, a spouse that you trusted who let you down, or a close friend who betrayed you.

God wants you to learn to trust in a healthy way, with boundaries. He knows the pain you’ve experienced and the fear you have of ever trust anyone again.  That’s no way to live, though. That’s like living in a prison even though you are not behind physical bars.

Trust the Lord today. He is faithful today. Your Jesus, your precious savior, the lover of your soul will heal the parts of you that have trouble trusting.

Lord God,

I say that I trust You, God, but deep down I hold on to the reins. I can’t quite surrender all the control over my life. I try to control what happens around me. I don’t trust others to come through for me.  I try to do everything myself, but it’s not working for me! Help me learn to trust so that I can depend on others and upon you, Lord.

In Jesus Name, Amen.

“I will trust and not be afraid.” Isaiah 12:2

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Love or Need Based Relationships?

Do you engage in love based or need based relationships? People in love engage in healthy mutually satisfying give and take relationships. They want the best for each other and bring out the best in each other. They know that love requires sacrifice from time to time and they know what it means to die to self. They don’t expect the other person to fulfill all their needs because they understand that no human being is even capable of doing that because only God can meet all our needs. Only His love truly satisfies. People in love are emotionally healthy individuals who find their value and worth in Christ alone not looking to others for self-worth and identity. True love brings forth life and grows deeper and stronger with time.

People in need operate out of a brokenness not wholeness. They attach themselves to unhealthy people who they think have the power to meet their desperate need for love, security, and significance. But because brokenness attracts brokenness they tend to draw emotionally unavailable people, who are often abusive, struggling with addictions or have an array of other issues, who do more taking than giving and are incapable of meeting even the basic of needs required for a healthy relationship. This causes a lot of pain and heartache and brings forth death and destruction resulting in extremely toxic and unhealthy relationships that only get worse with time. And yes! Even Christians can operate out of need instead of love. The church is full of hurting people involved in unhealthy relationships.

Are you in love or are you in need? If you are in the latter, understand that relationships will not work until you start operation out love. Sadly many Christians don’t truly understand what love is because they have never been modeled it, never have experienced it. They don’t know their value and worth as a precious child of God because their basic human need for love was not met growing up. So they take matters into their own hands and like the song says go searching for love in all the wrong places and settle for the counterfeit version that never satisfies.

Oswald Chambers wrote – “No love of the natural heart is safe unless the human heart has been satisfied by God first.” The love of God has the power to change us from the inside out. But there is a marked difference between knowing about the love of God and receiving it into our hearts. It is only when we truly encounter and accept the authentic, undefiled Agape love of our Savior that we are then able to “Love the Lord with all our hearts, soul, mind, and strength and love others as ourselves.” (Mark 12:30). This is the key to engaging in healthy mutually satisfying relationships. It’s the biblical formula that has the power to heal and transform and empower us to engage in love based not need-based relationships.

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The Hardened Heart of Self-Protection

A deep wound, a broken heart, disappointments, bitterness, and unforgiveness can cause the heart to become hardened with time. It causes us to put up walls. Our defenses go up. We self-protect, and we don’t let anyone in including God.

Self-protection leaves us running on reserve and is the cause of intimacy issues and conflict in relationships. It seems that it’s easier to be hard than soft and vulnerable because we don’t want to get hurt. But you were not created to live that way. God made you to be tender and responsive.

It’s hard to shape stone.  As long as your heart remains hard, you will miss out on the abundant life Jesus came to give. So let the living God come into your heart, heal your wounds and tear down your self-protection and defenses.

The amplified version of Ezekiel 11:16 says “And I will give them one heart, a new heart, and I will put a new Spirit within them, and I will take the stony, unnatural hardened heart out and give them a heart of flesh, sensitive and responsive to the touch of their God.”

Give your hurts to the Lord. Let God shape you. When you do that…He will leave His fingerprints all over your heart.

 

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Emotions That Bind

Who or what controls your emotions? Is it you, someone or something that happen to you? The book of Proverbs warns, “Above all else, guard your heart, for out of it flows the issues of life” (Proverbs 4:23).

Behaviors that bind that hurt self and others start early in life. Many people, even in the best of homes, are living on “leftovers” – emotions and attitudes left over from the way they were raised.

For instance, those who as children felt they could never measure up to expectations are likely to experience feelings of inadequacy, rejection, shame, and guilt as adults; they may also deal with resentment and hostility.

And grown people who walk away from responsibility or commitments when they don’t get their way are frequently the ones whose parents caved into their every desire. This is why it’s so hurtful to give in to children’s temper tantrums and demands. They learn the world is their oyster and grow to be demanding, entitled, selfish, self-centered adults.

Those who struggle with low self-worth or low self-esteem are often a byproduct of lack of childhood acceptance and affirmation. It’s important for children to learn they are of tremendous value to parents but most importantly their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Their sense of security should come, not from possessions, whether they are “good” or “bad” but from a personal relationship with Him that says they are valued and loved for who they are no matter what. Otherwise, as adults, they may operate out of shame instead of the precious gift of God’s never-ending grace.

“Do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.”

Colossians 3:21

 

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Healing Emotional Pain

Understanding that people are not responsible for our feelings is crucial in the healing process. Emotions are influenced by our own thoughts and beliefs that we choose to believe about ourselves, others and the world around us. We need to stop holding people responsible and allow God to heal our hearts.  God’s truth and claiming His promises is the key to combating negative emotions.

Many enter the healing journey feeling powerless and overwhelmed by circumstances and painful emotions that they try to control but can’t. The truth of the matter is that we are powerless to change anything, but God has the power to change all things. When we truly come to grips with that and stop trying to control everything; we enter into a sweet place of brokenness and humility before the Lord, where we can start surrendering our faulty thinking and painful emotions to Him.

Sifting through the unhealthy symptoms of emotional pain can seem overwhelming, but there is hope and healing on the other side. Running away from emotional pain will only deepen the hurt and keeps us in bondage to faulty thinking and negative behaviors affecting all our relationships, breaking intimacy with self, God and others.  We need to be set free from the things that have been hindering us from living the abundant life of a believer.

Prayer to Reveal Inner Wounds

Oh, Father,

I come to You as Your child for help.

Please calm my heart.

Enable me to see what I need to see.

Make me aware of my need for healing and show Your truth.

 

Bring to mind any buried pain……

Surface any hidden hurt and the exact circumstances that caused it.

I ask You to help my wounded heart to heal.

I know You have the power to make me whole.

I am willing to face whatever you want me to face

So I can be set free

In the Holy Name of Jesus, I pray, Amen.

“Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts, And in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom.”  Psalm 51:6

“He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives, And the opening of the prison to those who are bound.”   Isaiah 61:1

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Emotions & Spiritual Warfare

Have you ever stepped back and listened to your thoughts? Have you been surprised by them and wondered where they were coming from? In his book Wild at Heart, John Eldredge wrote, “We are being lied to all the time. Yet, we never stop to say, “Wait a minute…Who else is speaking here? Where are those ideas coming from? Where are those feelings coming from?”

The Apostle Peter warned us “ Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” (1 Peter 5:8) We have a real enemy, a cunning schemer, highly skilled in the art of combat whose chief goal is to destroy God’s children. But he is a crafty one, he knows if he were to show up as a dark, scary figure with a pitchfork we would immediately flee sensing danger. So instead, he is a master deceiver who uses our fears, hurts, and insecurities to influence our thought life. The enemy knows that if he can control our minds, he can control our emotions and behavior. His weapon is lies. When we believe Satan’s lies over God’s truth, it leads to faulty thinking and wrong behaviors that enslave our souls. Our defense is the truth of the inerrant word of God.

The Bible gives a detailed combat strategy for defeating the enemy. We are to pull down strongholds and bring every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). Simply put lies have become strongholds in our lives that speak death into our souls preventing us from walking in the fullness of Christ. Satan’s lies must be demolished and replaced with God truth. If your thoughts are telling you that you are not good enough, that you are unworthy, that you are ugly, that you will always live in fear, that you will never, heal, that you will always live in bondage, stop for one moment and ask yourself…”Whose voice am I hearing?” God’s word tells us that Jesus is the Good Shepherd and His sheep hear His voice and protects them from the thief who wants to destroy them. Our beloved Savior would never harm His sheep by speaking lies.

If you hearing that you will never amount to anything, that’s a lie from the enemy, choose instead to listen to your Shepherd, who says “For I know the thoughts I have towards you, thoughts of peace and not of evil to bring you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11. The enemy is a liar and cannot stand against God’s truth. Choose to walk in truth. When you do that it will render the enemy powerless and defeated.

If you are hear that you will never amount to anything, that’s a lie from the enemy, choose instead to listen to your Shepherd, who says “For I know the thoughts I have towards you, thoughts of peace and not of evil to bring you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11. The enemy is a liar and cannot stand against God’s truth. Choose to walk in truth. When you do that it will render the enemy powerless and defeated.

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Physical Effects of Negative Emotions

Just like our bodies can get physically sick and impair our physical functions, our minds can also get sick and can alter our feelings such as anxiety, depression, etc. Sadly, we live in a culture that labels everything a physical disorder because then we can apply physical healing by medicating. So often the symptom is treated without getting to the root. Physical conditions are real but more often than not are an effect and not the cause of the underlining problem. Modern medicine fails to recognize that often physical symptoms can be linked to negative emotions. When a person becomes spiritually and emotionally healthy, these issues often go away.

Dr. Carolyn Lear author of “Who Switched Off My Brain” has found correlations between our thought life and physical and emotional illness. When you feel sad, afraid, angry or hopeful, your brain releases different types of chemicals. Depending on whether or not these emotions are toxic to your body, the chemicals will either help you or harm you. If they are harmful, they create conditions for a host of health problems that will manifest in both the body and the mind.

Emotions that regularly release a torrent of destructive chemicals that will be the most damaging over time – unforgiveness, anger, rage, resentment, depression, worry, anxiety, frustration, fear, excessive grief, and guilt.  Research shows that around 87% of illnesses can be attributed to our thought life, and approximately 13% of the diet, genetics, and environment. These toxic emotions can cause migraines, hypertension, strokes, cancer, skin problems, diabetes, infections, and allergies, just to name a few. Some Examples:

Joy

When you are at peace, chances are you are experiencing joy – your body produces endorphins, serotonin – these are the feel-good chemicals. These produce pleasure. This is conducive to an overall system of well-being, vitality, and health. This is positive.

Anxiety & Fear

These destructive emotions will cause the body to release harmful chemicals such as the stress hormone CRH and ACTH. These hormones race to the adrenal glands to produce cortisol and adrenaline which cause extreme physical symptoms, heart palpitations, and breathing difficulties. Serotonin and endorphin levels can deplete which cause severe depression

All these emotions primarily begin with a thought, which if not taken captive can lead to negative and toxic thinking resulting in the release of the negative chemicals which in turn can result in a host of physical ailments.  That’s why it is essential to rid ourselves of the contaminated belief systems that may have taken root throughout our life affecting our emotional life and relationships. Faulty belief systems are strongholds that have built up in our minds that must be demolished. How do we do that? We go to war against them. God’s word says….

”For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:3-5

Every negative thought, belief system, and lie must be replaced with truth. Jesus said, “You will know the truth and truth will make you free.” (John 8:32)  We do not have to live in bondage to a hurtful past or negative emotional life.  No matter our past experiences we can live a life of abundance in Christ. Give your burdens to Jesus. He is faithful to heal you from the inside out and give you rest.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Mathew 11:28-30)

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Let Go of The Past

“But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.“ Phil 3:13

Many believers are able to let go of the past and live and thrive in the fullness of a new life in Christ. Sadly many cannot because they have been wounded and crippled emotionally in one way or another. So instead of running the race with endurance – they limp along the way.

There are two types of emotionally wounded believers – The first turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms,-negative behaviors – addictions, immorality, anger, etc.

The second try to pull themselves up by the boot straps choosing to bury and rise about their past through self-efforts and busy themselves with many things including work, ministry, volunteer work, charities, always doing –  often out of a need to be needed and valued rather than a healthy heart to serve. The problem is they have never deal with the pain and believe that they are living free but are still living in bondage because deep inside they still believe the lies behind the pain.

Both are hurting, and both are in denial. They may have different coping mechanisms but one thing in common….they have never fully accepted the Grace of God into the deeply wounded areas of their hearts.

Both are hindered from living the abundant life that Jesus spoke about in John 10:10

How do they move forward? The past must be dealt with in order to move forward. Burying it doesn’t work, stuffing doesn’t work, pretending it’s not there doesn’t work….sooner or later it unravels….the stuffing comes out in negative behaviors or even seemingly good behaviors, but at the root, there is something entirely different going on.

Give your hurts to Jesus. Stop running and hiding from the past. Let God heal your hurts and replace the lies with the truth of who you are in Jesus. Let go! Put the past behind, reach ahead and run the race with endurance and assurance of God’s calling on our life.

“Let us lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith. “ Hebrews 12:1-2

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