Tag Archives: hope

Light in the Tunnel

Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Psalm 23:4-5 NIV*

I’ve always thought of Psalm 23 as a progression. There are the green pastures, the quiet waters, the paths of righteousness, the dark valley, then the feasting.

But I wonder… many translations broaden the KJV’s “valley of the shadow of death” to be a dark valley of any kind, where we may be in danger or may just be slogging and struggling.

Isn’t that where the enemies are? Not when we come out the other side, but in that valley? Where the Shepherd keeps His staff handy to protect us?

When the going is hard and we’re desperate for a light at the end of the valley-tunnel, remember that our Shepherd—the Light of the world—is with us.

Sooner or later we’ll glimpse the end. We’ll even reach it. But even now, when we despair of going on, here in the presence of our enemies—illness, grief, negativity, fear, family, work, whatever valley we’re in—maybe our Shepherd is setting a table for us. Maybe He’s whispering, “Sit for a minute and eat. Rest and catch your breath. I AM here.”

Jesus, our gentle but strong Shepherd, remind us of Your presence in the light and in the dark. Help us rely on Your love and care. You know our needs. Help us trust You to meet them. Even in the valleys, with enemies all around.

May Casting Crowns‘ song, “I Know You’re There,” be our prayer today.

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Unbelief, or Rest?

So we see that because of their unbelief they were not able to enter his rest.
Hebrews 3:19, NLT*

“They” were the Israelites, led by Moses. The people who heard God’s voice on the mountain and begged in terror not to hear it again. The people who experienced the plagues in Egypt, the parting of the Red Sea, the manna in the desert. The people who swore to follow and obey God.

Hebrews 3:16-18 says they rebelled, made God angry, sinned. Disobeyed Him. Not just with the golden calf, but by refusing to enter the Promised Land because they trusted their fears more than they trusted God.

A lot of their disobedience came from unbelief. Aren’t we the same?

Sometimes we don’t believe because we don’t want to—we don’t want to obey, or to let go of our own ways or understandings.

But sometimes we don’t believe because we’re afraid. That’s when we need to pray, “Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.” (See Mark 9:22-24)

God knows our weakness, and He wants us to get it right. He wants us to enter His rest, that’s why He invited us. We only need to ask.

Thank You, God, that You don’t disqualify us for our weakness, but You invite us to ask for help. Thank You for such grace and love to help us, again and again, when we’re in need. Help us remember to ask You—help us believe and obey.

We had this song back in November, but it fits again here: Brian Doerksen’s “Enter the Rest of God.”

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.


This letter is from Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus, appointed by the command of God our Savior and Christ Jesus, who gives us hope.
1 Timothy 1:1, NLT* (emphasis mine)

Yes, sometimes I read backwards. It was verse 2 that nudged me last week, and now it’s verse 1.

Christ Jesus, who gives us hope. Let that steep a bit in your mind.


  • of new life – and of Heaven
  • that we’ll make it – sometimes life is hard
  • that we’ll conduct ourselves in ways that are pleasing to God
  • of healing and growth
  • of doing what He gives us to do: “I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13, NLT*)
  • of glory – Christ’s glory (His character) shining through us

That’s a lot of hope, and some days we need it all.

God of grace and mercy, You are our strong tower and our hope. Increase our faith and help us seize hold of the hope You offer. Let us live in confidence in You, expecting to see Your work in our lives. Not as we might want to see it, but as You want to unfold it. For the sake of Your glory.

Peter Furler’s song, “Greater is He (Hope of Glory),” helps these thoughts stick with me.

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.


Remembering God: Hope and Worship

So each generation should set its hope anew on God,
not forgetting his glorious miracles
and obeying his commands.
Psalm 78:7, NLT*

The Israelites passed down their experiences with God from generation to generation, and somehow the Holy Spirit worked an alchemy in believing souls to change “heard” knowledge into “heart” knowledge.

Knowing the stories was never enough; the other nations knew them, and trembled. God wanted relationship with His people, where they could love and trust Him as well as revering and worshiping Him.

When they “set their hope anew” on Him, they thrived. When they forgot what God had done—and He did some highly memorable miracles—or when they stopped believing or rationalized it away, the psalmist describes them as “stubborn, rebellious, and unfaithful, refusing to give their hearts to God.” (Psalm 78:8, NLT* emphasis mine)

The same goes for us today, and for our children and their children. We have the miracles—and commands—of God preserved in the Bible. We have the testimonies of other Christians in person or in print. We have our personal encounters with the Lord of Heaven.

We need to remember them, and set our hearts and our hopes anew on God no matter what circumstances surround us. We need to pass them on to the next generation, but that generation is responsible to take them personally.

Faith isn’t a history lesson, or literature, myth or fairy tale. Theoretical nods to God don’t do much except set us up to fall.

Father God, You have drawn us to Yourself with a love stronger than we can know. Refresh our faith, rekindle our first love for You, and work in our children’s and grandchildren’s spirits to awaken them to Your love too. Let us not refuse to give our hearts to You. Let none of us be lost.

Let the Newsboys’ new song, “Live With Abandon,” be our prayer.

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.


There’s something about a new year that can get us thinking. Here are six good posts that helped me start with a healthy perspective:

At Life So Aware, Jon Rouse encourages us to keep a positive outlook. (Read Perception)

At Beech Croft Tales, Mary Waind points out that our attitudes and expectations have a lot to do with the way we respond or react to others. (Read No Offence Intended)

At Under the Cover of Prayer, Cherry Warrick asks, What is the Size of Our Prayers?

At Other Food: daily devos, Violet Nesdoly  gives three practical tips on how to embrace the new year “with a Caleb-like faith.” (Read A Caleb Spirit)

Bobbi Junior asks “When stuff happens in my life, do I let it take precedence, or do I weigh it in light of all the other things going on…” (Read Top of the Priority List)

And at Captured by God, Jenny shares an example of how to choose to believe God’s perspective instead of our own natural feelings. (Read Spirit of Joy)

Heart-shaped puddle

Will we see the scarred pavement, muddy marks and old leaves, or will we see the heart?

When the Wait is Long

Jesus’ birth ended a period of 400 years of silence from God. The angel Gabriel had brought personal messages to Zechariah and to Mary, and we don’t know how young Simeon was when God promised he’d see the Messiah before he died, but these were private revelations. The nation of Israel as a whole heard nothing. Not even a whisper.

400 years.

No prophets. No angelic visitors. Silence.

A remnant of Israel had returned from exile and begun to rebuild, as God had promised.

He also promised a Messiah, a King to come who would rule in power and justice and break the people’s bondage for good.

Nobody expected the King to suffer and die first.

Nobody expected to wait so long.

400 years.

Are you waiting today?

God hasn’t forgotten, or changed His mind, or discovered He can’t do what He promised.

He’s waiting too, for the best time to unveil what’s coming.

May His peace, hope, love and joy sustain each of us in the waiting.

And Merry Christmas. Christ has come.

In the Hard Times

Crow in the rainThese days I have two prayer lists near to my heart: eight teens numbing their pain with choices that make it worse, and five couples dealing with serious illness. And a third mini-list of friends with heavy burdens.

Trouble is alive and well, and what do we do about it? We can’t wish it away, and we can’t turn into whiners. Here are three posts that pointed me in the right direction this week:

Why do bad things happen? Glynis Belec knows there’s no easy answer and yet she finds strength to face a new round of battle. Bitter-sweet (at My Journey)

In the middle of global or personal suffering, how do we cope? Violet Nesdoly shares the value of a good lament. Job’s Lament (at Other Food: daily devo’s)

Mary DeMuth’s open personal lament shows the difference bringing our hurts to God can make. A Mourning Prayer (at Live Uncaged)

Of the many “songs for the hard times” the one I’m hearing today is from the Newsboys: “When the Tears Fall.”


Why am I discouraged?
Why is my heart so sad?
I will put my hope in God!
I will praise him again—
my Saviour and my God!
Psalm 43:5, NLT*

King David is discouraged. He has real, physical enemies oppressing him and bringing down his spirit.

Sometimes our troubles are solid like that, but often they’re not.

Usually I just have my feelings and the “voices in my head.” Circumstances can be fine but some worry or perceived threat will set up in my mind and steal my joy.

I had a weekend like that recently, moping around carrying a load that probably won’t become real and certainly wasn’t then. Saying “it’s been a bit of a struggle.” That’s what I believed because that’s how it felt. And it was a struggle.

Finally the sensible portion of my brain reminded me, “I have a good Shepherd.”

The rest of me said “oh, yeah” like I’d forgotten. Again. But choosing to believe and rely on that fact ended the struggle with my intangible but real feelings.

Shepherd of our souls, You are strong and kind. Whatever circumstances come, You will still be God, still sufficient for our needs. Forgive us when we entertain thoughts that bring us down. And please train us to hear Your truths faster and more clearly so we can learn to walk in Your freedom instead of our former bondage.

Here’s Josh Bates singing David’s psalm in “The Altar of God,” from the first Glory Revealed album.

*New Living Translation (NLT)Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Radical Gratitude

And the Light shines on in the darkness, for the darkness has never overpowered it [put it out or absorbed it or appropriated it, and is unreceptive to it].
John 1:5, AMP*

This is the verse that strengthened me after the terrorist attacks of 9-11. It’s the same verse that’s echoed in my spirit these past few Christmas seasons, each one leaving me more aware of the darkness in our communities and our world.

We think Christmas is supposed to be a happy time of year. But the darkness is why Jesus came. Israel of 2,000 years past was a pretty dark place, I’m sure, much like today.

His presence—Immanuel, God with us—still makes the difference.

As I’ve prayed for the people and situations nearest to my heart this season, at first the darkness was too much. This young girl—that young family—this elderly woman and her family… where they’re walking is unbearable. They’ve been heavy on my heart, and weighing down my spirit as I prayed. Reciting John’s words about Light in the darkness wasn’t helping.

A few days before Christmas God blew away the fog and let me see: I hadn’t been demanding why of God—that never ends well—but my discontent about what He had allowed said I didn’t think very highly of His management.

Judging God also doesn’t end well. And discontent is poison. Confession, forgiveness, and a fresh start work wonders, though.

Now I’m praying the same verse, but looking at the Light, practicing what Mark Buchanan calls “radical gratitude.”

Thanking God for what He will do in these people’s lives, instead of being dragged down by where they’ve been. Trusting that whatever His plans are, they’re for good. Not just praying for things to get better but for people to be made new and others to see the difference He makes.

Sovereign and holy God, who doesn’t tend to fix things, I praise You for how instead You re-create or make new. And the new is better. Stronger. Useful in Your hand. You waste nothing. Help us trust You. Show us how to pray in radical gratitude and praise, confident in our trust in You. Shine brighter in our darkness, until all will see Your glory.

Permit me one last Christmas song of the year: catch the hope and the assurance in the words to “Joy to the World,” especially verses 3 and 4.

*Amplified Bible (AMP) Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation

Our God is With Us

Who among you fears the LORD
and obeys the word of his servant?
Let the one who walks in the dark,
who has no light,
trust in the name of the LORD
and rely on their God.
Isaiah 50:10, NIV*

Our first desire in hard times is for escape, and if we can’t have it right away, we at least need to know there’s the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. Even Jesus focused on the joy ahead of Him when His road went through the Cross. (Hebrews 12:2)

Sometimes we can’t even see that light ahead—either because the path looks so long or because the tunnel bends.

What do we hold onto then?


His character, His promises, His presence with us even if we feel all alone.

Each Christmas I think of this more. On one hand it’s a terrible time of year to be struggling, but on the other, the pain can remind us that this is why Jesus came.

We hope and pray things will get better. We thank God for what He’s doing that we can’t see. And sometimes we just have to keep on keeping on, acting in faith that God is still good and in control. Knowing that, worst case scenario, when life ends He will take us to Himself.

Sovereign and loving God, we praise You for Your care and for the many times You make our paths easier. Thank You for sending Jesus as our Redeemer, so that no matter what life brings, we can walk through it with You and we can be assured of a place with You when it ends. Give us the faith we need to trust in You in the dark and in the light, and the courage to live boldly as Your children.

Here’s Michael Card’s beautiful “Immanuel”. Enjoy.

*THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.