I receive emails from many of you, pressing on along the path of God’s calling, and although I do hear of your your celebrations, I also hear of discouragement, of fatigue, of doubt. All normal emotions in any ministry, but as Christians set apart for service by our risen Savior, we must learn to keep those emotions, those moments of hopelessness, where they belong–tucked far beneath God’s Words of truth. Our doubts and fears say we’re not good enough, not talented enough, just plain not enough. but God’s word says we have all we need in Him.
Today, my sweet friend and a fellow ACFW member, Carole Brown encourages us to focus not on our fears and insecurities, but instead, what our Savior wants to do in and through us.
As an interesting side-note, I scheduled Carole to appear here at least a month ago, before I got my contract and before I wrote a post about that. Is it a coincidence you’re reading, yet again, someone’s story of perseverance that led to something awesome?
I think not.
Please note: Carole Brown is giving away a copy of of her debut novel to one of you, randomly selected in the comments. :)
Hope for the Soul By Carole Brown
“Hope deferred makes the heart sick: but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life” (Proverbs 13:12 ESV).
Quitting time. Is there ever a right time for such an action?
It was 2011, and I was quitting. I’d worked and struggled and relearned and traveled and joined groups. To no avail. It was time to quit, to acknowledge tug toward authorship was useless. Writing was not for me; I really had no talent. It was time to move on.
Until an older lady in a church sat me down figuratively and discussed all laments together. The essence of her encouragement was: Lord, I believe; help my unbelief.
Struggling and unbelieving I reluctantly agreed to give writing another try. Throughout the rest of the year and into the next, I prayed: “Lord, I believe, help my unbelief.”
Fast forward to April, 2012: I attended a writing conference and met with an editor who asked for my manuscript. Hope burst forth like a July 4th fireworks display. In December, 2012, I signed a contract with Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas.
What does all this teach? There is ALWAYS hope.
Many times I’ve heard of Christians who quit right before victory comes in their personal lives. The wife who quit because of pressure from her unsaved husband; the couple who call it quits when just a little more effort would have smoothed things into happiness; the young man/woman in college who gave up because of the wrong choices; the highschooler who took his life because of the bullying.
Life has a way of not just showering, but down pouring the feeling that there is not hope.
In my novel, The Redemption of Caralynne Hayman, there is hope, but Caralynne can not see it. Why? Because:
Her upbringing in the cult is filled with misguided doctrine. Sometimes, through no fault of our own, circumstances and life give us cards we don’t know how to read or what to do with. We don’t even know we are to do something with them. Ignorance and lack of knowledge prevents us from seeing the hope right in front of our eyes.
Her doubts in God inhibit her ability to see clearly. When we focus on our own thoughts, feelings, and beliefs, it becomes difficult to see God’s light shining even when it’s on the table of our lives there to encourage us and lead us on the right path. We draw curtains on the windows of our hearts, keeping out the shining light and hope God yearns for us to rest in.
The hardness of her heart and her determination to blame God. When evil causes havoc in our lives, when the bad seems to conquer all that’s good in our lives, when trouble seems to be unavoidable, then it’s oh-so-easy to point a finger to the all-knowing God of the world. Humans have a strong need to blame and all too often, God is the recipient of that blame.
Her own desires blinded her effectively from seeing the blessed HOPE SHINING THROUGH THE DARKNESS. The bitterness and revenge in her heart was so over-powering and so huge, Caralynne couldn’t see around those mountains. Many times hurting people will scoop even more dirt onto the mountains of doubt and disbelief that are keeping them from seeing God’s strength for our times of weakness. The hope he gives that will strengthen us. As the scripture says, His strength is made perfect in our weakness.
Remember, hope may be deferred, but when it comes, vitality and strength and the glory of God shelters us with his tree of life. We can rest contently beneath his branches because he is our hope–eternally.
Have you faced hard times when all hope seemed gone? How did you get through it?
Besides being a member and active participant of many writing groups, Carole Brown enjoys mentoring beginning writers. She loves to weave suspense and tough topics into her books, along with a touch of romance and whimsy, and is always on the lookout for outstanding titles and catchy ideas. She and her husband reside in SE Ohio but have ministered and counseled nationally and internationally. Together, they enjoy their grandsons, traveling, gardening, good food, the simple life, and did she mention their grandsons?
Her novel, The Redemption of Caralynne Hayman:
How far would YOU go to avenge a daughter’s cruel death? Cara is considered rebellious and inappropriate to befriend. Dayne is the apple of Elder Simmons’ eye—until he takes a stand against their teachings. Can his prayers and love reach Cara and show her the way to redemption? Will Cara realize God’s love and forgiveness before she goes too far?
Order your copy now! http://www.amazon.com/dp/1938499948/
I’m not even going to pretend to have the answer or explanation to what you are facing, but I can say, if you belong to Christ, there is hope. Always. I can also say, looking back on my life, God used some of my most painful moments to bring about the most intense growth and healing. Will that help me stay strong during my next trial? I hope so, but if or when I doubt, may I, like Carole say, “I believe! Lord, help my unbelief.” (Original quote taken from Mark 9:14-27)
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Additional resources you might find helpful: