Hope For the Soul

carole180I 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 waste-basket-1217806-mtime 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:

Ÿ 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.

Ÿ sad-silhouette-1080946-m 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.

Ÿ 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.

Ÿ  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?

Connect with her here online at her blog, on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Goodreads.

Her novel, The Redemption of Caralynne Hayman:

The Redemption of Caralynne HaymanHow 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/

livingbygracepic.jpLet’s talk about this! Carole asked if we’ve faced hard times when hope seemed gone. I suspect we can all answer that with an emphatic yes! Maybe some of you are in those times this very moment.

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)

Join the conversation in the comments below or at Living by Grace on Facebook.

Additional resources you might find helpful:

God Meant it for Good by R.T. Kendall

Thinking Right When Things Go Wrong by John C. Hutchison

Unshakable Faith (a Bible study) by Kathy Howard.

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27 thoughts on “Hope For the Soul

  1. Thank you so much for this post and the encouragement it brings. How did you know I needed it today? 🙂 Just kidding – but God sure did.

    I would love a chance to win Carole Brown’s book. Sounds like a great read and I love when authors tackle tough subjects. Thanks for this opportunity.

    clSwalwell@gmail.com

    in Him,

    Cheri Swalwell 🙂

    • Judy, I’m so glad you found Carole’s devotion helpful. I loved her prayer as well. I have found, I need to constantly pray that God would change and mold my heart–help me love Him and His children more, help me be more of a servant, to have less fear and more faith. I believe those are prayers God loves to answer. 🙂

      Cheri, I am so glad Carole’s devotion encouraged you. My daughter and I were having a similar conversation. I had just signed my book contract, and we talked about how long I’d been writing.

      Then, we talked about others I met early in my journey, many of whom were no longer writing. Many who I believe likely would’ve received a contract had they stuck with it and did all the work to hone their craft. Like Carole mentions in her devotion, I’ve often wondered how many of those who quit were but a week or month, or maybe even a year, from seeing their work pay off. And this doesn’t just apply to writing.

      Carole, you are such a blessing! I love your cover! Beautiful! Congrats on your release! 🙂 And thank you for being on my blog. I hope you’ll return.

      • Yes, Jennifer, that part stuck with me also. We can’t quit because the victory could be so close. Such encouragement when we get weary. Thank you again for sharing. And yes, the cover is gorgeous. Have a blessed day today, Jennifer and Carole.

  2. Janet, that’s an awesome prayer to say. 🙂 And from what I’ve seen, God not only answered that prayer but has blessed your efforts. 🙂

    Jen, thanks for stopping by. I agree! That cover grabbed me!

  3. What a timely article. I just shared a couple of days ago with a writer friend how discouraged I’d become with my writing. Like Carole I was ready to quit. Thanks for this word of encouragement!

  4. Carole,
    Thanks for the fresh infusion of optimism. I really was blessed. And, once again, it was wonderful to get to met you at the Blue Ridge conference. I very excited to hear about your book deal. Blessings to you.

  5. Jennifer & Carole, thanks for this uplifting encouragement. Every day I have to renew my hope that life will be kind and just maybe, sometimes even sweet–I think that’s part of life for all of us. I just keep believing in God. He’s carried me through both calm and choppy waters.

    Thanks for the Giveaway opportunity 🙂

    estock(at)fairpoint(net)

  6. Robyn, and what’s so funny (in a way) is that I’m not easily discouraged! Even if I do get down, I usually bounce back quickly. Only God knows why I entered such a discouraging time. Thanks so much for stopping by!

  7. Carole, I needed this. Writing has been a long struggle for me. I was finally published in 2009, and had high hopes for this “book of my heart.” But, it hasn’t happened, yet. I know God has put more books in me, but that firstborn book was my mother’s life story during the Depression. Writing it was a soul-wrenching experience.

  8. Laurean, I saw empathize! I’ve written a novel set in WWII and it’s a darling of my heart. Although it’s not about my mother’s life, I did use her name. Hopefully some day I will see this one in print too. Where can we find your book? I will ck it out! Thank you so much for stopping by.

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