Hope in a Hopeless World?

Hate. Racism. Senseless deaths. Cold-blooded murder. Unthinkable tragedy.

In the midst of a nation spiraling down quickly, our hearts are certainly weighed down with grief that fills the air.

Waves of fear engulf us, leaving us drowning with no seashore in sight.

Raging with a fierce, righteous anger, we demand justice. We rally together against the evil, making our voices known. Boldly we discuss the best solutions for fixing this wicked world.

But when all is silent and nobody is around, there’s a question I believe we all are asking.

Where is my hope?

Is it in the police force?

The political candidates running for president?

The guns hidden under the bed?

The promises of the government?

Where is your hope?

Who or what are you clinging to when everything familiar and what used to be stable comes crashing down?

If it’s anything in this world, you will come up empty. Even a hefty savings account isn’t going to hold you together when evil chokes the life out of anything promising.

As followers of Christ, we should not be surprised at the spiraling down of this world.

Jesus tells us very plainly in John 16:33, “In this world you will have trouble, but take heart because I have overcome this world.”

I love the way Jesus tells us like it is. He doesn’t sugar coat the situation.

Doesn’t say you might have trouble. Doesn’t say if you just read your Bible and pray enough you’ll avoid trouble.

He says we WILL have trouble.

Sometimes I get stuck on the first part of this truth and camp out there for a while. I allow my troubles to define me and dictate how my life will be lived. I turn off the news in disbelief and let myself be overcome with fear and despair.

But the next part of this truth should awaken hope in the depth of my soul! He says to take heart because HE has overcome this world. 

The apostle Paul makes it plain for us in more detail about the kind of trouble we will see play out in this world. See if any of this sounds familiar:

But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God. (2 Timothy 3:1-4)

Yep. This passage covers just about everything we see playing out in our nation today.

So I ask you again…Where is your hope?

Even as Christians, we might say our hope is in Jesus–but we silently doubt.

Our lips may say our trust is in Him, but out of fear we attempt to control our future. We cling to our jobs, money and possessions a little too tightly.

But look at the truth of Romans 8:38 and let it sink in:

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow–not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. (NLT)

Death is all around us in a nation that doesn’t value life. But God’s love is stronger.

The enemy is on the prowl, deceiving many people. But God’s love is stronger. 

Fear grips us as we wonder what will happen to our children. But God’s love is stronger.

Worries of how to survive the aftermath of tragedy weigh us down. But God’s love is stronger.

On a more personal level, I’ll peel back the layers of my own heart.

Will another maniac show up in my town, randomly killing people I know? 

Will my loved ones fall prey to the enemy’s lies and turn away from God?

Will my 12-year-old daughter be safe in a world I can’t always protect her from?

How will we survive the next tragedy that strikes closer to home? 

While I might ponder these questions simply because I’m human, I choose not to linger there.

I will choose to cling to the truth of who Jesus is. I will choose to anchor my hope in the unfailing love of God. Yes, His love is stronger. He is sovereign. Even when I don’t fully understand all that will play out in this world, I will trust Him.

I live in a hopeless world. But my hope is in the unshakable love and power of my Heavenly Father.

Where is your hope?

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Blessings to you!

Lisa Preuett

 

3 Truths for When You’re Hurting

My heart is extremely heavy this week. Dear friends all around me are hurting deeply. Their pain is deep, from heavy burdens to shattered hearts.

Disappointment in people who didn’t follow through with promises. 

Friends who just don’t seem to care.

Marriages strained with distrust and selfishness.

Sudden death of a loved one.

Physical pain so unbearable it seems hopeless.

As long as we live in these temporary bodies and navigate our way in a fallen world, there will be hurt. But we don’t have to stay stuck in our hurt. We can cling to truth in God’s word to hold us up when we just can’t take anymore.

My absolute favorite scripture is the core of my blog. It’s found in Matthew 11:28-29:

“Come to Me all 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.”

Whether you’re burned out from doing the same tasks over and over again, or burdened with something far too heavy to carry on your own, Jesus promises to give us REST. But I’ve learned the hard way that rest doesn’t just come automatically. When I’m caught up in a tangled mess of hurt and pain, I can’t find rest in my own strength. We’ve got to COME to Jesus.

That’s our part….just COME.

He promises to give us rest. Sometimes we need physical rest. Other times we need soul rest.

Another truth in God’s word that brings me comfort in the midst of my hurt is found in Psalm 46:10

“Be still and know that I am God.”

I’m often guilty of running around in my own strength trying to figure everything out on my own. I’ll keep myself busy (even with good things) to keep from having to focus on my hurt. I’ll run myself ragged, making myself too stressed out to just stop and be still. And there it is…

That’s our part…..Be still.

Cease striving. Stop what you’re doing. Stop worrying. Quit letting anxiety drive you.

And the other part in that scripture? It says KNOW.

This is not a physical action. It’s not something we DO. It happens in our mind and penetrates down to our weary soul. Here’s a definition of KNOW that is pretty powerful:

“to have developed a relationship with someone through meeting and spending time with them; be familiar or friendly with.”

In the worst part of our hurt and pain, we can simply know that God is who He says He is. We can trust Him.

One last scripture I’ll point you to today is found in Psalm 34:18

“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

Sometimes our hurt is so unbearable we feel our heart will burst with pain. I understand that kind of hurt. I’m sure every person who is reading this has been in this place.

You feel crushed by other’s choices. By your own foolish decisions. By circumstances beyond your control. By sickness or death that came on suddenly.

But God promises to be NEAR. He also promises to SAVE.

Even if we don’t feel it. Even if we don’t see it. Even if we don’t believe it.

He IS near. He DOES save.

I can’t promise how long your hurt and pain will last. It may be short-lived or it may be ongoing. But I can without a doubt promise you this:

When we surrender to Jesus in the midst of our hurt and take our heavy heart to him, He will carry us through.

COME to Him for your REST.

Be STILL and KNOW.

Trust that He is NEAR and CLOSE.

Praying for you, dear friends, that wherever you are today you’ll be encouraged by these truths.

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Blessings to you!

Lisa Preuett

Taming the Waves of Fear

Standing on the edge of the shore, I peered out into the ocean as far as my eyes could see. Way out there, the waves appeared so huge and powerful.

Overwhelming. Unstoppable.

I sure wouldn’t want to be caught out there! Those waves would crash over me, taking me under to be drowned.

Caught up in anxious thoughts, the water suddenly splashed around my ankles. The bubbling water refreshed my tired feet, white foam tickling my toes. This felt invigorating and relaxing as my feet sunk into the wet sand. Soaking up the moment, I peered out once again at the huge waves in the distance. And that’s when it hit me.

The threatening waves that started out enormous, had gradually diminished into tame wavelets by the time they reached the shore. 

What was viewed from a distance invoked fear and anxiety. But when viewed up close, now tame and subdued.

This image paints a powerful picture of what we do with the fears and worries of our life. When we peer into the distant, unknown future, our minds get tangled up in waves of anxiety. Things that haven’t even touched us yet threaten to pull us under, drowning our faith with fear.

What will I do IF that happens?

How will I survive IF they do such-and-such?

I will surely crumble IF this comes true. 

While these enormous waves of fear build their power and momentum, we allow defeat to crash over us, drowning out every ounce of peace and joy.

Viewed from a distance, these fears lurk heavily in our mind. But if only we would wait…

Wait for those fears to lose their momentum. Wait for those threats to diminish. Wait for those worries to dissipate to wavelets.

By the time our “what ifs” reach the shore of reality, we will often realize that the very things that once threatened to drown us, are now tame ripples we splash with our feet!

The things that appear powerful are now powerless. The things that seemed overwhelming are now manageable. The things that looked impossible are now hopeful.

In past seasons of my life, I’ve allowed the waves of fear to pull me in. I’ve allowed my thoughts to run wild with worry instead of letting God’s peace soak up my parched soul. I’ve learned that when I live my life out in the distant waves, I can’t possibly enjoy the abundant life back on the shore.

On the shore there is solid ground. On the shore I can stand still. On the shore I can soak up the sunlight.

Just as the bubbling water foams around my feet from the broken waves, God’s presence and peace soothe my aching soul.

So how do we live on the shore when the waves threaten to drown us? I truly believe the secret is where we focus our eyes. 

I can glance at the waves in the distance, but I don’t stay there. I can get a glimpse of an approaching storm, but I don’t get caught up in it. Instead, I focus in the other direction.

The day I stood on the beach at the edge of the shore, I turned around and heard the laughter of children. Their shrieks of joy drew me in. They were picking up shells. They were running back and forth, splashing in the ripples. Some were flying kites, throwing balls and building sand castles.

They were too busy having fun to notice the huge waves in the distance. They lived in the moment, enjoying the blessings of life.

I didn’t see any child looking out and focusing on the waves that could swallow them up if they drifted out. I didn’t see any child paralyzed by fear, refusing to budge from their beach chair.

Maybe this is a picture of what it means when God tells us to become like a little child. A child playing on the shore, refusing to get pulled under by the waves of fear. A child trusting their father to take care of their every need.

Where are you today? Are you living in fear from the “what if’s”? Are you letting the waves of worry control your every move?

If that’s where you are, I urge you to turn around. Walk upon the shore.

Trust God with the things that seem to threaten you. Enjoy the abundant life He wants you to have. Surrender to Him your fears and worries you see in the distance.

I pray that the peace of His presence will refresh your tired and weary soul.

shore

Matthew 6:34 “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

 

Blessings to you!

Lisa Preuett

 

 

 

 

 

 

From Ruined to Redeemed

If you’ve ever felt like part of your life was in ruins, then you certainly aren’t alone. Maybe you’ve uttered things like this:

My marriage is broken.

My health is disintegrating.

My finances are in shambles.

This relationship can never be repaired.

My kids are a wreck.

I’m completely devastated.

Yes, we’ve all been in a place at one time or another when we would definitely say something or someone in our life is in ruins.

When thinking about our response to something that’s in ruins, I’m reminded about the story of Nehemiah in the Old Testament. Upon hearing the news that the walls of Jerusalem were in ruins, having been burned with fire, this was his response:

When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven. (Nehemiah 1:4 NIV)

I think there is something here we need to recognize in how we ought to respond when face-to-face with devastating news that crushes us to the core. He acknowledged his hurt and pain. He wept. He mourned. Even went without food for a while! But he did all this…before God. 

When we are smack in the middle of an impossible situation, we bring our hurts before God. We pour out our hearts to him. We don’t have to hold it all together for fear of what might come out of our mouth. I love Nehemiah’s transparency before the God of heaven! He doesn’t hold anything back. He empties himself completely before God.

But the story doesn’t stop there. If you continue reading, you’ll come to chapter 2, verse 17. This is where we gain even more insight into our next step when we are on the brink of despair:

Then I said to them, “You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace.” (Nehemiah 2:17 NIV)

First of all, who are the them he is referring to? He is speaking to his people–fellow Israelites who were exiled with him years before. God’s people!

When we’re faced with devastation, we don’t go running for comfort and support to people who aren’t believers in Christ. We rally around those who are on the same journey of faith.

And then Nehemiah takes a step of courage.

A step of faith.

A step towards healing.

He doesn’t stay stuck in his despair. 

He begins the process of rebuilding.

To stay stuck in misery and hopelessness would be disgraceful. He doesn’t want to stay there! And he realizes he can’t do it alone.

Dear friend, I urge you today that if you are stuck in despair and staring at broken pieces of your life to pour out your heart to God. He knows your pain and hurt. Give it to Him.

But don’t stay there.

Just like Nehemiah, look around you. Lean on your brothers and sisters in Christ. Accept the fact that you can’t rebuild in your own strength.

It might be a long journey to recover from what you’re going through, but I can promise you God will lead you one step at a time, just as he guided Nehemiah through one brick at a time.

He’s a master at taking things in ruins and redeeming them for His glory!

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Blessings to you!

Lisa Preuett

 

The Halfway Point

Nehemiah 4:6 “So we rebuilt the wall till all of it reached half its height, for the people worked with all their heart.”

One and a half miles. You’re halfway through a 5K. Just a little bit past a 5K, you’re halfway through a 10K. At 6.5 you’ve hit the halfway point of a half-marathon. And for those who are determined enough to run a full marathon, 13.1 miles is your halfway mark.

Halfway.

Some runners view the halfway point as major progress. Excitement oozes out through pouring sweat. Reaching this place in any race—no matter what the distance—ushers in mixed thoughts and emotions. Look how far I’ve come! I’m halfway through! The hardest part is over.

But others might see the halfway point with a completely different perspective. I’m only halfway through? I can’t possibly repeat the same distance I’ve just come. I thought I was closer to the finish line. I thought my pace would be quicker than this.

In 2009, Jenny Barringer was favored to win the NCAA cross-country championship race.  At first Jenny confidently held the lead. Surely she’d win the coveted first place title. But midway through the race something happened. Jenny’s pace slowed considerably. Runners who trailed her, suddenly whizzed past, leaving Jenny gasping for breath. She dropped to 10th place, then 20th. Struggling to keep up, she later crossed the finish line in 169th place. When questioned after the race as to what happened, Jenny explained, “Halfway into it, I didn’t feel so good. It was sudden. I thought I couldn’t run.” It wasn’t an injury that slowed her down. It was her perception. Discouraging thoughts paralyzed her, leading to utter panic.

In the Old Testament we find the prophet Nehemiah at a crucial turning point. He’d reached the  halfway mark in rebuilding the broken walls of Jerusalem. Compelled to undertake this impossible task, the odds were against him. He courageously led the Jewish people for twenty-six straight days in an ultra building project. That’s when their enemies started taunting and threatening them. Halfway through, a choice had to be made. Allow the enemies of criticism and discouragement to halt their efforts? Or keep persevering in spite of how they perceived the remaining work.

In the same way, we too approach halfway points in our lives. We’re midway through a tough project at school or work. Halfway through a challenging phase in our child’s development. Maybe it’s the halfway point of a business venture, ministry dream or a recovery period in our health. Whatever our halfway point is, our perception of it determines the outcome.

Alan Redpath writes, “The halfway stage is the toughest of all. When the initial enthusiasm for something has departed, you are more conscious not so much of what has already been done, but of what is yet to be done; you are increasingly impressed with the magnitude of the unfinished task.”

If we aren’t further along than we expect at our halfway points, we become vulnerable, intimidation gaining on our heels.

So how did Nehemiah proceed? He chose to embrace faith in God instead of allowing discouragement and defeat to take over. He challenged the people with these powerful words: “Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, great and awesome.” He chose to help put their mind in the right perspective. He reminded them there was no reason for fear. Greater was he who was in them than he who was in the world. The opposite of discouragement is faith. While discouragement looks for and believes the worst, faith believes God and his promises.

READY?  Identify a time in your life where you were at a halfway point. How did you proceed? How did your perception affect the outcome? Are you approaching or standing at a halfway point now? Resolve to embrace truth and faith instead of discouragement and defeat.

GET SET. Deuteronomy 31:8 “It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”

GO! Lord Jesus, when I find myself at a halfway point, please give me your eyes. May I not give in to discouragement in those moments. Help me embrace your truth and trust you. Give me a heart of faith that will keep me strong for your glory. Amen

halfway

Blessings to you!

Lisa Preuett

 

Hitting the Wall

Psalm 18:29 “In your strength I can crush an army; with my God I can scale any wall.”

 

Labored breathing ignites. Weakness spreads through your body. Sore muscles ache with intense pain. Exhaustion soaks up the last drops of motivation. Overwhelmed with the miles left to go, your pace slows down to a shuffle. Negative thoughts saturate your mind. Impossible. I can’t keep going.

You’ve hit the wall.

Sometimes without warning, it’s when sudden fatigue and loss of energy overtake us runners. Some have described hitting the wall like this: A sledgehammer slammed down on my entire body. A charging elephant trampled me to the ground. My legs turned into concrete.

Once you’ve hit a wall, you must embrace some proven strategies to keep going. Slow down your pace and walk. Stretch out your achy muscles. Consume a sports drink or gel to refuel. Whatever you do, don’t just stop. As impossible as it seems, keep putting one foot in front of the other. Break up your remaining distance into segments. Tell yourself you’re going to make it to the next mile marker, street light, intersection or building.

Luis Manzo, a sports psychologist and running coach, recommends recruiting a running partner to jump in with you at a point where you anticipate a struggle in the run, almost as if fighting for you.

After years in the wilderness, Joshua and the Israelites came face to face with their wall. The city of Jericho, surrounded by walls 12 feet high and five feet thick, stopped them in their tracks.

It looked impossible. Insurmountable. Thoughts of giving up and turning around flooded their minds.

Yet God led them—through Joshua—to courageously conquer what appeared impossible. They were instructed to march around the city walls one time for six days in a row. It probably didn’t make sense to them. But they kept marching, one step at a time. Finally on the seventh day, God told Joshua to have the people march around seven times!

Imagine being in that crowd of people. Exhausted. Nothing left. Feeling stuck.

In that moment they could’ve walked away and given up hope. Yet they kept on going. Faithfully moving forward one step at a time. And there in front of their very eyes, they watched those seemingly impenetrable walls come crashing down.

In our own lives, we sometimes feel like we’ve hit a wall. We come face-to-face with something that stops us in our tracks, knocking us off our feet. Suddenly crushed to the core, we think, I can’t get through this!

What’s a real life wall look like? A troubled marriage. Diagnosis for cancer. Losing your job. Financial distress. A strained relationship. Your wall may look totally different though. But it’s anything that appears impossible or insurmountable. Whatever it is, there is hope. No matter how wide or how tall your wall looks, it’s not the end.

Just like the Israelites, we can choose to trust God’s unique plan, even when it doesn’t make sense. We keep moving, one foot in front of the other. We don’t run in the opposite direction. We don’t stand still as if paralyzed. We persevere and keep going. We let God do the fighting for us.

When we focus on the actual wall in front of us, despair and fear overwhelm us. But God promises to go ahead of us, making our path straight.

READY?  Identify a wall you’re facing right now. Are you standing still or running away from it? What’s the next step you can take to get through the wall? Are you willing to keep going even when God’s plan doesn’t make sense?

GET SET. Hebrews 11:30 “It was by faith that the people of Israel marched around Jericho for seven days, and the walls came crashing down.”  (Also read Joshua 6:2-16)

GO! Dear God, I thank you for your faithfulness and patience with me when I’m facing a wall in my life. Help me to focus on your truth and strength instead of the obstacles in front of me. Help me to walk obediently with confidence, just as the Israelites did when Joshua led them around the city walls. Amen.

If you enjoyed this post, check out my devotional book.

 

Blessings to you!

Lisa Preuett

When you don’t FEEL thankful

This time of year everyone focuses on things they’re thankful for.  We post our thoughts on Facebook of what we’re thankful for. Our kids make crafts at school and proudly display what they’re thankful for. Maybe your Thanksgiving gathering will include a time for each person to express the favorite things they’re thankful for.

It’s usually pretty predictable what we’re truly thankful for: God, Jesus, our family, our friends, good health, employment, and of course all the food we will stuff ourselves with on Thanksgiving Day.

These are all wonderful gifts to be thankful for. I would be the first one to speak up that I am thankful for everything I just mentioned.

But what about those things we really are NOT thankful for? What about the things nobody would dare to mention on their top 10 things I’m thankful for list? What about those things that hurt deep inside us that we just couldn’t possibly imagine being thankful for?

*Your doctor grimly explains to you that you have cancer.

*Your boss informs you that you are no longer employed.

*Your check book balance is lower than the total amount of your bills.

*Your marriage is hanging by a thread and you are ready to call it quits.

*Your child does something that leaves you heart-broken and your stomach in knots.

*Your loved one is not here with you on this earth any longer.

*The sin that so easily entangles you continues to drag you down.

*Someone you thought was your friend has betrayed you.

*Your aging parents are needing you more than ever but it’s causing major stress.

*As a momma of young children you’re overwhelmed, spiraling into despair and depression.

Seriously….are any of these things on your top 10 list? Are any of these things gushing out of your mouth when it’s your turn to declare what you’re thankful for? I didn’t see any of these things on anyone’s Facebook status in the last 30 days. I’m pretty certain that nobody’s child came home with any of these things plastered on their Thanksgiving craft from school. Nope.

Why in the world should anyone be thankful for anything like this? Why would we even consider it?

In 1 Thessalonians 5:18 we read the following words from the apostle Paul: “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

Really, Paul? What were you thinking when you wrote those words? You’ve got to be kidding me! Who is he to tell us the conditions under which we should be thankful?

He was beaten and stoned multiple times. He was shipwrecked multiple times. He went without sleep and food. He was imprisoned. He even spent an entire day and night in the open sea.

Yet he could still pen those powerful words in his letter to believers.

I’ve read and re-read that verse countless times, it still says the same thing. Give thanks in ALL circumstances. It doesn’t say give thanks only when things are going your way. It doesn’t say give thanks only when your marriage is thriving, your kids are well-behaved, your bank account is full, your health is stellar and nobody is saying anything offensive to you. (It would be MUCH easier to give thanks if everything were perfect in our worlds!)

So what is the secret of expressing thankfulness in our worst circumstances? How can we really do this?

Here are two things I’ve gathered from this challenging command:

1. The verse does not say to be thankful for these things, but to be thankful IN them. What’s the difference? It’s just one little word. To be thankful IN something is to trust that God is still good no matter what. It’s not a feeling, but an attitude of surrender. It means that although my heart may be full of hurt, my spirit is still full of hope. I don’t deny the pain I’m feeling, but I take it to the foot of the cross and thank God that He is still in control.

2. If you back up to verse 17, just one phrase before this command, you’ll see something that a lot of people skip over. I missed this for years! Here it is: Verse 17 says to pray continually. I used to think this verse was only meant for monks and nuns who lived in isolation from the world and could be on their knees in a continual state of prayer. But it’s meant for all believers! For me. For you. When I am in a continual conversation with Jesus throughout my day, talking to him about everything and being aware of his presence moment-by-moment, then my heart can focus on him in every situation….the good and the bad.

I can focus on Him when I feel hope, but also when I hurt.

I can focus on Him for the victories throughout the day, but also when I blow it and can receive his grace over and over again.

I can thank Him for the blessings, but also for the challenges that drive me crazy at times.

This is not an easy thing to do! It is truly a process. A process that builds character in us. A process that brings us to our knees….bringing us closer to the heart of God.

I want to encourage you to truly search your heart and not only express the blessings you are thankful for, but to offer up a sacrifice of praise for those things you wish to be thankful in, and see what God will do. His love is overwhelming. His grace is powerful. His mercy is never-ending.

 

Crying

Blessings to you!

Lisa Preuett

Who Are You Competing Against?

2 Corinthians 10:12 “…When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise.”

 

Just a few hours after the 10K, the race results glared on the screen in front of me. Every single person who finished the race could be searched. From the winner all the way to the last person who crossed the finish line. Plugging in my name, I viewed my results. There in front of me I could see my total time and average pace.

Just as I was starting to feel good about my accomplishment, I looked at the next column over and saw another set of numbers: Number in age group; my placement in that specific age group; my placement in the entire race. A lot of other women in my age bracket finished sooner than I did! Now I didn’t feel so good about my time. Shouldn’t I be able to run at a faster pace like these women my same age? Feelings of defeat washed over me.

To make myself feel better, I searched the results of women 20 years older than me. Now as I scrolled through finish times longer than mine, I felt a sense of pride. Well, at least I beat these women.  I didn’t come in last place.

Unless we’re the first one to cross the finish line, there will always be someone faster than us. But if we focus on comparing ourselves to these people, we’ll be left with disappointment. The opposite is true as well. If we compare ourselves to slower runners just to feel better about ourselves, we get puffed up with pride and a false sense of security.

In the same way, we sometimes mimic this behavior in other areas of our life. When we compare ourselves to people who are more successful, wiser and richer we find ourselves feeling defeated. I should be further along, like her.  Before we know it, we continue the comparison game. To brush off these feelings, we turn our attention to those whom we feel are beneath us. Those who may be struggling in areas we are strong in. Those who are just beginning a journey we’ve been on for years. At least I’m better than those people.

Oh how foolish we are to do both of these! Gazing at others ahead of us—through the lens of comparison—leaves us discontent. Looking at those who are struggling—through a lens of judgment— leaves us prideful.  Instead of comparing, shouldn’t we focus on where we are? Shouldn’t we strive to live the life God has called us to? Using the gifts and talents He’s blessed us with to fulfill our purpose—instead of comparing them to others.

When we stand before God one day we won’t be standing alongside anyone else. Each one of us must give an account for the life we lived. God won’t scroll through a list of people and say, Look, you should’ve done better than her. And he won’t say, Great job, you performed better than these other people.

Most runners embrace a PR approach in races. Personal Record. Instead of comparing our finish time with other runners, we compare our finish time to our own time in a previous race. We attempt to beat our best time. The person we aim to compete with is ourselves.

Maybe that’s how we should approach this journey of faith we’re on. Instead of comparing our lives to others, we focus on making progress with our own struggles. Instead of judging others, we embrace humility, thanking God for rescuing us from our previous ways of sin. And when we conquer one area of sin, He takes us further and shows us something else.

READY? Can you identify an area of your life where you compare yourself to someone else? What effect does this have on you? Ask God to reveal a current struggle you need to commit to him.

GET SET. Galatians 6:4 “Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction for a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else.” (NLT)

 GO!  Heavenly Father, forgive me for the times I’ve foolishly compared myself to others. Free me from any chains of discontentment or pride. Give me direction to focus on the life you’ve called me to. Help me walk in humility. Give me victory over the sins I struggle with. Amen

comparison

If you liked this devotion, check out my Book!

Blessings to you!

Lisa Preuett

Figuring Out Your Course

Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future.”

For most official races, runners can view the course online. You can view every single twist and turn. In detail, you can see the highest point of elevation. You know precisely at which mile markers the path will ascend to steep hills. You can sigh with relief knowing exactly where the path will descend, giving you breaks throughout the race. Some runners will even determine whether or not to register for a race based on the course layout. Too many hills! I want a flatter course. Better not run this race, the elevation is too steep towards the end. I’ll be too exhausted.

You can even view the places where water stops are located. Knowing this beforehand, runners can train to run specific lengths, spacing out their water intake. Mentally you can prepare for worst case scenarios, seeing exactly where medical tents are located. Most importantly, you can see exactly where the finish line is. You tuck the names of the intersecting streets in the back of your mind. That’s where I’ll finish the race. That’s where my family will meet me afterwards and congratulate me.

All of this information we are privy to is great!  Can you imagine how cool it would be to see the course of your real life? To actually see in detail what was in your future? You’d see every exciting milestone awaiting you. In wonderful elation, you could anticipate all those mountain top experiences in your future.

But if you examined the course a little closer, you’d also see the dark valleys up ahead. What?! Just around that corner you’d see a marriage crumbling, ending in divorce. The unexpected job loss—the one you thought was secure just a few miles back. Huh?! And when you keep looking further down the course, you’d find that one of your kids has broken your heart. And you don’t even see a medical tent anywhere in sight. What would you do?

Maybe you wouldn’t even want to continue your race of life any longer. I can’t bear the thought of these things coming. I want an easier course. I won’t be able to live this kind of life.

Thankfully, we don’t get this kind of information in our journey of life. That’s not how God designed us to live. While we don’t get to see the whole course of our lives mapped out in front of us, God does. We don’t know the details of trials and challenges headed our way, but He does. We can’t fathom the abundant blessings He has in store for us, but He knows and can’t wait to lavish them upon us.

He’s designed us to live one moment at a time, in total dependence on him. Our flesh craves to see an entire mile at a time. But God wants to lead us one step at a time. We desire to know how long a certain trial will last. But God wants us to trust.

When we register to run the race of faith with Jesus as our guide, we run with all our might. We run with boldness and perseverance. We run like there’s no tomorrow. In fact, we don’t know what a day will bring forth. We may think our course is quite long, but we don’t know exactly where our finish line will be. Whether it’s a quick 5K or multiple marathons back-to-back, we must keep on running. Keep on trusting. Keep on thriving.

So while we don’t know where our earthly finish line will be, we know who is leading us on the course. And we are promised that He will greet us at the intersection of time and eternity. Now that’s something to get excited about!

READY? If there was one thing you could figure out about your future, what would it be? Are you willing to surrender this concern to Jesus? Take some extended time to pray about your fears and worries and lay them at the foot of the cross.

GET SET. Proverbs 16:9 “A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord determines his steps.”

GO! Lord Jesus, help me to trust you with every twist and turn of my life. I’m so prone to worry and wanting to know what’s up ahead, that I’m missing out on knowing you more intimately. Help me to let go of the things out of my control and trust you completely. Amen

coursemap

Blessings to you!

Lisa Preuett

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