At the beginning of time, God placed history’s first couple, Adam and Eve, in the purity of that primal paradise called the Garden of Eden. After giving the bride away, God Himself performed their marriage and pronounced His blessing. Woman is God’s gift to man. Man is God’s gift to woman.

Every marriage is in reality the dawning of a new day. It is ushered in with joy and anticipation and perhaps some anxiety. Will marriage be all that you hoped for? Will love remain as large as it was at the altar? Will your loved one always be as beautiful as at the beginning? Will life together be as wonderful as you thought it would be? These and other questions hover over the beginning of every new home.

The wedding day is every couple’s special day. You anticipate it. You plan for it. Family members and friends wish you well. Following the wedding your life together begins. Like magic and in the matter of minutes everything changes. You now live together in the intimacies of an entirely new and different relationship.

Everything prior to your wedding day in some ways may have seemed artificial. You met under favorable circumstances. Following your wedding day you realize that life now cannot be artificial, for you live so close together. You will be together always – when circumstances are favorable and unfavorable; when you are prepared and when you are unprepared; when you are rested and when you are fatigued; in sunshine and in struggle. Yours is a shared life now that your wedding day is in your rearview mirror.

Marriage is a multiplier. It has an infinite capacity to multiply problems, sorrow, heartache, and suffering if lovers become lax in their efforts to make each other happy. Sharing the deepest levels of life with joy does not happen automatically. It takes planning, purpose, and constant watchfulness. Thus a married partner should not hesitate to always give his or her best. An unknown author expressed it this way: 

“Now life calls you to a quest;
To laugh, to love, to work, to play,
To serve, to sacrifice, to pray.
Life calls – give it your best.”

For all of this you will need humility, honesty, and mutual helpfulness. You will be sustained by the shared strength and comfort of one another and of God. Each wedding is a reminder that the loving hand of our heavenly Father withholds no good thing from you. He opens for each partner a paradise of possibilities.

Following every wedding the bride and groom set sail on what has often been called an uncharted sea. Yet it is not uncharted. There are maps. Stars still shine. Heaven and earth are interested in helping you. And God promises to give you guidance along the way. John Keble expressed it this way:

“The voice that breathed o’er Eden,
The earliest wedding day,
The primal marriage blessing,
It hath not passed away.”

Every person, sooner or later, will face adversity; some more often than others. The difficulties we face have the power to develop our character, our strength, and our minds. Or they can totally defeat us.

A gemologist uses a grinding stone to make a diamond shine with radiance, but that same stone can reduce a solid rock to dust. In that same way the adversity we face can either grind us down or polish us, depending upon the material out of which we are made. Out of what kind of material are you made?

If what you are doing meets with no resistance, it is very likely not worth doing. Consider these facts: without the resistance of water, ships could not float. Without the resistance of air, planes could not fly. Without the resistance of gravity, humans would float out into space.

The difficulties we face in life have the power to either make us or break us – our attitude determines which it will be. Attitude overcomes adversity. Eddie Gilbert, a member of Temple Baptist Church in Wilmington where I worship every Sunday, is an outstanding example of this. In spite of the fact that he has been confined to a wheelchair for several decades, he is one of the most radiant Christians I know.

He experiences the debilitating effects of physical handicaps every single day that would grind the vast majority of all adults down to a nub. Everyone who meets him is immediately impressed by his contagious smile. He has been given the responsibility each Sunday of ringing the chimes to signal the beginning of morning worship. It is one thing he can do, and he does it with enthusiasm and joy.

Eddie lives on the block behind our church. A few years ago when he was a member of the church choir his battery-powered wheelchair could be seen coming across the street every Wednesday night on the way to choir practice. His dedication is proof that a pound of example is worth a ton of advice.

On a Wednesday night more than a decade ago, a driver did not see Eddie entering the street in time and bumped his wheelchair over, knocking him out of the chair and onto the street. Those who saw what had happened were alarmed and immediately wanted to call an ambulance to carry him to the hospital emergency room. He would not listen to the suggestion. “I can’t do that,” he said, “I’ve got to go to choir practice.” He pushed the lever forward on his wheelchair and headed toward the church.

Eddie is an inspiration to everybody who knows him. Some people grumble and complain and whine because they have a hangnail or a minor toothache, and I have known lots of people like this. They could learn a lot about dealing with adversity from Eddie’s dedication and grit.

Adversity is never pleasant to face, but it has the power to teach us valuable lessons that we cannot learn in any other way. While it makes some people better, it makes other people bitter. That is why those who face it with the wrong attitude are left ground down and defeated.

Consider these elementary facts: (1) A rubber band is effective only when it is stretched; (2) A turtle gets nowhere until it sticks its neck out; (3) A kite rises against the wind, not with the wind; (4) Sweet herbs give off their finest fragrance only when pressed; (5) Music would have no melody without the minor keys.

You do not have to let adversity defeat you. If you trust God, He will teach you how to “Do all things (even face adversity) without complaining” (Philippians 2:14).

Physicians tell us that we are what we eat. This is true not only of our physical body, but also of our soul. Our physical bodies depend upon food and water in order to live. Our spiritual nature also has appetites that must be satisfied or we become sickly and weak. This is why Jesus, in His Sermon on the Mount, said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled” (Matthew 5:6).

Jesus Christ is the bread of life, and He alone can satisfy. He said, “I am the bread of life: he who comes to me shall never hunger; and he who believes on me shall never thirst” (John 6:35). It is tragic when people hunger and thirst for the wrong things. The prodigal son yearned for excitement and popularity, and he found them in the far country. But they did not last, and he became hungry again.

What are the hungers in your life? What are the longings that you yearn to have satisfied? Jesus tells us that the only way to be genuinely satisfied (“filled”) is to hunger and thirst after righteousness. Only a hunger for holiness fills the soul and satisfies the appetite of the inner person. But what is holiness?

To the Pharisees in Jesus’ day, holiness was conformity to rules – an external thing that completely overlooked the needs of the inner person. A mere external piety, born of pride and nurtured by the praise of others, is not holiness. If the beatitudes teach us anything, it is that holiness begins in the heart. The words whole and holy belong in the same family. Sin divides and destroys, but holiness unites and builds. Holiness is the basic attribute of God. When you hunger for holiness you hunger for God. To have God in your life is to experience wholeness.

To be righteous means to be right – right with God, right with self, and right with others. When you hunger and thirst for God, you begin to function in the way that God created you to function. Instead of running from one substitute to another, seeking, you become increasingly dissatisfied with sin. You move in the direction of God who provides wholeness.

The word blessed in the beatitudes describes joy – the kind of joy that has its secret within itself, that is serene and untouchable and self-contained, that is completely independent of the chances and changes of life. Human happiness is generally thought to be dependent on the chances and changes of life. We say, “I will be happy if certain things happen.” The happiness that God provides is possessed by those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. “Your joy, said Jesus, “no man can take from you” (John 16:22).

It must have come as a surprise to His listeners when Jesus equated holiness with happiness. They had seen the Pharisees practice an inadequate brand of holiness, and they did not seem very happy. They had the wrong idea of holiness. They thought of happiness in terms of negatives. In other words, they were better known for what they were against than what they were for. Unfortunately, this is also true of a lot of Christians today. Their Christian experience is a painful bondage instead of a glorious liberty.

Christians often think they can satisfy their hunger and thirst for righteousness by being involved in multiplied church activities. Actually it is not through multiplied activities but in the simplifying of life that we experience the deepest satisfaction in Christ. The Apostle Paul said, “This one thing I do” (Philippians 3:13), not “These 15 or 20 things I do.” There is no shortcut to happiness or holiness. All you have to do is to hunger – to hunger to be more like Christ.

Do you hunger and thirst for righteousness? If so, Jesus said, “You shall be filled.”

The word repentance occurs 56 times in the New Testament. Thirty-four times it is used as a verb, and 22 times it occurs as a noun. God obviously places a tremendous emphasis on the importance of repentance. Even so, the word is not often heard in many pulpits today. How long has it been since you have heard your pastor preach a sermon dealing with the importance of repentance?

The call to repentance and faith is an invitation, not a threat. It is not a call to a morbid, remorseful way of thinking or living. It is an invitation to change your fundamental attitudes about God, yourself, things, and other persons. To have wrong ideas concerning any of these areas of thought or relationships is to be out of balance. If your thinking is right about God, it will be right about self, things and other human beings.

Jesus began His public ministry emphasizing the imperative need for repentance. In His very first recorded message He strongly called for repentance (Mark 1:15). Literally He was urging His followers to arrive at a positive proper attitude toward God, and to respond to Him with a loving trust that involved cooperation. Throughout His ministry Jesus continually sought to change the attitudes of persons toward God. He knew that right outward conduct has to begin with a change in inner attitude. Just as He had begun His ministry calling for repentance, He ended it by emphasizing the importance of repentance (Luke 24:47).

Repentance was also the central theme of the Apostle Peter’s sermon on the Day of Pentecost. He wanted his listeners to know what God had accomplished as a result of the crucifixion, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is only through the repentance of sins and the acceptance of Jesus Christ as both Savior and Lord that one can become a genuine follower of Jesus Christ.

In sophisticated scholarly Athens the Apostle Paul preached that Jesus Christ was crucified, and that He had conquered death and the grave. On the basis of His resurrection from the dead Paul encouraged, yes, even commanded that men repent – to change their basic inward attitude toward God and respond with faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. This initial change of mind is what the New Testament calls conversion. But we are in error if we believe that it is the only repentance in which Christians are called to participate.

In the final analysis, repentance is both an act and an attitude. It is both a decision and a journey in which we continually seek the mind of Jesus Christ. It is how Christians grow in Christlikeness. Growth toward spiritual maturity is achieved through a continual search to know the will of God for every area of life.

Christians should never forget that the New Testament places a tremendous emphasis on the importance of repentance. If you have never changed your mind from an attitude of revolt to one of submission to Jesus Christ, please take a long look at the cross on which Christ died for you, and at the empty tomb He conquered. You will recognize that God wants to give you the gift of eternal life.

Jesus Christ deserves to be and wants to be your Lord. If you haven’t repented of your sins and experienced His forgiveness, you need to do that today. You cannot repent too soon, because you have no way of knowing how soon it will be too late. There is only one way you (or any person) can become a Christian – You must go to Golgotha’s cross, repent of your sins, lay them down, accept Jesus as your Savior and Lord, turn to the right, and keep straight ahead.

Would it surprise you to know that anger is mentioned 455 times in the Old Testament? It is true! And 375 of those times refer to God’s anger. Several times in the Old Testament the phrase appears, “the anger of the Lord.” The holy anger of God is part of His judgment against sin. This is what we see illustrated in the anger Jesus displayed when He cleansed the temple. It was God’s will that the temple be a house of prayer, but they had turned it into a den of thieves where commercialism took precedence over prayer.

The Bible often speaks of anger “being kindled.” This seems to indicate that anger can be compared to fire. Sometimes a person’s anger smolders, and this we call malice; but the same anger can burst forth and destroy, and this we call wrath. It is difficult for humans to practice a truly holy anger or righteous indignation because our emotions are tainted by the fact that we are sinners. We generally want things our way, not God’s way. We do not have the same knowledge that God has in all matters.

In the New Testament six different words are used for anger.  The one most quoted by Christians is probably Ephesians 4:26 – “In your anger do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.” The word in this verse that refers to anger is accompanied by irritation, exasperation, and embitterment. It can be easily expressed in your attitude, speech, and behavior. It leads to a spirit of resentment and revenge which seeks to get back at another person.

“Anyone can become angry,” wrote Aristotle, “but to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right way – this is not easy.” Aristotle’s statement does not conflict at all with the New Testament principle that there is a right kind of anger – to be angry at sin, but to demonstrate love toward people.

In Dr. S.I. McMillen’s book, None of These Diseases, the story is told of a visit Dale Carnegie made to Yellowstone National Park. While observing the grizzly bears feeding, a guide told him that the grizzly bear could whip any animal in the West with the exception of the buffalo and the Kodiak bear. That night as the people sat watching a grizzly eat, they noticed that there was only one animal that he would not allow to eat with him – a skunk. He could have beaten the skunk in any fight very quickly. But he didn’t attack the skunk. Why? He knew the skunk had a secret weapon.

Many of us have not learned that important lesson. We spend long days and longer nights dwelling on our resentments and even plotting ways to strike back, to our own detriment. To be dominated by anger is like taking a dose of poison and waiting for the person who is the object of our anger to die. There is a price to pay for the wrong kind of anger. It not only can lead to severed relationships with God and other people, but can also cause strokes, heart attacks, high blood pressure, hypertension, colitis, ulcers, and other health problems.

Frederick Buechner, in Wishful Thinking, Transformed by Thorns, gives one of the finest definitions of anger outside the New Testament: “Of the seven deadly sins, anger is possibly the most fun. To lick your wounds, to smack your lips over grievances long past, to roll over your tongue the prospect of bitter confrontations still to come, to savor to the last toothsome morsel both the pain you are given and the pain you are giving back – in many ways it is a feast fit for a king. The chief drawback is that what you are wolfing down is yourself. The skeleton at the feast is you.”

Robert Louis Stevenson spent most of his life suffering from the debilitating complications of tuberculosis. In his poem, “The Lamplighter,” he reflects on one of his boyhood dreams. On winter evenings he would watch the lamplighter making his way up and down the street near his home lighting street lamps.

Stevenson watched him as he climbed his ladder at each lamp post, leaving a glow behind that pierced the darkness. He experienced a thrill every time the lamplighter passed his door, for he always paused to give him a friendly smile. Challenged by this childhood experience he wrote these words in one of his poems:

But I, when I am stronger and can choose what I’m to do,
O Leerie, I’ll go round at night and light the lamps with you!”

When I reflect on Stevenson’s childhood dream I become aware of how much darkness we have in our world today. The causes of this darkness are many – hatred, prejudice, greed, lust, selfishness, complacency, disappointment, sorrow, and various other kinds and levels of trouble or difficulty. God has a plan for piercing darkness in our world, and it is given by Jesus, God’s Son, to every Christian.

Are you a Christian? If so, this is what Christ wants you to know: “A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:4b-16).

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What am I doing to pierce the darkness of my community?
  • Have I offered a word of hope to those who are discouraged?
  • Have I shared the load of even one person who is burdened?
  • Have I prayed for anyone who has experienced loss or grief?
  • Have I shared my faith with even one person who is not a Christian?

Jesus walked away from the carpenter shop at the age of 30 with a burning passion to transform a divided world into a brotherhood of love. His dreams were noble and His purpose was pure. He drew large crowds and was accepted by multitudes of people. Then hostility against Him grew into open opposition. The crowds dwindled, and the voices against Him became louder and more threatening. His own family failed to understand Him. While others turned back He kept on going. He walked toward the cross with a steady step.

“Because He was faithful unto death, “God has given Him a name that is above every name, a name at which one day every knee will bow and every tongue confess that He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11). He who said, “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12) also said, “You are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14a). Every Christian is called to be a lamplighter!

A lamplighter must believe three things: (1) That God is Creator of the universe; (2) That God provides eternal life to those who accept His Son as Savior and Lord; and (3) That every person who follows Christ should “let his or her light shine.”

In other words, as the old gospel song says, “Brighten the corner where you are!”

An 8-year old boy had been naughty and his mother said, “I told you if you were naughty again that you were going to get a spanking.” He knew what was coming, so he ran upstairs, went into his room, and hid under his bed. His father came home from work a few minutes later, and the mother told him what his son had done. He immediately went upstairs and began to crawl under the bed in his son’s direction.

Excitedly, but nervous, the boy said, “Hi, dad! What’s the matter? Is mom after you too?”

Sometimes things get pretty strained around the house, don’t they? Differences creep in between members of the family. Disagreements crop up that are divisive in nature. The atmosphere suddenly changes, and a member of the family has to run hide under a bed for protection.

Many are the things that can rob a home of its spiritual significance – envy, jealousy, greed, selfishness, etc. When a husband and wife allow such negative attitudes to gain a prominent place in their daily lives their love for each other can dwindle and die. And when this happens they lose their ability to deal constructively with the problems and challenges that make the family a battleground.

A bride on her wedding day, though swept off her feet and carried away on a cloud of love, does not always realize how easily love can be allowed to dissipate. A groom, who has eyes only for his beautiful bride, often fails to see that grave responsibilities lie just around the corner. Positive adjustments will have to be made, and in a hurry. When this doesn’t happen the sunshine of love suddenly disappears and dark ominous clouds of trouble appear on the horizon.

What about your home? Do you have enough love there to enable victory over the problems and burdens that can easily take place? Are you willing to love at all costs? The New Testament describes the highest type of love as being willing to love even when there are obstacles to overcome. If that kind of love is daily present in your home it can be “a colony of heaven.” If it doesn’t, your home can be a living hell.

What is a home? It is a world of strife shut out, and a world of love shut in. It is one of the primary places on the earth where faults and failures of fallen humanity are hidden under the mantle of charity. It is the father’s kingdom, the children’s paradise, and the mother’s world. If serving God is given priority, it is the place where you are treated the best and can be totally happy. An anonymous poet expressed it this way:

“Before I married Shirley, Dear,
I was her pumpkin pie,
Her precious peach, her honey lamb,
The apple of her eye.
But after years of married life,
This thought I pause to utter;
Those fancy names might be gone,
But I’m still her bread and butter.”

One of the tragedies of life is that so many of us spend too much time in pursuit of treasures that do not endure. This always leads to disappointment. Even if we attain the prizes we seek, they prove to be less satisfying than we thought when we viewed them from a distance. Health, vigor, beauty, and thunderous applause fade away. A crashing stock market, a bank failure, floods, drought, and finally death, can wrench these possessions out of our hands.

In light of the transiency of so much of life, we rejoice to read these words in I Corinthians 13:3: “Now abides faith, hope and love, these three. But the greatest of these is love.” Faith, hope, and love are permanent. They are qualities that add meaning and zest to life.

Faith: The Apostle Paul mentions the importance of faith in the following three verses: (1) “I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day” (II Tim. 1:12); (2) “We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8:28); and (3) “We know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building with God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” (II Cor. 5:1).

Hope: Hope looks to the future with confidence and expectancy. If we get sick, we hope to get well. The opposite of hope is despair. Despair produces defeatism. Defeatism is contagious, debilitating, and often fatal. Hope is inspiring and energizing. Jesus knew the value of having hope. He saw the cross, but He also saw His resurrection three days beyond it. He saw hope for the church. It is always great to have hope.

Love: God sent His Son to “seek and to save that which was lost.” In Romans 5:8 Paul reminds us that “God commended His love toward us, in that while we were sinners, Christ died for us.” And God created us with the capability of loving Him in return. We love Him because He first loved us. In addition to that, we are also to love our neighbor as ourselves. When a lawyer asked Jesus, “Who am I to love?” He answered by sharing the story of the Good Samaritan. He even said that we are to love our enemies.

Christian love and fellowship is what makes the body of Christ a church. Josephus, the early historian said of the first century Christians, “See how they love one another.” Human love – the love of a man for a woman, and the love of a woman for a man – the love of parents for their children and children for their parents – is the most permanent and vital relationship on the earth.

You may ask, “How can I know and experience the power of God’s love in my life?” The answer is easy: you must respond affirmatively to God’s love in the way that it was revealed and expressed on the hill called Calvary. The words of the first and last stanza of a hymn Christians often sing expresses it well: “When I survey the wondrous cross, on which the Prince of Glory died, my richest gain I count but loss and pour contempt on all my pride. Were the whole realm of nature mine that were a present far too small; love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all.”

Have you accepted Christ as your Savior yet? If not, there is no better time to do that than today.

In an effort to increase circulation, the St. Petersburg Times several years ago ran daily clues to a treasure hunt that involved finding $200 buried somewhere in the greater St. Petersburg area. Two thousand people gathered in front of the newspaper building on the day the final clue was printed. During the next 30 minutes several unusual things happened: a half dozen people were injured in automobile wrecks, a number of women passed out in front of the Times building, and four people had to be rescued from waist-deep mud. In retrospect, the treasure hunt was a huge success – circulation increased by 5%.

The lure of material wealth can become a mania. The fact that the North Carolina legislature some years ago joined numerous other states in establishing a lottery illustrates this fact. One of America’s favorite pastimes is the effort to get something for nothing. The constant search for what is often called “the good life” often becomes an all-consuming passion. The grass always looks greener on the other side of the fence.

Jesus had a great deal to say about the human tendency to acquire material things in the belief that this can make them happy. He said, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth” (Matthew 6:19). Why did He say this? Obviously it was because earthly treasures can be stolen or will deteriorate. They are not permanent; they cannot last. Also, the things for which we live determine the direction of our lives. Jesus said, “Seek first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all else that matters will be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33). However, owning even a great amount of wealth cannot in itself provide a good life.

Several years ago an 84-year-old rag picker in New York City died in abject poverty and was buried in a pauper’s grave. A few days later, the city authorities discovered a fortune of more than $500,000 belonging to him in a Brooklyn warehouse vault. His name was Henry Chapin Smith. He was a graduate of Harvard University, had been a classmate of Robert Frost and was a friend of the philosopher, Henry James. His life stands out as a mute reminder of the futility of placing too much trust in material things.

The father of a close personal friend of mine several years ago lived in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. He had made millions of dollars in real estate, owned several blocks in the center of Pittsburgh, but drove a small car because he said he couldn’t afford gasoline for a big car. He closed off the third floor of his home because the bathtub leaked and he couldn’t afford to have it fixed. He wore old clothes to free medical clinics rather than see a physician where he would have to pay. In his eighties he was killed in an automobile wreck.

Following his death, enough stocks, bonds and holdings were found inside his house that it took attorneys all morning and until 2 o’clock in the afternoon to list them on a central list. In the house several shoe boxes of money were found in the attic, in closets, and in other hiding places that had a face value of $500,000. The money was in old-fashioned large bills, said to be worth conservatively at least three times face value to collectors. My friend’s father was literally worth multiplied millions of dollars. He died and left it all!

The only kind of treasure that lasts is the treasure that is laid up in heaven. Treasures are deposited in the bank of heaven through acts of forgiveness and deeds lovingly done in the name of Christ, and by being a faithful steward of our time, talent, and treasure. Matthew 25 reminds us that every visit to those who are sick or in prison or in need is done as if done for Christ Himself. This is the kind of treasure that lasts forever.

There is nothing intrinsically wrong with owning material wealth – even lots of it. But it is wrong when we put wealth before God, or even worse, when we make wealth our god. In saying, “You cannot serve both God and money” (Matthew 5:24), Christ was not advocating POVERTY; He was advocating PRIORITY.

Nate Carter in his book, God Never Panics, tells the story of an S-4 submarine that was rammed by a merchant ship just off the coast of Massachusetts several years ago. It quickly sank into the cold dark waters of the Atlantic Ocean, trapping the entire crew. Every effort to rescue the crew failed. During one of their attempts a deep-sea diver heard faint tapping coming from the inside of the sunken sub which he recognized as being Morse code containing the message: “Is . . . there . . . any . . . hope?”

Although hope is the wind that propels us forward, it does not keep us from feeling the pressure and strain of life. If you live long enough, chances are that you are going to face some storms. No one can live life entirely free of pain, trouble, and difficulty. We often struggle with internal emotions created by anxiety, stress, burnout, and tension. Anxiety’s assault can rob us of joy and leave us emotionally bankrupt.

Perhaps there has been a time in your life when you asked the question, “Is there any hope?” Hope sees the invisible, feels the intangible, and achieves the impossible. Problems and conflict are products of living in this world. Unfortunately, they cannot be avoided. In fact, God’s Word confirms it: “Many are the afflictions of the righteous person, but the Lord delivers him out of them all” (Psalm 34:19).

Waiting upon God and living in His presence – these are the two spiritual actions that will resurrect hope within you as it increases your faith. God’s Word says, “Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31). It is in the moments of crisis that we can feel God’s arms surround us.

If and when we find ourselves facing the kind of difficulties that threaten to overwhelm us there are three principles we can employ that will open the door called hope:

Principle # 1 – Trust in God, not in ourselves. In tough times the human reaction is to panic. We sense our inability and lack of resources to overcome the problem. We sang a song in Sunday School when I was a boy, “God will make a way for me.” God’s Word is clear, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Principle # 2 – Don’t look at circumstances; look to God’s Word. It is easy to become distracted by overwhelming circumstances. When we trust in God every giant is dwarfed, and that will give us hope. Hope is the soil in which the seed of faith germinates. As it grows it becomes the foundation on which faith is built.

Principle # 3 – Don’t run and hide – Accept the challenges you face and give your challenges everything you have. The initial human response to conflict is to withdraw. Some who face difficult problems have the underlying impression that if they run and hide the problems they are facing will disappear. Others view the difficulties they face as a hopeless inevitability. The constructive way to deal with the problems and crises we face is to give everything we have to the challenge, knowing that God is on our side. 

Never forget that God’s Word says, “All things work together for the good to those who love God” (Romans 8:28).” Therefore, when you find yourself assailed by doubts and pummeled by questions, you can rest knowing that God is in control. When you are weak, He is strong. When you are lost, He knows the way. When you are afraid, He is courageous. When you fail, He forgives. When you are persecuted, He defends. When you fall, He is there to catch you. He is sovereign, and that means He is in control.