Take Heart (revised)

Back in the spring, I wrote an article entitled “Take Heart.” That title just won’t leave my mind. The past few days, it has been ringing in my heart. And after eight months, I still find that article is just as relevant, perhaps even more so today with the way world events are unfolding and with the holiday season approaching and the difficulties that come with it. And so, I am going to share from this article again today. We can all use a reminder from time to time that there is still hope.


My heart is heavy, and it’s broken for the pain I’m seeing. I have cried, and I have cried out to God. And He has whispered to my heart to take heart.

A day can start out going in one direction, and within seconds, change to a completely different one. By evening, the landscape has changed, and sometimes it has become completely unrecognizable. Death and destruction have come, despair and derailment are realities, shattered hopes and dreams lie at our feet, and lives are forever changed.

And in the midst of all this pain is the search for answers and peace, help and hope.

Recently, I encountered several young people in their twenties who were going through very difficult times. They were hurting, searching, and suicidal. I looked into their sad eyes and drawn faces, pained that I could not fix their problems and make their hurts go away. But thankfully, I was still able to help them. I gave them my time, my listening ear, a shoulder to cry on, a hug, a prayer, and ultimately hope.

What hope do I have to share? For those who want to give up the fight, I can tell about the One who fights for them. When they want life to end, I can tell them where Life begins. When they want to know peace, I can introduce them to the Prince of Peace. When they think life is meaningless, I can show them it has eternal purpose.

And if you are someone who is hurting and alone right now, know you are seen and loved. If you are someone who is suffering and shattered right now, know there is hope and healing available. Cast all your cares on God, because He cares for you. Seek His face and His strength forevermore. When all else shakes, He is the sure foundation, the Rock, the One who will hold you securely and never let you go. In times that are desolate and dark, His light still shines. When life is cold and bleak, the warmth and comfort of His presence can enfold you. When you feel lost and unsure of which way to go, He will hold your hand and guide your steps.1

Take heart. His love will speak to your heart. 

“Since before time began, a call went out to you. Even in the midst of a crowd, God has been seeking your heart as an individual. An invitation was developed with you in mind. From the time that the foundation of the world was laid, Jesus prepared to die for you and for each soul that would ever live. His sacrifice was arranged before you were ever a thought—before a single soul had ever lived. He did this so that you might have eternal life. Have you responded to His invitation?2

“This call has gone out directly to you. … God is offering you a most amazing prize: the gift of eternal life. This gift was given in the person of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. ‘For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life'”3

His heart is for you. Take heart.


If you are struggling right now, please reach out for help. There are people who can listen and help you 24 hours a day. The National Institute of Health has listed some numbers that you can reach. The Suicide & Crisis Lifeline can be reached by calling 988. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HELLO to 741741. If you are a veteran, you can contact the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 or you can send a text message to 838255 to connect with a VA responder.4  


You may also contact me through email or my website if you need a listening ear or someone to pray with you. My email address is eternalpurposepodcast@gmail.com. My website is www.franceestrain.com

Remember, you are never alone. Take heart.


NOTES

See 1 Peter 5:7, Psalm 105:4, Psalm 18:2, Micah 7:8, John 14, and Proverbs 3:5–6.

Francee Strain, No Ordinary Invitation: Called to Live a Life of Eternal Purpose, (Bloomington, IN: WestBow Press, 2017), 4.

3 Ibid.,4. John 3:16 is taken from the New King James Version of the Holy Bible, ©1982 by Thomas Nelson.

4 Information taken from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/suicide-prevention

©Revised text and photo Francee Strain, November 23, 2022. Original article posted March 20, 2022.

All the Days Ahead

The world seems like it is unraveling. Many things are happening that cause fear and trepidation. But God is still very much on the throne. Although perhaps unseen by human eyes, His mighty hand is at work. He holds today in His hands, and He holds the future, too. He has not forgotten us, nor has He abandoned us. A perfect plan is in motion with each piece and part being placed at just the right moment. There are no accidents. There are no coincidences. Delays allow us to arrive right on time. Detours direct us to where we need to be. Just the right number of moments lead to a bigger moment. Sometimes, we need to be reminded of this. For me, the reminder came through moose, a milkshake, and a medical diagnosis. These separate moments all converged into a perfect moment.

World events have been very disheartening. I have felt pain in my heart and had tears course down my cheeks. My personal life has resulted in the same. But last week, my heart was lifted as moment after moment connected into one big reminder that God is with me today and will be through all the days ahead.

I can trace the starting moment to about two weeks ago. I went through two bouts of seasonal illness back-to-back, and when added to my chronic illnesses, I was housebound for twelve days. The things I wanted and needed to do were not accomplished. Appointments and plans were canceled. Essential errands went undone. But on that thirteenth day, I thought perhaps I would make an attempt to head into town and get some essential things done even though I was not fully recovered. Well, my health continued to be uncooperative until 3:00 in the afternoon. When I thought there was somewhat of a lull in symptoms, I gathered up the things I needed to take with me and stepped out onto my porch, locking the door behind me. As I turned away from the door and began to head to my car, I found myself looking at a large moose in the neighbor’s yard behind my garage. I froze in place, overcome by awe and fear. She was a beautiful creature, but would she tolerate my presence or charge me? And then her baby came on the scene, which jeopardized my life even further. I gingerly went back into the house and got my camera. I cautiously took a few photos, and then I began sending messages to family members and neighbors to move through the area with caution. I continued to observe the two moose exhibiting fascinating behavior. Suddenly, a male mule deer strolled right past the two moose. And shortly thereafter, a female deer approached them. It was incredible to see all of these animals together in one location. My camera finger got busy, and then it got even busier as a second baby moose arrived. God gave me such a special treat in viewing these beautiful creatures. After several more minutes passed, I hoped the mother moose had decided I was not a threat because I needed to get to my car and be on my way. She graciously allowed me to drive past her.

As I did a few errands that afternoon, now thirty minutes behind schedule, I had the opportunity to express gratitude to those who provided service to me at each business. As I was heading home, I stopped at a gas station and went inside. When I finished in there and was heading toward the exit, I felt prompted to veer to the right and enter the restaurant area of the station. There were three customers dining, and I felt I was supposed to approach one of them. I began a conversation and offered to purchase dessert for this person. A chocolate milkshake was the dessert of choice. For the sake of privacy, I will not share the details of the conversation here, but when I offered prayer at the close of our conversation, this person broke down crying, carrying heavy burdens. We chatted a few more moments, and then I prayed over this person. We parted ways with words of God’s blessing to one another. On the drive home, my heart ached for this person who was experiencing so much pain—and not from just one traumatic life event, but three. I hoped God’s love, comfort, and encouragement would be felt on that person’s drive home with each sip of the milkshake and each remembrance of the conversation and prayer.

By the time I arrived home, I knew I needed to return to that restaurant and speak to the employee who had prepared the milkshake. It was the dinner hour when I arrived at the restaurant the second time, but there was no one dining in there. As a result, I was able to carry on a conversation with the employee and discover the heavy burden on that person’s heart for a family member who was in the hospital with a new life-threatening diagnosis.

Only God could have orchestrated the events of my day with such timed precision. The delays of illness, the delays of wildlife, and the delays while conducting business in the course of my errands, all resulted in absolute perfect timing where God could reach down and speak to the hearts of the people I encountered. But there was another heart He spoke to as well: mine. He reminded me that even though my life seems to be going awry and I have absolutely no control over it, it is very well orchestrated by His loving hands. God is very active in the details of our lives, and He does all things well and within His perfect timing.

Take heart. Keep the faith. Run the race. Today, and in all the days ahead.


The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
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 runs over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord
Forever.1

The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, And He delights in his way.2

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.3

You are my God, and I will praise You;
You are my God, I will exalt You.

Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!
For His mercy endures forever.4


NOTES

1 Psalm 23:1–6

2 Psalm 37:23

3 James 1:17

4 Psalm 118:28–29

Scriptures taken from the New King James Version of the Holy Bible, ©1982 by Thomas Nelson.

©Text and photo Francee Strain, November 20, 2022. The photo is of the second baby moose.

The Weary Heart

(Part 2 of 3 in “The Runner” series)

“Oh that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away, and be at rest. Lo, then would I wander far off, and remain in the wilderness. … I would hasten my escape from the windy storm and tempest.”1 Have you ever said these words, or perhaps something similar, something with the intent of expressing your arrival at the end of your limits with a situation? These words were spoken by King David millennia ago. He was fleeing for his life, and he had to do so for quite some time. And this was not the first time he had had to do such a thing. Living under the constant threat of dealing with traitors and the constant fatigue of a broken heart became a bit too much to deal with. Sometimes, the things we face in life become a bit too much to deal with. We long for things to be different, but our longing does nothing to change our reality. We pine for the days of old. We fear what our new futures may look like. Our thinking grows muddled. Our tears grow plentiful. And eventually, our hearts grow weary.


(Repost)

The following excerpts are taken from my book, No Ordinary Invitation: Called to Live a Life of Eternal Purpose. 

THE CALL TO THE WEARY

“Have you found yourself nearing the end of your energy supply? Are you past that point and already running on empty? Forget the running; are you dragging yourself through, day after day after day? Do you want the world to stop so you can get off it for a while? Do you wish it would all just end? Are you consumed by bitterness? Are you tottering on the edge of a nervous breakdown? Are you feeling joyless and unfulfilled and wondering if there is something wrong with you? Are you wanting to go away somewhere where no one knows who you are? Are you wishing to go to a different church where you can sit and be fed and truly worship rather than run helter-skelter, taking care of everyone else’s needs but your own? Are you wishing you could just start over? Are you wishing you could reinvent yourself? Are you regretting that you ever said yes to this or that? I have had every single one of these thoughts and many more.

“Sometimes we find that we are about out of strength and energy and have nothing left in our reserves to fuel us. We feel trapped in never-ending marathons of trials and relationships and often find ourselves wishing to escape the course so we can rest. At times, these wishes are truly a need and not just a want. King David formulated some words thousands of years ago that seem to echo in our hearts and minds today. He said, “Oh that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away, and be at rest. Lo, then would I wander far off, and remain in the wilderness. … I would hasten my escape from the windy storm and tempest”(Ps. 55:6–8). We all want to run away at times. And we are not the first ones to think like this—we are just the current generation who is doing so.”2

“We can become so tired that we feel we just cannot take it anymore. We wonder if there is anyone who will allow us to rest, if there is anyone who even calls us to rest. It is easy to feel like this because more often than not, we are told to “get to work” or to do something where work is implied. How many parents tell their children to go do their chores? And what about the honey-do list? Even being asked particular questions calls us to work and not to rest. “Did you get that report done?” “Did you do your homework?” “Did you drop off the dry cleaning?” Even the dentist tells us to do something: schedule our biannual appointments and remember to floss each day. Although these are the frequent words and cares of life, there are actually a few times when we are told to take a break.

“Sometimes, people recognize the need for rest and say or do something about it. When friends see our marriages headed for trouble, they might tell us to find babysitters and have date nights. When our health is in trouble, our doctors might tell us to slow down or lower our blood pressures so that we don’t have heart attacks. When we see loved ones headed for burnout, we may encourage them to take some time off. Sometimes, we might even talk to ourselves if we recognize that we have problems. We might tell ourselves that we need to take breathers or take some time to clear our heads. There are times when we are under great deals of pressure, self-inflicted or otherwise, and we know that we need to rest our minds. Some of the pressures imposed on us by ourselves or others are totally unnecessary. We are good at digging holes for ourselves and then making them deeper and wider until there seems to be no way out unless someone comes along to save the day. That someone who can save our days and save every aspect of our lives is Jesus. He tells us to come to Him and rest.”3

“His provision is great and His provision is all-encompassing. He is our sustenance for life. He is a place where we can rest as we journey. He is a place where we can linger when we are weary. We can draw deeply from the well of His salvation. In His presence, our souls can be rested and replenished, and then we will be able to rise up and go through all the days ahead of us. May coming to Him be elemental to our lives.”


He is inviting us. He has said, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” 5

Giving Him our weary hearts will enable us to stay in the race, to keep on running.


NOTES

Psalm 55:6–8 is taken from the King James Version of The Holy Bible, public domain.

Francee Strain, No Ordinary Invitation: Called to Live a Life of Eternal Purpose, (Bloomington, IN: WestBow Press, 2017), 40.

Ibid., 41.

Ibid., 48.

Matthew 11:28–30 is taken from the New King James Version of The Holy Bible, Thomas Nelson, © 1982.

©Revised text and photo Francee Strain, November 1, 2022.  Original article posted February 21, 2021.

A Moment of Weakness

Do you ever have a moment of weakness? I sure do. All day. Every day.

Journeying through this life is challenging. Moment by moment, decisions have to be made about what we will do or not do in the next moment. And our choices have consequences, some more significant than others, but consequences nonetheless. And bit by bit, these decisions shape who we become. And if we fail to think before we act, develop poor habits, sink into old addictions, and mindlessly while away the hours, we will soon find ourselves in a season of weakness.

We’ve all done it, and we all continue to do it. We experience moments of weakness and do what shouldn’t be done, or don’t do what should be. Our moments of weakness may occur because we make excuses, are afraid, hold stereotypes, and worry about what will happen next. Our moments of weakness may cause us to second-guess what we are supposed to do in a given situation, and then we miss the opportunity to do anything at all. At times, we walk in the flesh and not the Spirit. We rationalize, justify, and excuse our behavior. We hold on to selfishness, pride, and our own comfort. And our actions cannot be undone. What we have seen cannot be unseen, what we have heard cannot be unheard, what we have said cannot be unsaid, and the fact that we went somewhere cannot be erased. But, there’s hope because this is a new moment, and we can choose differently for our next actions.

For example, a few days ago (okay, even a few hours ago), I had an inappropriate thought. It seemed minor, inconsequential. I didn’t act on it, I just thought it. No one besides me knew I had thought it, no one that is except for God. But that is what really matters. Man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart.1 It was wrong in His eyes, and so, it was wrong. I was shocked. I gave myself a talking to. But then in the next moment, I was right back where I started. Once again, I realized this thought process was not pleasing to God. I confessed. I repented. I asked for His help with this situation. And the next moment, my thoughts changed to something pleasing to Him. I did not do this in my own strength and power. If it was up to me, my thoughts and I would have continued on down this negative path, adding to the collection as we went along. It was when I called out for help and strength to redirect my thoughts that the next moment became a beautiful one.

As we journey through life, we need to remain aware and present in the moment. A moment becomes a season when we allow it to go past the next moment. And if we are not vigilant, a beautiful season can disappear, and we can be left standing in an ugly one. When we let our guard down or look the other way, we neglect the Spirit. And if we are out of step with God, our steps are going to be out of step. The strength that could be ours will go untapped. But things do not have to be this way. We can allow Him to reorder our steps and set us back on track. His power knows no limits, so whether it is a small thought or a huge, terrible deed, there is help and hope. We will continually have moments of weakness, but God has strength that will never go away. He never grows weary. He will always give power to the faint, and for those who have no might, He will increase their strength. Those who trust in the LORD will mount up with wings like strong eagles. They will run the race like strong athletes. They will walk through life without being done in by it. Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith, and will also be the author and finisher of our strength. 2

We may have acquired undesirable names and may have developed negative reputations due to our actions, or lack thereof, but our names and our reputations can change to the opposite now because God can change our lives now. We can be made into new creations. We can be forgiven for the things committed and omitted. And there is now, therefore, no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Today is a new day. This is a new moment. This is a new moment for grace.3

A moment of weakness need only last for a moment because in the next moment we can call out for God’s strength, and He will give it to us. If we are facing something we ought not be doing, in a moment we can receive His help to turn away and do something else. If our moment has become a season of moments, He can remake our lives, and in a moment, bring us into a new season. His help is available to us before we even ask for it, and while we are yet speaking, He will hear us. Before a word has been formed on our tongues, He knows it altogether.4 His power is exceedingly great toward those who believe. God resurrected Jesus and set Him at His right hand in heaven. He is far above all principality, power, might, and dominion, so we can come to the logical conclusion that He is able to give us strength.5

Walking with God is a moment-by-moment endeavor. Every moment, we have a choice: to continue walking with Him or go our own way. Every moment, we need His strength. Every moment, we need His sustaining power. And when we are weak, we can be strong, if we will allow His strength to pervade us and our situations. His power is incomparable, and it is available at this very moment.


NOTES

1 See 1 Samuel 16:7.

2 See Isaiah 40:28–31 and Hebrews 12:2.

3 See Romans 8:1–14 and 2 Corinthians 5:17.

4 See Psalm 139:4, Isaiah 65:24, and 1 Corinthians 10:13.

5 See Ephesians 1:19–21.

©Text and photo, Francee Strain, September 27, 2022.

A Season of Heartache

I am looking across the table into eyes filled with tears. I am hearing quavering voices over the telephone. I am reading between the lines of texts and emails and seeing the pain and exhaustion. And I see it in my own reflection in the mirror, I hear it in my own voice, and I read it in my own words. Many of us are in a season of heartache. The reasons that brought on the season vary, but our hearts are all in the same place.

Life right now is hard. The days drag on with heaviness. The nights drag on with sleeplessness. Minds are overwhelmed. Bodies are in pain. Pocketbooks are being drained. Spirits are being wounded. Fears are growing larger. And hopelessness is clouding vision. 

Life is never perfect—there is always some amount of pain—but there are some seasons where heartache rules the day…and the night. Difficulties. Loss. Stormsliteral and figurative. Situations we’ve never navigated before…and never want to navigate again. How do we keep pressing on? How can our aching hearts keep moving forward?

Each season has both good and bad. Spring is too muddy. Summer is too hot. Fall is too wet. Winter is too cold. But spring also has buttercups and shining rainbows. Summer has refreshing showers and prolific flower petals. Fall has sweet scents and sprays of vibrant color. And winter has a breathtaking calm, beauty, and sparkle. Each aspect of a season shapes the season, but our perspectives shape it, too. Do we enjoy wearing rainboots, digging in the dirt for countless weeds, filling bag after bag with fallen leaves, and sliding under silvery skies? Some would say yes. Some would say no. Perspective matters.

So, too, now with our seasons of heartache. Can we lift our eyes to see the beauty behind the pain? Can we see the treasure of someone’s listening ear and warm embrace while we sob our hearts out? Can we hear the crowd along the sidelines lifting our names in prayer? Can we hear the heartbeat of the Savior who stands with outstretched arms ready to enfold us in our grief? My grandma used to tell me to crawl up into Jesus’s lap and tell Him my problems. Jesus is acquainted with grief. He went through a season of heartache like nothing we could ever imagine. He sees people fall to sin. He sees the backs of people when He wants to see their faces. He walked the roads of earth, despised and rejected. And then He was crucified like a criminal although He had never done a single thing wrong. But as He walked to the cross, there was joy set before Him because He knew His sacrifice would purchase our redemption and the opportunity for us to be with Him forever—if we would choose to do that.1

Can we look for that joy? Can we remember that He is there before us, waiting to give us the life He purchased for us, waiting to give us help, hope, and peace? He will help us keep pressing on, and pressing through, to the other side of this season, no matter when or how it ends. We can survive. We can thrive. We can showcase the beauty of the season, if we are refreshed by His presence, if we let Him root out the things which keep us from blooming, if we exude His fragrance, if we reflect His light. We can show His beauty and His power when we persevere; we can show it to a watching world, and we can show it to ourselves when we look in the mirror and when we commune with our hearts upon our beds. We will find He has never left us nor forsaken us.2 We will know deep down in our spirits that He is working all things for our good.3 Always. 

These afflictions are for a moment, but time with the healer of broken hearts is for all eternity.

Peace to you, my friends. He has overcome the world.4


NOTES

1 See John 17:3, Romans 10:13, and Hebrews 12:2.

2 See Hebrews 13:5.

3 See Romans 8:28.

4 See John 16:33.

©Text and photo Francee Strain, September 2, 2022.

The Cares of This World, Round 2

I wrote the following article more than a year ago, but when I reread it the other day, I could completely relate to what I had written then. It is because I am in a similar place in life again—trial after trial, in my own life and the lives of others surrounding me. There are times when it seems we keep the facial tissue manufacturers in business because we cry so many tears. This is one of those times.  And the solution and truths I state about where I find my help and hope are still completely true and are known with even more certainty than a year ago.

(Repost)

Sometimes, the cares of this world are just too much—too much to think about, too much to handle, too much to bear. Their heaviness can weigh on our hearts and minds until our spirits are downcast and we can barely lift our heads. 

I found myself this week sighing in my spirit. The grief was palpable. I was distracted from my tasks of the day as my mind started listing the burdens one by one—mine, his, hers, theirs, ours. The tears welled up and spilled over. “God, please help us; We need your help,” I pleaded. And instantly, He was there, speaking comfort to my soul, reminding me that His shoulders are here to carry the loads, His strong arms are here to lift me up, and His hands are here to hold me close.

We do not need to be anxious about anything.1 God cares about every detail of our lives. We were not made to carry this weight, and definitely not made to carry it alone. If we are focusing on our burdens, it will keep us from focusing on our Source of help, whereas trusting in Him will render perfect peace. 

Scripture tells us to cast all our cares upon Him, for He cares for us.2 We cannot change the past, but He can heal us from it. The present may be completely out of our control, but He is present. And instead of worrying about and dreading the future, thinking “What if ___________happens,” we can replace those thoughts with ones about His character and presence, ones like “He is loving.  He is good.  He is sovereign. He is all-powerful. He is.”  Remembering the truth lifted the weight from me. The problems and pains remained, but healing and strength had come to my heart. A lilt of joy entered in, and I continued the tasks of the day, going in the strength of the LORD God, the One who cares for this world. 


“Carry Me”

When the road is long, carry me.

When I’m not strong, carry me.

When all is wrong, carry me.

Carry me on the road that is short to You.

Carry me in strong arms that will pull me through.

Carry me in the way that is right and true.

Carry me straight to You.3


NOTES

See Philippians 4:6.

2 See 1 Peter 5:7.

Strain, Francee. “Carry Me.” 2017.

©Text and photo Francee Strain, August 30, 2022. Original article posted July 25, 2021.

A Time to Hope: A Hope-Filled Foundation, A Hope-Filled Faith, A Hope-Filled Future

This post contains all three articles from the “A Time to Hope” series.

Part 1—A Hope-Filled Foundation

We are living in very difficult times. Things look pretty bleak and hopeless a lot of days. More and more, people are succumbing to this hopelessness and falling into deep depression and even despair. But I want to speak a word of encouragement today and remind us that there is always a time for hope because there is God.

Romans 15:13 tells us God is the God of Hope, and when we believe in Him, our lives can abound with hope. He can enter our lives and situations and pervade them with hope. And even when we experience great loss, we will not need to fret and grieve as those who have no hope. Just as Abraham did, we can hope against hope, despite things looking dead and beyond hope. Abraham believed God could do anything, even bring life from a dead situation.1 And God proved Himself, over and over, and not just to Abraham, but to generation after generation.

God has power, and His words have power. He can bring hope and salvation to any who will believe, and He speaks clearly to any who will open their hearts to listen. It’s been a long journey, and there are more miles for us to tread, but we do not have to go it alone or go it without hope. In our struggle, pain, and desperation, we can hear Him speaking a message of eternal hope, help, and comfort.

How do we incorporate this hope into our lives? The hope itself is found in Him—proven to us through the life of Jesus—and the acceptance of Him into our lives will fill us with hope, down to our very cores, for all time and eternity. This hope will build the foundation. It will then be lived out in faith. And it will be looking to be fulfilled in the future. 

Hope is in the foundation. Hope is in the faith. Hope is in the future.

  • When we build our foundation on Jesus Christ and nothing more or less, we are building upon the surest foundation there is. His righteousness will cover us and connect us to God, the source of all hope.
  • When we place our faith in Jesus Christ and nothing more or less, our faith is being built upon the strongest faith there is. His salvation will cover us and connect us to God, the source of all hope.
  • When we place our future in Jesus Christ and nothing more or less, our future is being built upon the greatest future there is. His eternal grace will cover us and connect us to God, the source of all hope.

A foundation built on faith in Jesus Christ will bring us a future and a hope. Our faith will be forged in the fires of life and be found hopeful. And when we emerge on the other side, our future will still be stayed on the foundation of all hope.

When we give our lives to God, we can hold hope in our hearts because our hearts are held by Him. He will always keep His promises because He is faithful. No storm of life or dark of night can ever change the truth of Who He is. He is sovereign and omnipotent and can work all things for our good. We can confidently look to Him and wait on His timing, knowing He is our salvation and will hear us.2 We are victors because our victory is in Him. Our human eyes may not see it, but our eyes of faith can. And it is here where we have a decision to make. If we focus on our difficulties instead of on Him, fear and anxiety will grow and will begin to eclipse our hope; but if we focus on God rather than the circumstances, our hope will grow. When we focus on His character and abilities, we will be able to rest and find the ultimate source of hope. He holds it in His hand and offers it to us.

Sometimes, our lives are a mess and seem hopelessly out of control. The circumstances crush us and try to steal our hope. We might waver in living, and waver in believing. Our hearts might become anxious and fearful and forget Who holds the future and Who holds the now. Our days can become dark when we allow them to be darkened by fear and doubt, but they can be improved and ordered better when we allow God to get involved. God has all the power, and He will answer us when we call out to Him; and then our perspectives will change, and we will see rays of hope bursting through the clouds of darkness. At times, the circumstances will change, and at other times, they won’t; yet, He will always be there to help bear our burdens and see us through. Yes, regardless of the circumstances, He can help us thrive rather than just survive. Although the circumstances remain unchanged, we ourselves do not have to remain so. God’s power can be invoked, and it can make a world of difference. He can strengthen us with all might, according to His glorious power.3 He can take care of things in ways we never asked for, thought of, or imagined. He greatly loves and values us and will take care of the things we need. Just as He cares for each li­ttle sparrow, He will care for us. When we need help, when we are distressed, when things come crashing down upon us, He is there. And He always will be. 

There is hope and peace in His constant and abiding presence. He will lead and accompany us; and with Him at our right hands, we will not be shaken. Although times may come when the world shakes, our foundation will be sure. And upon this, we can build our hope and our lives.

In order to build in such a way, we need to move to the barest foundation of our lives. “We need to come to God with our hearts, not just our lips and actions (see Matt. 15:8–9). We can come to Him no matter how we are feeling inside, no matter our hearts’ conditions; He is able to handle it and act according to our needs. We can come to Him whole-heartedly, half-heartedly, or with broken hearts. If we have experienced tragedy, betrayal, discontentment, unfulfillment, or disappointment, we can come. If we are having the best times of our lives, we can come. If we are numb and do not even know what to think or feel, we can come. We can come to Him with our sorrow, when our hearts are broken and aching, because He is the Healer and the God of all comfort (2 Cor. 1:3). He binds up wounds and is near to those that are of a broken heart (Ps. 147:3). We can come to Him with our joy or lack thereof, whether we are rejoicing again or begging to have the joy of our salvation restored to us. We can share and exult in our victories with Him but also invite Him to share in our sorrows. We should come expectantly since deferred hope makes a heart sick (Prov. 13:12). …We can be hopeful even if today looks hopeless, because we have a living hope, not a dead one. The name of this hope is Jesus.”4

We can “come to Him during our times of desperation, when we are out of time, options, help, and hope. When we have come to the end of ourselves and have nothing else to cling to, we will find Him there, waiting for us. No ma­tter how low we are or how exhausted and beaten down we have become, we will find that He is there. He is with us in the pit, when we are overwhelmed and feel farther from Him than we ever have before. When life is overwhelming and we do not know how we can possibly continue on, He is there. His presence will go with us through all of our desperate times, and He will give us rest in the midst of them if we simply allow Him to do so. Even when the circumstances do not change, we can find rest in Him. Even when the circumstances change faster than we can handle, we can find rest in Him. He is the unchanging one who can help us in any and every circumstance. This God is our God—our rock, our anchor, our hope and stay.”5

This is a time for hope.


NOTES

See Romans 4:18.

See Micah 7:7.

See Colossians 1:11.

Francee Strain, No Ordinary Invitation: Called to Live a Life of Eternal Purpose, (Bloomington, IN: WestBow Press, 2017), 112.

Ibid.

©Text and photo Francee Strain, July 27, 2022

This entry was tagged A Sure FoundationDifficult TimesHope in ChristThriving in Hard Times.


Part 2—A Hope-Filled Faith

Currently, there is war in our world, war in our minds, war on our emotions, and war on our hope. Life is a battle. An uphill one, at that. We labor and calculate to try to get through things, to try to get things to make sense, to survive to fight another day. We groan and weep. We suffer and retreat. We grieve and lash out. Our minds are muddled. Our hearts are bleeding.

We try to pretend we are okay, but we are not. We are deeply wounded. We are exhausted and empty. We are often biting our lower lips to hold back the tears. We don’t speak because we know our voices will crack. We don’t make eye contact because we know a look of sympathy will break us. We have heavy hearts, heavy burdens, and eyes that are heavy with tears. Even the air is heavy, and we feel like we are suffocating beneath the weight of it.

We are self-protecting and self-preserving, and at times we are going all out to mask our pain. And in whatever way we are trying to function and trying to cope, ultimately, we are operating in our own strength. And this is not faith. This is self. Self trying to do it all. Self trying to be it all. Self trying to conquer it all. Self trying to pull through. And the placement of our hope in ourselves is a misplaced hope. We ultimately cannot completely save ourselves. We don’t hold all the pieces and parts. We don’t have all the power and control. And, we never will. There has to be more than this futility and defeat. There has to be a better way, a better place to place our hope, something stronger in which we can place our faith. There is, but sometimes it is difficult to do so.

The challenges of life can challenge our faith. Obstacles, suffering, times of waiting, an overwhelming schedule, and the enemies of our souls can all be deterrents and distractions that keep us from believing in and reaching out to God. The very things with which we need help can be detrimental to our faith. But transformation can take place. Faith can become hope-filled when it is placed in God. And hope springs eternal when it is based on the eternal God.

So, when we place our hope and faith in the eternal God, and nothing more or less, what does this mean? How do we move through life with Him as our foundation? Does it mean our lives will be perfect? That we will never face trials and hardships? That we will not be hurt, rocked to the core, and broken? No, it does not. But what it does mean is that when we fall, we will get up again. When we mourn, we will laugh again. When we cannot see for the dark, we will see the light of His glorious face. This is hope-filled faith.

Faith is not a hope that there will be no difficulties. Faith is a hope through the difficulties. We can believe God is our Rock, and though the world shakes, He never will. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He is perfect. Trustworthy. Omnipotent. Sovereign. We can know Who this is, this One in Whom we are placing our hope and faith. We can know His character. We can know His capabilities. We can know His heart.

God will sustain us, and with His help, our difficulties will not destroy us. Having hope in Him will strengthen our faith. The reality of our journeys can meet the reality of who God is. He is the God of hope. When we look to Him, we will see amazing things. When we seek His help, we will have a power we have never known before. He will love us at all times and in all seasons, when things look hopeless or things look hopeful. He will always be there even when we don’t think our hope is. Those who belong to God have the power of His Holy Spirit within them and can abound in hope.1 And, remembering His faithfulness to us and all of the generations before us will restore our hope.

The accounts of many people in the Bible show us how to have faith, and the Bible itself gives comfort, which in turn gives us hope.2 One prime example to examine during our troubled times is the life of Job. “Job experienced so many challenges that wore him down. The changes in his life touched him physically and then sank deep into his being; his mind, emotions, spirit, and relationships were all affected. He was devastated and bowed down in the dirt. He was in a sorry state of being and a somewhat sorry state of mind. Hope seemed lost. He could not help himself. He did not have the strength of stones or brass or any other resource to remedy the devastation in his life (Job 6:11–13). He needed God’s help and would not have rest until he allowed God to give it to him. And then, there was God. God touched Job’s life, and Job was able to get up and move forward. And like Job, we no longer have to lie there on the ground, defeated by the heavy loads of life; God can step in and make our burdens lighter too. Yes, the help of God can be found in us if He is found in us. He will give us grace and strength when we hope in Him and choose to walk uprightly. We can pass through our daily trials with strong and hope-filled hearts.”3

“Job’s trials were unbelievably huge, and yet, he had faith in the God who was bigger…Our souls can be still because God is on our side when we are on His side. He is for us when we are for Him. Not all circumstances will be good, but He will always be good. He is the Lord, and He does not change. … Keep the faith. He will always remain, and He will always remain faithful.”4

Hebrews chapter 11 is another place we can look to see the faith of believers on display. The first verse defines faith as the “substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”5 These people placed their faith in God, not knowing what the outcome would be but knowing in Whom they were hoping. Daniel continued to pray to God despite being told petitions could only be made to the king. He was then sent to the lions’ den to face a painful death, but God sent an angel to close the lions’ mouths. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego were told to worship an earthly king. They refused and stated they would only worship the one true God. They knew this choice was a death sentence, but they also knew God could deliver them if He chose to do so. They were bound and thrown into a fiery furnace to die, but God sent them rescue, and not a hair on any of their heads was singed; the smell of smoke was not even on their clothing.

There were other people, though, who did not live to see their faith realized, yet they still hoped. This was because faith does not have to know the outcome, faith just has to be demonstrated by action, and hope is then born of this faith as it is built on the certainty of the One in Whom we place our faith. Our belief allows us to hope because we are persuaded He can do anything, but it is also the reassured recognition God sometimes does not do what we want and when. He is not a vending machine or a genie. He knows the beginning and the end and everything that must happen in between. Our faith just needs to be in Him and His power and not in human wisdom and desires.6 So, let’s not lose hope. Let’s not stay home, give up, or check out. We can live to fight another day. God can become our companion in battle. We can allow Him to fight for us. Some trust in horses, and some trust in chariots, but we can trust in the name of the LORD God.7 Yes, even while we tread the broken roads of this fallen world, He can make our paths straight. While others try to squash us, He can make our spirits soar. When we think we have lost everything, we will find He has never left us. We can firmly believe in this God and give Him our loyalty and devotion. We can trust our pain will be turned to purpose, and we can know our lonely hearts are not alone. As King David said in Psalm 27:5 and 29:11, God will hide us in times of trouble and set us upon a rock; He will give strength to His people and will bless them with peace.

“God is the source of all hope (see Ps. 62:5) and the source of things that give hope. He is the source of salvation and eternal life. He is our rock and our fortress, our strength and stability, our protection from the enemy. We will not be shaken when we place our hope in Him because He is the unshakable God. We, like others, can have hope by recognizing the truth of who He is.”8 King Asa knew the size of the enemy did not matter because God is the one with all the power.9 Jonah knew his prayers would be heard when he called out in his time of difficulty.10 When we need help and answers, God is both. “It is God who can quash our hopelessness. It is He who can aid our helplessness. He has the power to help and to save, no ma­tter how large the enemy is that looms in front of us. He is hope itself.”11

When we trust Him, the heaviness will dissipate. When we allow Him to share in our pain, He will bring us comfort. When we accept His support, our stress levels will be reduced. His peace will surpass all understanding. He will bring true hope which will enable us to endure this life, “no ma­tter what has happened in the past, what we live in today, and what will come our way in the future. He is the Ancient of Days, and He is the contemporary. He has always existed, and He is here with us now. He is the everlasting God, and He will be with us throughout our futures.”12

“Psalm 142:1–7 is a good passage to read when feeling overwhelmed. These verses tell us that we can cry out to God and let Him know about our complaints and the trouble in which we find ourselves. He knows our paths. He is there for us when and where no one else is, even if it is the middle of the night and we are at our absolute lowest points. He is our refuge. He is our deliverer. He is going to bless us. Instead of le­tting our hearts be troubled, we should focus on our belief in Him and know that He is preparing a place in heaven for us (John 14:3). Be­tter days are coming.”13

God will always keep His promises throughout our entire lifetime, even during the tests and trials that come, even during the devastation and destruction of the fallen, natural world. Even when everything around us gives way, He is constant, He is faithful, He is still God. No ma­tter what happens, we can hold fast, unwaveringly, to our faith. When we cannot comprehend the incomprehensible, He is still the One who makes sense. And He is ever faithful to those who belong to Him.14 He gives His Holy Spirit to indwell those who believe, and the Spirit will counsel and comfort us, He will testify to our spirits that we belong to God, He will groan for us when we cannot find the words to pray in our pain, and He will empower us to go through each day, accomplishing the things God has called us to do. And He is the earnest of the promise that Jesus will return to take all believers home to the Father. Those who believe are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.15 For these reasons, and many more, we can look forward with a faith-filled hope.

True hope is built on a foundation of faith in God. Hope rooted in God is hope which cannot be taken away. We know He is always at work, His timing is perfect, and He keeps His promises. Our minds can know, and our hearts can believe, what our eyes cannot see. The evidence is all around. He has been there in the past, He promises to be there in the future, and we can know He holds us now. And this will fill our faith with hope.


NOTES

See Romans 15:13.

See Romans 15:4.

Francee Strain, No Ordinary Invitation: Called to Live a Life of Eternal Purpose, (Bloomington, IN: WestBow Press, 2017), 81–2.

Francee Strain, No Ordinary Invitation: Called to Live a Life of Eternal Purpose, (Bloomington, IN: WestBow Press, 2017), 201.

5 This portion of Scripture quoted from Hebrews 11:1 was taken from the King James Version of the Holy Bible, public domain.

See 1 Corinthians 2:5.

See Psalm 20:7.

Francee Strain, No Ordinary Invitation: Called to Live a Life of Eternal Purpose, (Bloomington, IN: WestBow Press, 2017), 217.

See 2 Chronicles 14.

10 See Jonah 2:7.

11 Francee Strain, No Ordinary Invitation: Called to Live a Life of Eternal Purpose, (Bloomington, IN: WestBow Press, 2017), 218.

12 Francee Strain, No Ordinary Invitation: Called to Live a Life of Eternal Purpose, (Bloomington, IN: WestBow Press, 2017), 80.

13 Ibid.

14 See 2 Timothy 2:13 and Deuteronomy 7:9.

15 See 1 Corinthians 3:23.

©Text and photo Francee Strain, August 8, 2022. Revised August 9, 2022.

This entry was tagged Difficult TimesFaithGod’s FaithfulnessGod’s HelpTrusting God.


Part 3—A Hope-Filled Future

As we conclude this three-part series on hope, we are going to look at the future. Although these are dark days which crowd out the light of hope, it is still there waiting for us. It is still there because God is still there, and He is the source of all hope.

The hardships we are facing right now will affect our futures, but how those futures look will vary depending upon the choices we make about where to look for help and hope—whether we are looking to God or somewhere else. God can bring something good out of these difficult circumstances, and we can discover hope in knowing this. We can wait expectantly for how God is going to intervene. Actually, He is already at work, whether we see Him or not. Even though we may feel paralyzed by pain and our circumstances, God is moving. And because He is, we can find hope to move forward into the future by knowing nothing escapes His knowledge. He knows every pain we experience and knows every anxious thought we have. When our hearts quake, when we struggle in our weaknesses and failures, when we lose our spark and drive, when we feel alone, rejected, and opposed, God is aware. And in spite of all these troubling things, we can place our hope in Him. And because of all these things, He is the best place to place our hope.

When our minds begin to worry, and our peace begins to flee, we can find hope and rest by changing where we focus. We can remember He is God and knows what we need. He holds us today, and He holds all our tomorrows. He holds us securely, so we can hold fast to Him with faith and hope. He sees what our eyes cannot, He knows what our minds cannot, so our hearts can trust Him and know hope.

Our burdens will not overpower us, if we turn them over to the all-powerful God. His strength will break the power of hopelessness. He is omnipotent and can do the impossible, and His inexplicable power is available to us. “We do not have to wait until we get to the end of the tunnels to see the light; we can see it now, even though it is dark all around us. We can see the light of God’s glory shining through the darkest of clouds and the darkest of nights, radiating brightly through the darkness of hopelessness and the darkness of despair. God gives strength beyond strength and peace beyond peace. He is there with us through His Spirit, and He is there with us in love. He does all things well and will be there with us every moment of every day. He is for us, and He has eternal purpose in each day. He is the fountain of life, and in His light, we will see light (Ps. 36:9).”1

We know He came in the past, and He has told us He is coming back in the future, but He also comes in the interim, in the present. And having Him here with us now influences what the future will be like for us. Will we accept His help and hope? He shows Himself in many ways, but will we see Him and recognize Him? Sometimes, His presence is quite noticeable, and other times, it is subtle. He is there in our ordinary days, and He is there in our storms. He is there when things are fine for us and at the times when it seems all hope is lost. He will accompany and carry us to our destinations, speaking peace to the wind and the waves, speaking peace to our hearts. His power can pervade each situation and carry us from the crashing waves of hopelessness to the solid shore of hopefulness. All we need to do is believe and extend our shaking hands with the hope of our faith. And He will reach back.

“We can have strong hearts when we are filled with God’s hope (see Ps. 31:24). Hoping in Him and what He is going to do—rather than fretting, worrying, or being anxious—will bring rest to us. Hope raises us above the despair that tries to drag us down. We can rest and not be moved because God is our rock, Jesus is our cornerstone, and faith is our firm foundation. We can build our hope on Him because He is a strong stay and a mighty fortress. ‘I have set the LORD always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope.’ (Ps. 16:8–9).

“As we move through life, we do not need to be hopeless and paralyzed by fear but instead need to be anchored in God, our hope. We can release the fear and place our hope and trust in Him. If we set the Lord always before us and keep Him at our right hands, then we will be stayed and moored in a strong place. He is where our hope, strength, and rest will come from.”Imagine looking over at Him, the King of kings, there beside us, bearing our burdens, offering us comfort and hope, fighting for us, and giving us peace. There is true hope surrounding us and going before us, as His presence is with us, and He goes before us. And our ultimate hope lies in the fact we won’t much longer have to imagine seeing Him, as He is going to come again, and we are going to see Him face to face. This return will not be subtle or known only in the quietness of our hearts and minds. His return is going to be seen by all!3 How exciting to think one day our own eyes will look upon hope itself, upon the King who has come! And today, we are one day closer to that day.

“He always keeps His promises, and no one can thwart what He purposes. ‘For yet a li­ttle while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry (Heb. 10:37).’ … Will He see our faith in Him when He comes looking for it (Luke 18:8)?”4 When that day arrives, all who have placed their trust and hope in the salvation of Jesus Christ will have their hope fulfilled for all eternity. And for anyone who has not yet done this, today is a day of opportunity to gain hope for the future. It just involves making a choice to take hold of the gift and reply “yes” to the invitation to receive it. Jesus is the door to life, and we can choose to walk through it. And if we choose to walk through that door, our expectations of a better life will be fulfilled with the best life—eternal life with Him.

Those of us who have placed our faith and trust in Jesus have a hope-filled future. That future will be filled with life and be empty of death, sorrow, crying, or pain. God raised Jesus from the dead and will raise us, and He will wipe away every tear from our eyes. He will strengthen the hearts of all who hope in Him. Even now, Jesus is preparing a place for us, and when it is time, He is going to return and take us there. Holding this in our hearts will strengthen our hope and strengthen us. In the midst of this life, we can find life—life that will someday be eternal and life that can now be abundant. Jesus came to give it, and He can fill our days and hearts with many blessings.5

God’s plans and purposes for us are good, and having this knowledge will bring us hope and peace. Any pain, any trial, can be touched by His hand. We can be transformed through these times and even find these things useful to us in the future. I have many examples which have already occurred in my own life, and I trust more will come. At the time, I could not see how anything good could ever come out of such terrible situations, but God saw something I did not. He saw the future. And He took those scars and poured blessing over them. From those ugly things, beauty grew. His hope can help us see beyond the circumstances and see beyond the now. Looking for the beauty in the brokenness brings hope, and we can look forward to deeper healing as time goes on and a reworking of the trajectory of our lives. God is the redeemer and restorer, and He makes all things new. He can change circumstances and change lives, but He can also change hearts and perspectives in the midst of the storms and in their aftermaths. There is something else on the other side of these difficult times, and our faith and hope in Him will carry us through the difficulties and over to that point. He can bring healing to every part of who we are and can work in lives around us, too. Nothing is hopeless when He is involved. Evil will not win the day. The locusts will not have the last leaf. God’s hand can intervene, visibly or invisibly. He is near and available when we call out to Him. Let’s turn our eyes away from these temporary trials and turn them expectantly toward our eternal rescue. He is coming. Let us stand on our foundation, pressing toward the prize of the high calling, awaiting the future with hope.

The pages of the Bible are like a treasure chest. Reading through, we will discover page after page of reasons to have hope, from the knowledge of God’s very character to His actions. There is proof in the review of His past actions, the observation of His current actions, and the revelation of what His future actions will be. He is faithful, and we can build our hope on Him. If He said He will do something, He will do it. He is faithful and just and forgives sin. He gives new mercy every morning. He never leaves His children. And He has said His own will be with Him forever, so we can stake our hope on that. Throughout all time, He has proven Himself. When His children have gone through difficult times, have had to accomplish feats which seemed overwhelming, and have faced death, His presence and help have been there. He has always held their lives, their breaths, and their souls, and will continue to do so.6

He cares about our lives down to the last detail. He gives wisdom when we ask. He supplies our needs and our strength. He is a refuge for us. And He gives us His everlasting love, peace, comfort, support, and kindness. As we progress through life, He will be with us, and we will not lack anything we need. When we draw near to Him, we will find hope, because when we draw near to Him, He, the source of all hope, will draw near to us. We have been assured of His constant presence and help. He will be with us all through life, and then we will dwell with Him forever.7

When He holds our hearts, we can look forward to what lies ahead when our journeys end because a foundation built on Him and faith placed in Him will give us a hopeful future. The proof of it is extensive. And for now, while we move toward that future, we can trust Him to do above and beyond anything we can ask, think, or imagine. As the present of today becomes the past, and we continue on into the unknown future, we can know this One who holds the future and hear Him speaking over our lives while He waits to welcome us home with open arms. So, let us continue on in our journeys, seeking His face and listening for His voice, giving Him our hearts and our trust.

Dear friends, our foundation can be hope-filled, our faith can be hope-filled, and our future can be hope-filled if He is the hope of our foundation, the hope of our faith, and the hope of our future. This is a time to hope.


Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; For I shall yet praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God.8


NOTES

Francee Strain, No Ordinary Invitation: Called to Live a Life of Eternal Purpose, (Bloomington, IN: WestBow Press, 2017), 181–182.

Francee Strain, No Ordinary Invitation: Called to Live a Life of Eternal Purpose, (Bloomington, IN: WestBow Press, 2017), 239–240.

See Matthew 24, Mark 13, and 1 Thessalonians 4.

Francee Strain, No Ordinary Invitation: Called to Live a Life of Eternal Purpose, (Bloomington, IN: WestBow Press, 2017), 259–260.

5 See Psalm 31:24, John 3:16, John 10:10, John 14:1–3, 1 Corinthians 6:14, and Revelation 21:4.

See Exodus 33:14, Joshua 1:9, Lamentations 3:22–25, Acts 7:55–56, Hebrews 13:5–6, 8, and 1 John 1:9 for a few examples. 

See Deuteronomy 33:27, Jeremiah 31:3, Psalm 23, John 16:33, Romans 8:16, and James 4:8a.

Psalm 42:11 is taken from the New King James Version of the Holy Bible, ©1982 by Thomas Nelson.

The scripture quotations in my book excerpts were taken from the King James Version of the Holy Bible, public domain.

©Text and photo Francee Strain, August 18, 2022

This entry was tagged ComfortDifficult TimesEncouragementEnduranceFuture LifeGod’s HelpJesus’s ReturnStrength.


©Text and photos Francee Strain, August 18, 2022

A Time to Hope, Part 3

Part 3—A Hope-Filled Future

As we conclude this three-part series on hope, we are going to look at the future. Although these are dark days which crowd out the light of hope, it is still there waiting for us. It is still there because God is still there, and He is the source of all hope.

The hardships we are facing right now will affect our futures, but how those futures look will vary depending upon the choices we make about where to look for help and hope—whether we are looking to God or somewhere else. God can bring something good out of these difficult circumstances, and we can discover hope in knowing this. We can wait expectantly for how God is going to intervene. Actually, He is already at work, whether we see Him or not. Even though we may feel paralyzed by pain and our circumstances, God is moving. And because He is, we can find hope to move forward into the future by knowing nothing escapes His knowledge. He knows every pain we experience and knows every anxious thought we have. When our hearts quake, when we struggle in our weaknesses and failures, when we lose our spark and drive, when we feel alone, rejected, and opposed, God is aware. And in spite of all these troubling things, we can place our hope in Him. And because of all these things, He is the best place to place our hope.

When our minds begin to worry, and our peace begins to flee, we can find hope and rest by changing where we focus. We can remember He is God and knows what we need. He holds us today, and He holds all our tomorrows. He holds us securely, so we can hold fast to Him with faith and hope. He sees what our eyes cannot, He knows what our minds cannot, so our hearts can trust Him and know hope.

Our burdens will not overpower us, if we turn them over to the all-powerful God. His strength will break the power of hopelessness. He is omnipotent and can do the impossible, and His inexplicable power is available to us. “We do not have to wait until we get to the end of the tunnels to see the light; we can see it now, even though it is dark all around us. We can see the light of God’s glory shining through the darkest of clouds and the darkest of nights, radiating brightly through the darkness of hopelessness and the darkness of despair. God gives strength beyond strength and peace beyond peace. He is there with us through His Spirit, and He is there with us in love. He does all things well and will be there with us every moment of every day. He is for us, and He has eternal purpose in each day. He is the fountain of life, and in His light, we will see light (Ps. 36:9).”1

We know He came in the past, and He has told us He is coming back in the future, but He also comes in the interim, in the present. And having Him here with us now influences what the future will be like for us. Will we accept His help and hope? He shows Himself in many ways, but will we see Him and recognize Him? Sometimes, His presence is quite noticeable, and other times, it is subtle. He is there in our ordinary days, and He is there in our storms. He is there when things are fine for us and at the times when it seems all hope is lost. He will accompany and carry us to our destinations, speaking peace to the wind and the waves, speaking peace to our hearts. His power can pervade each situation and carry us from the crashing waves of hopelessness to the solid shore of hopefulness. All we need to do is believe and extend our shaking hands with the hope of our faith. And He will reach back.

“We can have strong hearts when we are filled with God’s hope (see Ps. 31:24). Hoping in Him and what He is going to do—rather than fretting, worrying, or being anxious—will bring rest to us. Hope raises us above the despair that tries to drag us down. We can rest and not be moved because God is our rock, Jesus is our cornerstone, and faith is our firm foundation. We can build our hope on Him because He is a strong stay and a mighty fortress. ‘I have set the LORD always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope.’ (Ps. 16:8–9).

“As we move through life, we do not need to be hopeless and paralyzed by fear but instead need to be anchored in God, our hope. We can release the fear and place our hope and trust in Him. If we set the Lord always before us and keep Him at our right hands, then we will be stayed and moored in a strong place. He is where our hope, strength, and rest will come from.”2 Imagine looking over at Him, the King of kings, there beside us, bearing our burdens, offering us comfort and hope, fighting for us, and giving us peace. There is true hope surrounding us and going before us, as His presence is with us, and He goes before us. And our ultimate hope lies in the fact we won’t much longer have to imagine seeing Him, as He is going to come again, and we are going to see Him face to face. This return will not be subtle or known only in the quietness of our hearts and minds. His return is going to be seen by all!3 How exciting to think one day our own eyes will look upon hope itself, upon the King who has come! And today, we are one day closer to that day.

“He always keeps His promises, and no one can thwart what He purposes. ‘For yet a li­ttle while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry (Heb. 10:37).’ … Will He see our faith in Him when He comes looking for it (Luke 18:8)?”4 When that day arrives, all who have placed their trust and hope in the salvation of Jesus Christ will have their hope fulfilled for all eternity. And for anyone who has not yet done this, today is a day of opportunity to gain hope for the future. It just involves making a choice to take hold of the gift and reply “yes” to the invitation to receive it. Jesus is the door to life, and we can choose to walk through it. And if we choose to walk through that door, our expectations of a better life will be fulfilled with the best life—eternal life with Him.

Those of us who have placed our faith and trust in Jesus have a hope-filled future. That future will be filled with life and be empty of death, sorrow, crying, or pain. God raised Jesus from the dead and will raise us, and He will wipe away every tear from our eyes. He will strengthen the hearts of all who hope in Him. Even now, Jesus is preparing a place for us, and when it is time, He is going to return and take us there. Holding this in our hearts will strengthen our hope and strengthen us. In the midst of this life, we can find life—life that will someday be eternal and life that can now be abundant. Jesus came to give it, and He can fill our days and hearts with many blessings.5

God’s plans and purposes for us are good, and having this knowledge will bring us hope and peace. Any pain, any trial, can be touched by His hand. We can be transformed through these times and even find these things useful to us in the future. I have many examples which have already occurred in my own life, and I trust more will come. At the time, I could not see how anything good could ever come out of such terrible situations, but God saw something I did not. He saw the future. And He took those scars and poured blessing over them. From those ugly things, beauty grew. His hope can help us see beyond the circumstances and see beyond the now. Looking for the beauty in the brokenness brings hope, and we can look forward to deeper healing as time goes on and a reworking of the trajectory of our lives. God is the redeemer and restorer, and He makes all things new. He can change circumstances and change lives, but He can also change hearts and perspectives in the midst of the storms and in their aftermaths. There is something else on the other side of these difficult times, and our faith and hope in Him will carry us through the difficulties and over to that point. He can bring healing to every part of who we are and can work in lives around us, too. Nothing is hopeless when He is involved. Evil will not win the day. The locusts will not have the last leaf. God’s hand can intervene, visibly or invisibly. He is near and available when we call out to Him. Let’s turn our eyes away from these temporary trials and turn them expectantly toward our eternal rescue. He is coming. Let us stand on our foundation, pressing toward the prize of the high calling, awaiting the future with hope.

The pages of the Bible are like a treasure chest. Reading through, we will discover page after page of reasons to have hope, from the knowledge of God’s very character to His actions. There is proof in the review of His past actions, the observation of His current actions, and the revelation of what His future actions will be. He is faithful, and we can build our hope on Him. If He said He will do something, He will do it. He is faithful and just and forgives sin. He gives new mercy every morning. He never leaves His children. And He has said His own will be with Him forever, so we can stake our hope on that. Throughout all time, He has proven Himself. When His children have gone through difficult times, have had to accomplish feats which seemed overwhelming, and have faced death, His presence and help have been there. He has always held their lives, their breaths, and their souls, and will continue to do so.6

He cares about our lives down to the last detail. He gives wisdom when we ask. He supplies our needs and our strength. He is a refuge for us. And He gives us His everlasting love, peace, comfort, support, and kindness. As we progress through life, He will be with us, and we will not lack anything we need. When we draw near to Him, we will find hope, because when we draw near to Him, He, the source of all hope, will draw near to us. We have been assured of His constant presence and help. He will be with us all through life, and then we will dwell with Him forever.7

When He holds our hearts, we can look forward to what lies ahead when our journeys end because a foundation built on Him and faith placed in Him will give us a hopeful future. The proof of it is extensive. And for now, while we move toward that future, we can trust Him to do above and beyond anything we can ask, think, or imagine. As the present of today becomes the past, and we continue on into the unknown future, we can know this One who holds the future and hear Him speaking over our lives while He waits to welcome us home with open arms. So, let us continue on in our journeys, seeking His face and listening for His voice, giving Him our hearts and our trust.

Dear friends, our foundation can be hope-filled, our faith can be hope-filled, and our future can be hope-filled if He is the hope of our foundation, the hope of our faith, and the hope of our future. This is a time to hope.


Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; For I shall yet praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God.8


NOTES

1 Francee Strain, No Ordinary Invitation: Called to Live a Life of Eternal Purpose, (Bloomington, IN: WestBow Press, 2017), 181–182.

2 Francee Strain, No Ordinary Invitation: Called to Live a Life of Eternal Purpose, (Bloomington, IN: WestBow Press, 2017), 239–240.

3 See Matthew 24, Mark 13, and 1 Thessalonians 4.

4 Francee Strain, No Ordinary Invitation: Called to Live a Life of Eternal Purpose, (Bloomington, IN: WestBow Press, 2017), 259–260.

5 See Psalm 31:24, John 3:16, John 10:10, John 14:1–3, 1 Corinthians 6:14, and Revelation 21:4.

6 See Exodus 33:14, Joshua 1:9, Lamentations 3:22–25, Acts 7:55–56, Hebrews 13:5–6, 8, and 1 John 1:9 for a few examples. 

7 See Deuteronomy 33:27, Jeremiah 31:3, Psalm 23, John 16:33, Romans 8:16, and James 4:8a.

8 Psalm 42:11 is taken from the New King James Version of the Holy Bible, ©1982 by Thomas Nelson.

The scripture quotations in my book excerpts were taken from the King James Version of the Holy Bible, public domain.

©Text and photo Francee Strain, August 18, 2022

Hearts That Don’t Quit

Why is this happening to me? This is not what I had planned for my life. This is not what I signed up for. And this is not where I thought I would be by now. There are castles crumbling all around me. Teardrops are falling relentlessly. There are cold hearts, cold glares, empty words, and unfulfilled promises. There’s brokenness everywhere I look. Brokenness in them … and brokenness in me. Yes, we are broken. And we are brokenhearted.

The brokenness comes because we possess broken hearts. We have stepped out of God’s perfect design and into lives marred by sin. We make, and others make, poor choices. Wrong choices. Hurtful choices. Selfish choices. And now, what can we do?

Oh, my heart is heavy, and it’s broken for the pain I’m seeing. I have cried and cried. I have also cried out to God. And, He has whispered to my heart to take heart and not give up, even in the midst of deep pain, even in the midst of such a broken and messed up world.

We’ve all seen it. A day can start out going in one direction, and within seconds, change to a completely different one. By evening, the landscape has changed, and sometimes it’s become completely unrecognizable. Death and destruction have come, despair and derailment are our new realities, and shattered hopes and dreams lie at our feet. In moments, our lives are forever changed. The despair can be overwhelming. The sense of hopelessness can be suffocating. The darkness closes in. And the pain is unrelenting. Our souls are anguished. They are crushed. They seem beyond repair.  And all we can do is ache. Sometimes, all we can do is curl up in a fetal position and sob. And sob. And sob. Our broken hearts spill out into our teardrops.

And in the midst of all this pain is the search for answers, for peace, for help, for hope. And what hope is there? Sometimes, there doesn’t seem to be any, and we just want to give up the fight. We become too tired to fight any more. And that’s just it. We’re tired because we are fighting. There is another Who can fight for us, with us, on our behalf. When our lives seem to have come to an end, we can grasp the source of Life: God Himself, the One who gives life, the One who is all-powerful. He’s there when we get to the end of our rope and our strength. When we need peace, we can obtain it from the Prince of Peace. When life no longer seems meaningful, He can fill it with His presence and the ability to press on to find the good. There is an eternal purpose for us to find and live throughout the remainder of our days. We never have to be alone, and we never have to just survive and try to make it through the day. Whatever looms over us, God can help us face it and keep moving forward.   

I’ve encountered so many people who are searching, so many who are suicidal, so many who are paralyzed by grief. Times are so difficult, more difficult than they’ve ever been. It’s so understandable why these thoughts and emotions come. Our hearts are slammed, crushed, torn. Everything we thought we knew and could depend on is no more. Our heads are spinning. Our hearts are racing. Our tears are falling. Our nights are sleepless. If you look deeply into eyes and hearts, it will break you. There has to be more. There is more. And all of us, we need to know this. 

Problems don’t magically disappear. Time does not reverse. So, we need to discover a solution and a way to move forward. That solution is God. God will listen to our cries. He will catch our tears. He will hold us in the palm of His hand … if we will let Him. A real and lasting peace is available to us. A comfort like none we have ever known is there for us. He is the ultimate source. He wants to carry us and guide us like a shepherd who lovingly cares for the sheep. He wants to provide a place of rest and meet our needs. He wants us to hear and know His voice. He is the Great Provider, the Great Healer, the Great Comforter. He is I AM.

Since before time began, a call went out to us. Even in the midst of a crowd, God has been seeking our hearts as individuals. God gave an invitation with each of us in mind. From the time that the foundation of the world was laid, Jesus prepared to die for us, for each soul that would ever live. His sacrifice was arranged before we were ever a thought—before a single soul had ever lived. He did this so that we might have eternal life. We have the opportunity to respond to that invitation. We’ve been offered a most amazing gift: eternal life. And until the time of eternity arrives, we’ve also been offered an invitation to move forward with His presence and His power in our lives and have life itself.1

If you are someone who is hurting, grieving, feeling alone right now, know that I see you, and you are loved. And know that God sees you and loves you. If you are someone who is suffering and shattered right now, know there is hope and healing. It’s available. We can cast all our cares on God, because He cares for us. We can seek Him and find Him when we search for Him with all our hearts. He is the sure foundation when the world shakes, the steady Rock where all else is shifting sand, the One who will hold us securely and never let us go. If we choose to become His child by putting our faith and trust in Jesus Christ, we have the promise that He will never let us go. He is the God of the brokenhearted. Psalm 147:3 says, “He heals the brokenhearted [a]nd binds up their wounds.”2

When desolate and dark times come, His light will still shine. When life is cold and bleak, the warmth and comfort of His presence will enfold us. When we feel lost and unsure of which way to go, He will hold our hands and guide our steps. His heart is for us, and He won’t quit. He went so far as to give His Son for our redemption. He has proven how much He loves us and wants to be with us for all time.

So, take heart, and let His love speak to your heart. His heart is for you.  

Take heart, and don’t quit.


NOTES

1 Adapted from Francee Strain, No Ordinary Invitation: Called to Live a Life of Eternal Purpose, (Bloomington, IN: WestBow Press, 2017), 4.

2 Scripture taken from the New King James Version of the Holy Bible, © 1982 by Thomas Nelson.

Parts of this article are adapted from three other articles I wrote entitled “The God of the Brokenhearted,” “Take Heart,” and “Don’t Quit.”

©Text and photo Francee Strain, May 25, 2022

There in the Midst

I was the new kid on the block, except that I was already an adult and was about to turn twenty-one years old.  I went from being a military daughter to being a military wife.  I arrived in a new state fifteen months after newly arriving in the previous one.  Friendships are difficult to develop while one gallivants around the country.  Yet, in this newest place, something extraordinary happened—within two months, I was invited over to someone’s apartment for lunch.  A young mother of three extended an invitation to me.  And this is how the story of her investment in my life began.

I had been married only eighteen months and did not have any children.  I came from a different world than this woman did, and even though we were now in the same world, I did not live like she lived.  Our family backgrounds were different, our ages were different, our current family situations were different, our careers were different.  Whatever could we have in common?  Jesus.  That is what we had in common.  A passion and love for Christ dwelled in each of our hearts, and something magnificent happened when we came together in friendship—He was there in our midst.  We moved from being friends to being sisters.

The investment turned from sandwiches and tea to fervent prayers and tears.  Tears of joy and tears of sorrow flowed down our faces as we allowed one another to truly see what others had never seen.  My friend gave her time, energy, listening ears, and shoulders to cry on.  She encouraged me, comforted me, consoled me, and gave me a talking to when I needed it.  She saw me at my best, and she saw me at my worst.

Almost 29 years have passed, and this woman has helped mold me into who I am today.  She did not do this of her own power but through the power of Christ moving within her and working through her words and deeds.  At the times I could barely lift up my head, she lifted it for me.  At the times I could barely place one foot in front of the other, she cheered me on.  When all I could do was lay in my bed with messy hair and pajamas for my daytime wardrobe, she sat at my bedside while the casserole she had brought cooled on the counter.  In my pits of despair, God moved her spirit to touch mine.

Agony in life, marriage, health, parenting, career, grieving, disappointment, and rejection all found her at my side.  She was there by phone, by text, by greeting card, and by physical presence, pouring into my woundedness the very things God knew that I needed.  Elation in life, marriage, parenting, career, and other arenas found me running to the phone to share the mountaintop experiences with her.  She rejoiced with me when I rejoiced, and she wept with me when I wept.

How many hours of herself has she given for me?  Countless hours I am sure I will never know about— countless hours spent in prayer—and yet, these ones count as much as the obvious ones.  In my heart, I know that at all of these moments I was loved with the love of Christ.  Through her life, I see God’s unconditional love, faithfulness, gentleness, kindness, patience, and determination to help me succeed in the things for which He has purposed my life.  When she invests in me, she invests in God’s kingdom.  She spurs me on to love and good deeds and reminds me of who I am and what I am here for.  She is the one who invested, but I am the one who found the treasure. 


A friend loves at all times,
And a brother is born for adversity.1


NOTES

1 Proverbs 17:17 taken from the New King James Version of the Holy Bible, ©1982 by Thomas Nelson.

©Text and photo Francee Strain, May 13, 2022.  This is a revised and updated version of an article I wrote in December 2017. 

The mug pictured in the photo was gifted to me by this friend.