Bekah's Heart, Devotional, Hope Restored

Repeat the Sounding Joy

I have a lot of friends who are hurting this Christmas season. Broken…abused…challenged…confused. Each day as I am reminded of their situations and prompted to pray, one thing I pray for, is joy. We hear that word through many Christmas songs… especially “Joy to the World” but what about when joy doesn’t seem to come to our world.

While reading my Advent devotion this morning (which I LOVE by the way), I was a reminded of this great passage in the little Old Testament book of Habbakkuk:

“Even though the fig trees have no blossoms,
And there are no grapes on the vines;
Even though the olive crop fails,
And the fields lie empty and barren;
Even though the flocks die in the fields,
And the cattle barns are empty,
Yet, I will rejoice in the Lord!
I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!
The Sovereign Lord is my strength!

Perhaps the friends on my heart might say it this way…

“Even though the job opportunities don’t blossom,
And I see no fruit from my labor,
Even though friends fail me, and family fails me, and I fail me,
And my home is empty and barren,
Even though my loved ones have died,
And my heart is empty,
YET, we can rejoice, we will rejoice, we must rejoice.”

And even when that seems impossible, I’ve been reminded that joy doesn’t come in any of those things. Joy comes from the God of our salvation, alone, no where else, no one else. That God is One who is always blossoming, never failing, abundant and full, never empty and barren.

And the joy comes when we shift our focus to Him… And, as the songs says, we “Repeat the sounding joy!”… When we choose consciously to remember and repeat, again and again, the Sovereign One who reigns and is in control even when our lives feel wildly out of control. That joy comes when we remember and repeat His love that comes to us in those moments of need, that came to us as a baby this Advent. We remember and repeat, to ourselves and to each other because we all need reminding. We find joy not in our circumstances, but in our cross-bound, infant King. And with that joy, comes HOPE! Hope that we are not forgotten in this crazy world. HOPE that gets us through each day. HOPE that whether better days come here on this earth or not until we’re in Heaven with him, they WILL come, just as sure as He came that first Christmas.

So even if your life is falling apart this Christmas… We can still rejoice! We can join with the “fields, floods, rocks, hills, and plains” to repeat that joy over and over and over again reminding ourselves and each other of the God who Saves, the God who reigns, the God who alone brings joy and restores our hope.

Joy to the World, the Savior reigns!
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat, the sounding joy.


Hope Restored

I will always have hope {Hope Restored}

For some reason this didn’t go through before, but today we get to wrap up the Hope Restored series with some thoughts from my awesome mom!  First she shares this verse from Psalm 71:

But as for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you Lord more and more.

She tells of how faith and hope work together in her life as well as where she sees hope being restored around her:

Faith and Hope have been with me my entire life …Both of which have gotten me through some pretty tough times. Both of which have gotten me to the high points of my life.   Both of which have help make my life complete.  I will always have hope in my future because of the Faith I have in Christ Jesus.

 I am so very fortunate to see hope every day.  When a 16 year old learns to say their phone number for the first time…. hope is restored for his future.   When that light comes on for a 15 year old that realizes he can finally read a whole story, hope is restored.   I will always have hope that I can make a difference and I can have this hope for their future as well as my future because of the promises God has made me.  He will be with me no matter what. He is there by my side. He is my Savior…..He gives me hope.

How do faith and hope work together in your life?  Where have you seen hope restored recently?

Hope Restored

Hope in our Mighty Warrior {Hope Restored Series}

Today’s verse of hope comes from Sarah B., another student in the high school ministry at First Trinity.  Sarah serves God and others in countless ways around our church and community.  The verse she wanted to share is Zephaniah 3:17

“The Lord your God is with you,
the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;
in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
but will rejoice over you with singing.”

This is personally one of my very favorite verses for some of the same reasons that Sarah shares:

“It’s encouraging because it says He’s always with us. The mighty warrior part is cool because He’s always protecting and that he no longer rebukes, but rejoices with singing. When I hear that, I just imagine a really happy time.”

If you’ve never heard this before, hear it today: GOD DELIGHTS IN YOU!  If that doesn’t restore hope, I’m not sure what will.  He IS the Mighty Warrior who saves you, loves you, and rejoices over you!

Hope Restored

A Little Gift for YOU this Christmas {Hope Restored Series}

As I was unpacking all my Christmas stuff this year, I came across a song I began writing last year about this time.  I couldn’t remember the music but so many of the words (below) fit SO perfectly with the theme of “Hope Restored” and it even mentioned restored hope at one point in it.  I couldn’t help but finish it!  So I took the lyrics I had written, adapted them to a new melody, and it’s now available right here for you to download and enjoy this Christmas season.

Hope IS here… in the form of an infant King who has come to save YOU! Enjoy!

(Feel free to download it.  Also, if you’re reading this in a reader, you may actually have to open my blog for the music player to show up.)

Hope Restored

Open your eyes and see the king; He is coming
A newborn baby in a cattle stall
Prepare the way as our infant King comes to save us
See him living, see him die for us all

Open your ears and hear the king; He is coming
Hear His cry from the manger to the cross
Prepare the way as our Loving King comes to save us
Hear his compassion as he calls out to the lost

Hope is here; He came to save us
Hope made new, when all hope seemed lost
Hope comes true in our King there in the manger
Hope for me, Hope for you

Open your mouth; declare the way, He is coming
Tell every one about our Savior from above
Prepare the way as our Faithful King comes to save us
Speak of His life, His hope, His truth, His love (Chorus)

Open your lives and know the King again is coming
Hope is restored amid the darkness of our heart
Prepare the way, our Victorious King comes to save us
To make us holy, set us apart (Chorus)

Copyright 2012 – Rebekah Freed

Hope Restored

What if…? {Hope Restored Series}

Today’s post is from my friend Bethany A.  She is a friend from college and was one of the RAs (Resident Assistants) in the dorm where I was the RC (Residence Hall Coordinator).  Bethany is currently in a battle against Lyme Disease, a struggle in which she daily must draw hope from Christ.  Here is a story she shared with me from a couple weeks ago where God used His Word to restore hope in the midst of fighting this battle and making decisions about whether or not she would be able to continue her DCE internship:

Thursday was a rough day for me for a few different reasons, but as I was falling asleep something a friend shared with me a few years ago crossed my mind: “My God will take care of me.” You see, my mind had been playing the “What If…” Game again.

“What if my doctor has no answers?”
“What if, due to the health care system reforms, my doctor will no longer be able to treat me?”
“What if I can’t beat this?”
“What if I have to live with this forever, because the people in control don’t believe chronic Lyme disease exists?”
“what if…what if…what if…”
And in that moment my heart was reminded that no matter how much I play the “What If…” Game, I have to remember to play it all the way through.

“When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all…The Lord redeems the life of his servants; none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.” -Psalm 34:17-19,22 (ESV)

“And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” -Philippians 4:19 (ESV)

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” -Romans 8:37-39 (ESV)

At the end of the “What If…” Game I found that no matter what is happening or could happen or will happen in my life, MY GOD WILL TAKE CARE OF ME!

And with that I placed myself and all my fears in God’s arms and drifted off to sleep.

How do all the “what ifs” of life try to steal your hope and joy? How do the verses Bethany shared above restore hope in those moments?

Hope Restored

We Need Each Other {Hope Restored Series}

This past weekend we heard from Josh D. about a verse in 1 Samuel that brings him hope reminding Him that God knows what’s best for him and will bring it about in His time and way. He sent me the content for that post about 4 weeks ago now and shortly after sending it found himself in a pretty dark place of questions and doubt. In conversations I had with him, I pointed him back to the very words he had sent me, but, as it often happens with the “dark” seasons of life, it was hard for him to see God’s goodness and plan and he was struggling. Just this last week I got the following message from Josh who asked me to share it on my blog in this series as well. He wanted everyone to hear his story of how God restored his hope…

“Hey Bekah, I have another hope story. This one just happened today.

Okay, so I’ve been going through one of the darkest times of my life lately. Things haven’t been going really well and my faith has been struggling. Well, today and yesterday a dude named Keith Hawkins came in to my school and changed my life. I was so happy I got selected to join in and help run his event, so I got a chance to talk to him. I don’t know if I have seen God through any other man more than this guy. He is the most down to earth, sweet, Christian guy I have ever met. He literally treats everyone how he wants to be treated.

One of the activities Keith put us through was we had to sit down with kids [at our school] we had never even met and tell them about our worst experiences in life, our hardest times. Well I was talking and couldn’t even get through my story, I broke down in the middle of it. He had a gym of 200 macho guys in high school broken down crying. So after that, I was siting there thinking a lot about my problems and about how kids I’ve never met before being there for me, telling me they’re always there to talk.

I went up to Keith after the workshops to say thanks, and I told him I’ve never really told any of that to anyone. He was explaining to me how it was good to keep guys around like that that you can express your feelings to and tell about your problems, and in the middle of his sentence I broke down again crying in front of him. He grabbed my hand, looked into my eyes, and he said ‘Don’t worry, it’s gonna be okay.” A man who has never met me, didn’t know a thing about my story, looked me right in the eye and told me it was gonna be okay… That was God talking, I have no doubt about that.

I have been in a dark, dark place, but just that one sentence… He said “Don’t worry brother, it’s gonna be okay, it’s gonna be okay.” I fell apart… After weeks and weeks of not being able to trust anything or see anything clearly, he comes in without knowing anything about me and in one sentence changes my life, gives me complete hope about the situation… Completely filled me with God, restoring a huge part of what I lost in my faith, gave me hope about the situation, legitimate hope, which I have not had in a long time…”

Beyond the extreme joy in seeing God restore Josh’s hope, I love this story because it reminds us of how God uses US to restore hope in other people’s lives. For him it was just a simple phrase from a stranger… a reminder that God is bigger. A few weeks ago I was in a Bible study and the speaker wrapped up our time together with these two simple, but beautiful facts:
1. Christ is on a mission to redeem YOU.
2. Christ is on a mission to redeem the WORLD through YOU.

It’s true. Through Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, hope is restored and we are redeemed. As redeemed people in Christ, He then uses us in his mighty redemption plan. It may be as simple as a smile to a stranger or bringing dinner to a family in grief. It might be simply asking “How are you?” and actually listening to someone’s answer.

Who in your life could use some restored hope right now? What simple thing might you be able to do to be a part of God’s redemption plan?

Hope Restored

Just take a look around {Hope Restored Series}

Today we get the joy of hearing from my amazing wonderful Dad! 🙂 I am so thankful to have such a loving and supportive father and here he shares some of the “little things” around us that can restore hope:

As the world swirls around me and disasters happen almost daily this verse gives me hope that God is still with us and in control no matter what happens:  Psalm 46:1-3 (ESV)   God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah

When I’m feeling down or depressed I sing songs of praise, read through the psalms or think/write of the goodness and loving kindness of God.  It generally improves my mood and gives me hope.

When I see the fine young women my daughters have grown into and as I watch my 19 month old granddaughter’s antics or see her try some new task it gives me hope for a whole new generation.

When I see the cold winter melt into spring; crocuses blooming through the snow, daffodils blooming and trees coming to life it gives me hope and reminds me that God makes all things new.

God astounds me with the many ways He brings hope… through His word, through other people, through the joy of a little child, through nature and beyond.

Stop now and take a look around you… what has God placed in your presence right now that is/could be a source of hope?  Walk around today with eyes open to the many ways God restores hope!

Hope Restored

Trouble is coming! {Hope Restored Series}

It sure is good news that we have hope because of Jesus.  Today in our “Hope Restored” blog series, my friend Lisa J. shares a favorite verse that brings her hope in the midst of the reality that we face tough times in life.  Lisa and I served together for many summers at camp and became close during the falls, winters, and springs in between as well!  We have walked together through moments of great joy, extreme grief, and everything in between both in our leadership roles at camp as well as just in life.  While I can’t tell you the last time I’ve actually had a conversation with Lisa, she’s the kind of amazing friend that when I do pick up the phone and call her next, it will likely be HOURS before the conversation will end.

Here’s the verse she chose to share about hope today:

[Jesus said,] “I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace, in the world you have tribulation, but take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

Here we see two promises from Jesus.  The first one, we’d probably rather not hear: “TROUBLE IS COMING!” But, it does bring a little understanding to the trials we face in this world and shows why the second promise is amazingly good news: “I HAVE OVERCOME THE WORLD!”

How does knowing Jesus as an “overcoming” Savior bring you hope in the midst of today’s trials?

Hope Restored

After a little while… {Hope Restored Series}

Stephanie M. is in the same Lifegroup as me.  Together with this group of other young adults, we journey through life together trying to help each other know, trust, and find hope in Jesus more each day.  About two years ago while I was in Nebraska for my DCE internship mid-year conference, I got the news that Stephanie and her fiance had been in a bad car wreck.  Here she shares how 1 Peter 5:10 restored her hope in the midst of the difficult and long recovery:

1 Peter 5:10
“And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.”

This verse provided me with hope after the accident. Whenever I felt myself getting discouraged or depressed I’d look back to this verse (I think someone wrote it in a card for me). I would reread it and be reminded that even though I’m suffering now God is working through me right that very moment to restore, confirm and strengthen me.

Why does it bring hope to know that God restores, confirms, strengthens, and establishes us? How does this passage bring you hope today? 

Hope Restored

God is God and I am Not {Hope Restored Series}

Today’s story of HOPE RESTORED comes from Josh D., a high school student at First Trinity.   The verse he wanted to share comes from 1 Samuel 3:18,

“He is the Lord, let Him do what is good in His eyes.”

Here is why Josh says this verse restores his hope:

This verse has given me hope everyday in my life since I heard it, which was back in sixth grade. This was Eli talking after he had been told he will die a brutal death along with his children, and I know it wasn’t God saying it, but the fact that Eli could get such news and still have faith that God will do what is the best thing to be done just gives me hope. Every time I’m afraid or worried, I think back and say this verse over and over in my head, because I know for a fact that He is the one true God, and He will make happen whatever He thinks is the best possible thing to happen in a given situation. That’s why I rarely stress or worry about anything, because I know God will take care of it and whatever happens is what is rightfully deserved and needed to happen!”

God’s ways are so much better than we could ever imagine.  How does this restore hope for you today?

Side Note: After this was already scheduled to be published, Josh just sent me another story of restored hope that just happened this week! Check back in a few days for a story of God doing amazing things in and through the life of a high school boy from Tonawanda, NY!