Hope and Joy instead of Doubt and Despair

After over sixty years as a child of God, I continue to plunge into doubt and despair instead of living in hope and joy. I despair when I harbor the same sinful attitudes I struggled with in my twenties. I still become frustrated and overwhelmed when it feels like I’ve lost control. I often ask God to help me overcome temptations. But when I pray and nothing much changes, I struggle to maintain my faith. I am tempted to doubt both God’s love and his power to do what I have requested. I don’t think I’m the only one.

Revelation of God's glory in this photo of a double rainbow in Canyonlands National Park
Hope and joy in the Storms of Life
Photo by David Menne

David Felt Fear

It turns out that even some Bible heroes struggled with temptation and sin. David did, and he wrote songs about it. Psalm 18 is an example. According to the title, David wrote this Psalm after one of his narrow escapes from one of King Saul’s attempts to kill him.

David was human, just like us. Sure, he killed the giant Goliath. But he also feared for his life several times. He expressed those fears in verses 4 and 5 of the psalm. “The cords of death encompassed me, the torrents of destruction assailed me, the cords of Sheol (death and the grave) entangled me; the snares of death confronted me.” David felt like an animal caught in the cords of a snare that twists tighter and tighter as he struggles to get away. Bottom line: He feared for his life.

God Loved and Protected David

David had experienced God’s help in lots of scary situations. So, instead of giving in to his fear, he chose to

cry out to God for help (Verse 6). One time, David was hiding from King Saul in a cave. Unfortunately, the king needed to use the bathroom and sought privacy in David’s hiding place. Saul was so close to him that David was able to cut off a corner of his robe (1 Samuel 24:1-4). The only reason David escaped with his life was because God made him invisible in the darkness of the cave.

When David felt trapped and helpless, he first focused God’s power. In Psalm 18:7-15, David uses vivid images to describe the Lord’s infinite power and love toward those who find their faith wavering. He mentions how God made the mountains shake and blew away the water of the sea to expose the foundations of the earth. His words remind us that God did those very things for the Israelites when they escaped from Egypt. We can also discover what God can do for any of his children by remembering stories from Scripture. And we can use David’s writing to give us words to pray when life is overwhelming.

Pray Scripture to Renew Hope and Joy

This is how I apply this Psalm when I am distressed. “He sent from on high, he took me; he drew me out of many waters” (Verse 15). This reminds me of how God grabbed hold of my heart as a child. He saved me and protected me as I grew up.  For instance, I could have drowned in an ocean of anger, selfishness, and rebellion as a teenager. Even now, God draws me out of the pits I fall into because of sins of pride, self-centeredness, and negativity.

In Christ, you can have hope and joy in the middle of a storm.
Storms of Life

“He rescued me from my strong enemy and from those who hated me, for they were too mighty for me” (Verse 17). God absolutely rescued me from the clutches of Satan. Now he saves me when I become overwhelmed when my computer becomes my enemy. If I remember to cry out to God in that situation, the difficulty shrinks to a manageable state. My heartbeat slows down, and I remember that I’m married to tech-savvy man who is willing to help. In this way, the enemy does not defeat me just because I hit the ‘delete’ key instead of “return”.

David continues, “They confronted me in the day of my calamity, but the LORD was my support” (Verse 18). My enemies don’t carry guns or swords. It’s schedule interruptions, bodily weaknesses, and machines that get me down and frustrate me. When I realize I am descending into spiral of negativity, I need to stop, breathe, and pray. That’s how I lean on God’s strength instead of my own. He always supports me because he loves me and is bigger than all my various enemies.

Hope and Joy will Defeat Doubt and Despair

Because I am God’s child, he frees me from all sorts of dangers. A rotten, selfish attitude or sickness may hold me captive. I may despair over a burned casserole or a broken egg on the kitchen floor. I could also grieve with a loved one or become irate after hearing about severe domestic violence. Any of these situations and more can rob me of hope and joy. But no matter what causes my despair, God will do for me what he did for David. He tells us the results of God’s rescue plan in Psalm 18:19. “He brought me out into a broad place; he rescued me, because he delighted in me.”

At any moment in any stress-filled or weary day, children of God can choose to live in the broad place God has provided. We can stop living in fear and depression because God loves us. In fact, he delights in us. And, he has the power to release us from anyone or anything that threatens us. He moved heaven and earth to help the Israelites and mad David invisible. He’ll do the same for us. So, let’s stop doubting and start trusting our loving and powerful God. If we will do that, we can walk through the trials and traumas of life with hope and joy instead of doubt and despair. After all, we are children of the Creator and Ruler of everything that exists.

Note: Daniel is another Bible hero who experienced God’s deliverance. Read a story in Daniel 6.

Faith, it all Starts with God

By Stan Johnson, pastor emeritus, Flagstaff Christian Fellowship


Yosemite National Park
Photo by David F Menne

Theme: Faith, it all Starts with God

Scripture: Hebrews 11:3
Scripture Reading:
“By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.”


I have enjoyed reading and slowly memorizing Hebrews 11, emphasis slowly. I find that scripture memory is a great Bible Study tool, not to just memorize the words. Therefore, memorize by understanding and putting phrases together as a clear thought. So, with Hebrews 11, I want to understand: what is faith, how do I live by faith and why is it important to God, “for without faith it is impossible to please God.” (11:6)


By Faith We Understand

Near the beginning of Hebrews 11, verse 3 reads:  “By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God.” Faith begins by believing that God, by His word, made all of creation. So, this is consistent with Genesis 1:1 where we read “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” John 1:1-3 reads “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.

Here, “Word” refers to Christ who shows us God just as a particular word  pictures an object to us in our minds. Christ who is God, shows us God and He by His word created the world around us. So, this is where faith begins, and believing this pleases God. Subsequently, the author of Hebrews continues his point about faith in verse 6, “And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.

Give credit to God

We honor God and show our faith in Him when we give credit to God for creating our beautiful world. Do you thank and praise Him for the complexity of our biological systems that work so well together? In Psalm 19, David helps me recognize God’s handiwork all around me. “The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.” In Psalm 8, David helps me give God honor and credit in His creation. “O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth, who have displayed Your splendor above the heavens. When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained; what is man that You take thought of him, and the son of man that You care for Him?” (8:1,3)

Bryce Canyon National Park
Photo by David F Menne

All of creation

All of creation points to a beautiful, loving and wise creator.  Let us heed Paul’s warning in Romans 1:25 to worship the creator and not His creation. “For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.”

It is a significant phrase to say “thank God.” But, do we give God credit and honor due Him in our conversations with others? Do we take away from giving God credit and honor by not thanking Him out loud when we need to? So, there is significance in our living by faith to not only believe that God created our world, but that we recognize this before others. Give testimony to this and then thank God for His amazing creation.

My wife gave me an illustration of how to naturally bring God into our daily conversation. She was working as a nurse at our local hospita. Looking out of a third story window toward the San Francisco Peaks, she commented to her patient, “Isn’t God’s creation beautiful?” And from a hospital bed, no one ever disputed it.


In short, how might you recognize God as creator by thanking Him in your conversations. Or cause curiosity about God as creator with a timely question?
Lord, thank you for creating the world we live in. Help me recognize you as creator in my conversations this week.   (7/8/2021)

Fight Fear Biblically

In February of 2020, national news broadcasters began to warn Americans of a possible pandemic. By April, the Corona virus had spread from one city in China to nearly every country in the world. After only a few weeks, the deaths in New York City surpassed the number killed in the 9-11 attacks on the World Trade Center. Schools, businesses, and even churches closed their doors. So, we had to stay at home, venturing out only when our food supply required it. As followers of Christ, we needed to learn how to fight fear biblically.

Fight Fear Biblically by Knowing God’s Promises
Corona Virus Anxiety

Even without a pandemic fear, anxiety, and panic can overwhelm a person’s mind and heart at any time. A policeman rings the doorbell and says there has been an accident. The doctor calls with the diagnosis of cancer. A spouse announces he/she wants a divorce. The boss tells an employee he has to let her go. When we face crises like these, our hearts skip a beat, and a sense of desperation invades our minds. We find it hard just to process what is going on, let alone deal with it.

Fear and Anxiety Robs Us

When we face a crisis, fear and anxiety robs us of peace and security. It leaves us feeling empty, vulnerable, and weak. But we do not have to remain fearful because God is our Father. When we prayed to ask Jesus to save us, God adopted us into his family. He made himself responsible to love and care for us. So, when a life situation terrorizes us, we should ask for his help. And, God will act in response to our prayers, just as any good father would. We can fight fear Biblically by trusting God to care for us because he has promised to and he never fails to keep his word (Numbers 23:19).

Fight Fear by Knowing God

God Cares for His Children

Crises can trigger fear and panic because they prove how little control we have over our lives. They make us realize we need help from someone much stronger and wiser than we are. In fact, we yearn for someone like God. In order to gain any comfort from him, though, we have to know why God would concern himself with our problems. We find the answer to that question in 1 Peter 5:7. “Give all your cares to God, for he cares about you” (NLT). He cares so much he gave his Son to die for us (John 3:16). As our Father, God will give us the comfort and peace we need because he loves us more than we can possibly imagine.

God is Powerful

So, God loves us, but is he strong enough to take on pandemics, financial disasters, and broken relationships? Scripture says “yes.” For instance, in Isaiah 40,the prophet describes how God created and sustains the universe. For example, in verse 20, he says, “Look up into the heavens. Who created all the stars? He [God] brings them out like an army, one after another. . . Because of his great power and incomparable strength, not a single one is missing” (NLT). Just consider how much power our sun has. Then, multiply that billions of times over. God created all the fuel burning in all stars in the universe, and he controls all of it. Taking care of our current crisis will not tax his abilities a bit. 

God is Loving

However, God isn’t just powerful. He also loves his children infinitely. His compassion motivates him to use his power to meet our deepest needs. Paul stated that “Nothing in all creation can separate us from the love of God” (Romans 8:39). God loved us enough to sacrifice his son Jesus for our sins, even though we were sinners in open rebellion against him (Romans 5:6-10). Nothing can touch a child of God without his permission. And, he will answer our distress calls because he loves us. To us, our trials seem overwhelming. But God turns them into tools to shape us into the image of Jesus. So, the insurmountable obstacles that make us afraid become eternal blessings from the hands of our loving Father.

Any Believer Can Fight Fear Biblically
Fighting Fear Biblically

Fight Fear Biblically by Knowing God’s Promises

God’s Promises Provide Hope

Knowing God cares for us and has infinite power gives us hope in a crisis. We can also fight fear by using his promises. Scripture contains hundreds of God’s promises. They are like treasures in a chest that we can draw from any time we are in a crisis. Jesus’ disciples learned this fact by experience. On the night he was betrayed, Jesus told them, “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Just a few hours later, Jesus was arrested, tried, and sentenced to die on the cross. At that point, the disciples’ found themselves fighting fear, big time. In fact, they all ran and hid so the Jewish authorities couldn’t arrest them as well (John 20:19).

Only when Jesus appeared to the disciples after his resurrection did their peace of mind return. Once they saw him alive, they realized that he had kept his promise. He had overcome both the powers of Rome and the Jewish religious leaders. Even more importantly, he had conquered death. Their firsthand experience of Jesus’ overcoming power made the disciples bold and fearless witnesses for the rest of their lives.

God’s Promises Sustain and Comfort Us

As followers of Christ, we should be encouraged by the example of Jesus’ first disciples.  When we encounter fearsome situations and threats, we can cling to the promise of Romans 8:28. “For those who love God, all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” God may choose to sustain and comfort us in the midst of a fearful situation. Or, he may remove it altogether. In any case, we can trust that he is always in control and is acting for our best interests. God’s promises give us hope that our pain is not in vain.

God Keeps his Promises

From Scripture, we learn that God loves us and has the power and wisdom to protect us from harm. Whether God removes the source of our fear or not, our faith grows. And, we become more like Jesus. This is what the apostle James says: “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing” (James 1:2-4). God promises that the crises we encounter in life mature our faith to the point that we lack nothing. Promises like this can give us confidence and hope in difficult situations.

Another passage outlines our plan of attack when we need to fight fear. in Philippians 4:6-7, Paul writes, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” This passage instructs us to pray and thank God, even when our situation remains difficult. Then, it promises that God will give us victory and peace at the end of our battle against anxiety and worry. Since God always keeps his promises, knowing them becomes vital to our spiritual wellbeing.

Any Believer can Fight Fear Biblically
Fight Fear Biblically

Fight Fear Biblically by Using God’s Promises

Collect God’s Promises

We know that Scripture provides us with facts about God and records his many promises. But how do we put what we know into action? One thing you can do when anxiety strikes is to find Scripture that relates to the issue causing your fear. You can fight fear Biblically by writing verses and stories that relate to that issue on notecards. Whenever you become fearful, read the verses over and over again, until you feel God’s peace. Increase your stack of notecards every time you become anxious. Always Keep them on hand to use as spiritual ammunition to help you fight fear. This is what Paul had in mind when he called Scripture “The Sword of the Spirit” (Ephesians 6:17).

Personalize God’s Promises and Attributes

You can also personalize promises as prayers to God. For example, whenever you find yourself worrying or in a panic, pray something like this: “God, your Word says I should seek you and your kingdom instead of worrying about food and clothing (Matthew 6:25-33). I love and honor you as my perfect Father. Will you meet my need. Because I believe you love me and want the best for me, I submit to your wisdom in how you choose to provide for me. And I thank you in advance for what you are going to do (Philippians 4:6-7).

In addition to changing God’s promises into prayers, you will benefit by thinking about his attributes. The psalms have lots of vivid descriptions of God’s character as well as practical promises. For instance, Psalm 23 affirms God’s goodness and his concern for your welfare. It promises that he will give you what you need in this life and keep you safe. It even addresses death, the greatest fear of all. God promises each of his children a place in the “house of God forever.” When you get the truths of this one short psalm into your heart, you can weather anything. Even if the Corona virus takes your life, you will be with God for eternity because you have believed in Jesus his Son.

Any Believer Can Fight Fear Biblically

The Corona virus pandemic has made many people fearful and anxious. And, who knows what new crisis will appear next month or next year? Whatever happens, knowing the greatness of God’s love and power will help us fight fear. We can also use the promises of Scripture as weapons in the battle. And both a little child and an elderly grandparent can learn about God and recite his promises when they are afraid. Any child of God can find comfort and peace in the midst of trials and testing circumstances, because God loves us and has the power to help us. Whatever the cause of our anxiety or worry, we can fight fear biblically by trusting in our all-powerful God who loves us infinitely.

John Piper has written an encouraging book called Corona Virus and Christ.

Check out You Don’t Have to Worry.

My Life as a Farmer’s Daughter

This image illustrates the feelings, joy, and my life as a farmer’s daughter. This is a photo of a young girl running across a field towards some nearby barns. Her long hair is blowing in the wind.
Young Farm Girl

I spent most of my childhood on an 80-acre farm in southern Idaho in the 1950s. My life as a farmer’s daughter featured both good and bad times. While my parents allowed my sisters and me to explore, we also had to weed the garden. I rejoiced in new life as I held baby chicks in my hand. But I also experienced sorrow when my dad was unable to resuscitate a stillborn calf. This mixture of adversity and joy provided me with a strong foundation for life. I now realize that my childhood on the farm allowed to explore and enjoy my world. But it also provided opportunities to experience the satisfaction of hard work. And because my childhood included both joy and adversity, it gave me a solid foundation for life.

The Freedom and Fun of My Life as a Farmer’s Daughter

On summer days, my sisters and I (My brother wasn’t born yet.) roamed freely over more than an acre of land which included a huge lawn by our house, an orchard, and the barnyard. We climbed trees, swam in irrigation ditches, and played hide and seek. The orchard featured a thicket of Potawatomi plum trees, which grow more like vines than trees. Their intertwined branches formed rooms and caves. It took only a little imagination to turn them into mansions, robber hideouts, and hospitals for sick and wounded dolls. Any cavity could change identity at a whim and let us exercise our imaginations to the max.  

As the oldest child, I was given a fair amount of responsibility early on. My next younger sister and I entertained and kept my other three sisters safe—usually. Once we got into pretty big trouble because we were using broken glass jars as bowls to mix mud pies in. They were good pies, too, since we had stolen the eggs from a few robins’ nests. What a surprise that my mom took exception to our younger sisters playing with broken glass!

Learning the Value of Hard Work

On a farm, everyone has to contribute, especially in a large family. Each of us started doing chores almost as soon as we could walk. Mom taught me to wash dishes using a bucket sitting on a tree stump in the yard. Even with a stool, I couldn’t have reached into the sink. As we grew, we took on all manner of jobs to contribute to keep things running smoothly. The most odious of all was cleaning the chicken coop in the winter. It was smelly, dusty, gross work. We loved the eggs but despised those chickens for pooping so much. Actually, that chore was more a curse than a blessing I experienced in my life as a farmer’s daughter.

Picking Potatoes

Southern Idaho is potato country. Every October school would let out, and most of the students would spend two weeks helping in the potato harvest. The farmer would drive a tractor with a digger attached along the rows of potatoes. The front of the digger plowed underneath the potatoes and directed them onto a conveyor belt made of interlocked iron rods. This shook off the dirt and carried the potatoes out the back end where they dropped on top of the row. Working as a team, my sister and I would pick up the potatoes and put them into two baskets about the size of a five-gallon bucket. Then, we would dump the fifteen to twenty pounds of potatoes from the baskets into a burlap bag. We placed the filled bag alongside the row where it would be gathered onto a truck and taken to a cellar. (Here’s a video  of how potatoes were harvested in the 1950s and another video showing how potatoes are harvested today.)

When we first started this job, I was about ten and my sister would have been eight years old. Together we earned seven cents per bag. If we didn’t play too much, we could pick about one hundred bags in a day, earning $3.50 each. It seemed like a fortune to us! As teenagers, we were able to pick two hundred bags in a day. Twelve days at $7.00 a day netted me eighty-four dollars for two weeks’ work. I had to buy some clothes with my earnings. But I also bought a yearbook from seventh grade on and my senior class ring. 

The Blessings of My Life as a Farmer’s Daughter

Potato picking was hard, dirty work, and very cold if it happened to snow. In order to make our two hundred bag goal, my sister and I had to keep our heads down and our hands busy all day long. I loved stopping to stretch my aching back at the end of each long row. I would count the bags and consider what kind of fabric to buy for a new dress.  And, it was so gratifying to line up with all the other harvest workers at the end of the week. As my dad or an uncle counted out my earnings, I knew for sure that I had accomplished something significant. I had gotten dirty and lifted baskets nearly half my weight, but the wages made it totally worthwhile.

I’ve had numerous jobs since my potato picking days, all of them involving hard work and a paycheck. When I taught junior high, I hoped I was helping some of my students appreciate the value of hard work and the satisfaction of a job well done. But as I look back, even that was not as gratifying as my annual school vacations spent in the potato field. I could easily see the results of my work in rows of well-filled bags of potatoes. It was much harder to recognize any influences I might have had on an unmotivated student in seventh grade English class.

The Farm Helped Prepare me for Life

I’m glad I grew up on a farm. The freedom to roam, the outlets for my imagination, and the opportunity to learn the value of hard work prepared me for life. I contributed to our family and learned to work for what I need and want. My parents cared for me and often sacrificed to give me more than they could really afford. In those ways, they modeled the kindness and grace of God. They taught me that he made the potatoes grow and multiply into bags of blessing that helped feed our family through the winter. God provided my sisters and me with many hours of joy in the playground formed in the thicket of Potawatomi plum trees. Both the joys and the hardships of farm life proved to be blessings. I praise God for all the valuable lessons I learned in my life as a farmer’s daughter. 

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