Ojeda is a teacher and writer from the Oklahoma Panhandle. Her work has appeared in Lost Pen Magazineand Heart of Flesh Literary Journal. She lives and works in a fast-spinning world, so she writes poetry as a means of prayer and of untangling the threads of daily life. She lives with her family in West Texas and finds her greatest inspiration in the outdoors.
Been hiding out, lost, and confused for some time now,
Not knowing which way to turn, or what to even say.
Hurt by life’s bumps and bruises, struggling more every day,
Hanging on by the tips of my fingers so I won’t slip and fade away.
Sadly, I’ve been stumbling while searching for a clue,
Screaming like hell to the Heavens above in search of You,
Looking for a sign while taking life’s shots on the chin. What have I done that was so wrong? How bad was my sin?
The road has a been long one, and my journey’s been dark,
One that I felt would betray me and tear me apart.
This same journey I never dreamed I would be taking,
I beg of you, Lord, please don’t let me be forsaken.
Oh, Lord, where Ya been?
I’ve been crying out in search of You once again,
Standing here worried and scared, waiting just for You,
Lord, I beg of You one more time, please pull me through.
Sometimes God takes us on a journey to bring us where He wants us to be,
One that is long, confusing, and, at times, blinding to where we cannot see.
While the journey may be long, the travel is worth it—at least it was to this old fool,
Now I know You’ve been with me all along, even when life seemed so cruel.
Oh, Lord, now I know where Ya been.
Beside me all the while, guiding me once again.
Thank You for Your love, and thank You for pulling me through.
Please know, Jesus, this old fool always needs You.
About Doc Dalton
The Depressed Poet Doc Dalton has suffered from depression for over 30 years. Doc says poetry was a gift from the Lord because, while writing, his mind relaxes from the craziness and lets the calm walk in. Dalton is also the host of thepodcastThe Coffee and Prayer Series, “Where a Good Cup of Coffee, and Some Quiet Prayers Can Change the World.” Visit Dalton on his website for more information.
Callaghan do Valle occasionally finds time to think during her daughter’s naptimes. She writes in English with forays into Portuguese, and lives in small-town rural Brazil with her husband and toddler. You can find Ruth’s spoken word on YouTube.
Even if no one else ever sees down deep in the darkest parts of me
I see and God sees
or if no one else ever knows the harshest thoughts,
the hurts, the wounds . . .
I know and God knows
Others may only expect the worst, or forget the best
But God expects the best for me
He believes the best, hopes the best,
and has sacrificed His most Precious Son
to purchase that Best, that freedom for me
He Promises that the work begun in me will be completed, perfected, finished
He promises that all things work together for my good and His Glory
That He is writing in me a wonderful story
of things lost that are found
things broken, made whole again
Things dirtied and soiled made white as snow
Blind men will open their eyes to see
the deaf hear words and songs and sounds
The lame leap up and dance around
Fools are made wise in the Kingdom of God
The last shall be first and the first come down
All the houses are built on solid ground
People will be clamoring for the Bottom Rung
Instead of climbing and clawing their way to the top
The Kingdom of God is upside down
Where the smallest seed is the most precious found
and we lose all we have to gain what is best
Sitting at Jesus’ feet, where we find true rest
Where once more, all that can be shaken will be
until only what God gives is left to see.
A Kingdom inside us that never grows old
A Kingdom that cannot be bought or sold
A Kingdom unshakable, strong and free
Where we are Bought back, cleansed and redeemed.
Until then, I wait here singing songs long sung
clamoring in humility for the Bottom Rung
About Carole L. Haines Haines has been writing devotions, poetry, songs, etc. for the last ten years on her blog. One of her ministries is to make crosses out of broken glass and pottery and other materials to give to people in crises, such as grieving the loss of a loved one or deep disappointments. The message behind the giving of the crosses and my blog is that God can bring great beauty out of great brokenness. He doesn’t ever waste a tear or a heartache. Our God is a Redeemer, our Great and Mighty Savior, Our friend and our hope. Visit Haines here. See her last post on the Spotlight Blog, ‘The Steps That Lead To Nowhere,’here.
It’s a Wonderful Life is a classic Christmas movie loved by many for the last seven decades. I hadn’t seen it for quite some time and enjoyed watching it with my family this past holiday season. It was the first viewing for both my kids (then 11 and 8), and I was so happy they enjoyed it. For those who may not be familiar with it (or if it’s been a while), the story begins by introducing Clarence, the angel who will intervene in George Bailey’s life. Clarence, eager to earn his wings, is told by God of a man in need of help. He responds by asking God if the man is sick. God answers, “No, worse. He’s discouraged.”
That answer resonated with me. Nobody enjoys experiencing sickness of any kind, and being downtrodden in spirit is a particularly terrible woe.
Discouragement isdefined as, “A loss of confidence or enthusiasm; dispiritedness.” How does this happen? What is it that leads us into this barren state of being?
Often, the culprit comes in the form of unmet expectations or not making progress with our goals despite great effort. Discouragement can creep its way into every aspect of our lives—financial, relational, occupational, spiritual, emotional, and physical. And while people experience discouragement to varying degrees, they share one central theme: a loss of hope.
For instance, we lose hope of mending a relationship, that our bank account will be sufficient, that our ailments will be healed, or that we will find purpose and fulfillment in life. We even lose hope in the goodness and faithfulness of God. When there is no perceivable light at the end of the tunnel and all seems lost, discouragement takes root within us. Such was the case with George Bailey. He could see no hope for the future and came to believe it would have been better if he had never been born. This demonstrates the ultimate depth of discouragement.
The voice of discouragement yields destruction by breeding doubt, uncertainty, and fear. If you have experienced these effects, know you are in good company, for so did John the Baptist, Peter, and Thomas.
John the Baptist was the man who announced to the world, “Behold, the Lamb who takes away the sins of the world” (John 1:29). He was the man who proclaimed he was unworthy to untie Jesus’ sandal straps. And it was he who held the Son of Man in his arms as he heard the voice of God and saw the Holy Spirit. While in prison, this same man became discouraged, and he doubted. He asked the disciples to ask Jesus, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?” (Matthew 11:3). Those words could only have been spoken out of deep uncertainty and despair.
In the wake of Jesus’ arrest in the garden of Gethsemane, Peter, the disciple who had boldly declared he would always stay by Jesus’ side, denied him three times. Although Peter loved his Lord and was devoted to Him, he failed to grasp Jesus’ real reason for coming to the world. Peter hoped that Jesus would overturn the Romans’ power to gain freedom for the Jews. He did not comprehend that Jesus had come to offer something better—freedom from sin. When Jesus did not resist arrest by the Roman guards, Peter’s discouragement—triggered by unmet expectations—led him to fear for his life and to deny his Saviour.
While Jesus was dead and buried, His followers were left in the throes of discouragement and angst. Despite the prophetic words Jesus had spoken about His return, nobody expected an empty grave. Upon hearing of the resurrection, Thomas stated he would only believe if he were to touch Jesus’ hands and side. Again, bitter discouragement prevented belief.
Have you felt the same? Can you relate to George Bailey, John the Baptist, Peter, and Thomas? I think we all can. Ecclesiastes 1:9 tells us:
“What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun.” (NIV)
Nobody is immune to discouragement and its ugly effects. And while discouragement may be inevitable, there is a remedy: hope and grace.
Lexicodefines grace as “the free and unmerited favour of God.” In other words, it is freely given and completely unearned. Instead of a harsh, condemning lecture, Jesus responded to John the Baptist by saying to his disciples, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me,” (Matthew 11:4-6).
Then there was Peter. I can’t imagine the anguish he felt the day Jesus was crucified. When he denied Jesus, he must have been consumed by unbearable guilt. How the tears must have fallen when he heard the rooster crow! What ran through his mind at the announcement of Jesus’ resurrection? What did he feel? Joy? Hope? Most likely. But I’m sure there was also a terrible sense of anxiety about facing the One he denied. Perhaps he expected Jesus to say, “Peter, how could you?” or “Didn’t I tell you that you would deny me?!” Or maybe worse: “Peter I want no part of you.” Instead, Jesus simply asked if he loved Him exactly three times. For each denial, Jesus gave Peter glorious and gracious redemption.
What was His response to “Doubting Thomas?” Jesus could have ignored or chided him for his lack of faith. But when He appeared to Thomas a week after his resurrection, He said to him, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe,” (John 20:27). Jesus honoured Thomas’ request. We aren’t told what Thomas did next, only that he said, “My Lord and my God!” Undoubtedly, Jesus’ grace strengthened Thomas’ faith for the rest of his life.
And what about us? Amid our discouragement, Jesus invites us to lean hard into His infinite grace. When we’re swimming in the waters of fear, doubt, and uncertainty, He extends the same grace to us as He did to our brothers in Christ discussed above. His grace increases our faith and restores us from the valley of guilt and shame. His grace bids us to love Him and to trust His promises. His grace is forever sufficient.
Finally, true and lasting hope extinguishes the flames of discouragement. Far too often, we place our hope in the things of this world: money, jobs, status, relationships, and health. We are blessed to be stewards of these things, but they are not to be our greatest treasures. When we make them so, we create misplaced hope which always leads to despair. It seems David, the Old Testament poet and king, reminded himself of this when he wrote: “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God,” (Psalm 42:5). Because God never fails us, our hope in Him will never be in vain.
To be sure, there will be days when all feels lost. In those times, we can rest soundly in the grace of God and the hope of our Saviour. And when needed, we can read the following words and take heart: “And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm, and steadfast.” These are the words written by a man who would know—a man forever changed by the grace and hope of Jesus. You can find them in 1 Peter 5:10.
About Nicole Byrum
Byrum is a licensed marriage and family therapist with over 13 years of experience in community mental health. She is the author of Remade: Living Free, a book written for women in recovery from substance abuse and unhealthy relationships. Nicole also maintains a blog at nicolebyrum.com as well as a podcast, 5 Minute Word. Both focus on topics related to faith, relationships, and recovery. She lives in northwest Ohio with her husband and two children. When she’s not writing, you can find her reading, running, or cooking.