Hope to the Hopeless. Why I am a Christian, part 11

wall paintings in Kayserberg, France

In my walk through life, I have encountered so many people who are completely depleted of hope. Some had lost their jobs. Others were facing divorce or a terrible disease had crippled their health. Some ended up with addictions they couldn't get rid of…Hope is an illusion to these poor people. Just yesterday the news shared that suicide was on the rise. About 38,000 take their lives every year in the U.S. Over 1 million of people around the world commit suicide every year. On average, one suicide happens every 40 seconds. How sad!

There is a name, however, that brings hope, even when the horizon is grim. He is the One who guarantees: "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." (Matt 11:28, NIV2) After all, He willingly took His place on a cross, so that we would have hope, a hope that would last forever. In fact: "The mere sound of his name will signal hope, even among far-off unbelievers." (Matt 12:21, MSG)

When we realize what He has done for us, hope becomes our reality. Yes, He died for us, and three days later, He was resurrected. This is why Jesus can promise us: "I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die!" (John 11:25, NIV2) We have a future that we can look forward to. This is why we have hope, even amidst adversity.

"I'm glad from the inside out, ecstatic; I've pitched my tent in the land of hope." (Acts 2:26, MSG) Why should we be ecstatic? "This Jesus, following the deliberate and well-thought-out plan of God, was betrayed by men who took the law into their own hands, and was handed over to you. And you pinned him to a cross and killed him. But God untied the death ropes and raised him up. Death was no match for him." (Acts 2:23-24, MSG)

"We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain," (Heb 6:19, NIV2)

The best way to demonstrate this hope is through the testimony of someone who used to be filled with fear. She had no hope whatsoever, but now she is freed of all fear. Here it is:

Problems in adult life very often have their beginning in one's childhood, which was true in my case. Basically, I was a happy, normal child, but very sensitive and insecure. Like many children, at a young age, I had terrible nightmares and fear of sleeping in a room by myself at night. In my grade school years, fear would grip me when I was called on to give answers, give book reports in front of class, or even simply having to write something on the chalkboard in front of the other kids. To add to my fear, I had constant input of horror movies.

Worse yet, I had close friends who were taking part in séances. Their spooky accounts of talking to the "dead"; having the "dead" talk back to them; seeing "dead spirits"; having the ability to raise a table off the floor - hearing of these first-hand accounts caused me to have even greater fear.

At age 21, I married. I was so relieved to have a husband next to me at night. I could finally sleep peacefully, free from nagging fears. But as things turned out, my husband soon got a third shift job. Sometimes he worked two or three jobs, leaving me alone day and night. Fear and insecurity increased during that first year of marriage.

We lived in a trailer park with people living right next door, yet fear wouldn't let me go to sleep when it got dark. Eventually I resorted to sleeping pills, but two or three nights of that and I gave up. I was so afraid of what might happen if I did go to sleep that I fought them off and they didn't work.

Soon thereafter I had my first baby, and we moved to a house in the country. It sat way off the road with no close neighbors. Being isolated, this only increased my fear. As soon as it got dark outside I would begin to feel nervous and trapped. On many nights I would sit very still and hold a gun in my arms for hours. Sometimes I would feel safest with all the lights on. At other times it seemed better to have them all off so I could see outside better. Many times I had to get out of the house. When I had a car, I'd put my baby in it and I'd go to the end of our driveway and stay there and sleep until daybreak. Come daybreak I would then feel safe to go back into the house.

I had been married for about a year and a half when a strange man came to the door one day. Because of my extreme loneliness, I was vulnerable. He paid attention to me and my baby, coming back occasionally with friendliness and making complimentary remarks. If I had been worldly-wise, I would have recognized right away what was going on, but I wasn't. I was enjoying this man and didn't realize his intentions were not honorable. Soon his visits turned into a one-time sexual encounter.

Immediately my conscience bothered me and I felt dirty. For the first time in my life I had a fear of God and a fear of hell. I thought to myself, If God is real, then I'm in trouble, because if God is real, then hell is real and the 10 commandments are real and I'm going to hell.

Then I saw two roads before me. One way was to choose to believe there is a God and give Him my life and live the way He wanted me to. The other way was to remain silent about what I had done, not do it again, and just go on living my life the best way I knew how.

I didn't like feeling dirty, and I didn't want to deceive my husband about what I'd done, so I said, "God, if you're real, I'm going to live for you from now on." I called my husband at his job and he came home. I told him everything. Then he packed his bags and left.

For the next three months I did everything I thought God would want me to do. Off and on my husband would come back for awhile and then leave again. I was so miserable. Then on the evening of October 4, 1969, I was home alone as usual and my baby was in bed asleep. A man on TV by the name of Billy Graham, whom I'd never seen or heard before, began telling the story of Jesus Christ coming from heaven. He explained how He had been born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, died by crucifixion, was dead for three days, and then arose bodily from the grave and ascended into heaven.

He said that if we believed this fact that Jesus Christ died for our sins, and agreed with God that we are sinners, then we could ask this same Jesus to come into our hearts and life. He said that when Jesus comes into a life, He cleanses and forgives that person of all sin, and that He gives His peace and joy and eternal life. I wanted this Jesus and what He could give me more than anything else in the world, so at the end of the program I talked to Jesus out loud as a little child would. I told Him I was a sinner and I was sorry for my sins and asked Him to come into my heart and take control of my life as He wanted.

Immediately the heaviness of sin and grief lifted that I had been carrying for the previous three months! And something else -- fear suddenly left that night! I hadn't even asked Jesus to remove it, but He removed it anyway! I didn't need to keep a gun near me or have lights on anymore. I had peace in my mind and peace in my heart for Jesus just as He'd promised.

For over 22 years now Jesus Christ has been my Lord. The heavenly Father has truly become my Father. He and Jesus and the Holy Spirit are my constant companions and I am so blessed with their constant presence.

Since giving my life to Jesus Christ, I've had demonic spirits make occasional attempts to put fear back in me, but the Holy Spirit has taught me to use the authority and power that is in the name of Jesus to send these harassing demons fleeing!

If fear holds you in its grip, I encourage you to turn your life over to Jesus Christ. (Even if it doesn't, I still encourage you to do so!). Seek to be led by the Holy Spirit daily, and feed your mind regularly on the Word of God, the Holy Scriptures. Seek out the promises of God in the Bible and make them a living part of you. Your believing and standing on those promises has the power to break every foothold the devil has on you.

When searching for God, remember that you must make the first move. Jesus forces Himself on no one. "Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me." (Revelation 3:20 NIV).

When speaking of fear, also remember, healthy fear is a gift from God. Unhealthy fear is a weapon of Satan to keep your eyes focused on the circumstances of the fear, and off of God. It is possible to be so consumed by fear, worry, and anxiety that you don't even realize that it's robbing you of the greatest joy there is on earth . . . Perfect peace with the Creator of the universe.

So again, if fear, anxiety, worry, addictions, uncontrollable sin . . . If any of these things have control of you, go to the source that has all the answers. Jesus said, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." (Matthew 11:28 NIV).

Also, let these words of Jesus sink deep into your being:

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." (John 14:27 NIV).

By: Paula Collins Thanks to http://www.precious-testimonies.com 

Rob Chaffart

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