Finding Hope Series

Finding Hope: Introduction
A Series on Overcoming Struggles
By Valeta Baty

a prison of crystal
 fine and polished
 outward appearance
 internal abhorrence
 self-imprisoned
 self-abased
 heart of vengeance
 cripple offense
t'would be gone

 should you incline
lay aside pride
gain rich a prize

 instead...such as you choose
 fain to cast perfidy
 gilded gaol fortify
 nought other, save its maker

I was an extremely sensitive, quiet, serious, and introverted child. Many who can relate will also know that, for the most part, these personality traits are discouraged in society and what is deemed acceptable is a very narrow band of extroverted personality types. Society tells us we need to be adventurous and bold, to step out of the proverbial boat, and that happiness comes only when you are outgoing and social. As a result, many introverts are good at faking extroversion to fit in or act in the manner congruent to what society deems as the sought after personality traits necessary to succeed. The most vocal and outgoing personalities are elevated and the quiet and studious overlooked and deemed as anti-social. But what introverts are really doing is faking extroversion by hiding our true selves. Add hurt, trauma, and loss and you inevitably end up in a suppression of emotions, intense feelings of frustration, anger, and resentment, which results in multiplying the need for an ever-increasing wall of protection. The ultimate culmination is a very poor mental state. We manage to look good on the outside and appear to have it all together, but inside...we are imprisoned by perceptions. Like the poem, written during an extremely tumultuous time prior to coming to the saving knowledge of Christ, this prison is something of our own making. However, we certainly can break out of that which imprisons us, whether influenced by our own perceptions or the perceptions of others, into freedom and liberty.
After salvation, I still struggled with some of these tendencies, but now added perceptions, my own and of others, as to what being a Christian looked like. One day I took all of my frustration and anger out on God in a loud, lamenting prayer of trying to measure up, trying and fighting to be something I was not, and being completely miserable in the process. He gently rebuked me with “Did I ask you to change?” I responded with my rebuttal, and He again gently asked “Did I ask you to change?” I realized that God created me to be me, and so began my journey of healing and restoration, of accepting and embracing who He made me to be; an introverted person who loves spending time with people, but who still needs to recharge through withdrawal and immersion in books.
Without a doubt, our mental state impacts and defines how we view ourselves and those around us. Our mental state, whether positive or negative, influences our perspectives, behaviors, actions and reactions, emotions, and overall well-being. While mental health has gained far more traction in recent years, and people are more aware of the importance of taking care of their mental state, too often we may not even be aware of the state of those around us because it can be such a silent condition. Sometimes we only become aware of the state of someone’s emotional struggles once they reach a breaking point. Therefore, it is important for Christians to recognize that our emotional state is a very real struggle that affects even those who have come to the saving knowledge of Christ. We cannot simply dismiss these struggles as a personal failing or a lack of faith. Instead, we must approach this issue with compassion and a willingness to help those who are suffering, in line with Jesus’ command in Mark 12:30-31 “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these” (ESV).
Much has been said on this topic in and outside of Christian circles, and Ecclesiastes 1:9 tells us “What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun” (ESV). In this blog series, we explore how the Bible can provide hope and comfort for those struggling with unhelpful perceptions and a poor mental state. While there may be nothing new under the sun, some resources are more helpful than others. Hence why in this blog, we will focus on what the Bible has to say and we pray that you will find hope and meaning in this series.

The intention is to focus on 5 aspects of finding hope, with a spotlight on how to overcome our struggles. These aspects are:

Part 1: Biblical Examples of Emotional Struggles
In the first aspect of the series we will focus on are biblical characters who experienced emotional struggles, including Elijah, Job, and David. We will examine how they coped with their struggles and how their faith in God helped them find hope in the midst of their trials.

Part 2: God's Promises of Hope
The Bible is filled with promises of hope that can bring comfort to those who are struggling emotionally. We will explore some of these promises, including God's promise to never leave us or forsake us, His promise to provide us with strength and courage, and His promise to heal us from our wounds.

Part 3: Taking Care of Your Mental State
Taking care of our mental state is important, and the Bible provides us with guidance on how to do so. In this section, we will explore biblical principles such as rest, self-care, and forgiveness, and how they can help us maintain a good mental state.

Part 4: The Power of Prayer and Community
Prayer is a powerful tool that can help those struggling find hope and comfort. We will discuss the importance of prayer and how it can help us connect with God and find peace in the midst of our struggles. We will also explore the role of community and how it can provide support and encouragement during difficult times.

Part 5: Christ our Hope
The final aspect of Finding Hope is encouraging people to find hope and comfort in Christ. We will examine four ways to do so: by casting anxieties on Christ, finding strength in his power, remembering his promises, and seeking his guidance. These actions can help Christians overcome challenges by trusting in Christ's love and grace.

Ultimately, our answers are found in the Bible and its message of hope. The Word of God is a powerful reminder that we are never alone and that we can find comfort and strength in Jesus. Whether we are struggling with mental health issues, a specific emotional struggle, or facing other challenges in life, we can cling to these promises and trust that God will be with us every step of the way. Through biblical examples, God's promises, principles for taking care of our mental state, the power of prayer and community, and Christ our hope, we can find comfort, healing, and hope in the midst of our struggles. As we explore these aspects together in this blog post series, we hope that you will be encouraged and uplifted by the hope that they offer. May this series provide encouragement and support for all in need.


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