Category: thoughts by Laura Rath

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There are two things I’ve been telling myself a lot lately…

* You’re stronger than you feel.
* You don’t have to have everything figured out right now.

I’ve never really had a mantra, but maybe now I do because I can tell you these two sentences have helped me breathe a little easier.

Not because of anything I’ve tried to do, but because of what I know God can do.

On those really rough days when I feel like everything might cave in on me, I remind myself that how I feel can’t always be trusted.

How I feel and what I know to be true don’t always line up.

I might feel weak, but I know God is strong.

When I feel defeated, I know God is never defeated.

He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding. He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless.” Isaiah 40:28b-29 NLT

I’m stronger than I feel because God’s strength never runs out.

How I feel depends on what I can see and what I know, but God knows what I don’t. He’s not surprised by events or taken off guard. He knows what’s coming next. He sees it all.

I’m stronger than I feel because God is in control. Every day. All the time. Which means I don’t have to have it all figured out. And what a relief that is because no matter how hard I try, I just can’t.

But God can. He is in the details. No matter how big or small, God knows every bit of His plans.

When I don’t see any possible way, God knows the way.

What looks impossible to me is never impossible for God.

He weaves all the details of life together in ways we can’t imagine or understand. But in ways that astound us and leave us in awe.

I don’t have to have everything figured out before I take the next step because God does have it figured out. He knows where He’s leading me. I just have to follow.

I’m stronger than I feel because God is stronger than I could ever be. And I don’t have to figure it all out because He already has it figured out. Down to the very last detail.

His plan. His way. And His peace that passes all understanding.

The Lord gives his people strength.
The Lord blesses them with peace.
Psalms 29:11 NLT

By Laura Rath
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thoughts by Laura Rath Thoughts by Women

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I rarely watch daytime television, but every six months when I go to the dentist The Price is Right is already showing on the screen above the patient chair. Since I don’t know what else is on and I don’t want to flip channels and extend my appointment, I leave it.

Whenever I see it, I wonder once again if excessive amounts of caffeine are required before the show begins to induce the level of excitement (screaming and jumping around) exhibited by the audience—and especially the contestants. Last week, one woman even looked as if she might hyperventilate.

But as I watched, I had a new thought…what if we started our days with even just an ounce of that energy? Not the jumping around and screaming so much, but the enthusiasm to see what might happen.

What would that look like?

* A positive outlook of what the day might bring.

* The desire to see what God has planned for us.

* The willingness to step up, out of our comfort zones, to follow where God leads.

What is the Good News?  You have been forgiven! – stirred the same excitement as You could win a brand new car!

Whether it’s the anticipation of the game or the longing to hear your name called, The Price is Right has been around for a long time.

But, the new life we have in Jesus has been around much longer and it will never end. There will never be a change in hosts, and we don’t have to wait around hoping to be called up to the stage.

And…we don’t have to work to earn a prize because Jesus has already done the work. He has already been the sacrifice. He has already given us the way back to God.

Once and for all, Jesus has conquered sin and death. He calls us to Him every day and God’s love and grace can’t be taken away.

Winning on a game show and earning our five minutes of fame might be fun and exciting, and that’s okay. But, what Jesus gives is joyful and everlasting.

He’s there when the days are not fun and fame is a burden.

He’s with us when we don’t think we can walk through the hardest of situations.

He doesn’t leave us when we make bad choices and hurt ourselves and others.

And He doesn’t walk away or shoo us off stage when we don’t have the correct answers and we don’t know what to do next.

And that’s something to look forward to every day.

Just a Few Energizing Verses for Every Day

Deuteronomy 31:8 NLT
Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you.”

Psalm 16:11 NLT
“You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever.

Psalm 91:1 NLT
Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.”

Isaiah 40:31 NLT
“But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles.
They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.

Luke 7:48,50 NLT
Then Jesus said to the woman, “Your sins are forgiven.”
And Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.””

John 3:16-17 NIV
 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

Philippians 2:13 NLT
For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.”

Philippians 4:13 NKJV
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

By Laura Rath
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thoughts by Laura Rath Thoughts by Women

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Years ago, I was in an office conversation with co-workers laughing over the fact that no matter how many times we proof a document, it seems a typo or error will be found just after the e-mail has been sent or 1,000 copies have been printed.

I always wonder what mistake I’ll be remembered for,” someone remarked. Light-heartedly, I said, “We are not defined by our mistakes.

But, as I walked away I kept thinking about it. Isn’t that something we all need to be reminded of?

Our mistakes do not define us.

Yes, some mistakes are big and are remembered for quite a while.

But they do not define us.

Define means to describe, detail, or to state the meaning of. (dictionary.com)

We can describe our mistakes, but our mistakes do not describe us.

The enemy will try to tell us otherwise. He will tell us that our mistakes are who we are.

You can’t do that; you’ll mess it up, you always do. You’ll never get it right. You’re such a mess.

Remember what you did last week? That’s who you are. That’s what everyone thinks of you.

But God trumps the enemy every time, and He says we are not defined by our mistakes.

God does not describe us by our failures…or our successes—and that’s freeing because God’s love is not dependent on what we do, or fail to do. We are loved by God, not because we are perfect, but because we are His.

He knows we will make mistakes. And from those mistakes comes growth. Our successes and failures may help shape us, but they are not our identity.

We are who God says we are. And God identifies us as His own—Chosen.  Forgiven.  Loved.  Redeemed.

I may make a real whopper of a mistake, one that takes some fixing and apologizing for. But it’s not who I am. And when my co-worker makes a mistake, it’s not who she is.

Remembering this reminds me of grace. The grace God gives. The grace I ask for from others. And the grace I want to extend to those around me.

Our mistakes do not define us. God defines us—as His own loved and cherished children.

But now, O Jacob, listen to the Lord who created you. O Israel, the one who formed you says, “Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine.” Isaiah 43:1 NLT

By Laura Rath
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I remember as a child waiting in anticipation for my birthday or for Christmas to arrive. Time moved slowly and the waiting dragged on forever.

As an adult, that time moves much more quickly. It seems like Christmas is around the corner again before last year’s gifts are put away. And waiting for birthdays isn’t quite as exciting anymore.

Waiting for the calendar page to turn—that’s not so hard. Until time ends, one month will flow into the next, guaranteed.

But waiting on God is hard. Some days it feels impossible. And other days it takes me right to my knees in tears and frustration.

Perhaps you’re waiting on God too…

…for physical healing.

…for employment.

…for a child to come home.

…for a relationship to be restored.

…for a loved one to come to faith.

Whatever it might be, there will be days when waiting on God is just too hard.

Days when I think I cannot do it one more day. I can’t wait patiently without worry and fear. And on those days, peace gets edged out. In its place are anxiousness, nausea, headaches, tears, depression, anger, and despair.

Despair that feels like hitting bottom, where there’s no place deeper to go—because with despair comes hopelessness.

Hopelessness covers the world in darkness, but not completely. Never completely.
Because the darkness can never extinguish the Light.

I have come as a light to shine in this dark world, so that all who put their trust in me will no longer remain in the dark.John 12:46 NLT

Jesus came into this world to show us the Light—His Light that never dims. It never goes out.

We may become blinded to it at times, but it’s there, shining like a beacon—a symbol of hope leading us back to Him.

For where there is Light, there is hope. Always hope.

On the days when the waiting feels like too much—there is hope.

Hope for a better tomorrow.

Hope that what we’re anticipating and waiting for is right around the corner.

Hope that soon God will reveal His plans for us.

Hope because God is in the wait with us—strengthening and comforting—bringing rest to the weary and calm to the panicked—picking us up when we hit the ground in despair.

Waiting for the seasons to change becomes methodical. Waiting on God never does.

We may not know what’s coming next, but God does. Our waiting and our future is in His hands.
His safe, strong, and more than capable hands.

By Laura Rath
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Have you ever really messed up?

Maybe it was a mistake or a poor choice, but it was something so big you didn’t see a way to come back from it. I imagine we all have.

Jesus’ disciple, Peter, might have wondered the same thing. On the night Jesus was arrested, Peter denied knowing Him, not once, not twice, but three times. That’s a big thing to come back from and Peter probably didn’t see a way for that to happen.

But although Jesus knew Peter would deny Him, He also knew something Peter probably didn’t know about himself. Jesus knew Peter’s potential and who Peter would become. And Jesus knows the same about us.

Jesus doesn’t just know who we are now, but who we can become through Him.

Jesus knows we’re going to fail and make major mistakes, but He also knows these are opportunities for growth in our faith, and in who we are becoming. Jesus knows our potential.
Jesus knew Peter would mess up by denying Him, and yet, he told Peter,
So I will call you Peter, which means “a rock.” On this rock I will build my church, and death itself will not have any power over it. Matthew 16:18 CEV
Wow. Jesus knew Peter would be the foundation of His church, even while he knew the mistakes Peter would make.
Peter came back from his betrayal. Not because of something he did, but because of who God is.

The women went into the tomb, and on the right side they saw a young man in a white robe sitting there. They were alarmed. The man said, “Don’t be alarmed! You are looking for Jesus from Nazareth, who was nailed to a cross. God has raised him to life, and he isn’t here. You can see the place where they put his body. Now go and tell his disciples, and especially Peter, that he will go ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there, just as he told you.” Mark 16:5-7 CEV

Especially Peter. He wanted Peter to know that He had not turned away from him. Peter’s betrayal was not too much to come back from.

Perhaps God is whispering to you today, especially you.
What choices or mistakes are keeping you from Jesus?
God’s forgiveness covers anything we think is just too much. He knows our hearts and hears our confessions. He knows us better than we know ourselves.
God knows who we are and who we can become through Him.

He knows our potential long before we see it in ourselves.

Think your mistakes disqualify you from work in God’s Kingdom? They didn’t for Peter and they don’t for you. Peter looked for Jesus and followed Him. Peter’s mistakes became his testimony of Jesus’ death and resurrection. His story was part of God’s story.

And, whether we realize it yet or not, our stories are all part of God’s love story.

How do you feel when you think about your potential? Does that feeling change knowing that God already knows what your potential is with Him?

By Laura Rath
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A few nights ago, I had to comfort our cat, Raven, during a thunderstorm. She’s not usually affected by the weather, but something had her scared. So I held her and talked to her. I made a blanket tent for her to sleep under and sat with her until she felt brave enough to burrow under the blankets.

Once she was calmer and safely tucked under her tent, I went to bed. But before I fell asleep, I thought about her need for comfort and how we’re not much different in this respect.

Aren’t there times we all need to feel safe and to be reminded that we’re going to be okay?

Maybe it’s not a thunderstorm, but a situation that makes life feel out of control.

The diagnosis.

A relationship that’s falling apart.

Sadness and grief.

Financial struggles.

Or so many other possibilities.

Sometimes God will change what’s going on around us, but often He will provide comfort for what’s going on inside of us instead.

“He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.” 2 Corinthians 1:4 NLT

Because He comforts us first, we are able to comfort others.

We may not be able to change someone’s circumstances, but we can be there just to sit and let her know she’s not alone.

I couldn’t stop the thunderstorm, but I could comfort Raven when she was afraid.

I couldn’t stop my mom’s cancer last year, but I could sit with her in her pain so she didn’t feel alone.

So many things we can’t control, but we can be there.

Even when we can’t understand the situation or the pain, just being present can often be enough. It validates another person’s emotions. It says, “You don’t have to walk through this alone.”

And perhaps, as God works through us, it even shines some light into the dark places in our lives.

By Laura Rath
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I don’t know what you might be dealing with this week, but I know several people who are feeling under attack from the enemy.

“Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armour so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil”  Ephesians 6:10-11 NLT

Fortunately, we also have a Source of super strength—God. He provides what we need when we need it.

In the book of Ephesians, Paul reminds us of this. Be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power.

Not by our own might, but through God’s. God’s strength. God’s power. For us.

Put on all of God’s armour so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil.

We don’t have to go to extreme measures and different sources to acquire the strength and weapons we need. God provides what we need to stand strong against the lies of the enemy. We just have to be willing to turn to Him, and ready to don the protection He offers.

Scripture spells out each piece of the armour God provides.

“Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armour so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armour of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” Ephesians 6:13-17 NLT

Stand your ground against the enemy with:

The belt of truth – the truth of God’s Word and who God is. Knowing the truth helps us identify and see through the enemy’s lies.

The body armour of God’s righteousness – through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we are made right with God. Satan will try everything he can to make us believe nothing can make us right with God, and that is a lie. Nothing can undo what Jesus has already done for us.

Shoes of peace that comes from the Good News – reliable footwear is essential for all soldiers to advance and engage. For us to advance the Kingdom of God and engage in spiritual warfare, we wear the Good News of the victory of Jesus Christ over sin and death for all time. The Good News of Jesus gives us life and enables us to share this Good News wherever we are.

The shield of faith – our faith in Jesus Christ is the shield that protects us from everything the devil throws at us. The flaming arrows of Satan’s lies cannot penetrate strong faith that rests solely in our Lord—in His truth and righteousness.

The helmet of salvation – the knowledge of our salvation through Jesus Christ protects us from believing the lies of the devil.

And finally…

The sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God – our only offensive weapon against the evil of this world. The Holy Spirit, who lives in every believer, works for us and through us, enabling us to share the Word of God with others. One by one, building a strong offense against the enemy.

By Laura Rath
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I will praise you every day; yes, I will praise you forever.”
Psalm 145:2 NLT

Several years ago, my word for the year was Praise. To be honest, I wasn’t thrilled about the word when the year started. Praise felt like a really big word for when really big things happened—which wasn’t every day. So, what was I supposed to do with the word the rest of the year?

What I learned first is that Praise isn’t supposed to be saved for only the really big events or even what is visible to others.

Praise is meant for every day—the little, the ordinary, and what others might not be able to see.

Praise is when we honor God by acknowledging Him in everything we do. It’s looking for Him and His work, no matter if it’s a good day or a rotten day. Praise is thanking God in all situations, even when we don’t feel thankful.

Praise when I don’t feel thankful? Yes, because sometimes we have to practice giving praise before it feels natural.

For I cried out to him for help, praising him as I spoke.” Psalm 66:17 NLT

Our human nature doesn’t lead us to feel thankful when we’re walking in the valley, but that’s precisely when God can do His best work in us. The hard work of changing our hearts and bringing us closer to Him. And creating a desire in us to want to be closer to Him.

The next thing I learned about Praise is that it’s not just for after something happens.

Praise is also meant to be given before we see His work.

How do I know what to praise Him for if it hasn’t happened yet? Because God is always at work, even when we can’t see it or imagine what He might be working on.

Let all that I am praise the Lord; may I never forget the good things he does for me.” Psalm 103:2 NLT

Praise Him for being who He is—our God and Savior who doesn’t change on a whim. He doesn’t change the rules. And His love for us doesn’t change because He’s having a bad day.

Praise Him because no matter what we’re going through, we can be sure He’s walking beside us. He leads the way before us and watches over us. Sometimes He stays quiet, but we can trust that He’s there.

In those times I desperately need to feel His presence, I ask Him to let me see Him. And then I look for Him even in the slightest way. It might be in in new flower buds, the lyrics of a song, an unexpected phone call or text from a friend, or in the way my day turns around through no power of my own.

My heart is confident in you, O God; my heart is confident. No wonder I can sing your praises!”  Psalm 57:7 NLT

That year, I learned to praise God for His presence, for His love and compassion, and because no matter what I regret doing today, tomorrow is a brand new start.

Praise Him because when we look for Him, we will see Him. And the more we see Him, the more we will look for Him.

By Laura Rath
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Not long ago, I was reminded again of the pain and heartache in the world.

It’s not that I’d forgotten exactly, but sometimes it’s there — everywhere you look. It becomes hard to miss and impossible to ignore.

That was a week I could see the struggle behind the smiles. I could read the heartache in written words. I could hear the pain in the tears.

Family members struggling.
Loved ones hurting.
Friends grieving.

Strained and broken relationships.
Physical and emotional pain.
Financial hardships.

Everyone has something to deal with, and while our struggles may be different, they are no less real. They are no less significant.

Often, one of the only things we can do for someone is to be there. To listen, without giving advice (unless asked) and to extend compassion, even when we don’t understand.

What else can we do?

3 Things We Can Do to Make a Difference in Someone’s Day

1) Smile
I wonder how often one person’s smile is the best part of someone else’s day. Something so small, and yet so big and important. So easy, but forgotten about when we get busy and rush through the day.

What if, regardless of our mood or how our day is going, we make an effort to smile more—with our families, co-workers, at the grocery store, the bank, the school—wherever we have the opportunity to make a difference? Your smile may be just what someone else needs today.

2) Reach Out
When someone is in your thoughts, let them know. God will bring someone to mind and place them in our hearts for a reason. He knows they need a kind word. They need to feel remembered. They need to know someone is thinking of, and praying for, them.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard from a friend at just the right time. I want to be that friend to another. I’ll admit, I’m working on this one. I have a habit of putting off an email, thinking I’ll get to it later, and then forgetting. But I’m trying to be intentional about reaching out to others.

3) Pray
Something happens when we pray. We draw closer to the One who hears us and sees everything. He not only works in the lives of those we pray for, but He works in our lives.

Prayer changes us from the inside out, in ways we may not even be aware of. Perhaps you’ve been praying for someone, or for a situation, for so long and you’re ready to give up. I know the feeling. But, we can’t give up. Prayer matters! It makes a difference, even if we can’t see it.

We may never know if, or how, our prayers were answered for someone else’s life. But God knows, and that’s what matters.

How can you make a difference in someone’s day today?

But the fruit of the Spirit  is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control’
Galatians 5:22-23

By Laura Rath
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Courage feels like a big word. By definition, courage is mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty. (merriam-webster.com)

Sometimes, courage is loud and obvious like when David fought Goliath. Right there in the action, everyone around saw how he defeated the giant. And those not there to see it definitely heard about it.

But courage isn’t always showy. Sometimes it’s quiet. You might see it but not be able to identify it at the time. But it’s courage nonetheless.

I think of Mary who probably heard the whispering of others as she walked by and Joseph who took Mary as his wife, even though she was already pregnant. Although the angel confirmed what the Lord wanted them to do, I imagine they still faced the town’s gossip and rumors. And they had to have had courage to face what others said without starting to doubt themselves and maybe even what they heard the angel say.

But what about us? What does it look like to be courageous?

I don’t know what you’re going through, but I know sometimes it’s hard to feel courage within ourselves. Disappointments and setbacks make us feel like courage is something for other people and that our lack of courage is too great.

But don’t be fooled. Even when we can’t see our own courage, others can see it in us.

What does courage look like in our everyday lives?

* Courage is getting back up when we feel like we keep getting knocked down.

* Courage is trying again when nothing is working out or we don’t know what to expect.

* Sometimes courage is just getting up again in the morning and facing the day. Maybe it will be just as hard as yesterday was. Maybe it won’t. But we won’t know if we don’t keep trying.

* Courage is persevering when we don’t like our circumstances. It’s looking at the hard day ahead and putting one foot in front of the other to keep moving forward. It’s saying, I don’t want to do this, but I have to, and I know I’m not alone—God is walking with me.

* Courage is knowing what we can’t do alone, we can do in God’s strength.

* Courage is crawling out of bed to face the day when we’d rather stay buried under the covers.

* Courage is making the decisions we don’t want to make and taking that next step we don’t want to take.

* Courage is sitting with someone in their difficult, heart-breaking circumstances so they won’t have to sit alone.

* Courage is continuing to dream when our dreams seem unrealistic or someone says they can’t happen. Courage is finding a way around the doubt.

* Courage is walking through the known and the unknown with eyes focused on Jesus.

* Courage doesn’t look one specific way. It’s different for every individual and every situation.

And sometimes we don’t even know what our own courage looks like until we can see it in hindsight. Then we look back and wonder how we made it through a particular season of life.

There’s no shortage of verses about courage in the Bible, but here are a few to think about.

“Having hope will give you courage. You will be protected and will rest in safety.” Job 11:18

“Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.”
Psalms 27:14

“Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong.” 1 Corinthians 16:13

“So be strong and courageous, all you who put your hope in the Lord!”  Psalms 31:24

“This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” Joshua 1:9

“And because we so often need God’s strength to have courage…”

For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.”
Philippians 4:13

By Laura Rath
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Some seasons in life feel like they’ll never change.

The unpleasant road we’re on has no visible end in sight. We’re worn out and tired. Tired of trying. Tired of waiting. Tired of spinning our wheels and getting nowhere. Tired of hoping for a better day.

If you’re there with me today, let me remind you that what you see surrounding you isn’t the full story. There’s more, so much more, that we can’t see, but God can.

God knows what’s right around the corner, but we won’t see it if we stop moving forward.

God knows who He’s moving into our circle of people, but we won’t get to meet them if we decide to quit.

God knows the plans He has for us, but we’ll never see them if we decide it’s not worth getting through today.

When we feel stuck in our current reality, our view of tomorrow is limited by what we can see today. We forget that the future is packed with possibilities and that God is walking before us.

If you’re feeling stuck and can’t even get a glimpse of a different tomorrow, these verses are for you.

6 Scripture Verses for When You Feel Stuck

Luke 18:27 NLT

He replied, “What is impossible for people is possible with God.”

Psalm 40:1-3 NLT

I waited patiently for the Lord to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire.  He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along. He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see what he has done and be amazed. They will put their trust in the Lord.

2 Corinthians 4:18 NLT

So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.

Psalm 121:1-2 NIV

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.

Psalm 94:19 CEV

And when I was burdened with worries, you comforted me and made me feel secure.

Isaiah 43:18-19 NLT

“But forget all that—it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.

What verse(s) would you add to these for when you feel stuck?

By Laura Rath
Used by Permission

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You know those days? Whether they come often or only once in a while, they’re there—those days that make you feel like you’re not enough.

Not strong enough. Not good enough.
Less than someone else (in any or every way).
Not enough for what life throws your way.

I know those days—they are bullies who want to knock us down, and sometimes they succeed. But we don’t have to fight back alone. There is One who will help us up again and again. Over and over, no matter how many times it takes.

The truth is, on our own, we are not enough. This world gives more than we can handle, but we are not alone. Our God is on our side—and He makes all the difference. Where we are not enough, He is more than enough. Every. Single. Day.

6 Scripture Verses for When You Feel Like You’re Not Enough

2 Corinthians 12:9 MSG

My grace is enough; it’s all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness.

When we let go and let God work, He works in His strength. His power and strength are more than we can ever dream to have on our own. Sometimes the hardest part is letting ourselves feel our own weakness so that we can feel His strength.

Psalm 139:13-14 VOICE

For You shaped me, inside and out. You knitted me together in my mother’s womb long before I took my first breath. I will offer You my grateful heart, for I am Your unique creation, filled with wonder and awe. You have approached even the smallest details with excellence; Your works are wonderful; I carry this knowledge deep within my soul.

God knows His creation—every single one of us. He didn’t design us to be enough on our own. He created us to need Him. To be in a relationship with Him. To trust Him and depend on Him. Knowing this, we can let go of trying to be enough on our own and be who He made us to be—with Him.

Isaiah 41:10 NLT

Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you.  I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.

Fear and discouragement can hold us back from anything we want to do. No matter if it’s something big or just getting through the day, God is with us. That doesn’t mean it will be easy or problem free. But He reminds us that we’re not alone in our own strength.

Isaiah 40:29-31 NLT

He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary.  They will walk and not faint.

How often do we forget (or ignore) that going non-stop will wear us down? Trying to get through life without God’s daily help leaves us depleted. But with God, His source of strength and energy gives us the ability to persevere.

Psalm 94:18-19 CEV

When I felt my feet slipping, you came with your love and kept me steady. And when I was burdened with worries, you comforted me and made me feel secure.

There is nothing we can’t take to God. He knows our worries and frustrations. He knows when we’re barely hanging on. When we keep it to ourselves, we try to deal with it all on our own, but when we turn to Him with all that’s weighing us down, He offers us peace that only He can give.

Romans 12:2 NLT

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

This world wants to build us up to depend on ourselves and to go it alone. The enemy encourages this. In fact, he loves this. Any time the enemy can get us self-focused instead of God-focused is a win for him because that’s when we feel like we should be enough. It has us comparing ourselves to others and thinking…if we only try harder, we can be enough.

On our own we are not enough. We don’t have to have all we need to get through this life because God does have it all. When we can accept that, we can breathe a sigh of relief.

And then know that as we follow Him, through faith, we are enough because God is more than enough.

By Laura Rath
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I’m convinced that emotions can wreck us. On any given day, I can go from laughing to crying; feeling angry to craving connection; feeling hopeful to feeling desperate. Emotions take us all over the place, use up what little energy we have, and leave us feeling spent.

Truth can get lost in emotions…if we let it.

For a while now, I’ve felt like God has been silent. I know He’s with me. I know He hears me, sees me, and knows every detail of my days. I know that. But, sometimes I don’t feel it.

As I pray, I’ve been reminding myself that the truth and how I feel are not the same.

In my frustration, I want to demand, God, where are You?!?

Instead, I’ve been confessing, Lord, I know You’re here, but I feel like I can’t find you. Why am I struggling to connect with You?

One expresses my anger, the other cries out for help. God knows I feel both.

Anger clouds my vision and opens the door even wider for doubt and suspicion. (Both of which are in the enemy’s arsenal.) But, expressing my need for Him keeps me looking for Him, watching for even the smallest reminder that He’s with me. It keeps me expecting to see Him.

I imagine I’m not alone in struggling between truth and emotions. Fortunately, God’s Word is filled with His truth to remind us He’s with us, even when it feels like God is silent.

Psalm 46:10 (NIV)
He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

Isaiah 43:2 (VOICE)
When you face stormy seas I will be there with you with endurance and calm; you will not be engulfed in raging rivers. If it seems like you’re walking through fire with flames licking at your limbs, keep going; you won’t be burned.

Psalm 62:5-6 (NLT)
Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken.

Psalm 34:17-18 (NLT)
The Lord hears his people when they call to him for help. He rescues them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.

Psalm 73:26 (NLT)
My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever.

Isaiah 41:10 (MSG)
Don’t panic. I’m with you.  There’s no need to fear for I’m your God. I’ll give you strength. I’ll help you.  I’ll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you.

Exodus 33:14 (NIV)
The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”

Deuteronomy 31:8 (NLT)
Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you.

Joshua 1:9 (NLT)
This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

Ephesians 3:16-17 (NLT)
I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.

John 14:16-17 (NKJV)
And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.

Psalm 5:3 (NIV)
In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you  and wait expectantly.

Psalm 63:8 (VOICE)
My soul clings to You; Your right hand reaches down and holds me up.

Romans 8:38-39 (NLT)
And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

What verses do you turn to when you’re struggling to feel God with you?

By Laura Rath
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Roads. Some are short with a definite destination. Others are long and winding, with a scenic view.

Like me, you might find yourself on a road you didn’t know you were on, but when you look back you can see where it started and where it’s taken you, even if you still can’t see the end clearly.

And then there are the somewhat defined roads. You know where they start—the moment your life changed—but you don’t know where it ends. What you do know is you don’t like the look of the road. You stand at the threshold knowing it will be hard, physically, emotionally, and mentally, and there is no way around it.

Maybe that road is the diagnosis, unemployment, the end of a relationship, the loss of a loved one, or one of so many other defining moments that feel dark and depressing.

Instead of things that can be done, there are things that have to be done. Instead possibilities, life looks full of impossibilities.

And yet, we are not alone on this oppressive road. We have a traveling companion who has promised to never leave us despite the rocky, uphill climb. God promises to go before us, walk beside us, and follow behind us, giving us what we need along the way

Jesus is the Light that will break through the darkness.

Some days along the road are filled with a dark fog blocking the light. There is sadness and exhaustion. Bad news that causes us to grieve and wonder if the sun will shine again. But, no matter how hopeless we feel, the darkness can never extinguish the light of Jesus.

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12 NIV

When we can’t feel it, we have to know it—remember it—Jesus is the Light that shines through the darkness. When we can’t see the light, He’s still there, and the fog won’t block the light forever.

God is at work no matter what we can or can’t see.

Especially during difficult times, we have to remember that God is at work behind the scenes. Sometimes, He’ll give us a glimpse of what He’s working on, but often we just have to trust that His plans are good.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart;    do not depend on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5 NLT

It’s not easy to trust when we can’t understand why, or how, or when, but I’ve found that the more I try to trust Him, the more I want to trust Him, and with practice I don’t have to try as hard. Trusting Him feels comfortable and becomes more natural.

He is the One who holds us up when we can barely move on our own.

There will be days when we don’t want to get out of bed. If our feet don’t touch the floor, maybe we won’t have to face anything. It’s too hard to hold ourselves up, much less be there to support others. But, whether we stay in bed or trudge through the day, we are not alone.

Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’ Isaiah 41:10 NASB

There have been many times when I reflected back on my day and didn’t know how I made it through. It was a blur of difficulty that I didn’t have the strength for.

The only answer was God.

I know He was holding me up when I could barely stand on my own. He was there in the hard conversations and the actions I didn’t want to take. He was there to pull me up when the feeling of hopelessness was too great.

No matter what the road ahead of us looks like, God is with us and He won’t leave us.  The days will be hard and some will feel as dark as night…but we are not alone and the sun will shine again.

Lord Jesus, we know that in this life we will have trouble, but You have promised to never leave us. You have promised us peace in the midst of the storms. May we believe Your promises are for us and cling to Your presence in our lives. Amen.

By Laura Rath
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A couple of weeks ago we had four trees trimmed. It needed to be done. They were hanging low, touching the fence and getting a little too personal with our neighbor’s vehicles. But, the pruning was done aggressively, taking more than we expected, or wanted.

A range of emotions followed in my home—sadness because I felt like my trees were ruined, surprise over how sad I was, annoyance because it wasn’t what we wanted, anger because the bill still had to be paid…and finally, in time, acceptance.

As we worked through at our own pace, I thought about the pruning God does in us and how we might experience the same emotions.

“I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.” John 15:1-4 NLT

The pruning process is not easy for us. God wants to draw us close to Him, and as He changes us from the inside out, He knows what isn’t producing fruit. From our perspective though, this looks like having to give up things, interests, behavior, or ways of life that we like or we’re used to. It means laying down our will for His.

The more we know God, the greater the desire to make these changes, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. It can be unpleasant, uncomfortable, and downright painful.

While God’s pruning is always what’s best for us, it doesn’t feel that way when the work is being done. It may feel like He’s pruning too aggressively, taking more than we expect, or want to give up.

There might be sadness because what we’ve always known is no longer what’s normal. It may mean a change in who we associate with or where we go, and making those changes can be hard, and even lonely. No matter how much we do want our lives to be different, there are still pieces or memories that we don’t want to give up completely. And that may surprise us.

There might be annoyance at what God is asking of us. We’ve worked and worked to move forward, but it’s still not enough. He’s still snipping and cutting, even from where we’ve made progress, and we want to shout, Stop! Enough trimming. You’re taking too much and it’s just too hard. We didn’t agree to this much pruning.

We might be angry. This isn’t what we asked for. The years of hardship. The loss. The sudden and drastic changes in our lives that don’t make sense to us. Years later we may see how He drew us close and we learned to trust Him in every way. But, right now, when it feels like we’re getting hit with one thing after another and we don’t understand why He’s letting it happen, it’s difficult to see how we can grow from it.

We want some explanation and to know how this will work out. We want our questions answered—How long? Why? When? But, when our questions don’t get answered, we have to wait and trust that the One pruning knows what He’s doing.

At some point, when the new becomes more familiar and comfortable, there is acceptance. We’ve become used to the changes—both the good and the bad, and it’s not as difficult to function. It’s no longer a constant struggle to get through each day because there’s been new growth. Instead of only seeing what’s missing, we see how God has blessed us. There is still grief and mourning, but there is also thankfulness and new beginnings.

Our trees were trimmed with the best of intentions and we received a credit when I kindly expressed how disappointed we were. God prunes us for His purpose and His glory, and when we turn to Him with our disappointment, exhaustion, sadness, and even our anger, He comforts us with love and compassion

God’s work will still be done, but He never cuts and walks away. He stays with us through the pain and the setbacks. He encourages us as we get back on our feet. And He rejoices with us as we begin to see the growth through His pruning.

By Laura Rath
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