Choices: What Will We Choose series, Discouragement, Hope, Trusting God

Choices (series): Where We Place Our Hope

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

I’ve spent the last few months reading through the book of Jeremiah. The thing that struck me was how many times God gave His people the choice of whether or not to forsake their idols and worship Him. As I read, I realized how many times we have choices to make. In our relationships with family, friends, co-workers, and especially with God. This is the last of a 5-part series on choices (Read other posts here). I look forward to hearing your thoughts on what helps you make wise choices.

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This writing journey leads us on rough paths. Upon rock-strewn trails that trip us up and flatten us to the ground. Those tree roots of rejection stick out above the ground and cause us to stumble in our belief that we are truly called to write.

How many times in our lives have we struggled with hope?

When we walked in the valley of infertility, my faith faltered as I grappled to understand where God was amid the emotions and disappointments. I had hopes that God would give us a baby. He could give us a child. He was more than able to satisfy this Him-given desire.

And yet, He chose not to gift me with a pregnancy.

I began my writing journey over seven years ago. I may have been a little naive on the amount of things I had to learn to write effectively. I was certain I could whip out a novel in a year, become represented by an agent, and launch my writing career.

Um . . . yeah. I really was that naive.

Writing friends acquainted me with how hard this journey is. But, I knew I could do it. I put my hope in God to help me get published.

Many contest wins and seven years later, I still wrestle with why God has kept me at this place on the path.

Discouragement sets in when we aim for something we think God has promised us and we don’t receive it. We can’t move toward it . . . for whatever reason.

These seasons forced me to consider where I place my hope. I know God can do these things.

Nothing . . . .No-Thing is too hard for Him.

Yet, sometimes, when we pursue and yearn for good things, He withholds them.

WHY?

The answer to that one word question probably varies with each person who asks it. But this I know . . .

Discouragement is the enemy of hope. It sucks us dry and keeps our focus on us.

When I place my hope in God that He will do something, I will probably end up disappointed.  It’s not that God can’t do those things. Not at all.

It’s a matter of me placing expectations on my Father to carry out my will in my timing.

The question becomes: Am I placing my hope in what God can do or in who He is? It’s hard to draw the line between these two realities.

When I place my hope in what God can do, I miss the reality of who He is. 

The fact that He is sovereign.

That He has good plans for me that are absolutely perfect for this journey I’m on.

My eyes turn to me, to the circumstances around me. To the discouragements that come as a part of life.

When I choose to focus my eyes—my heart—on Jesus, I can find peace. Because it’s only as I walk out each day with my heart looking to Him—trusting His plans—that I can weather life’s ups and downs.

God knows me better than I know myself. He knows the purposes for which He created me. And God knows my heart’s desires. He gave them to me.

Placing my hope in who God is requires me to trust Him. 

In some ways, this feels like the harder choice because it means relinquishing my plans. 

In reality, choosing to hope in God alone is what gives peace in the trials. This choice is what helps us to rest in life’s uncertainties.

Because we trust Him more than ourselves, we can be certain God’s best will be accomplished in our lives. That He will walk with us through life’s hard.

Placing our hope in God alone is the best way to navigate the times when we don’t understand.

God did eventually give us two boys, and His way of doing this was so much better than anything I could have concocted.

As for writing and publishing that first novel? I haven’t sensed Him telling me to quit writing. I continue to keep my hope in Him, even when discouragement tries to set in. I know His timing is always perfect. And I hope in Him alone.

What about you? How do you balance the ideas of hoping that God will do something and hoping in God Himself? What is your favorite Bible verse about hope?

Click to Tweet: Am I placing my hope in what God can do or in who He is?

This week I’m linking up with #RaRaLinkup, Jennifer Dukes Lee, and Holley Gerth

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34 thoughts on “Choices (series): Where We Place Our Hope”

  1. Great topic Jeanne. Sometimes its hard for me to tell the difference between my desires and Gods. To me they seem to go hand in hand but I guess God has a different perspective. I like this verse on hope because it helps me refocus: 1 Peter 1:3-4
    “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you,”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Gene, I sometimes have trouble telling the difference between where the desires come from: God or me. I like what you said about God having a different perspective.And that passage in 1 Peter? A beautiful reminder about what is eternal…I tend to forget that we have an inheritance in heaven. Thanks for sharing this!

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  2. Love the post and pictures, Jeanne…and God’s plan for your family touches many hearts, as you share the journey with us.

    I think that sometimes we have to drop our hopes, and embrace the despair that stands before us, because only at the ends of the personal Via Dolorosa that some have to walk is our own Easter Sunday.

    I don’t see a temporal hope and future, save the chance to win a measure of honour each day; not through any achievement save not resenting my illness, and looking for the kindnesses I can offer.

    And that may be enough; in that sharp grain of sand may indeed be the Hope that animates the universe.

    I think Henry Lee put it best, in his poem, “Fighting On”:

    I see no gleam of vict’ry alluring,
    no hope of splendid booty or of gain.
    If I endure, I must go on enduring,
    and my sole reward for bearing pain – is pain.
    Yet though the thrill, the zest, and the hope are gone,
    something within me keeps me fighting on.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Andrew, I wonder, is it possible to be dealing with the despair of circumstances yet keep our hope in God—In who He is in the midst of the pain, in His presence with us through the despair? I don’t think I’ve ever encountered the kind of despair and pain you are walking through, which is why I pose the question. I think in the lives like yours when most of “life” and “who you are” has been stripped away, that temporal hope holds little value. But finding the little evidences of God with us each day may offer something. I wonder if it’s that “something” that enables you to serve and to encourage with kindnesses and words.

      That final poem stanza? Has you written all over it. Thank you for being an inspiration and encouragement here and across the blogosphere. I continue to pray, my friend.

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  3. Jeanne,
    At one point I was certain that I was going to use my writing skills to be a children’s story/book writer. Well, I have enough rejection letters to wallpaper my bathroom lol. God had different plans and far different timing. Little did I know that He would use my writing to lead me to starting the Foundation work that i love. At first I wasn’t open to HIS idea, but God kept nudging me and nudging me (I’m a little slow on the up-take). Finally His will won out and I’m so glad it did. His plan certainly hadn’t been my plan, but like God, His plan was so much greater than what I could come up with. Loved your series!!
    Blessings,
    Bev xx

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    1. Bev, it is interesting to see how God reshapes our version of our dreams, our callings, isn’t it? I never, ever thought I would be blogging, and yet, I’m coming up on five years in a few months. He has ways of expanding those dreams we hold close to our hearts. When we release these to Him, He can do amazing things, like He is with your powerful ministry. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve said His plan was not my plan. 😉 Thank you for sharing a bit of your story here today, my friend!

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  4. Jeanne, I’m so glad I read this today because I have to say the past few weeks I’ve had similar thoughts. Especially as I struggle to fit in time to work on a self-publishi g book project. I think Hod’s calling me to be content with my small.

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    1. Betsy, thanks for sharing a bit of your story. God definitely has ways of teaching us to be content with where we are—physically, in our hearts, in living out those desires. I hope He opens up time, in His timing, for you to complete your project. I have no doubt it will be amazing!

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  5. A pastor once told me to think of life as a journey through the mountains. We can only see what’s in front of us and sometimes that view is a rock that so dark and high that it blocks out the sun. But God sees us from a different vantage point. If we place our trust in Him, we get to the same place, but instead of stressing over how we’re going to get over the mountain, we rejoice in knowing we’ll see how God’s going to do it.

    By the way, this is the fourth post/text/verse I’ve read on the subject of letting God take control and placing my hope in him. Think He’s trying to tell me something?

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    1. Angie, those words from the pastor are POWERFUL. Perspective: it influences us greatly, doesn’t it? I love the picture of getting over the mountain with my perspective, or with God’s. I suspect looking to see how God will do it leaves us with a lot more peace than if we’re trying to do it all on our own.

      I’m grinning about the thought that God is speaking to you. I look forward to seeing/reading the lessons learned and how He works in/through these hope lessons.

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  6. Just what I needed to hear today, Jeanne! After a long season of waiting without an end in sight for a particular hope, there is now an end in view. So all of a sudden the threatening anxiety has shifted to how much needs to happen (that is up to the Lord!) before we arrive at that end in sight. Abstract worry to concrete worry. I’m not sure which is harder- but I’m remembering more clearly now that for God it’s not hard or impossible. And my hope is in Him, not in “getting through!” Thank YOU!

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    1. Bethany, thank you for sharing a bit of your life here! Isn’t it funny how we can always find a way to worry? I hadn’t put words to abstract and concrete worry, but I think you nailed it. I know that when God puts a plan into motion, He equips us to be able to walk it out. I love your final line about keeping your/our hope in HIM and not in the “getting through.” I need to remember that. thanks so much for stopping by, my friend!

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  7. Hope is not the closing of our eyes to risk, difficulty or failure. It is the trust that if a I fail now, I will not fail forever; if I am hurt, I shall be healed, that life is good, and love is powerful and I shall find myself and others and God. I wrote that when I was 16. 🙂 Still trying to live up to it! I think hope can be kept when not identifying ourselves as failures in the noun and staying in our true noun identity — as daughters of the Father, and sisters of Christ. You’re so loved in all your doing right now, all the writings and mothering…everything J!

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    1. Lynn, the perspective you held at 16 is pretty amazing. I like what you said about knowing our identity. A child of God. That’s what matters most. When we hope in Him with an understanding of who we are, of how He sees us (through eyes of love!), we can walk with a quiet confidence, our eyes on Him and hearts resting in Him, can’t we? Thank you for your encouragements, Lynn! I always appreciate your insights!

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  8. “When I place my hope in what God can do, I miss the reality of who He is.” I really need to remember this, Jeanne. Thank you. He is still sovereign. He has the power, but sometimes not answering our desire is better for us. Hard to take in though, isn’t it? Your writing here reaches many, my friend. Thank you for all the encouragement you give! Love and hugs to you!

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    1. Yes and amen, Trudy. When He doesn’t answer our desires, it’s for a better purpose . . . for us and for His glory. In the moment it’s definitely hard to take. Looking back though, how often can we see glimpses of what He was doing in those hardest of moments? Thank you so much for your encouragement, sweet friend!

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  9. Amazing how many of us seem to be on the same journey these days. God had me in Romans 4:18-20 talking about Abraham and Sarah. hope against hope Abraham believed.what God had promised. He did not doubt or waiver in unbelief concerning the promise of God. . . but then again there was Ishmael, Sometimes we get our own ideas of God’s ways and end up changing it’s diapers for longer still. Hmmm.

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    1. Mom, we are fickle, aren’t we? We have those seasons where our hope in God is unwavering. Solid. And then . . . we have those times where we step in, or we don’t trust His promise, His words . . . and we end up with something less/or more challenging than His plan A for us. It seems like a lot of hope comes down to knowing Who we trust. I appreciate your thoughts here today!

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  10. This is so good, Jeanne! I definitely relate to this- it’s hard when we believe God is leading us in a certain direction or has promised us a certain thing and then it doesn’t work out. It is so important to put our hope in who God is rather than in a particular outcome- I learned that through struggling with a friend’s illness and why God wasn’t healing her when I knew he could. It is a difficult, but important, choice to put our hope in God and accept his ways when we can’t understand why they are so different from ours.
    I’m glad you have kept writing despite feeling discouraged at times. I am always blessed by your posts. Praying that God will show you the way forward as you put your hope in him.

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    1. Lesley, I’m so glad this post encouraged you. It seems like there comes a time in every believer’s life when we must choose to trust, especially when God doesn’t go in the direction we thought/expected He would. Thank you for your kind words. For the record, I always enjoy your posts too, my friend.

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  11. You have hit on an area that seems to be difficult for me. It’s not that I don’t have hope-I tend to be a glass half full kind of person. It’s that I don’t always put that hope in God first. Seems easy enough, doesn’t it??

    These words really spoke to me. “Discouragement sets in when we aim for something we think God has promised us and we don’t receive it”. I can feel like I deserve certain things at times. But God gives us everything we need and more. We just need to trust him.

    Thank you for this series and for your gift of words.

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    1. Mary, I struggle with remembering to put my hope in God alone too. I get so wrapped up in how I think things should go, and of course God agrees . . . Doesn’t He?

      You’re so right. God does know what we need, and He is always faithful to give us what we need. If He hasn’t given it, then perhaps we don’t really need it? Yes, we need to trust Him. Always. Thanks for sharing your insights, my friend!

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    1. Thank you, Anita. Yes, I struggle at times with how different God’s ways are from the way I think they should be. 😉 We have to choose to trust who He is, regardless of what He does (or doesn’t) do, don’t we? I so appreciate you stopping by, my friend!

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  12. Dear Jeanne, I am really enjoying this series on choices. (An upcoming post of mine is linking back to yours.) Today’s is such a powerful distinction between do and is. I heard a pastor preach years ago that we begin to demonstrate spiritual maturity when we seek God’s face/is more than His hand/do. Thank you for this gentle reminder.XOXO

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    1. Thanks so much for your kind words and the link. I like the words your pastor shared on spiritual maturity. It makes a lot of sense because we should love God for who He is, not what He does. I appreciate you!

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  13. Dear Jeanne … thanks for talking about discouragement. It’s a frequent visitor and can easily recalibrate my thoughts and attitude in the most negative, defeatist ways. I’ve found that catching it early, calling it what it is, and choosing to praise {often outloud!!} are the remedies that are most effective.

    Worship takes my eyes off me and my endless self-absorption, and aims my focus and attention on Him alone! I’m becoming quicker to go there in this season.

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    1. Linda, I think we all deal with discouragement. Sometimes, I think we need to understand what could be at the root of it. Then, we can address it and realign our hearts. And I LOVE your suggestion to choose praise instead of focusing on discouragement! I ebb and flow in my practice of worshiping on my own. But like you, when I worship God, my spirit is lightened because the focus is off of me and on the One who loves me best. 😉

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    1. Yes, Christa, God’s ideas are always better than ours. Reminds me of Isaiah 55 where Isaiah says that God’s thoughts and ways are higher than ours. Thanks for the reminder that Godms line of sight and His creativity are limitless!

      Thanks so much for visiting, Christa!

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  14. Thank you for this, Jeanne. Discouragement isn’t often my biggest struggle but lately? I just feel stuck (I guess that’s the best way to put it). I’m finding comfort in the knowledge that God goes before me (Deut. 31:8) … that no matter how I feel (or don’t feel, as is the case right now), He is with me. And isn’t it wonderful to have examples in your life of how God worked everything out in ways that were so much better than what we could have concocted? 🙂 I’m so glad that you haven’t sensed a need to stop moving forward with the novel … I’m trusting with you that God will continue to direct your steps in all your writing endeavors. (Ever considered a non-fiction book? I’m guessing you have one of those in you somewhere!) Hugs, friend!

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    1. Lois, feeling “stuck” is such a hard place to be. I’ve found that sometimes, God has me stuck in a place, because He has something for me to learn, some healing to do, or some other reason. I find that I often chafe, become discouraged, and my thoughts can go into the wrong places.

      I’m thankful for your reminder that God goes before us. And, I’ve started working on a new story that I’m very excited about. 🙂 And yes, I’ve considered non-fiction. 😉 Just don’t know what it would be about yet.
      Thank you for your encouraging words, sweet friend!

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