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Life At Its Best: Don't let your past steal your present

By By Jim Graff
Dec. 6, 2013 at 6:06 a.m.

Jim Graff

"In all things, it's better to hope than to despair."

I think we'd all agree with this statement. No one wants to live in despair. However, when it comes to tough seasons, choosing hope is much more difficult than simply desiring it.

I experienced this firsthand in 1985. That year, I lost my dad, who was my biggest hero and best friend. Then months later, just before my wedding, my mom passed away.

It was a hard time. My siblings and I each handled the pain differently. Some threw themselves deeper into their careers, while others invested more time into their own families. My older sister had the hardest time overcoming the pain. She didn't know how to shake the discouragement she felt and eventually began to distance herself from her family.

Years later, we talked about that time, and she explained what kept her from moving forward. She said that after their death, she realized how many of her dreams would never become reality - dreams of our parents seeing her kids grow up or seeing the great mother she'd become.

These feelings carried over and began negatively affecting her relationship with her husband and kids. At the end of our conversation, she said, "Jim, I never realized that my past grief was stealing the present opportunity I had to make amazing memories for my own family."

When I thought about it, I realized how right she was and how easily we can find ourselves in that same place.

We all experience tough seasons. We lose loved ones. We miss opportunities. People say and do things that hurt us. When we're in the midst of painful circumstances, it's easy to allow discouragement to steal the dreams in our heart.

That pain has the potential to keep us from progress, but thankfully, there's a God who knows how to restore hope and bring life to broken dreams.

Hebrews 6:19 says, "We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure." We don't have to allow difficulties to throw us off course. Instead, we can allow God's hope to be the anchor of our lives, keeping us secure and steadfast through every season.

Living in light of God's hope starts with learning to fight discouragement. This requires us to fight wrong thoughts. The enemy knows if he can control our mind, he can control our actions. He'd love to make us think our situation is too hard or painful to keep moving forward. But we must identify and replace those thoughts with the truth of God's word.

Philippians 4:8 says, "Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely and admirable." When you're struggling with wrong thoughts, remind yourself of the truth of what God says about you and your future.

We also have to stay connected. You don't have to fight life's storms on your own. Surround yourself with godly friends and mentors who'll encourage you. Seek biblical wisdom from God's word. Let Him begin rebuilding hope in your heart today.

Jim Graff is the Senior Pastor of Faith Family Church in Victoria. Visit faithfamilyvictoria.com.

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