Written by Madeline Kalu
2020 is a year that many of us bade a cheerful farewell to.
The outbreak of the COVID-19 virus took away a normalcy that many of us had previously taken for granted, caused serious financial and socio-economic disruption, and challenged our hope for the future.
That advent of every new year is marked noticeably by a renewal of hope for a better future, a motivation to change, and a desire for new beginnings. Making New Year’s resolutions, like starting that new diet or taking up a new hobby, are just a few of the habits and mindsets that lay testimony to this.
However, with the arrival of 2021, our need for consolation that this year is going to be better than last year is more apparent than ever.
For that reason, we at Jacob’s Ladder have compiled a list of 18 Scriptures that we believe will encourage you and give you hope in 2021.
Note: Our Bible reference of choice is the NRSV, unless otherwise stated.
Isaiah 43:19–“I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”
1. Isaiah 43:19–“I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”
A desert or wilderness is a landscape that has long been exposed to unruly desolation. It can be associated with circumstances in our lives where we have experienced defeat, felt hopelessness, or endured failure.
However, where we see only a hopeless situation, God sees potential for change. He can reverse any arid landscape and cause waters to flow through it, returning dead vegetation to life and giving it a new beginning.
In 2021, God is going to revive situations in your life you assumed to be dead and re-open doors of opportunity and favor for you!
2. Jeremiah 29:11 – “For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.”
From before we were in the womb (Jeremiah 1:5), God knew us and had a good plan for our lives. This plan includes living a fulfilled life with eager anticipation for the future.
At times, through prayer and revelation, we may be blessed to gain an insight into what God’s plans for our individual lives may entail. However, for the most part, God does not reveal His intentions for us, so that we may continue to trust and rely on Him, and give Him glory, instead of giving ourselves credit for life’s victories.
What is important to remember is that God keeps His promises. Therefore, regardless of what adversity we may encounter, may it be a global pandemic, financial struggles, or health issues – God’s promise of provision, direction, and hope that He declares in Jeremiah 29:11 will prevail over everything else.
3. Psalm 118:24 – “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”
With the dawn of each new day, there is so much that we can be grateful to God for. First and foremost, He allowed us to wake up and be alive to see another day! This is a day that He has scheduled into your life timeline, and He has great and wonderful plans as to how you should spend it.
Your hope for a better future starts TODAY – with this day that the Lord has given you.
Therefore, instead of envisioning how much better things could be when this pandemic is over, or that you can start to enjoy life only after you have finished paying your bills, enjoy this day – with all its ups and downs – and appreciate the blessings that God has allowed you to experience in it.
2 Corinthians 5:17– “So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!”
4. 2 Corinthians 5:17– “So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!”
Once you have entered into a relationship with Jesus Christ, the old version of you is gone and instead, you have a new beginning as a Child of God.
As an extension, the earthly values, societal pressures, fear, and worry which used to oppress you are rendered insignificant in comparison to the values that God wishes His children to abide under, such as to love one another (1 John 4:7), to abide in peace (John 14:27) and to trust Him and rest whilst He fights our battles for us (Exodus 14:14).
5. Philippians 3:13-14 –“Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own, but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.”
The imagery presented in this Scripture of our lifespan being compared to running a race is an apt way of encouraging us to stop looking at the past and instead, focus our attention on God’s promises for the future.
Although 2020 was a difficult year for us, let us refuse to dwell in the past, and instead, ask God to direct our path towards reaching the goals He has set before us for 2021, which should include loving and helping others, and claiming His blessings over our lives.
6. Philippians 4:13 – “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”
This is such a beautiful Bible verse, as it claims the source of our strength and power – Jesus Christ.
Through the grace of Jesus, which we receive by faith, we are infused with an eternal source of energy, which He uses to charge us and rejuvenate us with.
Consequently, when we are confronted with a situation that would otherwise overwhelm us, we can instead rely on the power of Jesus Christ and be confident of victory through the assurance that comes from being backed up by the divine majesty of Christ.
Although the difficulties associated with the COVID-19 pandemic may have followed us into 2021, know that you can face them and other challenges that may come your way with a fully charged battery pack of Christ’s power!
Proverbs 23:18 – “Surely there is a future, and your hope will not be cut off.”
7. Proverbs 23:18 – “Surely there is a future, and your hope will not be cut off.”
When it comes to an assurance of hope for the future, there are few Bible verses that claim God’s promises on this subject more than this one.
I love this Scripture as it evokes an expectation of good things to come. I hope that it evokes in you an expectation for the good things that God has planned for you for 2021.
8. Psalm 20:4 – “May He grant you your heart’s desire, and fulfill all your plans.”
May the desires of our hearts be not of superficial or fleshly pursuits, but rather, may they be in accordance with the desires of God and that He may fulfill these plans for each and every one of us in 2021.
9. Isaiah 40:31 – “But those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”
Did you know that when an eagle encounters a storm, it determinedly flies into it? It uses the tempest to mount itself upward until it reaches the heights above the storm where the sun is.
The Hebrew translation for “mount up” is alah, which means “to go up over a boundary or to ascend.” Just as the eagle is equipped with the strength to ascend in triumph over the storm, so too, does God give strength to us when we seek Him, which enables us to triumph over our adversities.
Isaiah 65:17 – “For I am about to create new heavens and a new earth; the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind.”
10. Isaiah 65:17 – “For I am about to create new heavens and a new earth; the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind.”
In Genesis 1:1 it states that in the beginning, “God created the heavens and the earth.” God was pleased with His creation and deemed it “good”.
However, since the fall of Adam and Eve and their forced exit from the Garden of Eden in Genesis 3, earth has become an increasingly broken place, with one of the consequences being the onslaught of the COVID-19 virus.
In Isaiah 65:17, God promises that He will create new heavens and a new earth – He is making a clean slate. This doesn’t mean that He will annihilate our current existence, but it does mean that our Father is a God of new beginnings and that He will additionally heal us from the pain of the past.
11. Job 8:7 (CEV) – “Your future will be brighter by far than your past.”
What an encouraging Bible verse!
God keeps His promises, therefore we can enter 2021 with confidence, knowing that God will make this year better than the previous one.
Watch with wonder how God will take the small beginnings you made last year – at work, with new relationships, with health, and with your finances – and increase them exponentially.
Troubles that previously burdened you will have no effect on you, long-standing ailments and illnesses will be healed, and broken relationships will be repaired in Jesus’ name!
Just keep believing and keep walking in faith!
12. Ezekiel 36:26 – “A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you, and I will remove from your body the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.”
Have you noticed that the heart of man, in general, has become progressively colder, self-centered, and full of malice and hate?
In 2020, we experienced significant displays of these characteristics through the outbreaks of racial protest as a reaction to racial discrimination, racial profiling, and police violence.
Even our kids did not go through 2020 unscathed from discrimination and hate. Statistics from last year reveal that more kids around the world were falling prey to cyberbullying and the numbers are rising.
Is this truly the way we want to interact with each other?
Is this the kind of 2021 we want to experience as a global entity?
It doesn’t have to be. In Ezekiel 36:26, God offers to replace the cold and unyielding hearts of anyone who wishes to enter into a relationship with Him and to replace it with a cleansed and changed heart that is filled with the Spirit of God.
Lamentations 3:22-23 – “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”
13. Lamentations 3:22-23 – “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”
This is such a comforting Bible verse as it not only declares God’s everlasting love for us, but also His endless outpouring of mercy.
No matter how things were in the past for you in 2020, this is a new year, with fresh mercies that God provides you with every morning to confidently approach each day’s challenges, adventures, and discoveries.
14. Romans 8:31 – “What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us?”
In this Bible verse, the contrasting prepositions of “for” and “against” give a wonderful illustration of how God is always on our side and fights on our behalf.
Therefore, we need not become anxious or worry when a situation appears to be “against” us, as there is no power, person, or circumstance that is mightier than our Father who is “for” us!
15. Proverbs 3:5-6 – “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths.”
A friend once told me, that if she were to reject God and instead be completely self-reliant on making her way through life, she would not last even one day. Her life is fulfilled, she is full of peace and wisdom, and is a blessing to others as a result of her admitting that she needs God in her life. She trusts God with all her heart.
In the same way, God will guide your life in 2021, open doors that others have closed, give you spiritual revelation, and enable you to live a life of peace and joy, if you choose to put your trust in Him and not in yourself.
Psalm 40:3 – “He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord.”
16. Psalm 40:3 – “He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord.”
I love this Bible verse as it proclaims the joy, relief, and gratitude that the psalmist King David experiences after being delivered from a bleak, unbearable situation, which he describes as a “desolate pit, a miry bog” (Psalm 40:2).
Instead of leaving David to his miserable fate, God “set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure” (Psalm 40:2). In response to being freed and in gratitude for the new beginning he has been gifted, David opens his mouth in praise to God.
In 2021, God will also deliver you from the burdens, pain, and despair that weighed you down last year. When He does so, be like David, and audibly show God your gratitude by thanking Him and praising Him for His goodness and mercy!
When people see how God has rescued you from situations where a human solution was not possible, and you give Him all the glory for your deliverance, others will see that and also put their trust in God.
17. Ephesians 4:22-24 – “You were taught to put away your former way of life, your old self, corrupt and deluded by its lusts, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to clothe yourselves with the new self, created according to the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.”
The advent of a new year is a prime opportunity to renew yourself – to focus on new priorities, think more positively about yourself and others, and to gain a new perspective in your spiritual life, and become more intimate with God.
This year, make it a priority to focus less on what the world deems as important, and instead, aim to spend more time with God and His Word in order that you may grow spiritually, experience revelation, and be a blessing to others.
18. Matthew 7:7 – “Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you.”
This final Bible verse in our list summarizes with three verbs how we can greet 2021 with encouragement, hope, and faith in new beginnings:
Ask: God is not a fictitious figure who resides in Heaven on a golden throne, nor is He a cold-hearted harbinger of justice to hapless sinners on earth. God loves us and wishes to have a relationship with us. Just like a father loves a child, and will do anything to provide for him, so does God loves us and wish to look after us.
Therefore, do not be afraid to reverently ask God when you need His help. In Hebrews 4:16 it states that we can “approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
Seek: It’s a life-changing decision to enter a relationship with God, but it doesn’t end there. In order to spiritually grow and mature, we need to keep on seeking God’s face. This means, spending time in His Word, allotting time every day to just sit quietly and be in His presence and pray and worship Him.
The more time you spend in seeking God, the more intimate you will grow in your relationship with Him, which also includes hearing His voice better and trusting His ways over your own. If you do all this, you will have such revelation of His purpose over your life and He will lead you on paths of blessings and growth that you never deemed possible!
Knock: When we knock on a door, we are intentionally arousing the attention of the person on the other side, in order that he or she may open it. Knocking implies an earnest request to seek communication and an expectation that new possibilities are “literally” opening up for us.
In the same way, when God brings new opportunities our way in 2021, let us be open to receive them. It may require coming out of our comfort zone, it may be a bit scary, or even demand that we learn new skills or change our priorities. However, our lives will be all the more richer for it.
In fact, let us be proactive and work together with God to make the dreams and goals He has put on our hearts a reality this year. Start that online shop you’ve been meaning to open, form the online women’s church group that God has put on your heart. Donate to that charity you’ve been meaning to send money to.
Your boldness in being open to new opportunities will not only benefit you but will additionally help make this world a better place for everyone. So, start knocking!
If you found our selection of 18 New Year Bible verses encouraging, we have created a digital set of these Scriptures for you to download and print. They are available from our Etsy Shop “Faith Love Life Designs”.
Use these Bible verse cards for Bible study purposes, for memorizing Scripture, or to supplement your Bible journaling. They also make great inserts for greeting cards, books, packages, as well as serving as bookmarks. You can also stick these Scripture cards on your fridge, mirrors, frames, etc. around your home for additional encouragement.
To shop our set of 18 New Year Bible verse cards, click here.
Our 18 New Year Bible verse cards are also available in travel size.
We hope you enjoyed reading our article and are feeling encouraged and hopeful for what God will be doing in your life in 2021.
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From all of us at Jacob’s Ladder, we wish you a wonderful 2021 full of God’s peace, mercy, and love.
Stay safe and blessed,
Co-Founder of Jacob’s Ladder Blog
To shop our selection of Christian printable art, scriptures, prayers, and more, visit our Etsy shop at faithlovelifedesigns.etsy.com.
christianity.com, “Does Jeremiah 29:11 Have Meaning for Us Today?”, Glory Dy.
charismamag.com, “The Isaiah 43:19 Solution for Your Hopeless Situation”, Joyce Meyer.
dailyverse.knowing-jesus.com, “What Does Psalm 118:24 Mean?”
bibleref.com, “2 Corinthians 5:17 Parallel Verses“
biblehub.com, “Philippians 3:13-14“
studylight.org, “Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary – Philippians 4:13”
spiritmeat.net, “The Power of Expectation – Proverbs 23:18”
bestirrednotshaken.com, “Studying Psalm 20:4 – Our Heart’s Desire and Accomplishing Our Plans“
gotquestions.org, “What does it mean to mount up with wings like eagles?”
sermonwriter.com, “Biblical Commentary Isaiah 65:17-25”, Richard Niell Donovan.
desiringgod.org, “Today’s Mercies for Today’s Troubles”, John Piper.
studylight.org, “Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary Job 8:7“
comparitech.com, “Cyberbullying facts and statistics for 2020”, Sam Cook.
dailyverse.knowing-jesus.com, “What Does Ezekiel 36:26 Mean?”
thefellowship.site, “God is For Us – Romans 8:31-34”
biblehub.com, “Psalm 40:3“
desiringgod.org, “Put on the New Person”, John Piper.
Written by Madeline Kalu
I guess it’s safe to say that 2020 has been one of the most challenging years we have had to face, not only as individuals but as a global entity.
What with dealing with daily infection updates, feeling anxiety about the future, and adapting to the COVID lifestyle in general, we can easily overlook the times that God has blessed us with His goodness, mercy, and even miracles during this year.
King David wrote in Psalm 23:5 (NRSV) that the Lord “prepares a table before me in the presence of my enemies.” David knew that God’s goodness was always present, even amidst adversity and strife. By penning Psalm 23, David ensured a creative way of reminding himself of this important truth.
Therefore, as the year draws to a close, here are five creative ways that we, too, can remember God’s goodness in 2020.
1. Start a Gratitude Journal
“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
We don’t need to wait until the New Year arrives to start keeping a journal, especially one where we can record our gratitude as a response to God’s mercy and grace in our lives.
A gratitude journal is a great way of recording daily acts of God’s goodness, that can otherwise go unnoticed amidst the hectic and challenges of our current, pandemic lifestyle.
By reading regularly over our entries, we can gain revelation of just how much God showed us His love and provision this year in ways we didn’t perceive at the time.
2. Make a Miracle Jar
“He is the one you praise; he is your God, who performed for you those great and awesome wonders you saw with your own eyes.”
My husband and l like to use a Miracle Jar to remember the times that God brought us extraordinary favor and provision – divine miracles – that we could never conceive as humanly possibly.
We take a large glass jar and write down all of God’s miracles that we experience on pieces of paper and store them in the jar. Then, as a family, we regularly read each slip of paper aloud and give thanks for each wonderous act of God’s goodness.
Having our Miracle Jar has made my husband and l aware of just how much God intervened on our behalf in 2020, when we didn’t see a way out of situations in our own strength.
You may ask what the difference is between a Gratitude Journal and a Miracle Jar?
We record daily acts of God’s goodness in our Gratitude journal e.g. restful sleep, the encouraging conversations with people we met that day, or that God left that last jar of pesto on the supermarket shelf for me when l really wanted pesto!
In our Miracle Jar, we have recorded acts of blessings such as financial provision, healing from sickness and pain, successful exam results, and more.
3. Keep a Prayer journal
“Do not worry about anything, but in everything, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.”
Keeping a prayer journal not only helps you keep track of your prayer lists and requests, it is also a wonderful way to remember God’s blessed responses to your petitions.
I personally like to dedicate a double page in my prayer journal for each spiritual request. On the left-hand side of the double page l write down the date, who l am praying for, and what their needs are. Sometimes, l even write a formal prayer that l can read out loud during my quiet time with the Lord.
When God provides an answer to my prayer, l record His response on the right-hand side of the double page, including the date when my prayer was answered.
Being able to see my written prayer petitions and how God answered them on the same page makes it easier for me to read over former entries and appreciate how God heard me in my time of need and answered my prayers.
It also encourages me that God will answer my remaining prayers, which motivates me to keep on praying until l see a change!
4. Keep God’s Word as a visual reminder
“..but their delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on His law they meditate day and night.
The most effective way to remember the blessings and favor that God promises us in His Word is to keep Scripture constantly before us as a visual reminder.
To help you achieve this, print the Bible verses that speak the most to you about God’s goodness, frame them, and hang them in your home as wall art.
Alternatively, you can cut out your favorite Bible verses and paste them in a Scripture scrapbook or write them out by hand.
Whatever method you choose, the most important thing is that we read our chosen Bible verses regularly to remind ourselves of God’s love and mercy towards us.
5. Be a Living Reminder For Others
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.
In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”
What better way to remember all the ways that God came through for you this year, than by showing the love and mercy of Jesus Christ to others?
If God has blessed you with mobility and health, then consider helping your elderly or sick neighbors by offering to do their shopping for them. Ring a friend, who is experiencing difficulty as a consequence of the COVID-19 and let them know you’re there for them. If you see a homeless person on the streets, why not buy them a cup of coffee or a sandwich?
You can even get your kids involved by encouraging them to write letters to the inhabitants of senior citizen homes, which will help them feel less isolated.
In such unprecedented times, there are many who desperately need to know the saving grace of Jesus Christ. Shine His light that lives within you and illuminate this dark and broken world!
Although 2020 is a year that most of us are happy to put behind us, let us not forget that this has also been a year where God has shown us some of His biggest blessings and has provided for us in ways that seemed otherwise impossible.
Like the Israelites, who in Joshua 4:1-7 set up 12 memorial stones from the River Jordan as a unique reminder of God’s provision and favor during their greatest period of adversity, so too, can we remember that God is always good, and that neither a virus, nor the associated adversity arising from it can keep us away from His love, nor can it prevent us from receiving His goodness and mercy!
Written by Madeline Kalu
When news of the global spread of the COVID-19 virus broke at the beginning of this year, l was concerned. Though human civilization has been subjected to numerous epidemics and pandemics throughout history, it still came as a shock to me that we would experience the spread of a virus in such vast proportions in our lifetime. I’m sure you can all relate with me.
2020 has been the year that has taught us how to act and react. It started with living the lockdown life and progressed into the summer months, with travel restrictions, mandatory testing, and increased infection rates as a consequence of summer tourism.
Now, for those like me who live in the northern hemisphere, the winter season is approaching and with it, a growing trepidation of the effects of the Coronavirus on the population during the colder months.
After ten months of living the COVID-19 life, l for one, have become weary. I’m tired of feeling anxious for my health and that of my loved ones, l’m desperate for church fellowship, and l yearn for some semblance of normalcy again.
I need a refresher, a pick-me-up. I need to know that l can lay down my weary soul and find rest and comfort. And the only One l know, who can provide me with all of that is God.
Spending time with Him in His word, talking to Him through prayer and supplication is the Balm of Gilead that l need to feel strengthened and renewed.
If your soul too, is weary and down-trodden from the effects and consequences of the COVID-19 virus, l hope that the following three prayers inspired by the Bible verses Matthew 11:28 (NRSV), Psalm 23:1-3, and Isaiah 40:31 ease your tired soul and refresh you with renewed energy and strength.
God offers rest to the weary
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give
This Bible verse gives me so much comfort. It means that when l tense up about COVID regulations and worn down by anxiety about the future, l can take my burdens to God and He will give me rest.
If you, like me, are in dire need of rest, l hope that the following prayer encourages you to cast your burdens on God and rest in His presence:
God refreshes our souls
“The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
He leads me beside quiet waters,
He refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for His name’s sake.”
In this psalm, King David draws a parallel from his own experience of tending his father’s flock, to describe how God is his personal shepherd, who provides for him, establishes his path, and offers his soul rest and refreshment.
God is indeed the good shepherd who will always prioritize the well-being of us, His sheep.
If you too, like me, need God to guide you to rest in His presence and refresh your soul, l hope that the following prayer encourages you:
God renews our strength
“But those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.”
I don’t know why the world has been afflicted by the COVID-19 virus, but l do know that my hope lies in God to heal those infected, and to provide a vaccine and even a cure against future Coronavirus pandemics.
How God will do this, l don’t know, but just having hope in Him and believing in His goodness and mercy renews my strength to keep dealing with restrictions, social distancing, and regular testing, because l know that God is working in our current global situation.
I hope that the following prayer fills you with hope and that you experience a renewal of God’s strength:
God sees the toll that this current pandemic is having upon us. Therefore, while He sorts out this global situation with His perfect timing, let us answer His call to comfort us; let us rest our weary souls in His loving embrace and be refreshed and restored by His mercy and spiritual power.
Madeline Kalu is a Christian writer and the co-founder of Jacob’s Ladder Blog. She was born in England, was raised in Australia, and currently lives in Germany with her husband, Solomon.
Madeline is in recovery from burnout, chronic depression, and anxiety. She believes that God can take life’s adversities and work them out for His good; hence, she uses her writing voice to raise awareness of mental illness, as well as to spread the light of God’s love to those who are mentally trapped in the dark, and provide them with hope and encouragement.
Written by Madeline Kalu
At Jacob’s Ladder, we believe that having good mental health is important for everyone, especially during the current COVID-19 pandemic.
Statistics show that more people are suffering from depression, fear, and anxiety as a result of a change in their financial situation, the risk of infection, and the drastic change to their everyday existence as a result of self-quarantine and lockdown procedures.
For that reason, we have made a list of 10 tips to help you look after your mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic.
1.ESTABLISH AND MAINTAIN A ROUTINE
Work out a daily routine with set times for getting up, doing sport, meal times, and going to bed.
Build up your daily routine my making a routine for the entire week.
As part of your weekly routine, factor in chores like grocery shopping and even date nights and family evenings.
2. BE ACTIVE
Regular physical activity improves your mood and concentration, it reduces stress and depression, and improves the quality of your sleep.
Do some form of exercise at least 3 times a week for a minimum of 20 minutes.
To hold yourself accountable, work out with a member of your family, or if lockdown procedures allow it, meet up with a friend for a walk, jog, or even a bike ride in the park.
3. HAPPY GUT, HAPPY LIFE
Your gut produces 95% of your body’s serotonin, the happy hormone.
Therefore, eat healthy foods like grains, fruits, vegetables, and proteins to help keep you emotionally stable.
Replace sugary drinks with water, and reduce your alcohol consumption.
4. ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR FEELINGS
It’s ok to feel anxious, fearful, and even angry about the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects.
However, try and not let your emotions dictate your mood.
If emotional turmoil is shredding your nerves and stealing your joy, tell God about it, and ask Him to give you the strength to deal with what is bothering you.
Also, confiding in your spouse, a member of your family, or even a close friend will help release some of the emotional tension you’re feeling.
Too many times we keep our emotions bottled in,which can lead not only to mental disorders, but it can also result in physical ailments such as headaches, back pain, ulcers, and poor sleep quality.
5. LIMIT YOUR NEWS CONSUMPTION
Scouring the news for every latest update regarding the COVID-19 virus is not only going to increase your anxiety, it will also waste your time and prevent you from living your life.
It is definitely sensible to be informed, but don’t overdo it!
6. SPEND TIME WITH GOD
If worry, anxiety, and fears regarding your welfare and the future of you and your family are affecting your peace of mind, turn to God and cast your mental burdens on Him.
His promises of love, grace, protection, and provision will comfort you and give you hope.
Make it a part of your daily routine to spend time with God. Treat that time as “you” time and don’t let anyone disrupt you.
This could mean that you may need to get up slightly earlier than usual or wait until your family goes to bed in order to have your quiet time with God.
7. AVOID “WHAT IF?” IF QUESTIONS
Try to avoid postulating and procrastinating about the future: It’s only going to increase your stress levels and rob you of today’s joy.
8. DO SOMETHING KIND FOR OTHERS
Doing something kind for others will distract you from your own problems and enrich someone in need.
It will also help you to appreciate what you may take for granted e.g. mobility, family.
You can help others by offering to do grocery shopping for a neighbor, who is elderly or sick. Arrange to drop your purchases at the door to maintain social distancing.
You can also offer to donate blood, help out in a soup kitchen, a food bank, a kindergarten, an animal rescue station, or ask your local hospital if they need volunteers.
Financial donations are always welcome during this period of economic uncertainty.
Some countries also offer initiatives to train people online to become digital counselors.
The current pandemic has left many feeling cut-off from the rest of the world.
If lockdown measures prevent you from meeting up with family and friends, give them a call, or organize a Skype or Zoom meeting.
Otherwise, arrange to meet a friend in the park and go for a walk together. If restaurants are opening up again in your area, organize a coffee date or go out for a meal.
10. BE GRATEFUL
Show God gratitude by thanking Him for all the wonder things he does for you – no matter how small.
Practicing gratitude will replace negative thoughts, boost your morale, and give you revelation of how much God blesses your life.
Our family keeps a “Miracle Book”, where we write down all the miraculous and wonderful things that God does in our lives. When l find myself getting anxious, or having depressive thoughts, l read over some of our prior entries and feel comforted and reassured of God’s love, faithfulness, and provision.
Maybe you could try keeping a “Miracle Book” as well. You could also use a “Miracle Jar” and record your writings on strips of paper.
Also, try writing down three great things every day that God has done for you that day.
We hope you found our 10 tips on how you can look after your mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic useful, and that you enjoyed our video as well!
Happy mental health, everyone!
Written by Madeline Kalu
I first discovered vision boards through a series of YouTube videos from Terri Savelle Foy on the subject. For those of you who may not know her, Terri Savelle Foy is a Christian motivational speaker and life coach.
Listening to Terri’s testimonies on how she used vision boards to realize her goals, motivated me to find out how vision boards could help me achieve mine.
Therefore, l went up to my attic early last year and found an old corkboard that was standing forgotten in the corner. I cut out the letters “Vision” and pasted photos of the dreams and goals l wanted to achieve for that year; accompanied by each photo l wrote a declaration of achievement such as “I will have an article published by Crosswalk.com this year”.
Did it work?
Not only did Crosswalk.com publish an article l wrote, but l was also approached by Christianity.com to write an article for them. Consequently, I have been writing for both online magazines for about nine months now. Additionally, l was asked this month to become part of the writing team for YMI Magazine.
Vision boards work, and l am not the only one who thinks so: Christian Celebrities such as Steve Harvey and Adrienne Houghton claim that using vision boards helped them achieve their dreams and goals.
What is a vision board?
So, what is a vision board?
A vision board, otherwise known as a dream board, is a visualization tool that uses selected collages and verbal incentives on a board that act to clarify your dreams and goals, as well as keep you motivated and focused to achieve them.
Why do vision boards work?
Vision boards work as they:
- help you identify and specify the dreams and goals you want to achieve
- keep you motivated to make these dreams and goals a reality
- are a constant visual reminder of your intentions to improve your life
Do l need to use a board to visualize my dreams and goals?
Having a vision board hung in a prominent position in your home or your office is an effective way to self-motivate and keep your attention on your intentions.
However, a vision board doesn’t have to be made out of corkboard for it to be effective.
You can also create your own unique digital vision boards. Online tools such as PicMonkey and Canva enable you to create beautiful vision boards that you can store on your desktop or device, or download onto your phone.
You can also use Pinterest to create a board and “pin” photos, images, scriptures, and inspirational quotes on it.
The advantage of a digital vision board is that you can motivate yourself whenever and wherever you want to: at work, at the gym, or in the doctor’s waiting room. You can even re-focus on your life goals by referring to your vision board while you wait in the supermarket queue!
Whatever way you choose to design your board, the main thing to consider is that it should be kept in a place where you have constant visual access to it.
Are vision boards biblical?
It is a common assumption that vision boards work on the principle of the law of attraction, that is, that your mind works like a magnet to attract positive or negative things into your life, according to your mindset.
However, the Bible states that we attract what we think:
“For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.”
Proverbs 23:7 (AMP)
God advocates the necessity of having a vision – a revelation over our lives. Look at Proverbs 29:18:
“Where there is no vision [no revelation of God and His word], the people are unrestrained.”
The key point to note here is that vision and revelation should come from God and His Word.
Furthermore, in Habakkuk 2:2, it states that we should write down our visions and revelations:
‘“Then the LORD answered me and said, “Write the vision and engrave it plainly on (clay) tablets so that the ones who reads it will run.”’
Though some argue that vision boards center around the self through the pursuit of one’s own interests, a vision board can actually be an effective tool to visualize the dreams and goals that God has put in your heart, if the fulfilment of His will is our incentive, and not our self-interest.
In order to achieve this, we need to seek God’s presence through supplication and prayer and keep Him as our first priority.
Is it superficial or materialistic of me, if l want to improve the quality of my life?
A desire to increase one’s personal wealth and acquire material possessions is a common association that is made when we approach the topic of making goals and achieving our dreams. And that is understandable, as we live in a broken world, whose value system is based on self-interest, materialism, and superficiality.
God is not at the center of such pursuits.
However, what if you had an ardent wish to be healed of a terminal illness? Or to heal a deep rift in your family? What if your biggest dream was to have a baby?
You may also be very unhappy with your current job situation, or you would love to start your own Christian ministry.
Would you seek God in prayer and ask Him to help make such matters of the heart a reality?
Yes, you would.
Dreams and goals do not have to be necessarily financially or materialistically orientated.
That being said, that doesn’t mean that we can’t ask God to help make our financial ambitions a reality.
Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross of Calvary was not only to pay the bond price for our sins and thereby secure us an eternal position at His side in Heaven. Jesus also came that we may have a fruitful life during our time on earth:
“The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance [to the full, till it overflows].”
What remains important is that our dreams and goals are in keeping with God’s will for our lives. Therefore, staying in constant communication with God through seeking His presence in prayer and in our quiet time with Him should be our first priority, not only as goal makers, but as Christians too.
What is the difference between a dream and a goal?
A dream is an aspiration that has set itself in your heart. It is a vision you have of your future self – a healthier, happier, fulfilled self. You yearn for it and think about it on a regular basis; you hope and even believe it will happen, but you’re not sure when.
And that’s good, because we can turn our dreams into goals.
By attaching a deadline to them.
A goal is a dream with a projected timeline. Goals are something you act upon. It requires a plan to make them a reality.
What are the most common dreams and goals that people aspire to?
The following is a chart that depicts the most common dreams and goals that people want to achieve:
What you will need to create your own vision board for 2020
So, now that you know what a vision board is and how it can help you manifest your dreams and goals, you’ve decided that you would like to take the plunge and create your own vision board.
First of all, spend some time in prayer and ask God for revelation of the dreams and goals He has put in your heart. Have a notebook with you in order that you can write down your thoughts and dreams as God reveals them to you.
After you have determined your dreams and goals, it’s time to put them onto your board!
Here’s what you need to get started:
A board: A corkboard is ideal to use as a vision board, because you can pin your dreams and goals on them and then take them off easily and replace them with new ones. However, you can also use a whiteboard, a poster board, or a flip chart if you prefer.
Pictures: Use pictures that graphically describe the dream or goal you want to achieve. Pin or glue your pictures next to the dreams and goals you write on your board. For example, if you are believing God for a baby, find pictures of baby clothing, a nursery, and a crib and paste it next to your goal.
You can find pictures online, in magazines, or in brochures. You can even use postcards and pamphlets. Alternatively, you can create your own pictures digitally or draw them freehand.
Adhesive: Use map pins, drawing pins, sellotape, double-sided tape, or glue to adhere everything onto your vision board.
Writing implements: Write your goals on your board with permanent markers, whiteboard pens, or other pens of your choice. You can even cut out letters from magazines or use letter stencils.
What else you will need:
- paper or card to write your goals on
If you would like a step-by-step tutorial on how to create your own vision board, click here to watch Terri Savelle Foy’s YouTube video on how she sets up her own vision board.
Customize your vision board:
The beauty of a vision board is that you can customize it to suit your tastes and preferences.
The following are some ideas on how you can customize your vision board:
Additionally, you can decorate your vision board according to your tastes with the following:
- Washi tape
- Ribbons and colorful bands
I know that this feels like a kickback to your childhood, when you made your own poster presentations, but you’ll be amazed at how your visionary mindset is ignited once you get your creative juices flowing.
You can also purchase vision board kits that provide you with printables such as scriptures, quotations, and affirmations with which you can customize your vision board.
However you decide to design you board is up to you. Don’t worry if it doesn’t look perfect; you’re creating a visualization tool, you’re not trying to be the next Picasso. Just have fun being creative!
Make the most out of your 2020 vision board
The following are some tips to help you make the most of your 2020 vision board:
Make specific goals
If you make unspecific goals, you are going to achieve unspecific results. Therefore, instead of writing on your vision board “I want to lose weight this year”, write down, “I will lose 10 pounds by July 1st”. Instead of writing, “I want to spend more time with God”, you can write, “I will get up 20 minutes earlier every morning and pray and have fellowship with God”.
Additionally, another way you can set specific goals is to do some research and find out exactly what you need to do to achieve your goals.
For example, if your goal is to come of out debt in 2020, ring your bank and find out how much you actually owe. Then write that number on your vision board. If your dream is to save up for a holiday, research how much the plane fares, hire car etc. are going to cost you so that you can have that number in front of you every time you look at your vision board.
Don’t set more than 10 goals
Setting too many goals can cause us to lose focus and it can also overwhelm us. Therefore, choose 10 goals to place on your vision board and concentrate on achieving them. Every time you reach one of those ten goals, you can always replace it with a new one.
As we established earlier, the difference between a dream and turning it into a goal that you intend to achieve, is by setting a deadline.
A good tip is not to set all your deadlines for December 31st, as the time span between now and then is so long, that you won’t be motivated to start achieving your goals until the end of this year, thereby putting yourself under unnecessary pressure. Making different deadlines will help you manage your goal setting and give you a sense of accomplishment as you tick each goal off as you progress through the year.
If you don’t achieve your goal by the set deadline, don’t worry – just make a new deadline and keep striving towards making your goals a reality. The main thing is to complete the race and claim the prize; it doesn’t matter how long it takes to cross over the finish line.
Make your deadlines realistic
An acquaintance of mine has a goal to read 52 motivational books by the end of this year. That is certainly an admirable intention, but that means he has to read an average of 1 book a week, which puts a lot of pressure on him.
However, what if he was to make a goal of reading 12 books a year? It’s a lot less than 52, but it means that he can read one book a month. And to have read 12 books in one year is still an achievement, isn’t it?
Additionally, break down your goals into smaller, doable increments. Having a goal to read 12 books in one year still sounds like a lot of discipline is required. However, when you see that it means that you only need to read one book a month, then that reading goal suddenly seems more feasible to achieve.
Another good tip, if you are making a vision board for the first time, is to make goals that you can see yourself achieving within 12-18 months; that way you can achieve a sense of accomplishment within a shorter period of time that will motivate you to pin further dreams and goals onto your vision board.
Keep your vision board visible
Now that you have made your vision board, you want to keep the goals and dreams that you intend to achieve at the forefront of your mind. Looking at your vision board daily will constantly remind you of how you want to change your life for the better; if your vision board is out of your direct sight, the desire for change will lose importance for you.
Hence, hang your board in a place that you have daily access to, such as your kitchen, or next to your bathroom sink.
If you have a digital vision board, save it onto your computer desktop or use it as your phone’s screensaver.
Pray over your vision board
On a daily basis, stand in front of your board and pray for God’s will, favor, and guidance for each of your dreams and goals.
We may have great plans for our life, but God always knows what is best for us; therefore, we should lean on Him and trust Him to guide our steps for the outcomes He believes will best serve us.
“A man’s mind plans his way [as he journeys through life],
But the Lord directs his steps and establishes them.”
Speak positive declarations over your dreams and visions
In Joshua 6:20, the Israelites shouted in victory before they saw the walls of the city of Jericho fall down. In Acts 16:22-26, Paul and Silas praised God whilst fettered in prison chains before He freed them. In 2 Chronicles 20:20-24, King Jehoshaphat and the Israelites danced and praised the Lord in victory, as they saw a triune of enemy forces approach them.
There is tremendous spiritual power that is released when you declare your dreams and goals to be achieved before you have even seen them manifest. You are also showing God that you trust Him to fulfil the plans and promises He has spoken over you.
‘ Say to them, “As I live,” says the Lord, “just what you have spoken in My hearing I will most certainly do to you.”‘
Therefore, declare your dreams and visions aloud in the present tense e.g. “My dream start-up is up and running”, “I am a mother”, “I am healed of anxiety and depression”, “My ministry reaches millions and gives them hope in Christ”. By speaking in the present tense, you are declaring that you see your intentions becoming a reality now, and not sometime in the vague distance future.
To assist you in speaking positive declarations over your God-inspired dreams and goals, you can pin positive Christian affirmations on your vision board and read them aloud.
Update your vision board yearly
Even if you have not reached your goals by the year’s end, make a new vision board at the start of every year.
You can always carry over your unfinished goals onto your new board; however, add some fresh dreams and goals as well, in order to motivate and encourage you to live the best life that God wants you to live.
Spread the vision
Encourage your family and loved ones to make their own vision boards and thereby bring the dreams and goals that God has put on their hearts to fulfilment.
You and a friend could also sit down with a cup of coffee and some baked treats and make an afternoon of it creating your own vision boards.
Better still, invite your family, neighbors, and even your colleagues over for a vision board party! If you would like ideas on how to host your own vision board party, click here.
Teach your children how to set their own goals through vision boards
A vision board is also a great tool to teach kids and adolescents goal setting; additionally, reaching their goals will give kids such a sense of accomplishment and improve their self-confidence.
There are also great vision board kits for children that provide colorful and fun materials that will engage your child and motivate them to create their own vision board.
Vision boards are a great tool to help you achieve the dreams and goals that God has placed on your heart.
We hope you enjoy creating your own vision board with the information you learned from this article. Feel free to share your designs and achievements with us in the comment section below!
With many blessings,
Madeline Kalu is a Christian writer and the co-founder of Jacob’s Ladder Blog. She was born in England, was raised in Australia, and currently lives in Germany with her husband Solomon. Madeline is in recovery from burnout, chronic depression, and anxiety. She believes that God can take life’s adversities and work them out for His good; hence, she uses her writing voice to raise awareness of mental illness, as well as to spread the light of God’s love to those who are mentally trapped in the dark, and provide them with hope and encouragement.
Written by Madeline Kalu
Three years ago, l entered a dry season regarding my health. Until that time, l had been a private school teacher for 14 years. I had worked 75 hours a week, including on the weekends and during school holidays, until my body and my mind gave out and l had a breakdown. Consequently, l was diagnosed with burnout and depression and had to resign.
During the first weeks of my convalescence, l was optimistic that with a bit of rest l would soon get back on my feet. However, as time has passed, it is evident that the damage to my health is greater than what l had initially realized.
Completing everyday tasks overwhelm me. I get panic attacks in open spaces and have therefore been diagnosed with agoraphobia. Severe headaches leave me bedridden, and l experience stabbing pains in my left arm. I fall into deep pits of depression that last for weeks, and l have become a social recluse.
Although l regularly seek the advice of a psychotherapist and other medical experts, l believe ultimately in the power of God to heal. Thus, through prayer and thanksgiving, l lay out my petition of a full recovery to God (Philipians 4:6) every day. However, it’s like the sky over my head is made out of bronze (Deuteronomy 28:23), because l can see only a little improvement in my health.
Jesus says in John 10:10 that He has come in order that we may enjoy life until it overflows, so l just don’t understand why God isn’t healing me. In my darkest moments, l even despair whether l will ever experience what it feels to enjoy a healthy, joy-filled life.
However, after much struggling and griping, I have come to realize that God is using this journey in the wilderness to teach me to completely trust and rely on Him, because l can’t recover unless l put my absolute faith in Him.
Here are three ways that God is using my current dry season to strengthen my faith:
Praise God before you see a breakthrough
When l feel afraid or fall into a miry pit of depression, l raise my hands and thank God for healing that l haven’t seen manifest yet. The effects are instantaneous: My spirits lift, and l feel a sense of peace wash over me. I remember that God is in control, as l keep my eyes on Him and not on my circumstances.
To emphasize the importance of praising Him before a breakthrough, I believe that God has been showing me the spiritual foundations behind the Israelite’s victory over the fortress city of Jericho in Joshua 6.
I find it amazing how the Israelites, commanded by Joshua, shouted before the walls of Jericho fell down: This took more faith than shouting in jubilation after they had seen God give them the city (Joshua 6:16). I admire how the Israelite’s believed that God had given them victory over their enemies before they actually saw it.
This season has taught me that words have power. If l voice my praise to God preceding a victorious recovery, l know that my words shall not return to me void, but shall accomplish the purpose of reviving my health (Isaiah 55:11).
Get to know God by studying the Word
During this dry season, there have been times when l have wandered around aimlessly as the Israelites did in the desert. I was confused and doubtful as to whether my circumstances would ever change. Like Job, l felt that God had left me alone to fend for myself (Job 23:8-9).
However, God has been with me the entire time in this arid wilderness: My mind and heart just weren’t attuned to hear His voice. Thus, instead of hoping for rain, l had to dig deep inside myself and ask Jesus to stir up His living waters in me (John 4:14).
Studying the Bible has been a revelation for me: It’s been like discovering a Get-to-know-God manual (2 Tim 3:16). Through His Word, God gives me courage when l am afraid (Isaiah 41:10), strength when l am weak (Isaiah 40:29), and corrects me when l mess up (Hebrews 4:12). On days when l feel disheartened, God meets me where l am (Matthew 11:28).
Knowing the Word helps me realize that l am fearfully and wonderfully made in Christ and that l shouldn’t believe the lies of the enemy that say otherwise (John 8:44).
A dry season is an opportunity to grow spiritually
Last summer, l started working out at the gym. At first, l found it strenuous, and my body felt stiff and sore after every workout. Nowadays, my body is accustomed to the physical exertion, and l can see muscle definition forming.
Similarly, l feel like God is using this dry season to grow my spiritual muscles. When l get a panic attack or become depressed, l am learning to hand the situation over to God, instead of allowing it to overwhelm me.
Though it’s hard, l appreciate that God is using affliction to purify me of emotions that aren’t serving me, such as fear (Isaiah 48:10). I believe that God wants me to start a writing ministry, and is using this time to build up my resilience to tackle future trials and teach me obedience as preparation for His promotion.
When l first became sick, l was convinced that this trial was designed to fail me. However, the further l push through this season, the more l see God cheering me on, as l learn to seek His face. Through this process, He has renewed my fallen spirit, given me a heart that is hungry for Him, and changed my mindset from that of a victim to that of a victor.
If you are experiencing a dry season right now, let me encourage you that your time in the wilderness is a temporary layover, it is not your final destination. Stay the course, keep your eyes on God and ask Him to show you what you need to learn from Him to move on through. On the other side of your trials lies the Promised Land, with all the blessings for your life that God has planned for you.
You’re going to make it!
This article was first published on YMI Magazine on the 11th February 2019.
Written by Madeline Kalu
Two months ago, l felt like l experienced a breakthrough in my 3-year convalescence from burnout and depression.
I was trying to fall asleep when l felt like my head opened up, and all the heavy, dark thoughts and anxiety came out and drifted upwards. It was like l was handing all of them over to God. I remember thinking, “Papa, l think you’ve healed me!” Shortly afterwards, l fell into a deep, restorative sleep.
Unfortunately, my recovery only lasted for about two days. The depression and anxiety returned, and God’s presence, which l had felt so intensely that night, remains but a beautiful memory for me now.
“Where is God?” l have been asking myself since my heavenly encounter. “Why does He feel so far away?”
If you’re like me, and you’re feeling like God is maintaining radio silence, l hope that these 9 tips will give you encouragement that God is very near – in fact, He’s closer to you than you think.
God is close to the broken-hearted
“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted,
and saves the crushed in spirit. ”
We have all encountered sorrow and loss at some point in our lives, may it be a family estrangement, receiving a negative doctor’s report, or the passing away of a loved one. It’s a heartbreaking process to go through.
God’s empathy for our heartache is demonstrated through His Son. When Jesus first began His ministry, He stated that the Lord had sent Him “to bind up the broken-hearted” (Isaiah 61:1).
Jesus Himself experienced great sorrow on earth. His feelings upon hearing of the death of His friend Lazarus are demonstrated with two words – “Jesus wept” (John 11.35 NIV).
Furthermore, knowing that His moment of sacrifice was nigh, Jesus said to three of His disciples in the garden of Gethsemane, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death” (Mark 14:34 NIV).
In addition to His own personal experiences, Jesus showed compassion for those who suffered, through His many acts of healing.
God promises to never fail us, nor forsake us
‘ “Be strong and bold; have no fear or dread of them, because it is the Lord your God who goes with you; he will not fail you or forsake you.” ‘
It is repeated throughout the Bible that God will never leave us to fend for ourselves.
Therefore, when it feels like God is far away and we’re feeling vulnerable and alone, God is actually right there with us, protecting us and keeping us safe in the midst of what we are going through.
God will not let anyone or anything harm us, and He will not leave us to face difficult times on our own – that is His promise to us.
God’s assurances that He is with us are reflected in His names
‘ “Therefore I am surely going to teach them, this time I am going to teach them my power and my might, and they shall know that my name is the Lord.” ‘
God is known by many names in the Bible. Here are a few that apply directly to His character:
- Yahweh, meaning “The Lord” (Genesis 2:4)
- Abba, meaning “Father” (Mark 14:36)
- Jehovah Rapha, meaning “The God who heals” (Psalm 147: 3)
- Jehovah Jireh, meaning “The Lord will provide” (Genesis 22:14)
- Jehovah Nissi, meaning “The Lord is my banner” (Exodus 17:15)
- Jehovah Shalom, meaning “The Lord is peace” (Judges 6:24)
If you would like to learn more about the names of God and the relevance of their meanings for us today, then click here to read our article on this topic.
God’s many names reflect an assurance that He is always with us. They bear a promise that God will always protect us and provide for us. He is not only the Lord God Almighty, He is our Father, who loves us and brings us peace.
God is working behind the scenes
‘At the seventh time he said, “Look, a little cloud no bigger than a person’s hand is rising out of the sea.”’
Sometimes, we feel like God is far away because we don’t see a change in our situation or an answer to our prayers. In such times, God is actually behind the scenes, working in our circumstances.
This was the case for Elijah in 1 Kings 18. After three years of famine in Samaria, the prophet told King Ahab to expect an abundance of rain. However, despite Elijah sending his servant six times to check for signs of precipitation on Mount Carmel, not one drop was to be seen.
Though it looked like nothing was happening, God was sending a cloud as small as a man’s hand out of the sea towards Samaria. Only after Elisha’s servant checked a seventh time, did he see a visible manifestation of God’s promise of rain.
God wants to test your faith
“Because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance; and let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing.”
The Greek transliteration of the word “test” in the scriptures is peirasmós, which means a trial or a proving. When we feel like God isn’t near, it is actually when He is closest to us; His apparent absence can be a test designed to strengthen our faith.
How can that be?
Testing is associated with purification – to cleanse out those things that aren’t serving us and produce perseverance by strengthening our belief that God is greater than any adversity we face (1 Peter 1:7).
Testing is designed to bear fruit by bringing us up to a mature level of faith. For that reason, James assures us that “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him” (James 1:12).
God adheres to His own schedule, not ours
‘ “It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority.” ‘
TV evangelist and author Joyce Meyers once quoted, “God is never late, but generally He isn’t early either.”
The omnipotent power of God transcends space and time. Whereas we have plans that we want to achieve during our short visit on this earth, God’s agenda spans all of eternity.
God’s schedule runs differently to ours, so when we wonder why He isn’t responding to our requests, prayers, and petitions, His assumed distance can only mean He is sorting things out in His own perfect timing.
God makes a clear declaration that He is with us
” Do not fear, for I am with you,
do not be afraid, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.”
When thoughts and emotions start to rise to the surface that God is far away, His Word assures us with bold declarations that He is always with us and that we should not fear, neither should we be dismayed.
In Psalm 46:1, God even encourages us to seek refuge in His strength when we face troubles, for He is always with us.
What is so wonderful about God is that He not only offers us the comfort of His presence in our time of need, He always helps us over and above our expectations.
Remember all the times that God was with you in the past
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”
I keep a journal which l call my “Miracle Book”. In it, l record all the times God has touched my life with His supernatural favor, mercy, and kindness.
During times when l feel that God is far away from me, l get out my “Miracle Book” and l read my previous entries. Not only do they encourage me that God is indeed working in my life, they remind me that what He has done in the past He will do again, for He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
Feeling distant from God has helped me connect with others in my situation
“Bear one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”
When l first got diagnosed with burnout and depression, l was optimistic that with a bit of rest and a change of lifestyle that the Great Healer would make me whole. However, as the months went by, it became obvious that my convalescence was going to take longer than l thought.
Three years later, I sit in church and hear regular praise reports of people who have been healed from depression, and l ask God sometimes, why l can’t be one of those people whom He miraculously heals. I start to criticize and question myself if my faith is strong enough to warrant a full divine-appointed recovery.
However, God works in mysterious ways. He has been using my infirmity to reach out and be a comfort to others, who are also waiting on God for their healing – either through my writing as a blogger and writer or in my daily interactions with people. In return, these wonderful people comfort and encourage me in my faith. l feel truly blessed that they are in my life.
I’m not saying that if l had the chance at a do-over that l would choose to be sick again. Nor am l saying that l would voluntarily choose to go through those feelings of doubting God’s presence and enduring self-chastisement again. However, if l hadn’t gone through all of that, l wouldn’t have been able to connect with the people who have enriched my life and l theirs.
God does not only show us His presence during good moments, such as through a glorious sunset, the carefree chuckle of a child’s laughter or the blooming of a beautiful rose. God is always near – in the valley and on the mountain top.
However, when we start to doubt this, we need to hold onto God’s promises that He reveals to us in the Bible – that He loves us, He will never leave us, and that He will fulfil His purpose over our lives with His perfect timing for our good.
God never goes back on His Word.
This article was first published on Crosswalk.com on the 14th June 2019.
About the author:
Madeline Kalu is a Christian writer and co-founder of Jacob’s Ladder Blog. She has written articles for SheLoves, Converge, and Ruminate Magazine and is a contributing writer for Crosswalk.com, Christianity.com, and YMI Magazine.
In her spare time, Madeline gets creative as a freelance SFX Makeup artist and dances to Sister Sledge whilst cooking. She is British but lives in Germany with her husband.
How God spoke to Elijah in the silence
Written by Madeline Kalu
I’m sure like me, you are no stranger to hardship. For my part, I have gone through a fair share of adversity: death, illness, financial struggle, and my own family turning their back on me.
Now, this is not a “pat on the back, admire me for what l have gone through” kind of article.
Not at all.
This is a shout-out to all of you who have gone through something or are going through something right now. In the midst of your strife, you’re seeking God, but you just can’t find Him.
Know that you are not alone.
Being in the valley is a lonely place, full of darkness and insecurity. You wonder why God allowed such things to happen to you. Moreover, when you call out to Him to help you out of your mess, your prayers and petitions are met with silence. God doesn’t seem to answer you back.
Or does He?
Being a Christian does not mean that our life turns into some kind of continuous happy-clappy revival, complete with outbursts of “Hallelujah!” and angel song in the background accompanying us all the livelong day. It certainly does not mean that as Born Again Christians we are destined to walk around with goofy smiles plastered across our faces, as we react to prejudice, injustice, and racial slurs with glorified meekness.
Being a Christian is hard. It means that life is still going to come at us with its arsenal of ill-intent; more so, because we are living ambassadors of the Most High God on earth.
Jesus confirmed this when He addressed His disciples:
‘“I have said this to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you face persecution.”’
John 16:33 (NRSV)
So, if Jesus warns us that we will experience trouble on this earth, why doesn’t God seem to answer us when we ask Him for help?
Could it be that we just aren’t listening hard enough for His voice?
The Bible contains numerous accounts of biblical heroes, who doubted God’s presence in the midst of adversity: Gideon asked God three times for divine confirmation of his calling to lead the Israelites against the Midianites (Judges 6). Thomas, one of the 12 disciples of Jesus, doubted that Christ had been resurrected from the grave until he saw physical proof (John 20:24-29). After extensive torture and calamity at the hands of Satan, Job doubted God’s goodness (Job 7:20).
However, in this article, l want to turn our focus onto Elijah the prophet, as his experience of Queen Jezebel of Samaria in 1 Kings 19 provides a beautiful example of how God reaches you in the (literal) silence .
In the previous chapter of 1 Kings, Elijah had proclaimed God’s glory through a series of events:
Firstly, Elijah had participated in a show-down in Samaria at Mt. Carmel against 450 prophets of Baal and 400 prophets of Asherah. Idol worship in Israel was rampant at that time, so Elijah was bold in his faith in making a stand against it. Through God’s miraculous intervention, Elijah was able to prepare an eye-popping sacrifice that declared God to be mightier than Baal or Asherah (1 Kings 18: 30-38) .
Secondly, with divine authority (Deuteronomy 13:5), Elijah had slain the 850 priests. These were men carefully chosen by Jezebel, the resident evil queen of Samaria, to serve her and promote her desire of idol worship in the land (1 Kings 18:40). Therefore, it took a lot of guts cutting down the Queen’s prized lackeys.
Most impressively, where a severe famine had already raged a 3-year course across the country, Elijah had prayed for rain and God had heard his petitions (1 Kings 18:44-45).
However, instead of celebrating God’s victories with a much-awaited dip in the now bursting banks of the River Jordan, Elijah freaked out after receiving an ominous message from Queen Jezebel. Apparently, she hadn’t taken too kindly to Elijah slaying her anti-God squad and she wanted Elijah dead. Full of fear, Elijah took flight.
You’d think that after all the miracles that God had bestowed upon Elijah in 1 Kings 18, that one death threat from a human would be small fries in comparison. However, this message really unhinged Elijah. Granted, Jezebel was a truly evil woman and a formidable queen, who had her husband Ahab twisted around her little finger (I Kings 21:1-16). Mind you, Ahab wasn’t exactly a saint either. Still, who was Jezebel compared to the might and power of God, the almighty Yahweh of the Israelites (Exodus 3:14-15)?
However, it is not uncommon to experience a crushing setback after a victory. It has happened to all of us, and Elijah was as human as any of us. So, Elijah hot-footed it towards Beersheba of Judah, which was over 80 miles out of Jezebel’s jurisdiction. That still wasn’t enough distance for Elijah, and he kept on moving.
It states in the Bible that Elijah “went a day’s journey into the wilderness” (I Kings 19:4). In the Bible, the wilderness symbolizes a dry season or a time of trial and testing. A good depiction of this is the Israelites sojourn in the wilderness for 40 years, which represented not only a physical dry season but a spiritual one – a result of their continuous doubt of God (Numbers 32:13).
Elijah must have been exhausted after the previous chapter’s events and then he had the added stress of Jezebel to deal with. Hence, he took rest under a broom tree where angels ministered to him (I kings 19:5-8). Even while on the run, feeling lonely and afraid, God was with Elijah.
However, it was when Elijah was in a cave that the Bible states that “Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (I Kings 19:9). Away from the distractions of his current situation, Elijah was able to hear God speak.
In your own experience, have you ever realized that you have more perspective over your situation, when you mentally step away from it?
God further proves that He is with us in the silence. He went past Elijah as a great, strong wind that battered the mountains, as a trembling earthquake and a raging fire; and yet the Bible states that the Lord was not in any of these things (1 Kings 19:11-12).
Where was God then? He was in the still, small voice that came afterwards:
“(A)nd after the fire [a sound of gentle stillness and] a still, small voice.”
I Kings 19:12 (AMPC)
Why did God choose to speak to Elijah in a still, small voice? He could have spoken to him in conversational tones or boomed His message across the heavens, so that the mountains quaked and trembled at His very name.
But no, God chose to whisper to Elijah, because He was close to him the entire time. The devil needs to scream and shout at us to scare us into keeping our focus on our problems. But God, in His permanent proximity to us, only needs to whisper in the silence to reassure us that He is God. He is always with us and will never fail us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).
At the reassurance of God’s voice, Elijah was able to receive comfort and further instructions for the next phase of his ministry, which included choosing Elisha as his disciple (1 Kings 19:19-21).
Though we may be subjected to adversity in our life, God never intends for us to fend for ourselves. He is with us when we pass through the waters, and ensures that when we walk through the fires we will not be burned (Isaiah 43:2). If we doubt God’s presence during trials, it could just be that we can’t hear Him through the confusion, pain, and tension of our current circumstances.
Before l conclude, let’s go back briefly to that statement that Jesus made to His disciples in John 16:33 – however, this time, l am going to add the second part of the Bible verse.
‘”But take courage; I have conquered the world!”’
John 16:33 (NRSV)
Did you notice how Jesus stated that He has conquered the world? No matter what measure of ill launches an attack against us, it has to get through God first. So, even if something starts out as an attack against you, God will use it and turn it into a victory for you.
So, next time you find yourself surrounded by silence, know that it is part of God’s greater plan for your life. Instead of running from Him, convinced that He has abandoned you, stand still and listen attentively for His still, small voice in the silence.
Trust me, you will hear it.
gotquestions.org, “What does it mean to have a wilderness experience?”
brockwaychurch.com, “Biblical characters who doubted God”
www.learnreligions.com, “Elijah – boldest of prophets”
YouTube video: “The power to choose” from Pastor Steven Furtick
Written by Madeline Kalu
We are all no strangers to trials and tribulations. It can be a confusing and even difficult interval in our lives that we have no choice but to endure.
Sometimes these times means that a new chapter is being opened for us, other times it heralds the end of a significant period and the need for closure.
When our circumstances change, God will always help us and provide a solution. However He is more interested in the changes He can make in you.
“Do not adorn yourselves outwardly by braiding your hair, and by wearing gold ornaments or fine clothing; rather, let your adornment be the inner self with the lasting beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in God’s sight.
1 Peter 3:3-4 (NRSV)
No matter what is going on in our lives, God encourages us to be at peace.
Where does this peace derive from?
From the Prince of Peace himself, Jesus Christ.
For a child has been born for us,
a son given to us;
authority rests upon his shoulders;
and he is named
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
In the Book of John, Jesus states:
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.”
Jesus gives us the free gift of His own peace. It is a present that He handed over to us, before He left to be with the Father. That’s not just any peace. This is a level of peace that has withstood open criticism from the Pharisees, trials in the desert from the devil, public prosecution, degradation, pain, suffering, and even death.
No wonder that Jesus goes on to say:
“Not as the world gives do l give to you.”
Is there any treasure on this earth, which can be comparable to the peace that Jesus gives us? With Jesus’ peace inside you, you don’t need to feel fear anymore, you can stop worrying. Nothing can intimidate you.
In fact, Jesus tells us that these negative feelings have no more place in us:
“Therefore, do not let your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”
Now that is one special gift.
So, if peace is already in us then why must we pursue it?
When we experience difficult times, we often get distracted or even overwhelmed by the given situation. We start to fret and get annoyed. We become emotional. Consequently, we start making wrong decisions that can make the current situation even worse.
l used to feel miserable, scared, and defeated when I found myself in a bad situation. Only when l actively sought to be peaceful in such times, did l discover a new interpretation of how l could live my life.
I realized that living a life filled with peace begins with a choice.
The conscious choice to pursue it.
The purposeful pursuit of peace is something we as Christians need to be exercising. It is, with the other Fruits of the Spirit, a ready arsenal that can make not only our own lives, but the lives of our family, friends, and others who interact with us, all the more richer and victorious.
Ok, so let’s say you’re in the peace zone. What happens next?
Well, once you have peace, you have to maintain it.
Think about Exodus 14:14 (KJV):
“The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace. “
God is telling us that not only should we aspire to acquire peace, but that we also need to stay in peace through trials and tribulations. He will deal with the issue at hand, but we need to do our part and be at peace and rest, being confident that He will provide us with the best outcome.
Holding our peace is telling God that we trust Him.
I am so grateful to the Lord for showing me the importance of pursuing peace, while He deals with my present circumstances.
Currently, l am experiencing a severe relapse in my convalscence from burnout and chronic depression. Panic attacks, feeling overwhelmed, and extreme social anxiety are daily battles l have to face, as well as depressive episodes.
However, in the deepest depths of the darkest, miry pits, l can only stretch my hands out and rely on the grace and goodness of my Father, who promises to never fail me, nor forsake me. He walks with me in the shadow of the valley of Death. He is my light in the darkness, and His peace is a gift that l can accept and rely on, as He walks through this period of illness with me.
The intensity with which we experience pain and suffering is subjective to each individual. No one can understand what you are going through as well as God.
Put Him first, do your part and hold your peace and He will do His part and help you. He loves us all so much and He will never ask us to do anything we couldn’t do.
“And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful.”
I wish you peace brothers and sisters in Christ. Whatever storm you are in at this moment, it too shall pass.
Written by Madeline Twooney
I love spending time with God. My worship of Him is such an essential part of my day; l need it like the air that l breathe. In the same way, being in church is the highlight of my week, because l can refuel my spiritual tank there in praise, worship and service.
It has taken a lot of trial and error, as well as a huge amount of discipline, but over the years l have formed a routine where l set aside time every morning to worship God through prayer, music, bible study, and journaling.
In John 4:23-24 it states that we should worship God “in the Spirit and in truth”, and l try my hardest to abide by this. My time with God has become my dedication of thanks to Him, to show Him how much l love Him and to grow in my relationship with Him. His presence fills me with strength, gives me peace, and reminds me that God is always looking after me. Consequently, when l come out of my time with God, l am strengthened in the assurance of His love and that with Him, all things are possible (Matthew 19:26)!
That being said, making time to worship God and commit myself to Him with my entire being isn’t easy. The world offers values, distractions, and pursuits that tempt me to take my eyes of God. It’s like the world is calling out to me to use my time of worship to pursue endeavors it considers more “important”. Hence, l am constantly being challenged to make a decision between the selection of choices that the world is offering me and my choice to spend time with God in worship.
1 John 2:15 warns us to not love this world, not the things it offers us. But unless you’re an uncontacted community, entirely cut off from the influence of modern-day society, what the world offers to entertain us, advance us, and ease our everyday lives can be pretty enticing.
Through trial and error, l have learned to recognize in what ways l am being distracted by the world and have accordingly worked on those areas to re-focus my attention back to God, when l find myself being challenged to worship Him. I am still a work in progress, but l am getting better!
Here are 3 of my most pressing challenges to worshipping God in a world full of choices:
1. Caught between serving two masters: Technological distractions verses God
I remember receiving my first mobile phone in the late ’90s. Before that, l was hightailing it to a pay phone every time l wanted to ring someone when l was on the go. Similarly, l am grateful for the invention of the internet. Teaching myself make-up application from YouTube tutorials jumpstarted my freelance career as an SFX and Make-up artist.
However, at some point, my life began to revolve around my devices, apps, and feeds. I was more intrigued by the scintillation of the internet and social media than being in God’s presence.
When it got to the point that l was tempted to check my WhatsApp messages during church services, l knew it was time to cut the digital umbilical cord.
It is almost scary how easily we allow the digital world to rule our lives. God says in Matthew 6:24 that we cannot serve two masters. When we can’t stop scrolling through social media feeds or we just have to play one more game of “Candy Crush” on our phones, then we’re relying on technological advancement to get through life and we’re not relying on God.
These days, instead of looking at my phone when l get up in the morning, l thank God for the day He has made (Psalm 118:24). During my worship time with God, l turn off all my devices. If someone wants to get in contact with me during this time, they can leave a message. In church, l switch my phone off before the service starts.
2. FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out)
Every day when l get up in the morning, my focus is to spend those first hours of the day with God in His presence.
However, more often than not, by the time l give my one-eared pussycat his breakfast and start brewing my first cup of coffee, my mind starts formulating a list of all the activities l want to do that day. I start to get so nervous at the thought of not experiencing any of these events, that l become tempted to exchange my delegated worship time for the pursuit of my other endeavors.
Today’s fast-paced society is derived from an oversaturation of choices. Our anxiety at missing out on an experience is making us run from pillar to post – we’re suffering from FOMO.
In such times, l go back to the Bible for guidance. Matthew 6:33 highlights seeking God’s kingdom first above all things. After that, God will provide us with everything we need, including experiences. l have learned that God has to be the encounter l need to have FOMO about – not the pursuits of the world.
3. We worship the things of this world, instead of God
One of my favorite recreational pursuits is to go to the gym. Although l work out to promote a healthy lifestyle, a part of me is very aware of the “body goals” that are being portrayed on Instagram and splashed across the celebrity pages of magazines. Sometimes, when l lift weights, l question myself as to whether l should be striving to attain the highly sought-after peach emoji booty instead of accepting the body that God gave me.
The pursuit of a certain aesthetic, acquiring the latest version of the iPhone or constantly showing off photos of our dream partners and our exotic holidays on Facebook – these are portrayed as “goals”. However, in reality, they are societal pressures engineered by the world to woo us into worshipping them, instead of worshipping God.
Romans 12:2 encourages us to not conform to the pattern of this world, but to be transformed by a renewing of our minds. When l find myself going down the rabbit hole of superficial pursuits, l need to stop and remind myself that the only truly worthy pursuit is that of seeking God’s presence.
We are only temporary residents in this world, but God’s love for us is eternal. When we consider that Jesus made the ultimate choice to give His life for us at the cross, then making the decision to spend time with God in worship and praise suddenly becomes a lot easier, and the choices of the world begin to quickly pale in comparison.
This article was published on YMI Magazine on May 15th 2019.