When we ask, “What if the worst happens?” we can trust God.

He has already been to tomorrow and knows exactly what we need.

It doesn’t mean that the worst won’t happen because, honestly, our worst fears could materialize.

No one is free from tragedy or pain, but no matter what happens, God will be there. He will be with you, and he will never leave you.

So, what if the worst happens? In Daniel 3, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were about to be thrown into the fire, because they would not worship Nebuchadnezzar’s gods or worship the golden statue he had erected.

Those three young men faced the fire without fear, trusting that God would be with them.

They said, “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us…But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods.” (Daniel 3:17-18)

They were satisfied knowing that even if the worst happened, God would take care of them.

Replacing “what if” with “even if” is one of the most liberating exchanges we can ever make.

We trade our irrational fears of an uncertain future for the loving assurance of an unchanging God.

We see that even if the worst happens, God will carry us.

He will still be good.

He will never leave us.

And He will supply all our needs.

Adapted from the Bible study, Desperate for Hope: Questions We Ask God in Suffering Loss and Longing.

*For deeper reflection, listen to Daniel 3.

  1. Daniel 3

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To enjoy our her.BIBLE interview with Vaneetha, click here!

The song “New Wine” begins

“In the crushing…In the pressing…You are making new wine.”

My early elementary report cards showed “outstanding” rankings, except for one “needs improvement” blot on my second-grade report card. The category described how I “handle disappointment.” Many were my youthful tears—whether shed behind a textbook, on the sidelines of lacrosse, or upon my bed. From my early days, I did not handle disappointment well.

Jesus talked about the need for “new wineskins” with new wines. (Matthew 9:17) The old wineskins would no longer suffice because the new wine would bust them wide open.

In the same way, as an adult, I needed to learn to let go of what I thought my life was supposed to be—the old wineskins—and embrace the reality of entirely new wineskins and the new wines they would hold.

Crushing and pressing are involved in making new wine. On the heels of two very crushing experiences, I faced a continual need to surrender in order to fully produce this new wine, and it all felt so disappointing.

Disappointment never crushed me more than when we had to leave our life in Hungary after I experienced my first mental health crisis.

However, amid all the horrible lies I heard during my manic episode in Orlando, God whispered more fervently, “Endure, beloved, endure.”

I didn’t know what this message meant except that I needed to hold tightly and remember that God was real despite all the lies.

All I could do was seek to hang on to the overarching truth of Christ’s redemption.Christ’s remarkable story would win in my life and in all things.

Sometimes, dear reader, this is all we can do.

With something like mental illness, when our minds are sponges for deception, we have to trust the greater truth of God. He is present beyond every crushing experience, making new wine for us and within us. And not just any wine, but full-bodied, rich, exquisite wine that will one day be served at the great feast of God in the new heaven and new Earth.

As we walk this long road home, there may be many times God calls us to endure. Every one of our beliefs may be tested, but our deepest truths can come to life in this pressing time.

We are made for God, and he will have us forever, basking in his love’s beauty and heavens’ fullness. Moreover, this new wine he makes of us will bear the stunning story of his beauty replacing the ashes of our sorrow.

*For further reflection, listen to Matthew 9.

  1. Matthew 9

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Adapted from A Million Skies: Secure in God’s Strength When Your Mind Can’t Rest © Abigail Alleman, 2022.

Have you ever been in an overwhelming situation and in need of rescue? Not to be dramatic, but that was totally me recently.

I had just returned to Oklahoma City after an exciting work trip in Nashville, Tennessee, to celebrate our first book launch! It was an incredible trip, jam-packed with radio, TV, and podcast interviews. I was overwhelmed with gratitude and excitement, but when I arrived home, a different type of overwhelm began to settle in.

Here’s where I need to tell you something: I battle mild anxiety. And under extreme circumstances, I even suffer from debilitating panic attacks. On even ordinary days, life can feel like a lot.

I’m a mother of three who works from home, and our closest family lives six hours away. But on this particular day, my rowdy little humans were home for summer break. I had overlapping projects, multiple deadlines, tons of meetings, and the mission of motherhood all demanding my attention at the same time.

The word overwhelmed doesn’t begin to capture how I felt.

Feeling the tension of my limitations, I reached out for help.

But the people I usually look to were unavailable, and I didn’t want to inconvenience anyone or let anyone down. I was stretched thin and growing weary.

I needed help, but I felt like I was out of options. And then I felt it starting. My heart began pounding so hard I thought it might burst out of my chest.

Before I knew it, I was gasping for air, and my entire body felt like it was on fire. I slowly walked into the living room, where my husband was relaxing. He glanced up at me with immediate concern and asked what was wrong, but I couldn’t get the words out as tears streamed down my face.

“Take a deep breath in through your nose, and slowly let it out from your mouth,” he said calmly. As I inhaled, I placed my hand on my belly, and as I exhaled, I placed my other hand on my chest.

I continued to do this until my panic subsided, and I was able to share my concerns with my husband. We talked through a plan to ease the stress I was dealing with. I also sent a text to my closest friends, letting them know what I was going through, and they lovingly rallied around me with prayer.

I wish I could tell you that my anxiety instantly disappeared and my plate became easier to manage, but that simply wasn’t true.

Life often hands us more than we can handle.

The good news is that we don’t have to tackle the troubles of this life on our own. God places people in our lives to come alongside us, and bear our burdens with us. Dear friend, asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness; it’s proof of wisdom. Allow the people in your life to meet you in your time of need.

So if you’re in need of some help, cry out to Him today. He is with you and for you, and He’ll provide you what—and who—you need in your overwhelming moments.

For further reflection, listen to Psalm 46.

  1. Psalm 46

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Excerpted from There’s Beauty in Your Brokenness: 90 Devotions to Surrender Striving, Live Unburdened, and Find Your Worth in Christ by Brittany Maher and Cassandra Speer. Copyright © 2023 Brittany Maher and Cassandra Speer. Used by permission of Thomas Nelson.harpercollinschristian.com.

Please enjoy our conversation with Cassandra here.

We’ve all had that friend—

  • who had a life-threatening disease,
  • who lost a family member or
  • who has experienced abuse.

Still, she can put her faith in Jesus and use her pain to help others.

Those people know there’s a sovereign God who gives us hope when all seems lost.

“I look up to the mountains–does my help come from there? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth!” Psalm 121:1-2

How can we be women of hope?

It’s one thing to wish for a better life and another to be assured of a better life—because you’ve experienced the hope of God.

So, what does a hope-filled life look like? You can expect it to be hard in some moments. I know that’s not the best thing to read right after you’ve proclaimed hope. But I’m not here to sell you falsehoods.

When hard times come, you can also expect to endure them through a lens of hope. Remember the promise in Philippians 1:6, “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.”

Let’s say you suffer a financial loss. Instead of allowing financial stress to consume you, take this heavy burden to the feet of Jesus, to your safe community, and to your counselor. You will find hope for those parts of you, and you will pick up your head and pursue other means for your financial needs.

If you go through a hard breakup, it’s ok to spend some days curled up in a ball, crying—but you can’t stay there. (And you probably shouldn’t call your ex.)

Instead of begging to be taken back, producing more wounds of rejection and abandonment, you will take your heartache to the Lover of your soul, your Heavenly Father, who freely offers intimacy whenever you need it. You will know that while being lonely is a real feeling, you are never, ever alone.

When despair settles in, you will remember that the closer you are to God, the closer you are to joy. When any form of darkness comes into your life, the same God who brought you out of you troubles will do it again.

He can handle your sorrow and is not afraid of your sadness.

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.” Philippians 4:6

When you claim the promise of hope and allow God to strengthen your faith, you will be that woman people look at and say, “Wow, she’s got bruised knuckles and a hope she’s fought for. But, she’s fighting through all of it, with Jesus leading the way, and she ain’t giving up!”

Living in hope is not easy, but it’s so worth it.

*For further reflection, listen to Philippians 4.

  1. Philippians 4

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Adapted from Brave Enough to Be Broken by Toni Collier Copyright © 2022 by Toni Collier. Used by permission of Nelson Books.

Living in downtown Chicago for the past ten years has given me an ongoing noisy soundtrack of trains, buses, sirens, and the clamoring of the city.

I love any chance I can to leave the concrete jungle and purposefully put myself in God’s creation. My ability to turn down the volume down on all the busy interruptions that bang around and bully my mind moves those worries into their proper place.

On a recent trip to Colorado, I gazed at the vast expanse of trees perfectly placed on the snow-covered mountains. I noticed that each part of creation chose to play its inspired role.

Not a single ounce of God’s creation was stuck in a comparative glare with one another. I did not see a mountain, wondering if it stood taller and prouder than the next mountain.

Not a single bird looked worried about what it needed to get done that day. Yet, I wondered why I struggled and worried so much about my to-do list.

Jesus uses creation to call us back to his presence.

But, unfortunately, living with the volume up at all times eventually leads to anxiety. Learning to adjust the volume and turn it down creates clarity.

We all have limits. Your limits are designed to help you live at a healthy pace and practice peace. At first glance, they may seem like a barrier, but God sees them as blessings.

Unfortunately, when we refuse to live within our limits, we eventually find ourselves broken down and sapped of energy. Worry feeds on itself at an out-of-control pace.

As we own our limits, God supplies us with strength. Think through some of your personal limitations right now. Are you opposing them or owning them?

These are vital areas where we often turn the volume up. We try to answer our worries by doing more, running faster, and pushing a pace we can’t sustain.

You can turn down the volume at a rapid pace by slowing down your life.

Jesus uses the birds of the air and the flowers of the field as the authorities on worry because they are never in a hurry (Matthew 6:26).

I used to think the problem was that I just needed more time. But we all have the same amount of time that Jesus had in his life.

The solution is to slow down, because slowing is what settles the soul. Vincent de Paul says, “The one who hurries delays the things of God.”

Worry takes up residence in our minds. It pays the rent in lies such as “I am less than, more than, not enough, too much.” So turning down the volume on worry is the perfect way to evict it from your mind.

There is some noise in a city like Chicago that you cannot turn down, but you can choose how you quiet your soul. Peace is a much better resident.

*For further reflection, listen to John 14.

  1. John 14

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*Please enjoy our conversation with Jeanne here!

Some mornings, my inner critic wakes up with me. As I eat my breakfast, my first thoughts appear auto-populated by what I “should’ve-would’ve-could’ve” done.

Instead of songs of deliverance surrounding me like the psalmist wrote about, my mind becomes filled with a noisy parade of troubling thoughts—regrets over what I wasn’t doing well, relationships that had turned hurtful, and indecisions tearing at my soul.

Why are you obsessing about things you have no control over? I lecture myself. Stop worrying about nothing. What’s wrong with you? I beat myself up, and I haven’t even finished my first cup of coffee.

I pray and read Scripture, but my heart doesn’t feel right. One morning, I tried to forget my troubles by diving into my emails. On the outside, all was good, but being hard on myself wasn’t what I needed.

What I need when I’m stuck in negative self-talk is God’s kindness and gentleness.

The world teaches us to quiet our inner critic by striving, networking with people of influence, and working very hard to be valued, find belonging, and acceptance.

But God’s way of restoring the soul is very quiet: real experiences of beauty, gentleness, and kindness.

We need two fruits of the Spirit: gentleness and kindness.

Later in the afternoon, I drove out to my favorite trail and stood quietly by the creek, listening to water bubbling over rocks and pebbles. Without any words, I felt God’s gentle love hold my heart.

My soul exhaled, and as the sun warmed my heart again, I heard God tenderly whisper, “You are safe with me. You are important to me.”

God draws us closer, saying, “I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love; With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself” (Jeremiah 31:3).

In a quiet place of beauty, my heart opened up. I shared my honest feelings with God—not trying to solve them but to confide in him.

Being in nature soothes us and gives us permission to slow down.

We observe how everything organic undergoes changes in different seasons, and we instinctively relax our shoulders and exhale.

As the breeze brushes our cheeks, we feel a softening. We notice how everything beautiful moves in quietness.

It was only there by the creek, only after I took the steps to enjoy something beautiful to refresh me, that my heart experienced God’s songs of deliverance.

Many times, we try to lecture ourselves out of a tough situation, but God’s gentle voice is always found in places of quiet beauty and intimacy.

Don’t be harder on yourself. Be gentle with yourself. God’s love is gentle.

*For further reflection, listen to Jeremiah 31 today.

  1. Jeremiah 31

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Excerpted with permission from Breathe by Bonnie Gray published by Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, Oregon, 97408. Copyright 2023, Bonnie Gray. harvesthousepublishers.com

*Please enjoy our conversation with Bonnie here!

Jesus once asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”

“Well,” they replied, some say John the Baptist, some say Elijah, and others say Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.” (Matthew 16:13–14).

Jesus then asked one of the simplest yet most profound questions in Scripture: “Then he asked them, “But who do you say I am?” (Matthew 16:15).

The twelve disciples had spent almost every waking moment with Jesus for a couple of years at that point. They had witnessed him heal people, perform countless miracles, and teach with authority in the presence of the Pharisees and Sadducees. If anyone should’ve known who Jesus was, it should have been them, right?

They saw his power with their own eyes and heard his words with their own ears.

And yet when Peter rightly responded, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God,” Jesus replied, “You are blessed, Simon son of John, because my Father in heaven has revealed this to you. You did not learn this from any human being” (Matthew 16:16–17).

Here is why Jesus’s statement is so profound: The people who saw and heard Jesus identified him as John the Baptist, Elijah, or Jeremiah because they compared Jesus’s ministry and teaching to that of these men.They identified Jesus based on who he reminded them of, and we do something similar when we identify people based on who they remind us of.

We say our daughter is cheerful like Aunt Sally, or our boss is mean and gruff like our old volleyball coach. We tend to identify people based on our sensory experience—what we see, hear, touch, or smell—and how it reminds us of someone else. This is part of what makes Jesus’s question significant.

He wanted to share this truth: people’s experience of you is not who you are.

Just as Jesus wasn’t John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets, you aren’t who other people say you are.

Jesus essentially said, “I am more than what you see me do. I am more than what you hear me say. I am more than what you feel when I’m around. I am who the Father says I am—and so are you.”

*For Further Reflection, listen to Matthew 16 today.

  1. Matthew 16

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Taken from KILLING COMPARISON by Nona Jones. Copyright © September 27, 2022 by Nona Jones. Used by permission of Zondervan.com.

For years, I lived a secret life of brokenness while married to a pastor. I was buried under psychological pain while quoting Scriptures, leading Bible studies, and serving others, and being a wife and mother. I had wounds from childhood trauma I refused to address. Seeking counseling would mean I had a problem, and I just wanted to forget the pain altogether.

Yet, despite the masks I had affixed with well-rehearsed responses, my weighty burden chipped away at me. My cover-up was breaking down.

The question remained, “How do I turn this ocean-liner around? How can I help others in pain without sacrificing myself?”

I learned that I needed to make small micro-decisions toward healing.

First, I had to withdraw my application for a savior—that position was eternally filled with Jesus. Why did I need to carry the world on my shoulders rather than address my own issues?

Second, I had to face the truth that I couldn’t help others until I received real healing. It’s been said, “There’s only one way to eat an elephant: a bite at a time.” So likewise, the healing journey is filled with micro-decisions – small, wise choices that result in real healing over time.

Proverbs 11:14 says, “Without wise leadership, a nation falls; there is safety in having many advisers.”
If this Scripture was true for Solomon, I needed to also embrace its wisdom.

That meant making the micro-decision to pursue a professional “advisor” to become my authentic self. Facing my lifelong fears was the first way I could conquer them. Then, I’d be better at nourishing my relationships and supporting others.

Our micro-decisions must be anchored in God’s Word so we can come along and help others as we heal.

Then, instead of wearing a cape, we can humbly and boldly kneel at the cross alongside those whose burdens we share.

*For further reflection, listen to Proverbs 11 today.

My nearby neighbor’s lovely garden grew into a mess. Her once beautiful trees and plants became overgrown, no longer producing blooms and fruits like they once did.

This overlooked garden reminds me daily of what Jesus said: “I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you” (John 15:1-3).

We, followers of Jesus Christ, sometimes forget the beauty of God’s grace and forgiveness. We might become overgrown with weeds of worries and choked by thorns of troubles when we keep trying to live like the world. Sometimes we even willingly lay ourselves down in rocky patches after hardship comes our way, losing our joy. Often, unhealthy parts of our lives must be ultimately thrown away and pruned like dead branches.

God’s plan to bring forth new life in us because Jesus lives within us. He wants us to bear much fruit as the Holy Spirit helps grow our character.

God already took us out of the wasteland and replanted us in good soil, so there is no reason not to believe what He says: Beauty can sprout again in us! You and I will be transformed into spectacular landscapes, showcasing God’s glory in hopeful ways!

When we allow God to water us with His Word, we will see Him cultivate beauty in our lives.

*For deeper reflection, listen to John 15 today.

Why does God sometimes answer us immediately, and other times, we pray and pray and see nothing for months or even years?

There are two things about God and prayer I find to be helpful to remember. The first is found in Daniel 9:23. It says, “The moment you began praying, a command was given. And now I am here to tell you what it was, for you are very precious to God.”

Sometimes we pray, and immediately a command goes out, and God places the answer to our prayer in our lives. Immediately God responds.

But there is a second example we find in the very next chapter, Daniel 10:12-13. The second prayer we see Daniel pray, is not answered immediately, and it’s interesting to read the reason.

Then he said, “Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day you began to pray for understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your request has been heard in heaven. I have come to answer your prayer. But for twenty-one days the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia blocked my way.”

This verse is super important to understanding how prayer works, or, as it sometimes seems, is not working. Bible commentator Charles Ellicott says of this exchange:

Perhaps no single verse in the whole of the Scriptures speaks more clearly than this upon the invisible powers which rule and influence nations… From this chapter we not only learn that Israel had a spiritual champion (Daniel 10:21) to protect her in her national life, and to watch over her interests, but also that the powers opposed to Israel had their princes, or saviors, which were antagonists of those which watched over Israel. The “princes” of the heathen powers are devils, according to 1 Corinthians 10:201

In Daniel chapter nine, we see God answer immediately, and in Daniel chapter 10, we see Daniel’s answer is delayed due to the intervention of evil supernatural influences in the region at that time.

What is important to note is that both times, Daniel is loved by God.

A delay in this instance is not brought on by Daniel himself, but rather, is a reaction to the organization of demonic spirits in the supernatural realm.

Sometimes, it is not your turn, and it is also not your fault.

There is a real devil, and a real army of evil constantly organizing to delay your promise. So, we must learn as believers how to pray thoroughly.

Prayer is not a one size fits all experience, and God will answer and respond to you differently season by season.

But prayer does matter, and prayer does change things, and prayer does change us.

*For deeper reflection, listen to Daniel 10 today.

~ Excerpt from It’s Not Your Turn by Heather Thompson Day

1 By various writers. Edited by Charles John Ellicott, An Old Testament commentary for English readers, Charles Ellicott & Bible. Old Testament. English. Authorized. (London: Cassell, Petter & Galpin, 1882). https://biblehub.com/commentaries/ellicott/daniel/10.htm.