Why I Trust God When Things Look Hopeless


In our house, mornings are frequently fraught with difficulty as we strive to get out the door, but Sunday morning takes the prize for the most difficult morning of the week.

I have two strong-willed girls, ages eight and three. My eight-year-old, Beth, can be particularly difficult, and let me tell you, she was in rare form this past Sunday.

First, we battled over what she was to wear to church that morning. Next, we bickered about what Bible she was going to bring, as she wanted to take a preschool Bible that wasn’t really a Bible. Finally, we fought about her lying to me as she tried to sneak said Bible into her bag. I started yelling, and she rolled her eyes at me. The disrespect became unbearable, so in an effort to save her life and avoid jail time for me, I took off with my youngest daughter in my car and told my husband to bring Beth to church with him.

Mornings like these make me feel as if I’m the most incompetent mother in the world. Had I taught Beth nothing about respecting her elders? Doesn’t she know that lying is a sin? Where did I go wrong? When my children act this way, I begin to wonder if they are going to grow up to be godless heathens.

My parenting woes that sad Sunday morning raise a general question we all ask at least one point in our lives: What should we do when things look dark and hopeless?

There is one word that answers that question: trust.

First, I trust in God’s plans.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord. “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).

God makes plans for us, and because His love is so great, they are plans for our good.

He gave me these children. It is a part of His master plan; this was no mistake. I can’t understand why, but He must want them with me for a particular reason. So when my children misbehave, like Beth did this past Sunday morning, and I react badly, the reality of God’s plans gives me hope. They will survive my parenting fails — and there have been many — and be the better for them. He can work all things for the good of those that love Him (Romans 8:28).

It brings me comfort when I put my trust and faith in His plans for my life.

Second, I trust in God’s sovereignty.

The Bible is clear about God’s complete control over all things: “In their hearts, humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps” (Proverbs 16:9).

Jack Wellman, writer for the website Patheos: Hosting the Conversation on Faith, offers a bit of insight into Proverbs 16:9 when he says, “What this verse is saying is that humans might think that their plans are of their own accord, but it is actually ‘the Lord [Who] establishes [their] steps.’ Even our bad choices are used for God’s purpose in His sovereignty.”

Trusting in God’s sovereignty brings me peace, especially when I know I’ve messed up with my children. Knowing that He is in control at all times and in all situations helps me live my life and not be paralyzed by fear.


When everything around me seems to be in complete chaos and I feel as if I might be overcome with the hopelessness of a situation, I force myself to “be still, and know that [the Lord] is God” (Psalm 46:10).

Trusting in God’s sovereignty helps me release stressful situations into His hands. 

After arriving at church that contentious Sunday morning, I entered into worship and immediately began to pray for myself and my oldest daughter. I asked God to be glorified in our lives, and I thanked Him ahead of time for what I trusted He would ultimately accomplish in us. I thanked the Lord for His good and perfect plans for my life and Beth’s life. Then, I thanked God for who He is — all-powerful, ruler over the entire universe — and I placed my trust in His sovereignty, giving over my worries about my child and my poor parenting skills to the one who has supreme authority over all things.

I left that worship service having placed my complete trust for myself and for Beth’s — for my entire family’s — future in His hands.

Little did I know, God would answer my prayer for my daughter sooner rather than later. The very next hour, when she was in children’s worship, Beth prayed to receive Jesus as her Lord and Savior. (Read “Beth’s Rebirth Day” for more details surrounding her decision.)

Trusting in His plans and His sovereignty is what I do when things look discouraging. Trusting in Jesus puts everything in His capable hands and out of my imperfect ones. When there is nothing else you can possibly do to help or to fix a situation, put your trust in Him. Are unfortunate circumstances (At work? With family? In life?) a heavy weight on your shoulders? Let me encourage you to put your faith in Jesus! For as the words of the great hymn say, “Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus.”

Jamie Wills

Jamie Wills

Jamie is a high school English teacher, wife and mom. She is a marathon runner and writes regularly in her spare time on miscarriage, running, spirituality and everyday life on her blog -- posting things that God shows her that she doesn't want to forget, or "forget-me-nots." Jamie holds a master's degree in education and sponsors speech and debate at the high school level. Jamie is the mother of three children -- two beautiful daughters, Beth and Hannah; as well as Angel, a baby she lost in August of 2010. She currently resides in Georgia with her family.

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How to Finish Well


I often think about my own funeral. As morbid as that may be, I have the whole thing planned out. I want people to bawl their eyes out and dive in the casket. (A former student, LB, has already called that role.) I want the saddest songs played, and I want it to be standing room only, even if the people in the room had to be compelled to come.

I’m totally teasing about this funeral of course. My main desire is really that people give their hearts to Jesus there. Why? I want to leave a legacy that people will miss when I’m gone. I want to finish well. To accomplish this is to start in one direction that is God-ordained and to end up there, despite obstacles, with fruit to show for it.

That’s why it was so hard for me to leave my teaching job after eleven years. I left feeling like a failure. Two of my favorite movies are Mr. Holland’s Opus and Sister Act II, probably because the teachers in both persevere against seemingly-impossible odds. They affect their students beyond the sphere of the classroom and help them rise to meet school challenges as well.

In my class, on the other hand, I usually had the highest failure rate. Though I loved my students and prayed for them daily, I was told that I was “leading the league on parent complaints.” And though I always looked forward to the last day of school when I would sing “I Hope You Dance” (yes, it’s cheesy!) for each of my classes with tears, the behavior in one class last year was so bad that I couldn’t muster up the good will necessary to sing them my best wishes.

My whole teaching journey started, like that of so many others, with a desire to change the world, and it ended with what felt like escaping to another job instead. In my mind, I did not finish well.


In the book of I Samuel, Saul was a perfect example of someone who started very well and finished, um, not so well at all. When God’s people didn’t trust Him enough to be their king, they asked for another. And what they got, from the outside, looked like the perfect fit. He was tall and handsome, the obvious choice. In spite of his attractive physical traits, he still was humble, a beneficial combination to start a rulership. That humility was what caused him to hide among the baggage when it was time for him to be anointed, because he was scared to death and certainly not seeking any kind of attention (1 Samuel 10:22-23).

Saul not only started humble, but he started holy. After he was anointed king in private, he was given the power to prophesy with some prophets on the road. Once he became king, he warred for God’s name, adding bravery to his strong start. His men followed him, and they won the victory time after time.

Saul seemed to have such a strong start, but a start means nothing if the finish is weak. Three examples from his life might show us how NOT to fall into the same trap.

Three Ways to Finish Well

1. We must stay focused on whom we’re following.

Samuel was the one who poured out his heart and his oil to anoint Saul king. Thus, Saul should have been following this spiritual father. But one day when Saul grew impatient waiting for Samuel to offer the priestly fire in battle, he kindled it himself and lost the Lord’s anointing hand in the self-same moment. In this New Testament life, we are following Jesus as our great high priest (Hebrews 7:15-17). Should we then try to take the reins from Him? If we are to finish well, I think that following the one who knows the way is a much wiser decision.

2. We must let God be our defense in trouble.

As the bitterness of Saul’s lost anointing grew in his heart, the forsaken king even turned his back on his son’s best friend David, his rival to the throne. There was probably no way that Saul could have reversed God’s decision on choosing another, but did he have to focus on revenge and hatred? Couldn’t he have run to his Father for help in living the rest of his days well?

We read this story and judge Saul, but we also try to defend ourselves and get revenge, even if in our thoughts. Instead, we have to do what the old song says and begin “learning to lean on Jesus.” Psalm 46 calls him our “very present help in trouble” and a “fortress of strength.” He knows how crazy and full of sin this world is, and He’s the only one who, in us, can help us finish well despite the trouble around us.

3. We must remember that someone else’s abundance is not our lack.

Jealousy robs us all of peace, and such jealousy had the same effect on Saul. When torments came on him, a young harp player named David was able to soothe them with his playing. If Saul could have accepted the peace of a gentle musician, his life wouldn’t have been in torment. However, once David was called to strip Saul’s kingdom from him, envy blinded Saul to any possible peace. God had enough to give both Saul and David blessed lives, but Saul couldn’t see that.

If we are to finish well, we can’t run someone else’s race. That’s why I want to follow Paul’s example and run hard, getting back up when I fall, and crossing the finish line to hear my Jesus say the most precious words I’ll ever hear: His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord’ “(Matthew 25:23 — NKJV).

Remember that I said I did not finish my teaching journey well? I think that’s only partially true. When I moved from one high school to another, I received emails from a handful of students to tell me that they missed me, that they remembered my birthday, or that I had secretly been their favorite teacher. Another student that I taught in eighth grade ran into me in the Dollar Tree and called his friend over to tell her that I had changed his life. Yet another introduced me to his wife and daughter (I’m old!) and apologized for his behavior in my class.

However, there were many days that I walked the halls of a public school and was just like Saul. I lost my focus on the largest mission field I could have possibly had at a job. I cried and called my husband to tell him I was quitting on the spot instead of running to the strong tower of my Savior. And I looked at other teachers, who seemed to have the love of the students and the good grades, with doubt that God could ever use me the same way. I was a Saul, and that convoluted my race and made my finish line seem impossible.

Will God resurrect my teaching career? Will hundreds of students attend my funeral? I don’t know, but I do know that whatever I do from here on out, it has to be led by God if I am to accomplish His purpose. And He will accomplish it, because this verse is true: “For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day” (2 Timothy 1:12 — NKJV).

My teaching journey is not over because my legacy has been planted in the more than one thousand students that I taught, and those seeds just might germinate after all.

He will keep us, Friend, and everything we commit to Him. Let’s run the race so that we will win the crown of life He has stored up for us (James 1:12). Would you be bold enough to leave a comment here and ask us to pray for you if you’re struggling to finish well? We are here to help each other up, so don’t stay down a moment longer.

Suzy Lolley

Suzy Lolley

Suzy Lolley taught both middle school and high English for many years, and is currently an Instructional Technology Specialist for the public school system, a wife, and a workaholic. She loves nothing more than a clean, organized house, but her house is rarely that way. She enjoys being healthy but just can’t resist those mashed potatoes (with gravy) sometimes. When she cooks, she uses every dish in the house, and she adores a good tea party. She loves Jesus and is spending the next year documenting her journey to a less independent, more Jesus-dependent life on her blog.

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When We See Ourselves Through His Eyes


“To be known and accepted are two of the fundamental needs a human has.” — Jennie Allen

My six-year-old daughter and four-year-old son usually play in the backyard as I prepare dinner after school.

I like to keep an eye on them through my cracked kitchen window. But on those days when the temperature is just right and we’re choosing between leftovers or easy dinners, we’ll head out to the front yard for some bike riding. Most of the time, it’s just my kids riding their big wheels up and down the street together. Sometimes my neighbor’s boys come outside and play as well. My son is immediately drawn into playing with them because like most boys, he prefers playing with other kids of his own gender.

Recently, we went outside for our playtime in the front yard. As I watched my kids start to play, I unfolded a chair, placed it on my driveway, and sat down in it to relax. My neighbor’s boys, both six, not too soon after ran outside. They quickly “huddled up” in their front yard to talk about how to play a game. One of the boys started shaking his arm very quickly, making gestures as to give instructions to the other. As the other boy tried to listen attentively, he couldn’t help but laugh at how silly his brother was. They both stopped and had a good laugh as they were about to begin their venture.

My son observed this.

He jumped off his bike that he was riding and ran over to try and “fit in” with joy and expectancy.

They didn’t notice him.

But I did.

He was so sad and disappointed. My heart broke for him.

It broke not only because he was excluded, but because he didn’t see all the love and adoration beaming from MY heart in his direction.

Not only did my heart break for him in that moment, but I was painfully reminded of my younger self. I could see my younger self, as I watched my son, also craving to be seen and acknowledged, wanting to belong.

At the age of 16, I was very involved with our church choir. I looked forward to choir practice activities because I lived in a less-than-two-fun-things-to-do-per-month small, country town. When we all got together for choir practice, we had fun. I thought we were really good friends.

One day on my way into Walmart, I spotted some of the girls from our choir, laughing and playing beside the store’s sliding doors. I anticipated our cheerful reunion because I just knew they would welcome me with a hug, like always. I assumed they would ask how I was and what I was up to like we did at our choir rehearsals.

I happily skipped towards them. “Hey guys, how are you?!” I asked.

They stopped laughing, looked at me, and then turned back and kept talking, like I wasn’t even there. I quickly spoke again, “Hey!” This time they didn’t even stop to look at me. They just ignored me.

I felt invisible.

I thought I was crazy for a moment.

How could they just ignore me? How could they be a friend in one moment and in another not see me? No hug or conversation? I was hurt and confused. I quickly ran in the store to try and escape those feelings, hoping they would go undetected.

Now here I was watching my son feeling invisible.  

As I sat there in my lawn chair watching from the garage door, I felt the need to run to him. To get up and go rescue him the way I would’ve wanted to be rescued standing outside of the Walmart in my teenage years.

I wanted to pick him up, put my arms around him, and pour into him reminders of my love and affection towards him. To reassure him. To protect him. To restore him.

God noticed me watching my son and desiring to reaffirm my love for him that day, and He said to me in a gentle voice, “See? Now do you see how I feel about you? Now do you see how much I love you?”

I jumped up and paced back and forth. How could I have missed this? How could I not know this fact that my Father, my Creator, loved me unconditionally?

As I stood there, I apologized to God for forgetting this reality. I’ve read this truth in His Word, even if I forgot about it in my daily walk:

‘That’s how much you mean to me!

That’s how much I love you!

I’d sell off the whole world to get you back,

trade the creation just for you.

So don’t be afraid. I’m with you.

I’ll round up all your scattered children, pull them in from east and west.’ ”

(Isaiah 43:4-7 — MSG)

Once upon a time, I knew how important I was to God. I don’t have to perform or try and fit in with Him or with anyone. He made me just the way I am. I am His child, and I am loved and accepted just for being me. His approval is all I really need.


Unfortunately, I didn’t remember this when I encountered my choir friends all those years ago, and I cannot shelter my son from the rejection of his peers like he experienced during our outside playtime. The one thing I can do to is to teach him about God’s love and that God will always see him when others don’t. I hope that he will eventually understand that seeing himself through God’s eyes is most important. However, I know that my son might still try to be visible to others even after my best efforts to guide him.

If this is ever the case, I pray that the Lord will remind my son — just like He reminded me — that He is always there watching over him and loving him unconditionally.

Deidre Dezelle

Deidre Dezelle

With training in culinary arts, business and nursing, Deidre Dezelle is a nurturer at heart. She enjoys catering family and friend functions and hopes to branch out some day and own her own event planning company. Currently a wife and stay-at-home mom, Deidre never thought she would choose the path of domestic engineer, but God placed it on her heart after she started having children. Having a front row seat to watching each one of her children's developmental gains makes Deidre proud. In addition to her roles of wife and mom, Deidre enjoys gardening and couponing, as well as large family gatherings during the holidays. As a child, Deidre had a difficult time finding peace – as she suffered rejection at a young age and often had a hard time controlling her emotions. She found peace when she stopped looking around her and looked above at her Creator. She now strives to keep a home that is Christ-centered, tranquil, and full of love. Writing is relatively new for Deidre. She recently felt a tug to share what God has been speaking to her --- and has begun to write about her God experiences here on Beulah Girl.

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How I Overcame My Tendency to Self-Sabotage in Relationships


My name is Adriana Howard. I’m twenty-seven years old with a husband of five years, and I am a recovering self-saboteur. This may or may not be the time when you all respond with, “Hi, Adriana,” and I nod back awkwardly as I try to avoid your eyes. However, as we are currently interacting with another over a blog post, we’ll skip over the pleasantries and dive into the good stuff. Sabotage is deliberate damage or destruction of a thing so that it doesn’t work properly. Self-sabotage is when we do that to ourselves.

I have spent a good portion of my adult life hindering myself from cultivating authentic relationships with other women. And while I may not have always been conscious of my efforts, they were certainly intentional. I did a marvelous job of convincing myself that I was fine without other women in my life to depend on, or women who cared enough to depend on me, that I hardly noticed how much I needed them.

But it wasn’t until last year that I really began to see and suffer the consequences of my behavior. I didn’t feel the confines of the hole I had dug myself into until I was faced with things like hurts and fears and years old secrets with no one to tell them to. And it wasn’t easy to come to this realization. It’d be more fun to wear a shirt that says “I Must Be a Freak” on it. At least then, I would have a new shirt.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I have friends, family, a handsome genius for a husband. Above everything, I have my Jesus. He is immeasurably good to me though my heart is quick to wander. But even with His abounding love and kindness, there was this void in me that wasn’t being filled. I’m not saying there are holes in me that God can’t fix. But I do think that there are holes that God allows because His plans for me include being vulnerable with others. He’s a good Father in that way — leaving me to my hurts so that I might learn and run towards the things He has for me.

Unfortunately, I tend to run away from — not towards — things that make me uncomfortable. And sadly, meaningful, vulnerable, weather-the-storms kind of relationships with women make me uncomfortable.

Over this past few years, I feel like God and I have been on a journey together. I’ve rediscovered beautiful truths about Him. He is my generous father. He is my gracious friend. I’ve relearned what His voice sounds like when He speaks promise to my heart. But I’ve also discovered truths about myself that I wasn’t in a rush to confront. The truths were these: I don’t know how to trust. I don’t think that I’m enough. I’m terrified of being forgotten. And the more that I thought about these things, the more I realized how deep the dirty waters ran.

The Seeds and Scars of Childhood

I grew up the oldest child of three. Independence and leadership qualities have always been natural components of my make-up. I’m sure that is a truth shared by many oldest siblings. But as a result of my family’s situation, I’ve not only been the big sister — I was the adult in the family well before my time. Sin and substance abuse has plagued my family for a long time, and while God has delivered us through some very trying times, we carried a lot of scars.

My siblings and I have been left by both of our parents at one point or another, and although God did a big restorative work in my mom and dad, there were seeds in mistrust sown in my heart. For a long time afterwards, every relationship — familial, romantic, platonic, whatever — looked like a risk to me. In my limited understanding, if my parents could so easily dismiss me, then surely others would too, and that was especially true where other women were concerned.

Then I got married. And I wasn’t the big sister anymore. Instead, I went from being the responsible, mature, swoop-in-and-save-the-day big sister to being stuck somewhere in the middle. And the only thing worse than being stuck in the middle is being stuck in the middle of two sisters-in-law who, coincidentally, were also the oldest siblings in their households. They were also swoop-in-and-save-the-day kind of women. But they were also beautiful, talented, and more outgoing than I was. And as hard as I tried to muddle through friendships with them, I couldn’t force authenticity, and I couldn’t fake my affections. And if they saw how broken and strange I was, they would surely run away.

God Begins to Make Me New

I was unwilling to be vulnerable. I didn’t know how to trust them. I felt unbelievable pressure to conform to aspects of them. I wasn’t as settled or as typically feminine as they were, so my knee-jerk reaction was to feel inadequate. I didn’t dress like they did, or think like they did. I wasn’t charming like they were. I so wanted to be liked by them, but I had no idea how to connect. From there came whispers of lies in the dark. I was easy to forget. I was easy to overlook. Simply put, I was afraid because all of those things had happened before.

I had been forgotten, overlooked, left behind. When I began to really pursue the Lord, friends moved on. When more exciting relationships came along, friends left me in the waiting place. In some ways, I’m still waiting. I said that sabotage meant to deliberately damage a thing to the point that it wouldn’t work correctly. Without realizing it, I had sabotaged my chances for friendships that had the potential to be beautiful, and I did so to the point that I wasn’t working correctly anymore. And from my vantage point, trusting others had proven more to me about the ugliness in people than it had the good in them. And I couldn’t trust my heart with ugly people — especially not when I was just as ugly as they were.

But the ugliness in my heart went much deeper than I suspected, and when the realization that I kept God at strict arm’s lengths hit me, I was undone. As He worked to surgically extract chunks of darkness from within me, it became more and more apparent that my issues with faith and trust and vulnerability weren’t just with people. I had kept God at bay by allowing Him the safest minimal access to me. And there I was — cut open, nerves exposed, no clue how to scream for help. But in a way that is His alone, God took extraordinary measures to speak to me a truth that screamed above the lies I had succumbed to.

Are you ready for it? It’s a good one. In fact, it ruined me in all of the best ways.

Who I AM is of little importance when compared to who HE IS.

With that in mind, breaking down the walls that I had painstakingly constructed became a task worth chasing after. I wasn’t good enough for Him. I’m still not. For all of my pitiful efforts, I never will be. But the best parts of me are found in Him anyway, and because of that, while I am not enough, I do have something to offer — to Him and to others. I’m practicing vulnerability. I’m pursuing accountability.

More importantly, I’m putting away ridiculous notions that the only value that comes from friendships is what I get out of them, and I’m learning how to avail myself and serve. With that divine sense of worth renewed in me, it’s not only become easier to open up, but it’s become a joy as well. And as for my sisters-in-law, these days they are my sisters in every sense of the word. I’ve confided in them from deep places, and they have yet to turn and run.

Recently, I came across this verse, and it shook me, not because it was theologically deep, but because it was for me. I hope that it speaks to your soul as well: “Unless the Lord had been my help, My soul would soon have settled into silence.”  (Psalm 94:17)

Had it not been for the Lord, I would have faded away into quiet nothing. But I am His, and so I am not overlooked. I have not been forgotten. And because the Lord is my shepherd, I am allowing vulnerability and trust to produce something whole within me. My name is Adriana Howard. I’m twenty seven years old with a husband of five years, and I am a recovering self-saboteur. Without the Lord, I would have settled into silence. And instead, I am being made new.


Adriana Howard

Adriana Howard

Adriana Howard describes herself as "sort of a mess in pursuit of a great story." Adriana spent a year teaching high school English, and currently, she is teaching theater after school at a local elementary school. She also serves with her husband as a youth pastor at her church. One day, Adriana hopes to be a published author. For the time being, she wants to travel the world, adopt children, learn how to really love people, maintain a garden, go back to India, and work alongside her husband in ministry. Other passions of Adriana's include love war films, cooking, bulky typewriters, crowded airports, winter’s first snow, Elizabeth I, and books of all shapes and sizes. Last but certainly not least, Adriana has a passionate love for Jesus. You can connect with Adriana on her blog where she dabbles in fiction, nonfiction and poetry.

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