The Gift No One Returns

She gave me a gift I didn’t know I needed.

It was during what St. John of the Cross called the “dark night of the soul.” Each new day brought additional information, and none of it was good. The reality was grim, and the future—even worse. In the quiet night while my husband slept, my mind would race down a maze of dimly lit paths to a common destination—destruction. Paralyzed with what if’s and now whats, my heart would clutch with fear. How many times can the same heart break, I wondered. I was a shipwreck victim desperately treading water as the waves crashed over me. 

And then she threw me a bit of driftwood, this friend of mine.

A victim of the same nor’easter, she didn’t have a Coast Guard cutter or even an inflatable life raft. Just a plank. But I clung to it desperately, and it kept this drowning soul afloat until the seas calmed and the sun shone again.

In the inky blackness, she gave me hope.

“Hope is the thing that perches in the soul and sings the tune without words," Emily Dickinson so eloquently penned, and it’s true.

Even the Apostle Paul needed hope, “For we despaired even of life. . . ” he penned in Second Corinthians, his very words bleeding wet misery onto the pages, “ . . . in our hearts we felt the sentence of death.”

When we are hopeless, our hearts hemorrhage. Hope is the tourniquet. It staunches the flow, holding the wound closed long enough for life’s blood to clot and healing to begin.

Because my kind friend knew Christ, the God of all hope, she spoke truth into my distorted perception of my circumstances. I knew life was more than facts and percentages, but because I was afraid, those were the voices that screamed the loudest and carried the most weight. Until the still small voice of hope whispered sweet truth.

Here are five ways we can be the voice of hope in someone’s life: 

1. Pray for her. Pray for her, and pray with her. Our prayers will unleash God’s power and shore up a crumbling faith foundation. “God will deliver us . . . as you help us by your prayers.” (2 Cor. 1:11).

2. Remind her how God has worked in the past and challenge her to trust him for the future. “He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us,” (2 Cor. 1:10).

3. Remind her of the work God has done in her life and encourage her to trust him to do the same in the lives of those she loves. “He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD” (Ps. 40:2).

4. Point her to God’s Word. “You are my hiding place and my shield: I hope in your word” (Ps. 119:14).

5. Remind her that nothing is impossible with God. Think of Abraham, “who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken” (Romans 4:18).

Whether we are the one bestowing the precious gift of hope or the one receiving it, we must never underestimate its power.

“Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost” (Romans 15:13). 

How has God used you to help restore someone’s hope? Or, how has someone poured hope into you? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts. 

If you enjoyed this post, you might like "When Life Chews You Up and Spits You Out.



This devotion is an excerpt from Lori’s new book, Hungry for God … Starving for Time, 5-Minute Devotions for Busy Women.

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• Is my situation hopeless?
• If God already knows what he’s going to do, why bother to pray? 
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• No one appreciates what I do. Why shouldn’t I quit? 

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  1. Lori,

    Thank you for your encouragement and for passing on the gift your friend gave you! This is such a timely message!! Hope does not disappoint! Your blog and your friendship have been such a needed blessing to me!

    "and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us" ~ Romans 5:5

  2. Lori, this is a powerful, needed post. I am sending it on to a friend who is in the "slimy pit" of Psalm 40! Thank you for sharing the 5 steps: so simple, so powerful, so needed! Romans 15:13: Praying for that abounding, overflowing HOPE in the life of several people I love who are nearing despair. Thank you for your timely words, friend!

  3. Beautiful post. Great to be reminded how we can be a lifeline when our friends are having tough times. Thanks for linking up at Essential Fridays. Blessings.
    Mel from Essential Thing Devotions

  4. Lori - I feel so blessed to have found this post on Essential Things Devotions. I am alongside to very different friend in very different pits. I am so in need of these 5 step reminders. Thank you :)

  5. Lori,
    Thank you for sharing the hope your friend shared with you...I am very grateful for the friends that have encouraged me, and for when I can do the same for another :)

  6. Anonymous9:43 PM

    I'm visiting you today from the Momma Notes link-up. The tips you included at the end are helpful. I've used many of these same techniques even when trying to encourage my own spirit. :) Aside from praying and reading the word, my favorite thing to foster hope is to remember what He's already done, to focus on His faithfulness.

  7. This is very beautiful. Thank you for sharing!

  8. Anonymous8:50 PM

    This post was absolutely beautiful and just what I needed to hear. I randomly chose your post from the link up on Essential Things Devotions. Please feel free to check out my blog. I'll certainly look forward to reading more of your posts.