As we continue our series on ‘Hope,’ please welcome my friend, Dr. Michelle Bengtson to Peacefully Imperfect. Michelle balances her professional life as a clinical neuropsychologist with her roles as wife, mother, and friend. She knows pain and despair firsthand and combines her professional expertise and personal experience with her faith to address issues surrounding medical and mental disorders, both for those who suffer and for those who care for them. She is the author of, ‘Hope Prevails.’
“I’d like you to go outside for about ten minutes and just ask the Lord what He wants you to know in this season of your life,” was the brief instruction our mentor gave to our group.
I stepped outside and found a beautiful tree in bloom with a bench below that beckoned me to sit. As I did, I prayerfully surrendered my plans for the conference and asked the Lord to share His. “Lord, clearly this experience is not going to be what I thought it would. My heart is heavy with my lack of progress, and I feel like I’ve let you and my family down. I don’t even know why I am here. I’m willing to do whatever you ask. Will you show me, tell me, what it is you have for me in this season?”
Two little words were all I sensed in my heart: “Hope prevails.”
“Awww. That’s so sweet, Lord. Thank you. I needed that.” I went through the next couple of days seeing God do an amazing work. Editors and agents were all interested in a project God was birthing in my heart. They all told me to send it to them when I had it written.
I thought those two words were just an encouragement to my heart for the duration of the conference. Little did I know, those two little words would end up becoming the title of my book that God would write from my heart through my fingertips: “Hope Prevails: Insights From a Doctor’s Personal Journey Through Depression.” But more than that, I had no idea that those two words would become the lifeline that I would hold onto through the most devastating of circumstances over the next several years.
Since that sunny afternoon when I sat for a short ten minutes in the cool breeze under the blossoming tree, I have gone through a life threatening illness, my spiritual mother and spiritual father died, we lost several employees who were like family to us, we had to restructure my private practice, our home and office were burglarized, my husband was diagnosed and treated for cancer, and I went through both a 12-week bout of pneumonia and a concussion. Throughout this entire time, I came face to face with the question of whether or not I was going to believe the very message I wrote about: Hope Prevails.
In each situation, God brought me back into agreement with the words He had spoken to my heart. It never meant that the situation was easy, but rather, that I knew who controlled the outcome. God promises in His word that what the enemy intends to harm us, God will use for our good (Genesis 50:20).
Hope is: Having only positive expectations. And it prevails as long as God is on His throne.
That’s what I tell people when they ask.
They ask, “How do you do it? How do you get through such hard trials, and not only survive, but thrive?”
First, pulling a blanket up over my head and expecting our problems to go away wouldn’t solve anything, and isn’t really an option. If I’m the one facing the trial, I’m the one who has to deal with the difficulty. I face it head on and I expect it to turn out for my good (Romans 8:28). BUT, I never face it alone.
“So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6)
“…For God has said, ‘I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.’” (Hebrews 13:5)
Second, we often don’t have a choice about the circumstances we face, but we always have choice how we will respond. We can choose to grumble and complain, or we can choose to have a thankful heart and trust that God will see us through.
“Do everything without complaining and arguing.” (Philippians 2:14)
“Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all they ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)
What I learned through each of those difficult life circumstances was that my hope in God grew deeper and more fervent AS I thanked Him and AS I trusted Him. He is such a giving God, but He often requires something of us first.
“I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13)
He promises to fill us completely with joy and peace BECAUSE we trust in Him, THEN we will overflow with hope.
As I sit in my private practice office day after day, I hear about some of the most tragic life experiences and the impact it has on my patients’ emotional state:
-Spouse or Child’s Incarceration
-Death of a Child or Spouse
-Cancer, Stroke, Head Injury, or Dementia
I repeatedly find myself wondering how my patients survive such difficult trials when they don’t know Jesus as their Savior. I have gone through many painful trials throughout my life, and even just in the last few years, but I’ve been able to get through them because I know that because of Him, #HopePrevails. To me, it’s a pretty simple formula: Know Jesus, Know Hope; No Jesus, No Hope.
Do you know Jesus, my source of hope? He is God’s son and came to earth born as a baby and died on a cross for our sins so that we could spend eternity with Him. He’s my entire reason for hope. If you don’t know Him as your Savior yet but you’d like to, it’s as simple as praying a prayer like this one:
Dear God, I know that I have sinned and I am sorry. I thank you that Jesus died for my sins. Please come into my heart today to live as my Lord and Savior. I thank you that because of Jesus’s death on the cross, Hope Prevails! In Jesus’s name I pray, Amen.
Because of Him, #HopePrevails!
Dr. Michelle Bengtson is the author of “Hope Prevails: Insights From a Doctor’s Personal Journey Through Depression.” Her personal experience and professional expertise reveal the unseen issues that keep women chained in despair, while handing readers the keys to freedom. Even though someone may seem hostage to depression, it never has to be the final destination. Dr. Bengtson is an expert at helping women address the following concerns: 1. How to identify the early warning signs of depression. 2. Know when to seek help and who to ask. 3. Tips for teaching loved ones how to help someone battling depression. 4. Provide assurance that victory over depression is always possible – from someone’s who’s been through it.
Dr. Michelle Bengtson offers hope as a key to unlock joy and relief—even in the middle of the storm. She lives in the Dallas/Fort Worth area with her husband, their two sons, and three dogs.She blogs regularly on her own site: http://www.DrMichelleBengtson.com
For more hope, stay connected with her at:
To order Hope Prevails: http://drmichellebengtson.com/hope-prevails-book/
Twitter: http://www.Twitter.com/DrMBengtson (@DrMBengtson)
To order Hope Prevails: http://drmichellebengtson.com/hope-prevails-book/