Hope Reflected

Encouragement and Hope from God's Word

life hacks Archive



January 2023

20 life lessons learned in 2022

Written by , Posted in Christian Living, Published Work

The celebration of Christmas and the excitement of a new year are an ideal time to reflect on the past year and the life lessons we’ve learned. For certain this past year I’ve learned more than my share of life lessons, and here are some of the highlights.

"God allows us to experience the low points in life in order to teach us lessons that we could learn in no other way." C.S. Lewis | Read more life lessons learned in 2022 on hopereflected.com
  1. Running is an activity that requires great patience, is never perfected, and always practiced. “…let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1-2).
  2. Christians have a responsibility to stand out and to stand up for Biblical truth. “Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted?” (Matthew 5:13).
  3. Though there may be unrest in the world, there can still be peace within us, and there are always glimmers of God’s grace around us. “No times are so wild but that in them are quiet corners, green oases, all the greener for their surroundings, where life glides on in peaceful isolation from the tumult.” (Alexander MacLaren).
  4. God is never surprised; there is no event to which He responds, “Oh boy, I didn’t know that was going to happen.” “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.” (Revelation 1:8, 21:6)
  5. Service requires sacrifice, and so love is not just service, love is also sacrifice. “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (1 John 4:10).
  6. Even on days when we can’t see the sun, it’s still shining. There is always light. “One sun enlightens the whole world; so does one Christ, and there needs no more. What a dark dungeon would the world be without the sun!” (Matthew Henry).
  7. Anyone can lay up treasures on earth that they can’t keep; it takes real wisdom to lay up eternal treasures that you can’t lose. “Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not? For riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven.” (Proverbs 23:5).
  8. When we strive to do things on our own and in our own power, we are bound to be anxious and worried. “Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feedeth them: how much more are ye better than the fowls?” (Luke 12:24).
  9. To wait, to keep serving the Lord requires great faithfulness and good courage because it is not easy, especially in the face of fighting and turmoil. “Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.” (Psalm 27:14).
  10. We won’t get far if we try to flee from God. “Whither shall I go from thy spirit? Or whither shall I flee from thy presence?” (Psalm 139:7).
  11. We are disillusioned if we think that we can get away with directly disobeying God. “For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb.” (Psalm 37:2).
  12. It is a privilege to have friends who will labour to carry us to Christ and exercise their faith on our behalf. “When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee.” (Mark 2:5).
  13. We are not really living our faith if our lives don’t bear fruit. “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.” (John 15:5).
  14. We don’t have to understand all the details when we trust that God is working every detail for His glory. “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6).
  15. We can only grow spiritually if we are daily in God’s Word as a way of living, not an occasional activity. “As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him:” (Colossians 2:6).
  16. “Although the Lord may not appear for us in the way we expect, or desire, or suppose, yet He will in some way or other provide for us.” (Charles Spurgeon).
  17. Sin is a slippery slope, and there is always a cost to compromise. “And they took Lot, Abram’s brother’s son, who dwelt in Sodom, and his goods, and departed.” (Genesis 14:12).
  18. “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18). “The fall is simply and solely disobedience – doing what you have been told not do; and it results from pride – from being too big for your boots, forgetting your place, thinking that you are God.” (C.S. Lewis).
  19. We should be more interested in getting understanding than getting our point across. “A fool uttereth all his mind: but a wise man keepeth it in till afterwards.” (Proverbs 29:11).
  20. Vain repetitions are many words with no meaning; persistence in prayer has power because it requires us to have great faith. “Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).

It was C.S. Lewis who wrote that “Experience is a brutal teacher, but you learn. My god, do you learn.” Lewis also wrote that “God allows us to experience the low points of life in order to teach us lessons that we could learn in no other way.” Whether these lessons are learned at a low point or a high point, I hope these life hacks are found to be of value.

Originally published as “20 Life Lessons learned in 2022: Parts 1 and 2.” Independent Plus. December 29, 2022 and January 5, 2023: 5. Print. Web.



December 2016

20 Life Lessons I Learned in 2016

Written by , Posted in Christian Living, Published Work

hope reflected 20 things I learned in 2016

It’s that time of year again! One thing I always love to do at the end of the year is to take time to reflect back on the time that’s just passed, and to look forward to applying what I learned in the New Year ahead. 2016 was a year filled with many answered prayers, challenges, encouragement, and also some important life hacks learned (and re-learned). With this in mind, I’m happy to share with you 20 Life Lessons I Learned in 2016:

  1. Remember to rest. “Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him:” (Psalm 37:7a) I’ve been learning the lesson of “remember to rest” for most of my adult life. Ever since Carl Honoré’s “In Praise of Slowness,” I find myself yearning more and more for the slow life. Not just “taking”, but making time to rest – to turn off my phone, to eat dinner around the table, to make eye contact, to enjoy a fulfilled life with the ones I love – rest is a constant education, one that must be studied and practiced. When I purpose to rest in the LORD, only He can give me rest from life’s trials, personal problems, and work.
  2. To be successful, you need a strategy. “The thoughts of the diligent tend only to plenteousness; but of every one that is hasty only to want.” (Proverbs 21:5) Part of a winning strategy involves learning to the patient, being open to change, and being prayerful in your direction and decisions. As King Solomon said in Proverbs 13:16, “Every prudent man acts with knowledge.” No war was ever won without a solid strategy.
  3. A little encouragement can go a long way. “Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits.” (Psalm 103:2) When you’re discouraged, there are a few easy ways to bring yourself out of that rut: Count your blessings. Go for a walk. Buy someone (or yourself!) flowers. Get into God’s Word. Smile at someone. Remember, a candle loses nothing by lighting another candle.
  4. The emotion of anger is a fact of life; while it can’t be avoided, it can be remedied. “…be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger.” (James 1:19) A moment of patience in a moment of anger saves you a hundred moments of regret.
  5. There’s a Bible verse for that. “Thy word have I hid in mine heart,” (Psalm 119:11) When you’re anxious, afraid, sad, apathetic, bitter, or impatient, God’s Word is filled with encouraging verses about peace, courage, comfort, happiness, joy, love, forgiveness, and patience. Just open it!
  6. Faithfulness is important, even in the little things. “It is of the LORD’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-23) Faithfulness is a virtue that can be developed prayerfully and with good habits. Faithfulness is important in every aspect of our lives, whether relationally, professionally, or financially.
  7. Bad habits can be beat. “A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.” (Galatians 5:9) Just like weeds in a garden, bad habits have a tendency to spread – and stick. Bad habits can be beat when you choose to be accountable, pray specifically, and believe you can overcome your bad habits. Bad habits can be beat with God’s help!
  8. Practicing patience is worth the wait. “Be patient, bearing with one another in love.” (Ephesians 4:2) Planting a seed requires patience and time (which Tolstoy said are the two most powerful warriors). Patience requires rest, the right heart, and a whole lot of humility, and in the end, it’s totally worth it. As Elisabeth Elliot said, “Don’t dig up in doubt what you planted in faith.” Patience can be accomplished, one day at a time.
  9. Don’t judge a book by its cover. “But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth, for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7) Consider an iceberg: What we see on the surface is only about 10% of the whole iceberg; the other 90%, the greater mass, lies beneath the waters. This is an important lesson to remember when we look at one another.
  10. When it comes to devotions, the important part is getting started. “Be still, and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10) Take the time to get into God’s Word. Just like the saying “six pack abs start in the kitchen,” a strong spiritual life starts in the Bible. Open your Bible, even if it’s just a Proverb a day, seek God, and ask Him to speak to your heart. The benefits will be eternal.
  11. Make time to pray. Everyday. “Pray without ceasing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17) There are plenty of habits you can develop throughout this life, and one that’s worth practicing is prayer. God is powerful, and we have direct access to Him, whenever, wherever, and about whatever. Carve out time each day to pray, and remember throughout the day to pray for people you encounter and to praise Him for the little victories and blessings that come your way.
  12. God created you to be you. “…even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows.” (Luke 12:7) God knows the exact amount of how many (or how few) hairs are on your head, and you can rest assured that He created you for a purpose that only you can accomplish and fulfill. I need this reminder daily!
  13. God is faithful and merciful. “For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee.” (Psalm 86:5) A great way to remember God’s faithfulness and mercy is to keep a prayer journal – Wes and I keep note of prayer requests and praises, and it’s nothing short of AMAZING to go back and look through all of our answered prayers. This is especially encouraging when we’re feeling down or like things aren’t going our way. God is faithful and His mercies are new every morning!
  14. God is gracious. “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.” (Ephesians 2:8) Read: God gives us what we don’t deserve. He loves to shower His people with goodness and gifts that are exceeding abundantly above all we can ask or think.
  15. Put things in perspective. “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom:” (Proverbs 9:10) Sometimes I get so caught up with to-do lists and being busy that I need a reality check when it comes to setting priorities and what’s truly important – don’t we all? When we have a correct understanding of the fear of the Lord, it makes it easier to remember (easier, not always easy), that whatever we’re facing in front of us is never bigger than the God inside us.
  16. There is always hope. “In the day of prosperity be joyful, but in the day of adversity consider; God also hath set one over against the other, to the end that man should find nothing after him.” (Ecclesiastes 7:14) When you face adversity, ask the Lord what He’s trying to teach you, remind yourself that God is in complete control, and remember that there is always hope. C.S. Lewis once said, “Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny.”
  17. Disappointments are inevitable; discouragement is a choice. “Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God.” (Psalm 42:11) You’re not alone if experience a day – or two, or three, or hey, maybe even an entire week, – of disappointment. Life happens to all of us! The key is in how we handle it.
  18. Choose faith over fear. “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1) One of the realities of life is that we will all face seasons of change. Many thoughts can run through our minds when embarking on a new journey, and it’s in those times of uncertainty that we all need to be reminded to choose faith over fear. Bob Proctor said it like this: “Faith and fear both demand you believe in something you cannot see. You choose!”
  19. We all need a firm foundation. “…remove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set.” (Proverbs 22:28) When we start messing around with our foundations, structures shift. And an unsteady structure is not a safe structure. Having a firm foundation for what you believe is important because when storms come and your beliefs are tested – your foundation is your core!
  20. Less is more. “Better is little with the fear of the LORD than great treasure and trouble therewith.” (Proverbs 15:16) G.K. Chesterton said, “There are two ways to get enough. One is to accumulate more, and the other is to desire less.” Too often we look to fulfill our longings with things. Fulfillment doesn’t come from any amount of “stuff” that you accumulate; it comes from God. “It is not happy people who are thankful; it is thankful people who are happy.” Remember to practice an attitude of gratitude!

Originally published as “20 Life Lessons I Learned in 2016 – Parts 1 & 2.” Reidt, Hope. Independent Plus, Minto Express, Arthur Enterprise-News, Fergus-Elora News Express. December 21, 2016: 5. 2 parts.