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Joyce Meyer - Hope Is Real



What is hope? "Well, I hope for this. I hope for that. I hope it don't rain. I hope, I hope, I hope". Hope is not just kinda this wishy-washy vague, "Well, I wonder if it'll happen but I don't know if it will, and I guess we'll just kinda que sera sera, wait and see". That may be a worldly kind of hope but that's not Bible hope. Bible hope is extremely powerful. It's a favorable and a confident expectation.

I want to say to you. What are you expecting God to do in your life? "I dunno. Just kind of waiting to see. Hope it's better than what I have been getting". No, what are you expecting? What are you expecting? What are you seeing in your mind, in your imagination? How do you talk about your future? What are you looking for? When you get up everyday are you just kinda like "Well, another day just trying to make it through the day"? Or are you like, "Man, there's no telling what God might do today. Today, could be the day of my breakthrough".

You know, when a pregnant woman is expecting, the longer you're pregnant, the more expectant you become. And so, some of you may be saying, "Well, I've been believing God for the same thing for 20 years". Well, then, I'll tell you what, you oughta be just about ready to pop with expectation. I carried all my children over their due date. The doctor said that I was the only woman he knew that stayed pregnant as long as an elephant. My first child was four weeks late. Yeah, the second one was five and a half weeks late. The third one was three and a half weeks late and the last one was almost five weeks late and he lacked one ounce weighing ten pounds.

I was really ready to get him out. And I'm telling you what, every day I woke up, "This has got to be the day. Today is gonna be the day". I'd check everything in the suitcase, and dust everything off, and make sure I had everything just right. And you know, every time I would just feel anything, "Oh, there it is, there it is, there it is". I was expectant. I'm gonna ask you again. What are you expecting God to do in your life? God wants us to be expectant on purpose. It has to do with the unseen and the future. You don't hope for what you can see. You don't hope for what you already have. You hope for what you can't see and what you don't have.

Hope is the happy anticipation of good. I love that. The happy anticipation, "Something good is gonna happen to me. Something good is gonna happen in my family. Something good is gonna happen in our nation". God is good and he is doing good things, and hope releases joy. Hope is very simply, a positive attitude. A positive mindset. Now, if I can stand here and say to you, "Have a positive attitude", coming from where I came from and seeing what God has done in my attitude, then I'm here to tell you that no matter how many negative things you've had happen in your life, no matter how negative your mind might be right now, you can have a change of mind and a change of attitude and you can become so positive that you won't even hardly recognize yourself.

The hopeful person absolutely refuses to be negative in any way. Although, they recognize and deal with the storms of life, they remain hopeful in thought, attitude, and conversation... And conversation. So often, we say we're praying for this or we're hoping for that and if you'd listen to the way we talk we sure don't sound like we're hoping for any change. We can't be saying that we're in faith for God to do this and then talking about it like it's never gonna change.

Now, here comes something for you to do. We always like to have something to do, right? Anybody can decide today to be hopeful. You don't have to wait for a special feeling. We live way too much based on our feelings. "Well, Joyce you just don't know how I feel". Well, can I tell you something? You don't know how I feel. Nobody knows how anybody else feels. But we can't live by how we feel. And the more we cater to our feelings, the more they're gonna increase because when we give in to 'em, we feed 'em and make 'em stronger, but if we don't give in to 'em, we starve 'em and pretty soon, they lose their power over us.

Your feelings will catch up with your decisions. Let me just say from the outset, we can't do anything without God. That's already a foregone conclusion for me. The first thing that I say every morning is God apart from you I can do nothing. And most mornings, I slip out of bed and I get down on my knees by my bed. And I say, "God I'm here just to simply say that I can't do anything without you. I am nothing without you". So, when I say to you, "You need to do this. You need to do that. You need to decide".

I'm just trying to provoke you to align your will up with the will of God, and to make the God-inspired Holy Spirit-filled effort that God wants you to make. But I want to make it clear that you cannot do it on your own. We cannot do anything apart from God, but we are partners with God. I love what Reinhard Bonnke says, "God needs manpower, and we need God-power". And that's the truth. God needs you and he needs me, and he needs us with a good attitude. He needs us full of hope, and confidence, and faith that all things are possible with God.

Joyce: You might be in a situation where it doesn't feel like hope even exists for you. But where you are right now does not have to be where you remain. Don't give up on a future where life is worth living. Nancy Alcorn of mercy multiplied is joining me today with real life stories of people who used to struggle with suicidal thoughts, found hope to make it through their circumstances, and now, are enjoying their lives. Well, Nancy, it's good to have you on the program.

Nancy: Thank you. I love being here.

Joyce: Good, just give us a nutshell of mercy multiplied so everybody knows what we're talking about here.

Nancy: Okay, well, we actually, have multiple locations in the United States and other countries, but let's just focus on the United States for now. We take girls from all 50 states. We take them in, free of charge, ages 13 to 32. They have all kinds of life-controlling issues like eating disorders, unplanned pregNancy, addictions of all kinds, girls that have had multiple suicide attempts, girls who self-harm, girls who have been sex trafficked. I mean, just about every kind of problem you can think of, you know. And they'd come because they have to want to come. And we take them in, free of charge because most of them couldn't pay if they had to, and the average length of stay is about six months. So, we've received so many amazing life transformations. So, for people out there feeling like they have no hope, we want them to know that there's hope and there's a way that they can totally have a new life in Christ and their past does not have to destroy their future.

Joyce: I love the scripture in Peter, where he said that we are born again into a living hope. And I love that. That you know, when you have a relationship with Christ and we are talking about relationship not just joining a religion. Sometimes we're so intent on following rules and regulations that we never get around to having a real relationship with him. But wouldn't you say that in order for a person to want to commit suicide that they would have to pretty much be hopeless.

Nancy: Absolutely, severe depression. It's almost like you feel like you're in a pit and you just can't get out, it's so dark. And for anyone to take their life, I feel that absolutely, they have to be totally without hope. And we know what God says in Jeremiah 29:11, God says, "These are the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you not to harm you, to give you hope and a future". And hopelessness, it's such an awful thing. And that's why we wanna let people know that you may feel helpless today, but there's always hope, you don't have to stay that way.

Joyce: Well, you know, our mind has a lot to do with everything in our life. And it's so great to learn that you can do your own thinking that you don't have to just think whatever falls in your head because many of those thoughts are placed there by our enemy, the devil. But what kind of wrong mindsets would you say get people into that condition.

Nancy: Self-hate. Feeling like they're... A person feels worthless and a lot of times it's because of either things that happened to them when they were little girls or little boys, or things that happened, choices they made that they can't forgive themselves for. It's all kinds of things. But a lot of stuff, they'd have a lot of feeling very, you know, like...

Joyce: Alone.

Nancy: Alone, and, "What is life all about", like, "What is my purpose? I feel like I have no purpose. I have no reason to live". They feel unloved. They feel judged. They feel ashamed. A lot of shame.

Joyce: And they feel like that nothing's ever gonna change, no matter what.

Nancy: Exactly.

Joyce: It's gonna be this way forever, so they feel hopelessly stuck in a situation. But a right mindset, renewing your mind as a believer in Jesus Christ, which is one of the first things we're taught to do is learn how to think the way God thinks instead of just thinking the way the world thinks, or whatever wrong mindsets we have really is the beginning to changing your whole life.

Nancy: Well, it's true.

Joyce: I'm sure one of the first things you teach these girls is how to think right.

Nancy: Renewing the mind is huge. And I don't know if you know this or not, but the, "Battlefield of the Mind", that's one of my all-time favorite books, if not, my very favorite book. But we use that with every single girl who walks through our doors. We have your DVD teachings on renewing the mind, we teach on it as well. It's talked about in counseling but it's definitely one of the things that we have to start with right away because wherever your thoughts, you know, wherever your thoughts take you: they take you. So, we have maybe at least start with renewing the mind and teaching the girls how to take every thought captive, and help them get into the word and they start identifying the lies that they believe, so then, they come up with a comparable truth statement to combat the lie and they begin to speak that truth out loud over their self and things begin to change.

Joyce: And there are people watching the program today, that have never had a suicidal thought in their life, but they still need to renew their mind.

Anybody can decide to be hopeful. "Well Joyce, you just don't know what's happened in my life". No matter what has happened in your life, you can start turning things around today, if you'll make a decision today, "That's it. I'm done being negative. I'm done talking negative. I'm not thinking negative. I'm not gonna imagine negative things. I am going, with God's help, to have a good attitude". But I'm here to tell ya, there is no promise of God that is gonna manifest in our lives if we keep a negative attitude and a negative mouth.

Oh my gosh, I was so negative. I mean, honestly, if I thought two positive thoughts in a row, my brain would cramp. Dave and I'd been married about three weeks and he looked at me and he said, "What is wrong with you"? See, we only had five dates and got married. We had to do it quick before he found out what he was getting. It was like this, you talk about a whirlwind Romance, I mean, whoo. And he said, "What is wrong with you? You have such a negative attitude". This is what I said to him. This is how bad I was. I said, "If you don't expect anything good to happen, then you're not disappointed when it doesn't".

You say, "Well, why did you think like that"? Because I had, had 23 years of nothing but pain, and abuse, and disappointment, and unfaithfulness, and one bad thing after another, after another, after another happening in my life. And that is exactly what the devil wants to do to you. He wants to bring a series of trials into your life to where you begin to think that nothing good is ever gonna happen to you. Then you give your mouth to that, you give your attitude to it, you give your thoughts to it. You find some more negative people talk to and the two of you get in agreement. I'm not hanging out with negative people. I am not gonna hang out, spend my time with negative people. I don't ignore problems. I talk about problems when they're there. But I'm not gonna spend my life being negative.

You can decide today. You can decide today. And you can be the catalyst to turn your whole family around. You can be the catalyst to turn your friends around. You can turn your workplace around. You can turn your school around if you'll be the first one to say, "I'm done being negative". One day, I was having a particularly bad day, it's been many, many, many years ago and... Do any of you have what is called, "A promise box"? You have one of those? Okay. Well, I used to have one of those too. It's like a little, long recipe box and it just has scriptures in it, it's just full of scriptures.

And so, you know, we're always looking for a word back then in the seventies, "God, I need a word. I need a word". You know, you got the whole Bible there, but we need a word. So, I was just really down and I was just really having a rough time and so, I went to my promise box and I flipped it open. That's they way you're supposed to do it. You flip it open see, and you pull out a card and that's supposed to be something great for you, for the day.

Well, this morning, I tried that just with my Bible. And I did it on purpose just 'cause I thought I might get something crazy and I could make a point. Well, sure enough, Isaiah 29:2, "I will distress you and there will be mourning and lamentation". One time, I got, "Whoa be unto you, you wicked sinner". I thought, "Whew". I need another choice here. But that particular day, I got Romans 15:13. Let's like a look at that scripture, and it definitely was a word from God for me. "May the God of your hope", God is not the God of our hopelessness. He can't do anything for you if you're hopeless. And you can be hopeful on purpose, you don't have to wait to feel it.

You can say, "God is doing something good in my life". "May the God of your hope so fill you with all joy and peace in believing", believing is everything. What do you believe? "Through the experience of your faith that the power of the Holy Spirit may abound and be overflowing (bubbling over) with hope". Now, let's back that up and look at this again. I wanna show you somethin'. "The God of your hope", this doesn't happen if you're hopeless. "Fill you with joy and peace in believing", and having that positive attitude, something good is gonna happen. You say, "Well, I believed that yesterday and nothing good happened". Well, kick the devil right in the teeth and say, "I'm gonna believe it again today, and tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day, and the next day and the next day".

Keep on believing. Believing is not something we try, it's the way we live. "Through the experience of your faith", and I love this, you wanna release the power of the Holy Ghost in your life? Get a God-attitude. "Through the power of the Holy Spirit". I'm all done with weak, pitiful, pathetic, puny living. I want some power in my life. Amen? God is the author of hope, not hopelessness. The devil offers hopelessness. Doubt and negativity steal hope. When you feel hopeless or down, in any way, you must have a resurrection of believing. And when you do, hope will immediately set you free. Although we cannot prevent negative feelings from showing up, we can drive them away through having right thoughts, attitudes, conversation and action.

Joyce: You have so many girls go through your homes and you have a 91% success rate, which is just phenomenal. And can you think of any particular girl right now, or girls that you could tell us their story?

Nancy: Yes, there's one that's been on my heart a lot the last few days. Her name is porsha. And when she was three years old, she and her mother were taking a walk near her grandmother's house, and they came upon a rock, a big rock on the side of the road that you could sit on. And she's set her little three-year-old daughter up on the rock, and she said, "You stay here. I'll be right back". And a van came, and she got in the van with the man and she never came back. So, when it started getting dark, porsha was hungry, so she figured out how to get down the street to her grandmother's house. And that was her mother ended up being a major drug addict, her father got put in prison, and by the time she was five years old she got put in foster care system. Eventually, her grandparents...

Joyce: She got away from the guy in the van.

Nancy: Yes. They didn't take her. They left her on the side of the road.

Joyce: Oh, they took the mother.

Nancy: The mother went with the man in the van. And so, they left. They just left her on the side of the road. So, she remembers that, to this day. So, she gets to her grandmother's house and, she lived with her grandparents after being in foster care. She got abused in foster care. So, at age seven, she moves in with her grandparents and then some of her older boy relatives came in and out without her grandparents knowing and they were sexually abusing her. So, her first of seven, very serious suicide attempts, her first one was at age nine, if you can imagine.

Joyce: Oh my gosh.

Nancy: Age nine, because she just felt like this is what my life is gonna be. I don't wanna live it. And so, that abuse continued until she was 17 years old and at age 17 was her last of her seven serious suicide attempts. And that one put her in the hospital and someone from the local church that she had visited while she was in foster care, found out about her situation, knew about mercy, went to the hospital and told her and her pastors, from Ohio, helped her get into our program. And today, that was like, almost seven years ago, and she is going strong for God. She went on and got an education. She's working today, with children with disabilities and she's very involved in the local church, fully in love with Jesus, and she said, "When I talk about my old life, I feel like I'm talking about a totally different person". And of course, she is.

Joyce: I always say that when I talk about the abuse in my childhood, I feel like I'm talking about somebody that I used to know a long, long time ago that I just don't have that much relationship with anymore.

Nancy: We feel like, that our job is to introduce them to a real relationship with Jesus Christ and help equip them and disciple them so that when they go out into the real world, they have the tools. They understand about renewing the mind, they've done that. They've identified the lies they believe about themselves. So, they go home with those truth statements. So, they go home with a toolbox, but they gotta use those tools. And God says that he, "Continually works in us both to will and to do his good pleasure". So, I know that I will be, as I continue on to know the Lord and renew my mind everyday, I know that I'll be closer to the Lord this time, and hopefully more mature in the Lord this time next year than I am today. Even though, I've been leading a ministry for 36 years, I'm still growing and that's just the way it is.

Joyce: Yeah, and I feel the same way. I sat in a teaching last week. You're not ever going to just arrive at a place where you no longer need to learn and need to grow. And you know, we've been talking, several times you've mentioned identifying the lies that they believe. So, what would you say two or three are the top lies that most of these girls believe are?

Nancy: I would say that one of the top ones is they believe that they're not, because of what they've done and what's been done to them that they're too dirty to ever be able to have a relationship with God, so that separates them. And so, what we try to do is not only share about, but demonstrate God's unconditional love for them, and to lift the guilt and shame and condemnation off of them by helping them understand what Jesus did on the cross that he bore the shame for them and one of the biggest things Joyce, that we have to help them understand. 'cause every person that's ever had anything happen to them, asks this question, "Why did God let this happen to me"? And it's a very valid question, and I would be asking it too if I'd been through what a lot of these young women have been through. And so, we have to help them understand John 10:10, "The thief comes to kill, steal, and to destroy but Jesus said, 'i have come that you might have life and have it more abundantly'". And in Psalm 119, it said that, "God is good and he does good". James 1, "Every good and perfect gift comes from God". And so, we have to help them understand, as mad as you are about what happened to you, God's even more mad and he put the wrath of all that on Jesus on the cross, he bore that so that in your time of need that you could come to him and receive freedom, and that it was never God's will. 'cause the girls can't trust God if they believe God did it to 'em. So, this wasn't God's will. He's angry about it and he's okay that you're angry about it. And so, receive what Jesus did for you and know that when God looks at you he declares you not guilty.

Joyce: Absolutely, and you know, that was one of my, I mean, I had a recording playing in my head. I felt like until I was probably 45, "What's wrong with me? What's wrong with me? What's wrong with me"? I always assumed that there had to be something wrong with me, for my own father to want to do the things to me that he did. And a child doesn't know that it's not their fault. They think it's their fault. And there's a lot of confusion about what the perpetrator tells you about, you know, "I'm doing this because I love you, but you can't tell anybody".

And you know, you instinctively, know that there's something wrong, but I remember thinking this isn't happening to the other girls I know. Little did I know that it could have been. It was just not anything that anybody talked about back then. But you definitely have to come to the place where you realize that because somebody hurt you, doesn't mean there's something wrong with you. It means there's something wrong with them. And one of the first things, which seems like the hardest, most impossible, unjust thing that God could ask us to do is to forgive them. Because when you do, you set yourself free.

As long as you hate the person who hurt you, you just keep letting them hurt you. But when you can forgive them then God can begin to work not only in your life but also in theirs. But I'm glad you're gonna be with us again tomorrow so we can talk about some more of this 'cause we've just scratched the surface of the help that people need. Well, we want to encourage you to join us tomorrow when Nancy'll be back with us, with more stories of hope and more insights that are gonna help you in many different ways.

And today, we're offering you a free booklet, or you can download it. It's available, titled, "Overcoming Depression". Contact us, the information is at the bottom of your screen and take advantage of this free offer for you or someone that you know, that needs this resource. Also, check out this webpage because it contains information for individuals struggling with suicidal thoughts to get the help that they need. There are also, testimonials that will remind you that there is hope for your life. Remember, God loves you and you are not alone.

PART 2

Ohh... One of my most yummy scriptures is Zechariah 9:12. Let's put it up. "Return to the stronghold of security and prosperity, you Prisoners of Hope:" uh-oh, "Even today do I declare that I will restore double, double your former prosperity to you". Now, we're going over the edge. Okay, now look. God promises us that if we will become Prisoners of Hope. You know what that means? I'm locked up in hope. I can't get away from it. I can't get out of it. Hope. Hope. Hope. Hope. Hope. Everywhere I look hope, hope, hope. When you do that the devil does not know what to do to you.

Now, listen, the devil will attack us. He'll come against us. He'll come with negative thoughts and trying to tell us that... But, but, but, but, whoohoo, hoohoo! "Nana nana nana, nana nena nananaa". Thbbpthpt... He can't get to us, as long as we remain Prisoners of Hope. Amen? You get up in the morning, the devil says, "Nothing good's gonna happen to you today. You've already been waiting 25 years. It ain't gonna change". Listen, I had migraine headaches ten years, I don't have migraine headaches anymore. You gotta keep hoping. Every day, you gotta say, "Today could be my day. I'm expecting". You know, I have no interest at all, in standing up here for an hour just trying to be a cheerleader. Yes, I can drive you into an emotion of excitement while you're here.

That's not what I want for you. I want you to get a principal. I want you to get an understanding of something that... This is something you can take home with you and when you know how to have this Godly attitude and stay full of hope, I am telling you there is no devil in hell that can defeat you. I don't care what's going on in your family, your finances. Yes, that doesn't mean it's not gonna hurt and be hard but when you say, "God, I believe your word. I believe it", and you need to say it out loud. "I believe your word. I believe your promises. And I'm gonna keep believing, and keep believing, and keep believing, and keep believing". And when you do, the God of your hope will fill you with joy and peace.

Joyce: Well, hope is essential to enjoying life. But many people are in circumstances where it feels like there is no hope for them to ever have a better life. Nancy alcorn of mercy multiplied joins me again today with more real life stories of triumph over depression and suicidal thoughts. You know, Nancy, it's disturbing to me, and I'm sure to you, just how the rate of suicide has increased and especially, among young people. You know, I think that the things that they deal with today are so much different than what I dealt with as a teenager and a lot of them are just very, very confused in addition to many of them being hurt. But you don't have to have been abused to have suicidal thoughts, it can just be what you feel like is a lifetime full of bad things happening to you. Is that right?

Nancy: That's absolutely right. And also, you've got the cyberbullying and the things that get passed through social media that can be very devastating to a young person. In fact, I just read yesterday that, this includes men, and young men and young women between the ages of 15 to 25 that it is the second leading cause of death, suicide, ages 15 to 25. That's just like, unheard of to me. And so, people get wounded through various reasons, it's not just sexual abuse. That's obviously, a big one, but there's so many more things that happen, and the things that get passed through telephones, and text messages, and online and all those things, and it's just heart-wrenching. And people don't realize how much a person can get wounded. I mean, we'd even had girls come to mercy with severe eating disorders that started simply because their fathers or one of their brothers or somebody mentioned, "You look like you're gaining a little bit of weight". I mean, that's how easy the enemy can take words and wound people with 'em, and then, throw 'em into a complete state of hopelessness and worthlessness.

Joyce: You know, deep-rooted insecurity is very tormenting because you end up spending your life trying to compare yourself with other people and always be something that you're not. Insecurity's bad, but I can tell you something that's worse, and that's shame. Shame is even worse than guilt. It's one thing to feel guilty about something, but to feel shame is even a higher level of all these bad feelings about yourself. And I know for me, I was progressing along in my healing with God, which we've already established yesterday, takes time for people not to give up or think it's gonna be an overnight thing. And I had never really heard of, or dealt with shame. And I read a book that talked about how it's one thing to be ashamed of something you do or even, like for me, to be ashamed of what my dad was doing to me, but somewhere along the line I crossed over into being ashamed of myself because he was doing it. And so, if you really dig into all those definitions, one of the definitions of shame is, "To be damned". And that means, that you know, you're basically, doomed to disappointment and you can never have a good life. So, what do you know about shame from dealing with these girls?

Nancy: Well, you know, when you were talking, one particular young woman came to mind. Her name is Franny. And when Franny was six years old, she grew up idolizing her older brother. He was about five years older than her. And so, when she was about six years old, he was her protector, he was her best friend. And at age six he went from protector to predator. He started selling her to his friends. They would come over to the house when her parents were at work. And so, he did that for about five years. Then, he turned her over to one of his friends, who was a gang member in town, and then, he took over from there. So, this went on until she was like, 17 years old. And she came in after multiple suicide attempts and not wanting to live, feeling like it was her fault. She felt like she was an object. She was filled with shame, and similar to the way you described how you felt, and she came in the doors that way. But she began to experience the love of God. She began to experience the reality of the fact that it wasn't God's will that, that happened to her, that he wanted to lift the shame, and guilt, and condemnation off of her and give her a purpose and a reason to live. And it's a long story, but basically, she went through our st. Louis home that Joyce Meyer ministries helped provide for us like, 13 years ago. She graduated from that home about six, seven years ago and she immediately went to the st. Louis dream center, which you oversee, and did a two-year job there with you guys, working with young girls, and God used her in great ways. And then, she went on to bethel school of ministry, where she is today. She is actually, in her third year there at bethel school of ministry. And her dream is to open a safe house for young kids who have been through what she went through as a little girl.

Joyce: Well, there's no better way to get the devil back for what he's done to you, than to turn it around on him, and go help people that are struggling with the same thing that you came out of. You know, we believe, because the Bible says that, "God can work all things out for good to those who love him and are called according to his purpose". So, if you love God and you want his will in your life and you're willing to let him work in your life... You know, it says in Isaiah that, "He'll give us beauty for ashes", but I always say, "You gotta give up the ashes to get the beauty". Which means, you know, you can't spend your life with a chip on your shoulder, feeling sorry for yourself, being mad at everybody. There are things that God requires us to do, to be obedient to him before the healing comes. We don't just get healed without making any changes in our life. And everything that God asks us to do is always something that's going to be for our benefit.

You know, I believe that being a prisoner of hope releases you from other prisons. The apostle Paul was a prison of religion. And if you read the new testament, Paul now, says, "I, a prisoner of the Lord, Jesus Christ". Well, I used to be a prisoner of negativity and doubt. I was a prison of my past. I was a prison of all the years of abuse that I had gone through and I thought, "Nothing good can ever happen to me and you're just making a mistake if you expect it to because all you're gonna get is disappointed". And now, I am so full of hope and just expect God to do ama... Every day I believe God for favor in my life, and I just wait to see how God shows up and shows out.

"Well, well, I wish I felt like that". Don't make me come down there and get you. "Well, I just, yeah, it'd be nice if we all had your life". Oh, you don't know nothing about my life. "It'd just be nice". Can I tell you something? I didn't get from where I was to where I am by wishing. What have you lost during all the years that you didn't know the tRuth of God's word? How many years have you wasted? Have you lost your identity? Do you not know who you are in Christ? Do you spend your time feeling guilty, and condemned, and depressed, and discouraged, and downtrodden? Have you lost your confidence? Do you know who you are in Christ?

Have you lost your friends, your job, your childhood, your mind? My childhood was stolen from me. I never got to be a kid. That's tough when you don't ever get to be a kid. I don't remember ever just being a happy, carefree... I never felt safe, ever. Never. But you know what? I'm just having so much fun now that I can hardly stand myself. Whoohoo! Now, you know what? Just about the time you start to think, "Well, you know what? What she's saying makes sense".

You start to feel just a little bit of hope starting to bubble in there, then you might as well expect it, the devil is going to attack. And he comes in a different way than he did before. I gotta fight the good fight of faith and I gotta get my hope back because if I have my hope back... Ha ha ha ha ha haa! "Nana, nana, nana. Thbbpthpt... Go away". I want you to go home with one of these. Amen? If you need to, make it your bathroom. And when everything that you look at looks like destruction, you just go get in that bathroom, run the water, flush the toilet, so you can't hear the kids and say, "I believe that God is going to do something amazing in my life"!

Joyce: What would you say, the girls who come to the home and they start to learn, what would you say are some of the top things that it's harder for them to get through than maybe some other things.

Nancy: I would say, definitely, forgiveness. Especially, the ones that have been violated in ways like you experienced as a child. But what we've learned is we have to help the girls understand what forgiveness is, and what it isn't. First of all, forgiveness is not a feeling. If we wait, you know, till we feel like forgiving we'll never forgive. But we help them understand that it's an act of obedience that God said, "Because I have forgiven you, I want you to forgive others". Forgiveness doesn't mean that you're saying that what that person did to you was okay, because it wasn't okay. Doesn't mean that you have to go be reconciled or put yourself in the same situation where you can be abused again, but what it does mean is that God loves you so much that he doesn't want you to live in a prison of bitterness, and resentment, and unforgiveness. And we make sure, for example, that every girl that walks through all the doors of mercy around the world that they hear your testimony, and we always have counselors in the room. And then, we follow it with your teaching on forgiveness because what the girls have told us over and over again, if she can forgive that then why... Who am I to say that I can't forgive what has happened to me.

Joyce: Right.

Nancy: And a lot of times people have to know that, forgive them self, they're mad at God, they have to forgive God 'cause they blamed him because it happened. But to realize that God actually, loves you so much that he sent Jesus to die for all of this so that you can be free. And once they get a revelation of that, I think that's one of the hardest things is just to work through that forgiveness and get to the place where you realize that I'm doing this by faith not because I feel like it, but by faith. And we tell the girls, "If you have to grit your teeth and clench your fists and say, 'i choose to forgive so-and-so,' that's okay". And I remember as a young girl when I was first learning about forgiveness, that was my first forgiveness prayer was with clenched fists and gritted teeth. And the person that was coaching me said, "Start praying for that person now that you have chosen by faith to forgive".

Joyce: That's the key.

Nancy: And as, I want you to know, within a week's time when I prayed, I started having, instead of being mad, I started having feelings of compassion towards that individual. And it just absolutely blew me away. And I think that is the key to pray for that person.

Joyce: The Lord really taught me that too, like, I kept noticing that the same people would come up for prayer all the time at the end of services for forgiveness. You know, wanting to be able to forgive people. And I thought, "I know they want to, so what's the deal"? And the Lord just spoke to my heart and said, "They're not doing what I tell 'em to. They're trying to pray this prayer of forgiveness, but they're not praying for the person who hurt them". And not only that, the Bible says that if you have an opportunity to bless them you need to do that, too. And boy, that's a real fist clencher, to go be good to somebody who has mistreated you. But I know it works because God gave me the grace to do it with my dad and I believe that he's in heaven today because of that. And if you remember that hurting people, hurt people, most of the people that hurt the people that are watching today or the girls that have been through your home, they had something wrong in their life. That may not always be the case, but it almost always is the case that something happened to them that caused them to be that way. And so, it's much easier if you remember those things.

Nancy: Right, it sure is. And just like, you know, you said, "Hurt people, hurt people". And what we like to say at mercy is, "Free people, free people". And because we want to be conduits of freedom, we want to be able to experience that so that we can share that same freedom with other people.

Joyce: I love Romans 12:21, "We overcome evil with good", to me, that's one of the most important scriptures in the Bible. How do you overcome the evil that's been done to you? You do it by being good to other people because when the enemy hurts us, he wants us to be full of hatred, and bitterness, and resentment, full of self-pity, feel like everybody owes us something. And all of those are the opposite of what God offers us. And people think that they can't do the right thing if they don't feel right about it. But I've learned that when I do what's right when it doesn't feel right, that's when I'm growing spiritually. And so, you can do what God tells you to whether you feel like it or not.

Isaiah 61:7, oh, my gosh, this kept me going for years when I just had so much pain in my soul trying to get over the abuse that I went through, trying to learn how to be a submissive wife, trying to learn how to be nice. Oh, my gosh, and I'd go back to Isaiah 61:7, "Instead of your former shame you shall have a twofold recompense:" that means reward. "Instead of dishonor and reproach your people shall rejoice in their portion". Now, watch this. It doesn't say, "And when they finally go to heaven, they'll be blessed". "Therefore, in their land they shall possess double what they forfeited: and everlasting joy".

I know some of you have been sad. Some of you came to this conference saying, "God, I gotta have a breakthrough. You gotta speak somethin' to me. I need a word". This is your word. I'm telling you that every person can take this. This is your word from God. And anybody else that ever comes to you that needs help, this can be their word from God. There is nothing negative about our God. Everything he says is hopeful, it's full of faith. It's full of confidence. You are not the tail end of anything. It's not too late for you. God's got a good plan for your life, and it's never too late to begin again. Double, see you just don't understand and there's no way that I could ever make you understand what God has done for me.

And you say, "Well that must be nice for you". Well see, that's just that attitude I'm trying to get rid of, right there. That's it, right there. We just hit it on the head. "Well, that must be nice for you. I'm glad that you're so blessed". Caught you, didn't i? No, you know what you need to say, "If God'll do it for one person, he'll do it for me. I'm a whosoever". And God is no respecter of persons. When you see somebody else with victory, don't be resentful and jealous. Let it be an encouragement to you that if God can do it for them, God can do it for you. I don't even know how to talk about the changes in my life. But everything that I'm telling you guys that you need to do, by the grace and mercy of God, I had to do it. I didn't just get it sitting around wishing.

You have to fight the good fight of faith, when those negative thoughts come and the doubt, and the unbelief, and the selfishness, and self-centeredness, and the weariness, and tiredness. But you can't let the feelings and the negative days begin to determine your life. You have to get back into your prison of hope, and you have to say, "I don't care what I feel like, I don't care what the devil says, I don't care how long I have to wait, I know what God wants me to do and I am gonna do it, and do it, and do it, and do it, and do it, and do it, and do it, and do it, and do it, and do it, and do it until I drive the devil crazy". Come on, let's just give the devil a nervous breakdown instead of letting him give us one. I wanna be the kind of woman when my feet hit the floor in the morning, hell says, "Oh, she's up again". Prisoners of Hope.

Joyce: A little bit more about shame and the love of God. You know, it's occurred to me several times during these two days worth of programming that so many people think they've, "Tried God", and haven't gotten the help they need but they've really just tried going to church. And of course, we both believe that people should get plugged into a good church so they have a church family. But Jesus didn't die so we could join a church and have a religion, he died so we could have a relationship with Jesus. And just as we close, 'cause we don't have a lot of time left, talk to us a little bit about that, how precious that relationship is to know that you have somebody with you all the time that loves you and wants to help you.

Nancy: It's so precious because you know, the Bible tells us that he will never leave us and he will never forsake us. And I love what Psalm 103 says, "He has not dealt with us after our sin, nor has he rewarded us according to our iniquity". So, when we help learn that for our self and teach it to other people then that relationship begins to solidify because you know that God is, he's not loving you conditionally like people do, he's loving you unconditionally. No matter what you've done, no matter who you've done it with, no matter what's been done to you, he loves you so much. And we begin to teach young women to practice the presence of God, to be consciously aware that he's with you when you go shoppin', when you're taking a shower, when you're eating with your friends, whatever you're doing, he's with you and he loves you and he wants to fellowship with you. And then, he becomes like a real person. And they start experiencing that love, and that peace, and that joy, and then it moves out of this, "Well, I just need to go to church", into a living, loving relationship where they feel accepted at all times, no matter what.

Joyce: And you want to go to church because you want to hang out with those kind of people. And so, I really encourage people too, along the same lines that, you know, I heard something that is a good thing to leave people with and that is, is that God is never more than one thought away. So, all you really have to do to experience the presence of God is just to think about him. And sometimes, I'll encourage people just three or four times a day just stop and say, "God is here with me, right now". Say it out loud, "God is here with me, right now". It brings it more into our conscious awareness.

And boy, understanding that God loved me, it didn't happen overnight. And I mean, I had to confess that out of my mouth over, and over, and over declaring, "God loves me". Sometimes, I would go look at myself in a full-length mirror and point at myself and say, "God loves you". It takes a while when you have felt so hated and despised and so full of shame to begin to believe that, but if God, who is perfect, can love me then surely, I can begin to love me, too. And as soon as you start accepting yourself and loving yourself, then you can begin to love other people. Well, Nancy, we thank you for being with us, today. And we really appreciate you and all the work that you're doing. And God gives us all a little bit something different to do but together, we can all get it done. So, thank you.
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