The Battle for Purity

According to recent statistics there are over 24.5 million web sites dedicated to pornography.  A report by Bridges and Wosnitzer in 2007 found that there are 13,000 porn videos produced annually with revenue of $13 billion.   In the same year, 507 movies from Hollywood produced $8.8 billion.  Another report 

found that over 25% of all internet searches are for pornographic material.    I am certain that what was true in 2007 has not gotten any better today.  Marketing advertisers have long used sex and scantily clad women to sell everything from alcohol to weight loss pills.   Now, with the advancement of the internet, download speeds, and a decline in moral virtue, pornographic material is highly accessible and in demand. 

So, how do we resist this temptation?  First, is to acknowledge that you cannot do it by yourself.  However, you “can do all things through Christ who gives you strength” (Philippians 4:13).  Recognize porn for what it is – a favorite weapon of the enemy.  Now, recall how Satan tempted Jesus after 40 days of fasting and Jesus defeated him by using Holy Scripture.  The power of the Word is great and can be used for many things, including “rebuking” (2 Timothy 3:16).  So, rebuke impure thoughts in the name of Jesus.  Each thought is the seed for potential action.  This is why we are instructed to “take every thought captive” (2 Corinthians 10:5).  If the thought is not taken captive, you have yielded a portion of your heart to the enemy and the thought will lead to action that does not honor God. 

The heart is essential to our spiritual health.  This is why we are encouraged in Proverbs 4:23 to guard it, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”  Matthew 5:28 expands upon the concept of the heart.  “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”  I remember years ago when President Carter quoted this scripture and admitted having lust in his heart. 

The battle for sexual purity is fought in your heart. All actions, good or bad, begin with thoughts.  The thought may have taken root days or even years ago and finally is manifested, often subconsciously, into action.   The way you think determines how you feel, and feelings drive our actions. available.” The Bible tells us in 2 Timothy 2:22 how to manage our thoughts before they ever head down this path: “Turn your back on the turbulent desires of youth and give your positive attention to goodness, faith, love and peace.  Scripture encourages us to turn away from impure thoughts, and turn instead toward God. That two-step process is how you break a temptation before it ever gets started.

You’re thinking wrong long before you’re acting wrong. You stop the cycle by turning your back on those sinful thoughts and turning toward goodness, integrity, love, and peace. You’re not an innocent bystander to sexual sin. You have a choice.  Choose to live in the Spirit.

Todd Shupe is the President of DrToddShupe.com and is a well recognized expert on wood-based housing and wood science.  Shupe worked as a  professor and lab director at LSU for 18 years and Quality Manager for Eco Environmental (Louisville, KY) for 2 years. He is active in several ministries including his Christian blog ToddShupe.com. Todd is the Secretary of the Baton Rouge District of United Methodist Men, Database Coordinator for Gulf South Men, and volunteer for the Walk to Emmaus, Grace Camp, Iron Sharpens Iron, Open Air Ministries, HOPE Ministries food pantry. Todd is currently preparing to be a Men’s Ministry Specialist through the General Commission of United Methodist Men.

Open My Eyes

I am blessed with many senses – touch, taste, smell, hearing, and sight.  They all combine to equip me to learn and enjoy life.   As humans we tend to be visual beings.  We need to see it to believe it.  For example, Missouri is known as the “Show Me” state.   Thomas needed to see the wounds of Jesus to truly believe in the risen Christ.    I wonder how many times I have had experiences in my life that I knew in advance to be true but did not really understand or appreciate it until I saw it.   We are all familiar with the problems in developing nations – clean water, lack of food, disease, etc.  We have even seen this displayed on television in ads asking for donations to charitable organizations.     I have visited several developing nations and seen with my own eyes vast poverty, malnourished children and adults, shacks with a dirt floor and no electrify or indoor plumbing.   It was at that moment that I gained a new appreciation for the reality of the situation.  In essence, my eyes were opened to the problem.

This makes me recall the two men walking with Jesus on the road to Emmaus.  After walking and talking with Him all day, they did not know they were with the Risen Christ.   It was not until He had joined them for dinner at the end of the day that their eyes were opened.  “When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them.  Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight” (Luke 24:30-32).    I wonder how many times has Christ walked with me and I have failed to see Him?  It is easy for me to look back and give thanks and acknowledge His help but my eyes are often not on Him during a storm.  I realize that wherever I go and whatever I do, Christ is with me.  His presence is in my heart and that is a covenant from Holy Scripture.  “And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).

How about the woman at the well?  She spoke with Jesus at length but she failed to recognize Him.  He told her many things about herself so she assumed he must be a prophet.  Her final words to Him are significant to me.  In John 4:25 we learn, “The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming.  When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”  I have often read this scripture and thought – how can this woman not realize that she is speaking to Jesus?  I know realize how many times have I sat through a sermon and left and not realized that Christ was speaking to me?  Or how many times have I denied assistance to a beggar, the homeless, or the “least” of society and violated His instructions in Matthew 25:40?  We are proud to realie that Christ is in us  

and we are in Him.   We may even realize that He walks with us.  However, it is also important to realize that Christ is in all ofus.  I pray that He opens my eyes to His presence in myself and others and I treat everybody with the respect and kindness befitting that of a King.  Be blessed and open your eyes to the love, beauty, and grace of God that is in and around you.   

Todd Shupe is the President of DrToddShupe.com and is a well recognized expert on wood-based housing and wood science.  Shupe worked as a  professor and lab director at LSU for 18 years and Quality Manager for Eco Environmental (Louisville, KY) for 2 years. He is active in several ministries including his Christian blog ToddShupe.com. Todd is the Secretary of the Baton Rouge District of United Methodist Men, Database Coordinator for Gulf South Men, and volunteer for the Walk to Emmaus, Grace Camp, Iron Sharpens Iron, Open Air Ministries, HOPE Ministries food pantry. Todd is currently preparing to be a Men’s Ministry Specialist through the General Commission of United Methodist Men.

Here’s How Todd Shupe Suggests Healing A Broken Relationship

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One thing that is as certain as death and taxes is that others will let us down. This can take many forms such as someone not living up to their end of an agreement, spreading gossip or taking advantage of our friendship. It is natural to be offended in these situations. In contrast, the Bible says: “A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense,” (Proverbs 19:11).

“God considers our relationships with others to be of vital importance,” says Todd Shupe, a dedicated Christian ministries volunteer. In fact, we are told to restore our broken relationships before worship. God desires our hearts more than anything and He knows that if we are in conflict with another person then our heart is not receptive to the Word. We are instructed in Matthew 5:23-24, “If you enter your place of worship and, about to make an offering, you suddenly remember a grudge a friend has against you, abandon your offering, leave immediately, go to this friend and make things right. Then and only then, come back and work things out with God.”

God clearly wants us to take the initiative to heal a broken relationship. This desire is regardless if you are the offender or the offended.  Procrastination or waiting for the other person to make the first move will not work. This will only serve to deepen the resentment. Time heals many things — but not a broken relationship.

It is also important to act quickly to reduce the spiritual damage to yourself. The Bible tells us that unresolved conflict blocks our fellowship with God and keeps our prayers from being answered. This is why Jesus commands us to restore our broken relationships before we worship. Job’s friends reminded him, “To worry yourself to death with resentment would be a foolish, senseless thing to do,” (Job 5:2) and, “You are only hurting yourself with your anger,” (Job 18:4). It has often been said that when you forgive someone, the prisoner you set free is yourself.

“So, how do I resolve my conflict?” asks Todd Shupe. “First, pray for God’s guidance and His words and His ears as you enter into the meeting with the other. Pray for the other person. The best meetings that yield the best fruit happen when all parties are at their best.” So, avoid a meeting time in which either of you are rushed, tired, sick, distracted, or likely to be interrupted.  If your one-on-one meeting is unsuccessful then bring in a third party to help you resolve the conflict.  Matthew 18:16 teaches “But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that “every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.” Jesus felt so strongly about resolving the conflict that he even offered another more extreme option if the meeting with the third party was unsuccessful.  “If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector,” (Matthew 18:17).

To Todd Shupe, there’s no question that the bottom line is summed up in Romans 12:18: “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”

‘Use Your Words’ to Build Up the Body of Christ, Says Todd Shupe

todd shupe lsuWe all say things that we regret and wish we could take back. Our words will invariably hurt somebody’s feelings and cause pain. Proverbs 18:21 tells us, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue; And they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.” The tongue is a symbol of life or death “Our words can be used to share the Good News with others or tear down the Body of Christ,” says Todd Shupe, a well-known and respected Christian ministries volunteer.

The Bible explains that what comes out of your mouth is simply what is in your mind, (Proverbs 12:18Proverbs 26:28). James 3:5-6 explains the importance of the tongue: “Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.”

The above passage spurred LSU’s Todd Shupe to look inward. “I often do a poor job of reflecting on Matthew 12:36 before I speak,” said Shupe, a former wood sciences professor at LSU. “But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken.”

A better use of our words is described in Romans 4:17. It says that God “speaks of future events with as much certainty as though they were already past.” That’s called speaking in faith — you announce it in order to experience it. As Todd Shupe sees it, your words are essentially a prayer, “which makes me recall the words of Matthew 21:22. ‘If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.’”

I admire people who have the spiritual gift of faith. I certainly have faith in God and love Him with all my heart and with all my soul and with all my mind, (Matthew 22:37). I want to tell it like it could be, like it ought to be and like I think God wants it to be. I get too easily frustrated and begin to lean on my own understanding and then wonder why my path is not straight, LSU’s Todd Shupe said recently. “I do not particularly admire people whose ministry is just telling it like it is about the world. There are a lot of things in the world that are bad.” Clergy and laity will criticize people and problems and are negative and depressing. They are in the “tell-it-like-it-is” business.  This does nothing to build up The Body of Christ.  A better option is to tell it like it could be! “This brings life and hope to people,” according to Todd Shupe.

For example, you could say to someone, “You’re a lousy husband and you don’t spend enough time with your family.” However, any label — positive or negative — will reinforce it. I think a better option might be, “I see enormous potential in you. I urge you to let Jesus Christ into your heart and become the godly man that I know you can be.” That’s the kind of talk that builds up others and motivates change! Speak it in advance and speak it in faith!

The Walk to Emmaus: The Best Spiritual Weekend Retreat, Says Todd Shupe

todd shupe lsuThe Walk to Emmaus “Walk” is a three-day spiritual retreat that came out of the Roman Catholic Cursillo movement. The Walk to Emmaus is held numerous times during the year at various locations throughout the U.S. and the world. Separate walks are held for men and women, notes LSU’s Todd Shupe, who is also a dedicated Christian ministry volunteer.

Luke 24 tells of two of Jesus’s followers walking to the village of Emmaus. Jesus joins them, although they do not recognize him, and eventually begins to explain all of the scriptures regarding Himself. At nightfall, the men urged Jesus to stay with them and he agreed. He took the bread and blessed it. Then he broke it and gave it to them. Suddenly, their eyes were opened, and they recognized him and at that moment he disappeared! The men returned to Jerusalem to tell their story to the eleven disciples.

The Walk to Emmaus is a unique experience of Christian spiritual renewal that begins with a three-day short course in Christianity,” says Todd Shupe.”It is an opportunity to meet Jesus Christ in a new way as God’s grace and love is revealed to you through other believers.”

The Walk to Emmaus experience begins with the prayerful discernment and invitation from a sponsor. After one accepts this invitation, they complete an application. The Emmaus leaders prayerfully consider each applicant and in God’s time, the person is invited to attend a three-day experience of New Testament Christianity as a lifestyle. After the walk is over, participants are encouraged to join in weekly small groups to support each other in their ongoing walk with Christ.

Through the formational process of accountable discipleship in small groups and participation in the Emmaus community, each participant’s individual gifts and servant-leadership skills are developed for use in the local church and mission. Participants are encouraged to find ways to live out their individual call to discipleship in their home, church and community.

The objective Emmaus is to inspire, challenge and equip the local church member for Christian action in their homes, churches, communities, and places of work,” says Todd Shupe. “Emmaus lifts up a way for our grace-filled lives to be lived and shared with others.”

There is much symbolism in the Luke 24 story regarding our own walk with Christ. How often do we fail to recognize Christ in our presence? Once we do recognize Him, do we act as His witnesses? I ask that you prayerfully consider being a pilgrim on the next Walk to Emmaus in your area.

Todd Shupe Reflects On Dream That Carried A Message From God

todd shupeI have lived 47 years and never felt that I had received a message from God.  I envied the people in the Bible that spoke to God either in person, through dreams or angels. I had decided that I was only going to hear God’s word through Godly friends, church, small groups and reading the Bible.

“I longed to hear God talk directly to me.  Several friends would tell me of dreams or hearing direction from God — but not me,” said Todd Shupe. “Two nights ago I heard from God for the first time.  He sent me a dream with people and symbolism that He knew I would understand and would alleviate any anxiety.”

In the dream, I was on a bus sitting next to the late Dr. Elvin Choong, who has been deceased for over 10 years.  Elvin was my PhD adviser at Louisiana State University (LSU) and a dear friend and research collaborator for many years.  He was my father figure for many years.  There were many people on the bus, but I did not recognize them and the only person who spoke was me.  As we traveled down the road, we would periodically encounter some sort of road block (fallen trees or a car wreck) and the road would seem to be impassable.

“The first time this happened, I told Elvin to stop and that there is no way to get through,” said Todd Shupe. “He continued at the same speed and we made it through fine. I have no idea how he did it — but he did.”

We kept encountering roadblocks and he kept driving through.  The only thing that changed was my fear was lessened each time until finally I anticipated the road blocks with excitement – I wonder how we are going to get through this road block this time!

Now for my amateur dream interpretation: Elvin was my father figure for many years and he symbolized my heavenly Father.  He was in control; I wanted to do things my way at first but gradually came to trust in Him. I was sitting in the front in a leadership position, but I yielded all authority and leadership to Him. The people in the back represented people that count on me — not necessarily financially or emotionally, but in some aspect of life they count on me to smile when we meet, to be available when they need home repairs, to cut their grass when they go on vacation and to serve the church universal.

“I am a leader of many but a follower of Jesus.  This dream gave me peace.  It showed me that God is in control,” said Todd Shupe. “Life will always bring adversity but with God by your side, you can do all things.  I pray if you are struggling with fear, doubt, worry you will realize that God is with you and will never leave you or forsake you.”

These are tools of the enemy to rob you of the joy that God has promised for you. Rebuke them in the name of Jesus.  Be blessed, be happy, be the child of God that He has called you to be.

What Todd Shupe Means When He Says ‘Iron Sharpens Iron’

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I am a volunteer with a national men’s ministry known as “Iron Sharpens Iron.” The name of our group is based on Proverb 27:17, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.”  Iron Sharpens Iron is a Conference Network made up of individual ministries that are working interdependently to most effectively offer local church resources for men.

According to Todd Shupe, his group is accomplishing this by mobilizing ministries to resource local churches with a first-class one-day equipping conference that is designed for men age 13 and older.  These one-day conferences bring in world-class speakers to address critical topics that men of all ages deal with.

“I strongly believe in men’s ministry and the goal of Iron Sharpens Iron – to prepare the man to be a Christian leader in his home, church and community.  Gulf South Men is the host group for Iron Sharpens Iron in my area and I am proud to be a volunteer with these men,” Todd Shupe said recently.

We all need to be in community with each other.  Iron Sharpens Iron has equipped me to be the leader that I believe I am called to be, notes Todd Shupe, who volunteers with a number of other Christian ministries. I need the accountability and fellowship of fellow Christian men in my life. They breathe life into me and I pray that God uses me to have the same effect on them and all that I meet.

“There are numerous Christian-based retreats that are available. I encourage you to talk to your pastor and prayerfully consider what opportunity is best for you and/or your family. You will become a better Christian-based leader in your home, church, and community,” said Todd Shupe.

Opportunities Abound For Those Seeking Volunteer Roles With Christian Organizations

todd shupe lsu

Volunteer work should be seen as a hallmark of every good Christian’s character. Those who want to live a life in God’s good graces should feel compelled to help out their brothers and sisters around them. The next question then is how to get involved with a volunteer effort, as it’s often one of the only ways to accomplish the goodwill work that needs to be addressed in this world. Fortunately, there is no shortage of organizations with plenty of volunteers in their ranks. Todd Shupe, a former LSU professor who has spent many man-hours helping out the less fortunate, says it’s easy to find such groups if you know who to look for. That’s because Todd Shupe has worked with Grace Camp, Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine, St. Andrew’s United Methodist Church and more. While with these groups, he helped teach the children of incarcerated parents how to swim, ministered to the homeless in the Baton Rouge, Louisiana area and assisted with internal church functions. With such experience, Todd Shupe would like to offer advice for finding the group that’s the right fit for you.

 

The service: There’s no shortage of need in this country. From general social services roles where volunteers will make home or site visits to work with clients or more  specialized tasks for those with a teaching background, there’s plenty of chances to get involved. Medical professionals can start their volunteer work by working events such as Adopt-a-Senior on holidays or the opportunity to help out in an orphanage, the highly-specialized skills here are always in demand.

 

The sector: From your local church group to international missions, the type and duration of your visit is up to you. When searching for volunteer opportunities, it’s important to state to the organization running the effort what you’re comfortable with and capable of. Some commitments will require no relocation and come in the form of a comforting phone call to those in distress while others are going to have you in for the long haul.
The state: No matter where you are located in the U.S., there’s an organization carrying out selfless volunteer work. By visiting www.christianvolunteering.org, Todd Shupe says you’ll be able to find the right fit for you. The search for a local Christian volunteer organization can be broken down by country, state, metro area denomination and more. For those in the Louisiana area like Todd Shupe, a number of hospice, youth care and pregnancy resources are available to serve as a conduit between your volunteering and helping to make  the word a better place.

Todd Shupe’s Take On Prayer: Approach With Confidence And Thanksgiving

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Prayer is an essential component to our relationship with God. We offer prayers for those who are sick or in need of help and prayers of thanksgiving for our blessings. Prayer is also a time for us to be quiet and listen for the gentle voice of God. The Psalmist tells us in Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God.” Todd Shupe has decided to focus on this scripture while waiting for God’s gentle whisper.

“Even if I don’t hear a response to my prayer, I still come away with peace and comfort knowing that God is God and He loves me more than I can begin to understand,” says former LSU professor and faith-based volunteer Todd Shupe. “This gives me a peace that transcends all understanding and prepares me to hopefully be a better witness and brother today than I was yesterday.”

According to Todd Shupe, it is important for us to approach prayer in the right manner.  The Bible tells us what to pray — “The Lord’s Prayer” (Matthew 6:9-13) — and also how to pray: “In your room,” (Matthew 6:6).  However, it does not necessarily tell us how to prepare for prayer.

Todd Shupe, a former professor at LSU, feels that too many Christians approach prayer in one of two ways. First, many come to God in fear and doubt. We know that God can do what we are asking — but are fearful that He will not do it as we want or when we want.

“The second group of Christians I refer to as the ‘Santa Claus Christians.’ They think that if they are good all year then when they make a prayer request to God that He is “obligated” to do as asked. In both cases, resentment can develop if God does not provide what is asked and when it is asked,” says Todd Shupe, a former LSU professor.

According to Todd Shupe, it is important at this point to note that we follow God. God does not follow us and this fact provides the opportunity to tell the story of God leading His people in Exodus 13:21-22. “By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night.”

“I encourage you to approach prayer with confidence and thanksgiving that God already knows what you need and is already at work in delivering it to you,” says Todd Shupe. “Also, what He provides will likely not be what you requested. Instead, it will be better and it will be a holy blessing upon you. God loves you more than you can ever understand.”

He will most certainly listen and respond to your prayers. We must be open to His response and accept it with gladness and thanksgiving because any gift from God is precious and holy — as was His son.

Don The ‘Full Armor Of God’ To Maintain Hope, Todd Shupe Advises

According to Todd Shupe, we all experience times in our lives in which we feel hopeless. For some, these periods linger into years and years. Given these circumstances, Todd Shupe would like to equip readers with some thoughts on how to maintain hope when all hope appears to be gone. In this article, you’ll find some thoughts on the importance of hope in your life. For your consideration, Job was a strong disciple of God, but had all of his possessions taken. He expressed hopelessness in Job 17:15, saying “Where then is my hope — who can see any hope for me?”

“I have heard it said before that the most dangerous man is one without hope.  He feels he has nothing to lose and no future,” Todd Shupe, a former LSU professor, said. “I have seen the look in someone’s face when there is no hope. I have seen this in hospitals, prisons, nursing homes, hospice facilities and even in church.”

One of the greatest goals of the enemy is to convince you that you have no hope and that God has forgotten you and you have no future. Todd Shupe recently heard on a Christian radio station, “If you do not believe in the promises of God, then by default you are believing in the lies of the enemy.” Carefully read the following premise: You must know that you are a beloved child of God that is very precious in his sight. He desires you to seek Him and for you to be happy. He will walk with you always and never leave you. All of your sins have been paid by the blood of Jesus.

“The enemy will attack you every day of your life and try to rob you of hope,” says Todd Shupe.

Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore, put on the full armor of God so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground and after you have done everything to stand,” Ephesians 6:11-13.

Ephesians 6 goes on to explain how to fight the enemy.

The Belt (of Truth): “Stand firm in the belt of truth buckled around your waist,” Ephesians 6:14. The belt of truth involves our hearts and our minds. Truth keeps us close to Christ and is essential in the Christian walk. The belt of truth holds our amour in place. Commit yourself daily to be in the Word. “Teach me your ways, O Lord, that I may live according to your truth!” Psalm 86:11.

The Breastplate (of Righteousness): With the breastplate of righteousness in place,” Ephesians 6:14, a soldier with a breastplate goes into battle boldly with confidence. The enemy is constantly attacking with lies to steal our hope. Without the breastplate of righteousness, these will penetrate your heart. Become aware of who you are in Christ Jesus. Come boldly into His presence, (Hebrews 4:16).

The Shield (of Faith): “Above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one,” Ephesians 6:16. The shield not only defends our whole body, but also our armor. The shield of faith has a very specific function: To stop all the fiery darts of the wicked.

The Helmet (of Salvation): “Take the helmet of salvation,” Ephesians 6:17. Satan’s target: Your mind. Satan’s weapon: Lies. The enemy wants to make us doubt God and our salvation. The helmet protects our minds from doubting the truth of God’s saving work for us. Our mind is the battle ground. “Since we belong to the day, we must be serious and put the armor of faith and love on our chests, and put on a Helmet of the Hope of Salvation,” 1 Thessalonians 5:8.

The Sword (of The Spirit): Put on “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,” Ephesians 6:17. The sword of the Spirit is the only weapon of offense in the armor, but the Word is also a tool for defense. Lies and deception are all weapons the enemy uses against us. With the Sword of the Spirit, God’s word, the people are equipped to deal with them all. We need to trust in the truth of the Word.

According to Todd Shupe, formerly of LSU, it is so important that you begin each day with hope. Romans 5:3-4 tells us, “we know that suffering produces perseverance; and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.” So if you feel that there is no hope in your situation, be patient and realize that you will develop perseverance, then character, and finally hope. It is a promise from God. Be blessed!