Hope Ahead

Spring is just around the bend.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

During the current COVID-19 pandemic and economic uncertainty this verse gives us hope and reassurance. It all turns on love. We can love God because He first loved us. We can trust Him because He is faithful, even when we have been faithless. We can put our hope in Jesus, because His name means God saves (Matt1:21).

I realize that some hurts run very deep (like death in the family), and I don’t expect this verse to miraculously change your tears to joy, but loving God will plant the seeds of hope, and trust… and just knowing there is purpose… helps.

Praying Through the Pain

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Hope in the dead of Winter

I find it hard to pray without my mind wandering in the best of times. But, when I am hurting and in pain, then I find it difficult to put two words together in prayer. So what are we to do when our prayers are moans and groans… rasping laments beginning and ending with two feeble words—O God!

How does God expect us to pray in pain?

We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.  Romans 8:23-24

I have attended many deliveries in my career and for most anesthesia was not available. I would often hear screams during labor—“O God help me!” or “Lordy, Lordy!” Were these words of anguish really prayers? The one thing that kept these mothers praying through the pain was the thought of new life coming.

Pain, or grief, or a deep hurt from our point of view seems to interfere with our prayers to God. But like a woman in labor who cries out to God—keep praying for our groans are not lost upon God. There is new life coming.

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will. Romans 8:26-27

Perseverance

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Icicle Creek persevering to the Pacific Ocean

But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.  Luke 8:15 NIV

It takes perseverance to produce a crop. Why doesn’t God just click His fingers?

For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus… Romans 15:4-5 NAS

God encourages us to persevere. But how does perseverance produce hope?

Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. Romans 5:3-5 NIV

Perseverance is a word I don’t want to hear because it means waiting and bearing up under difficult circumstances. I certainly prefer convenience, not perseverance. But God makes enduring hardship part of a believer’s life. I can either trust that He knows what I need and will help me, or go my own way.

You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.  Matthew 7:13-14

On second thought, maybe it is God who perseveres with me.

Hope at Midnight

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Waiting for the sun

A few years ago a hurricane hit South Texas. National evening news showed people at an evacuation center singing praises to God. They showed hope and light in the midst of devastating tragedy. Even the newscaster got caught up in their praise and ended the newscast with “Amen,”

About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Acts 16:25

No matter what our situation, even at midnight in prison, we can have hope in Jesus,
Because:
we have goodness in Jesus,
we have God’s faithfulness in Jesus,
we can talk to Jesus,
we can have forgiveness in Jesus,
we can know our life has meaning in Jesus,
we can have strength in Jesus,
we can hide in Jesus,
we can run to Jesus,
we know nothing will separate us from the love of Jesus,
we have a glorious future in Jesus,
we have a mighty shepherd to lead and protect us in Jesus.
God has good works for us to do in Jesus,
we have abundant life in Jesus,
And we have all eternity to enjoy life in Jesus.

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Romans 12:12

Memories of Tomorrow

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Foretaste of glory

Yesterday we had so much fun,
the joy that children bring.
To have the laughter never end,
In songs we love to sing.

Visit cut short, I wanted longer.
So many seeds to sow
Time consumes the love we shared,
Forgotten as they grow.

In that day when life moves on,
I hope not in fading sorrow.
But in the love of Jesus Christ
Who makes yesterday a foretaste of tomorrow.

In Jesus we have a sure hope that our tomorrows will be even better than our yesterdays.

We put our hope in the Lord.
He is our help and our shield.
In him our hearts rejoice,
for we trust in his holy name.
Let your unfailing love surround us, Lord,
for our hope is in you alone. Psalm 33:20-22

A Morning of God’s Love

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Oh, what a beautiful morning.

Because of God’s love for me:
I am forgiven, and I can forgive others.
I am loved, and I can love others.
I have hope, and I can offer hope to others.
I have His life in me, and I can offer His life to others.
I can pray for my family and know His love for them is greater than mine.
I know His love will never leave me.
What a wonderful beautiful morning!

 

Piercing the Darkness

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The sky proclaims the sun is coming.

“He is risen,” but what does it mean?
The death of Death for those who believe.
His Life for our life for those who receive.
The proof of His Power to break all powers for those who bow.
The Joy of heaven becomes our joy for those who confess.
He is risen is hope reborn, declared by God for those who will follow.

Every morning comes heaven’s whisper––
“He is risen.”
Can you hear His love calling to you?
Let it pierce your darkness,
Let it wash over your heart,
And rest in His grace and peace.

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. Ephesians 2:4-7

My Hope

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Glorious View

Hope gives us life today because it assures us of God’s goodness for our tomorrows.

We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, Hebrew 6:19

Our hope is this: Jesus Christ in us the hope of glory (Col. 1:27).

What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Romans 8:31-32

The Steep Edge of Life

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On the edge with Mountain Penstemon

These Mountain Penstemon cling to a steep edge along the Icicle Creek, living life in a precarious place. Sometimes my life feels like these wildflowers––I am just barely hanging on. Psalm 33 is given to us for such times.

A horse is a vain hope for deliverance;
despite all its great strength it cannot save.
But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him,
on those whose hope is in his unfailing love,  Psalm 33:17-18

Great wealth cannot save.
Great intelligence cannot save.
Great beauty cannot save.
Great power cannot save.
Instead put your hope in Jesus, the unfailing love of God, whose sacrifice brings us unassailable deliverance from our worst fears.