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I have published several variations of this post and it remains one of my favorites. For me, it is a meaningful ending to a turbulent year.
Hope that Sustains
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
—Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)
When everything around us seems to be crashing, and we think nothing else could possibly happen, it invariably does.
Problems have a domino effect – one problem creates another and so on. At such times, we cry out to God for strength and hope.
Throughout scripture, we read stories of God gracing His people with faith, hope and trust. It says something good and desirable can happen, even in the worst of times.
“But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”
—Isaiah 40:31, KJV
Hope! It is a gift I cannot refuse.
Hope is the conviction that God will be with me through all things. He catches me when reality doesn’t match my expectations and I begin to fall. When reality has dashed my dreams, I need to turn my fear of falling into floating with the confidence that God is with me, ready to set me safely on the ground.
When encouraged, we gain confidence. Within confidence, we find courage.
With encouragement, we become motivated to look for solutions to tough problems and difficult life situations.
When we feel helpless and hopeless, our energy is drained, and depression settles into every cell and fiber of our body. Hope changes that in an instant. It allows us to focus on what we can do rather than what we cannot do. Hope literally changes the chemistry in our body.
When hopeful, we expect a different outcome. We don’t worry about whether the earth will keep rotating, or whether the sun will come up in the morning or go down at night. We know that when the sun is hidden in the clouds, that it still exists.
Hope expects that tomorrow can be brighter than today, that our pain will recede, and that we will experience joy again. Hope says that when the world seems dark and we think we have been locked in a prison of despair, we can place our expectation on God for help in our time of need.
When expectations are placed in God, we believe that He not only exists, but that He loves us, and will never leave or desert us. He gives us the strength to endure. Hope believes God’s word that says He cares personally about each of us, and that His love is so great, He was willing to die for us.
Hope never gives up.
Hope doesn’t quit. When we are exhausted and think we can’t do anything more, we hear God whispering to us, “I am there with you. Try again – one more time.” We feel His arms carry us. We hear His promises in our ear and feel His strength flow into us. He intervenes in our lives.
When we surrender to the knowledge that we do not know it all, will never know it all and need God to survive, we begin to experience hope. Hope relies on something greater than ourselves. We recognize that we are not sufficient unto ourselves. In that surrender, we let go and let God. The focus is no longer making something happen but surrendering to God and adjusting our responses. In that surrender, we find peace. Hope then reveals itself in looking for and finding blessings in all things.
The Easter story reveals life after death, a new life that goes beyond the grave; a hope of salvation made possible by God. Within our tragedies, lies new hope and new life as well. With hope we can overcome anything.
“Don’t be afraid, I’ve redeemed you. I’ve called your name. You’re mine. When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you. When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down. When you’re between a rock and a hard place it won’t be a dead end – because I am God, your personal God.”
—Isaiah 43:1-2, The Message
Lord, we give you thanks for dying on the cross to save us from our sins and giving us hope and strength and peace.
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