The thing about hope is that what you’re hoping for is not necessarily a sure thing.
“I hope I meet a special person and get married.”
“I hope I can have a baby.”
“I hope I get my dream job.”
“I hope they completely heal from this illness.”
There are any number of things that we hope for, but hoping for something is no guarantee that those things will come into existence. That’s why I think hope has a best friend, something else that pairs with it that makes it what it is. You can’t have hope without a little faith.
When I say that I have hope I’m not saying that I’m putting my faith in another person or thing. Rather to have hope I have to have faith in the One who embodies hope – Jesus Christ. I cannot imagine holding on to hope without faith in God. It just seems that the two must be paired.
Father, sometimes my faith feels weak. Perhaps those are also the moments when I feel like hope is dwindling. Help my unbelief. Strengthen my faith in You. And with the strengthening of my faith build up hope within my heart.
For too many in this season of Advent, the future holds little hope or promise. The death of a loved one, estrangement within family, depression, illness: any or all of these issues can conspire to close off life from its possibilities. Before repentance can be sounded, comfort must be given. Comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem. That comfort also bears Advent’s word of preparation. It declares that hope is still possible. It affirms that grace still awaits.
Take with you today: God waits to comfort me.
So I’ve been trying to read a book for MONTHS. The subject has to do with Christian living, based on a specific person and book of the Bible. The subject matter is good, solid. Here’s the deal though…I cannot get into it!! I’m over halfway through the book but I feel like I’m forcing myself to read it because it’s written by someone that I respect and has a biblical theme. If I was talking about a novel, well I wouldn’t be posting this because if I don’t jive with any other kind of book I’ll take it back to the library (or if I bought it I will pass it on).
Here’s my question I guess – what are your thoughts on this? Quit reading? Stick with it? This author also wrote a bible study based around this book and I never got out of the first week of the study. Ugh. Is it me?
I would love to read your thoughts on this!
I am so easily distracted.
My thoughts, the TV, naps, reading, cleaning, sounds outside, people walking down the street. So many things grab my attention. You could say that I’m overly observant – taking in everything around me. I can be so distracting that I forget the important things. The main thing I am distracted from is talking with God. Oh how I yearn to communicate with Him. But I forget. Have you ever wanted something so bad yet found yourself forgetting about it? Sometimes other things pull my attention away from what it is I really long for.
It is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers; the night is far gone, the day is near. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. Romans 13:11-12
Father, help me to lay aside the things that so easily distract me and help me to focus on you. I so long to talk with you and hear from you. Don’t let these other things get in the way of our communion. Lead me from darkness into your perfect light.
We may be surprised…that when we first enter into this “holy nothing” (silence), we initially encounter not God but ourselves – our own fears and uncertainties, our own projects, habits, hopes, and fears. Meeting our “self” in this way is difficult, and we must learn to sit with these obstacles as we become still so that we may know that God is God.
Take with you today: God waits for me in the stillness.
If the Lord had not been on our side—
let Israel say—
2 If the Lord had not been on our side
when men attacked us,
3 then they would have swallowed us alive
in their burning anger against us.
4 Then the waters would have engulfed us;
the torrent would have swept over us;
5 the raging waters would have swept over us.
6 Praise the Lord,
who has not let us be ripped apart by their teeth.
7 We have escaped like a bird from the hunter’s net;
the net is torn, and we have escaped.
8 Our help is in the name of Yahweh,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
If the Lord had not been on my side…
Just when I think that I have given up on holding on to hope I realize that a fragment of myself continuously holds on to it. Perhaps I haven’t hit the lowest of lows, that place where all hope is lost. But I truly have a difficult time imagining having no hope at all. And that’s because of Jesus. Because of Him, even when things are very hard and I don’t understand why it has to be this way for now, there is a tiny part of my heart that clings to hope. Because I feel that if I have no hope then I have turned my back on God. That is a frightening idea. A lonely and cold place for sure.
To be reminded of what may have happened to me if God had not been on my side – I need this. For me it’s a pop on the forehead reminder to look up and around and even to look back for a bit and recall just how bleak and dire things could have been if God had not been on my side, by my side.
Hope is not a domesticated state of mind. It seems to camp out in odd places, crops up at the worst possible times. Just as we resign ourselves to the minimum wages of life with no benefits, hope whispers that we shouldn’t settle for despair’s bottom line. Hope thrives in the barren places of our lives.
Heather Murray Elkins
Perhaps that is part of the reason why I cannot let go of hope. It lives in the wilderness parts of my life. Those places I wish would flourish with green life and growth, but for some reason remain dry, unanswered. Yet in the midst of that sparse place hope reminds me to keep hoping. God is not finished with me. Jesus will come again. It says, “Don’t get too accustomed to this because you never know when God will break through with something absolutely breathtaking!”
Take with you today: Hope thrives in the wilderness.
The days are surely coming, says the LORD, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David; and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. And this is the name by which it will be called: “The LORD is our righteousness.” - Jeremiah 33:14-16
The first candle that is lit in the Advent wreath is the candle of hope. Hope. Could you use some hope right now?
We know that at the end of Advent will be Christmas. We know that Jesus came, was born of a virgin, born in a manger, and He is the hope of all mankind. Jesus is our only true source of hope. Once we begin to look away from Jesus to find hope for our lives, our loves, our world we can easily slip into despair because true hope cannot be found apart from Jesus Christ. If our hope remains in Jesus, regardless of what may be going on around us, we can hold firm that God is present and doing something.
Prayer for today: God of Advent, light the candle of hope within my heart. Help me to look to you only for hope. And may I rest in the knowledge and your promise that something good is coming.
Take with you today: God, deepen my longing for you.
*Note: Each day the “take with you today” thought/prayer is taken directly from “The Uncluttered Heart” by Beth A. Richardson. Upper Room Books. 2009.