A time of great hope

Everyone of every age feels hopeless sometimes. Like someone or something sucked the chocolate off our raisins. And although tasty, a raisin is just an ugly dried-up grape after all. I enjoy raisins, but like life, they’re better with chocolate. 

 Especially when times are tough, we all wish for better. Better things, better endings. About now, who doesn’t wish the pandemic would leave us alone and spring would come? Do you also wish, as I do, that people would stop sniping and show some gratitude for their blessings instead? (I wish too, that hot water came more quickly from our taps, and hair fell more slowly from our cat.)

 Enter something more substantial than wishes. Hope. After the Preacher’s diagnosis of West Nile Neurological Disease completely up-ended our lives, we named our newly purchased home “Hope House” to remind us of God’s provision. Colon cancer followed five years later. During those years we received many decorations that served as tangible reminders to hope. Today, in a different home, we can barely walk ten steps without seeing the word. It spools out in a wire sculpture adorning a painted cross. “Hope to grace the dawn,” reads a weathered trivet. HOPE, declares a fist-sized stone under a small ceramic bird.  “Hope for tomorrow,” flows in bold script inside a black wooden frame. “Hope that sustains you,” whispers fine letters on the skirt of a slender angel posed beside an antique clock. And somewhere, perhaps in the cactus dish garden, I think I keep a small hand-painted Hope pebble. 

 Some of those decorations came from fellow Christ-followers. People like us, who understand well the crucial role hope plays in lives hard pressed by uncontrollable circumstances. People who cling to Jesus Christ, our solid rock and eternal hope. I appreciate the nudge to remember. We’re weak some days. Satan uses those times to try to lure us into his trap of hopeless thinking.

 Hope springs eternal, someone has said. Better to believe that hope springs from the God who is eternal and eternally good; who wrote hope in red letters across the cross of his son, Jesus Christ.

  For followers of Jesus, hoping is not wishing or daydreaming. Our hope brings utter confidence and expectancy that what God promises in his Word will, in his good time, happen. No, it’s not playing the country record backward to regain all we’ve lost. Instead, it’s learning that in those losses, Jesus never fails. It’s realizing that the brightest stars can only be seen in the dark, and that he will never, ever, leave us, no matter how broken our lives or deep our valleys. And knowing that the best is yet to be. Not always now. Not always here. But it’s coming.

 The old hymn, Great is Thy Faithfulness, expresses it this way: “Strength for today, bright hope for tomorrow, all I have needed, his hand has provided. Great is thy faithfulness, Lord unto me.”

 That is our song. That is our sure hope. It can be yours too.

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