Category Archives: Hope

Hope deferred …

Proverbs 13:12

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life. NIV

Hope deferred …

When I was worrying, that’s exactly what I was doing — deferring my hope.  I didn’t have time for hope or optimism, I was too busy attempting to control my world and worrying about my inability to do so.

The Message paraphrases it, “Unrelenting disappointment leaves you heartsick.”

Boy, can it!

But often, my own disappointment comes from thinking something will happen a certain way.  When it doesn’t I’m disappointed.

Hope, however, is an active verb.  I can will myself to hope (in place of the verb, “worry”) even in the worst of times.

Because my hope is secure, in Christ.

I want to say something about that last part, too, “a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.”

When I was very worried, I wasn’t enjoying my time here very much.

Now, I am.

In my new world I do lots of things I’ve always wanted to do, but never had the time for.

Just last week, I met a friend for lunch.  She wanted to go to one of my favorite restaurants that is next to a very large highway.  There is a walking bridge across the highway.  I’ve driven under that bridge for years.  I’ve always wanted to walk across it.  People rave about it.  It connects one neighborhood to another.  My husband has even ridden his bike across it, but, I’d never been up there.

Instead of crossing the highway by car and then spending 20 minutes looking for a parking space, I parked at the edge of the neighborhood at the base of the bridge and walked across.

It was a cold, windy, sunny day, and I enjoyed every minute of that walk.  I enjoyed how the neighbors have worn a path to the base of the bridge, and that the ground is starting to thaw so the path is getting a bit soupy.  I enjoyed  how the ramp is engineered on a slow, wrapping slope, so that you don’t get winded climbing stories into the air.

I enjoyed watching and listening to the cars buzzing past below me.  And, I enjoyed that the other end dumped me out just steps from the restaurant, much closer than I could have parked.  It was a glorious experience, a longing fulfilled.

I once had a good friend who would often say, “You are easily amused.”

I am.

For a while, I suppose, I had lost the ability to be easily amused.  I lost it in a sea of deferred hope.  I was heartsick.

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.

That’s what I’ll think about today.

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The hope is in the opposite

Proverbs 11:7

When a wicked man dies, his hope perishes; all he expected from his power comes to nothing.  NIV

What I love about this verse, this reminder, is … well, what it doesn’t say.  To me, this verse implies the opposite of what it says.

“Righteous” (or “redeemed”) is the opposite of “wicked.”

“Is gloriously fulfilled,” is the opposite of “perishes.”

“God’s power” is the opposite of “his power.”

“Everything” is the opposite of “nothing.”

When a wicked man dies, his hope perishes; all he expected from his power comes to nothing.  TRUE.

But, when I take the opposites of this truth, I find another: When a redeemed man dies, his hope is gloriously fulfilled; all he expected from God’s power comes to everything.

That’s what I’ll think about today.

 

 

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It hurts!

Psalm 131: 2-3

But I have stilled and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me.  O Israel, put your hope in the LORD, both now and forevermore.  NIV

I’ve always loved word searches.  You know, the printed puzzles with rows and rows of capital letters.  At the bottom, usually, is a list of words that are contained within the puzzle.  I don’t have any particular formula for solving them … I search left to right, top to bottom, and corner to corner.  But my favorite finds, the ones I find most rewarding, are the words that are spelled backwards.  When I put on my backwards lens, the puzzle looks completely different, and the hidden words that I’ve been over two or three times pop right out at me.

I’m having a bit of that same experience with this word search on “hope.”

I’m back in Psalm 131, where I was last March.

Having already catalogued verse 1 at that time, I’m now looking at verses 2 and 3.

“I have stilled and quieted my soul.”

I love that.  I’m not allowing my circumstances or my experiences to upset me or to rule my emotions, “I have stilled and quieted my soul.”

The Message says, “I’ve cultivated a quiet heart.”

Cultivating is work.  You have to first break up the hard soil, and then work in good dirt, and minerals, and a bit of nasty smelling stuff, and, in my experience, an earthworm or two.  It’s a lot of exhausting work to cultivate soil.

I realized back in March that I’m the ground on which the seed of the Word falls … I got that dirt could be enriched, that I could be enriched to produce better fruit …  but, I never until just this minute thought about it feels like to be cultivated.

It hurts!

Wow.

I’ve been cultivated!

I looked it up.  Cultivation implies preparation for growing crops … I wonder what will grow from all this work.

I’ve cultivated a quiet heart … I will hope in the Lord for what comes next!

That’s what I’ll think about today.

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I’m standing on tiptoe

Psalm 130: 6-7

My soul waits for the Lord, more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning.  O Israel, put your hope in the LORD, for with the LORD is unfailing love and with him is full redemption. NIV

Wait.

Hope.

Trust.

Obey.

All of these remedies for worry are stated either explicitly, or implicitly in these few lines from Psalm 130, a song of ascents.

I’ve written often of my previous obsession with the future, my need to know how things would turn out, my futile attempts to control my earthly destiny.  All of these are the negative side of a forward-looking personality.

But, there is a positive side.  My mother is also future focused, and, she is a pillar of faith.  A true child of God, she waits and hopes with great anticipation for what comes next.  And, she has the gift of encouragement, never failing to point her girls toward God and his plans for us.

So often this last year as she has walked this road with me, she has said, “I am just standing on tiptoe waiting to see what God is going to do!”

More than watchmen wait for the morning … I picture my mother on her toes so as to ever so slightly alter her perspective on the curve of the earth, so that she might catch a glimpse of what is to come just a moment sooner.

Put your hope in the LORD … to see what God is going to do!

Not, “if God will do something,” but a blessed assurance that God indeed has a plan, that He will act in His timing and that … with the LORD is unfailing love and with him is full redemption.

That’s what I’ll think about today

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There’s always hope!

Psalm 71:14

But as for me, I will always have hope;  I will praise you more and more.  NIV

I absolutely love this verse.  I love everything about it.  It is the perfect answer to so many things.  I can’t see saying it out loud all the time, but it is a wonderful piece of internal dialogue … a constant prayer of praise and trust.

The last year has taught me the wisdom of this verse, day by day.

“The _____ is broken” … But as for me, I will always have hope; I will praise You more and more.

“I have great news!” … But as for me, I will always have hope; I will praise You more and more.

“I had a ________ day,” … But as for me, I will always have hope; I will praise You more and more.

“________ has come to an end.”

But as for me, I will always have hope; I will praise You more and more.

This is one of many lessons that I will carry forward from this project.  My hope is in Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior.

I will always have hope.

That’s what I’ll think about today.

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No worries …

Psalm 71: 5&6

For you have been my hope, O Sovereign LORD, my confidence since my youth.  From birth I have relied on you; you brought me forth from my mother’s womb.  I will ever praise you.  NIV

The thing I learned about David yesterday was this:

When Samuel anointed him with oil as a young boy, the Holy Spirit came upon David.  Two things about that.  First, because I’ve always read the story with the knowledge that David was to be king — it is told from an omniscient perspective after all … the reader gets to learn what God is saying to Samuel as well as what Samuel is thinking — I’ve always assumed that the anointing was a sign to David that he would be king.

But, Samuel doesn’t say that to him.  He thinks it, he knows it, God says it, but, no-one says it to David.  Instead, as he is anointed, the Spirit of the Living God departs from Saul and comes on David in power.

Second, David is part of the lineage of Christ.  Before Christ’s death and resurrection, the Holy Spirit did not inhabit every believer.  Instead, I’m learning, it came and went in power to achieve God’s purposes.  It came upon David at the time of his anointing, and remained on him throughout, I think, his life.

So, as David (if he is the author of this Psalm) writes these verses, he has the same experience that we do today with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.  When I accepted Christ as my Savior, there was no oil involved, but the oncoming of the Holy Spirit was undeniable.

It is through the experience of living with the Holy Spirit, that destiny, that David is able to write these words that are so meaningful to me today.

For you have been my hope, O Sovereign LORD, my confidence since my youth. God is my confidence, not my own actions, or anything or anyone else here.  God has been with me since my youth … He is trustworthy.  I needn’t worry.  God is my hope.

From birth I have relied on you; you brought me forth from my mother’s womb. God ordained my life and the lives of each of His children.  We aren’t accidents.  He brought us forth for the purpose of communing with us.  I am God’s child.

I will ever praise you.

That’s what I’ll think about today.

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Body and Soul

Psalm 42: 5-6a

Why are you downcast, O my soul?  Why so disturbed within me?  Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. NIV

I would imagine that everyone, at one time or another, has talked to himself.  Whether it’s a reminder of something you must do before going home, or a stern discussion that might start, “Why did you do that?” I’m pretty sure almost everyone has had at least conversation with his inner self.

I love this little snippet of dialogue between the Psalmist and his soul.  I love this his advice is spot on — “Put your hope in God!”

He then goes on to say, as if speaking for the body, “for I will yet praise him.”

Even at times when his soul is uncertain or downcast, he will still open his mouth to praise the one true God, our Savior.

I will praise Him, body and soul.

That’s what I’ll think about today.

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Watch this!

Psalm 33: 18-19

But the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love, to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine. NIV

I like the way The Message paraphrases this verse, “Watch this:  God’s eye is on those who respect him, the ones who are looking for his love.  He’s ready to come to their rescue in bad times, in lean times he keeps body and soul together.” MSG

I like that is starts out, “Watch this!”

Watch this — God is going to pull a rabbit out of the hat, and you’re going to get to see it.

Watch this — God is imminently able to protect and provide for his own, and he may choose to bless them in ways that will astound you … and them.

I love also that it says, “He’s ready to come to their rescue.”  That ties to all the verses that I’ve looked at that detail God’s desire for us to call out to Him in times in of need.

If we will call out … He’s ready … Watch this!

That’s what I’ll think about today.

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Every day, all day long

Psalm 25: 4-5

Show me your ways, O LORD; teach me your paths; guide me to your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior and my hope is in you all day long.  NIV

A year ago, I would have thought this was a pretty verse.

Today, I see it as a summary of many of the things I’ve learned lately.

Show me your ways, O LORD not my way, not the path I think I ought to take at the moment, show me the way that YOU would have me to go.

teach me your paths … I love the use of the word “path” here.  Dictionary.com lists six definitions for the word “path.”  Among them are, “a narrow walk or way, ” and,  “a course of action, conduct, or procedure.”  Teach me the narrow way that you have gone, O LORD … teach me to conduct myself in ways that will honor you.

guide me to your truth and teach me … don’t let me be sucked in by the world’s truth, I want YOUR truth.  Teach me, tutor me in your ways.

for you are God my Savior and my hope is in you all day long. My only hope is in Christ, all day long, every day of my life.

That’s what I’ll think about today.

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He is waiting to meet our needs

Job 11: 17-19a

Life will be brighter than noonday, and darkness will become like morning.  You will be secure, because there is hope, you will look about you and take your rest in safety.  You will lie down, with no one to make you afraid.  NIV

Again, these verse follow on from Job 11: 13, which says, “If you will devote your heart to him and stretch out your hands to him …”

… life will be brighter … darkness  won’t be as dark … you will be secure in you hope of the Lord … you will rest easily because you are not afraid … you’ll sleep peacefully, free from worry and fear.

Change, any change, isn’t easy.  While some change is for the better and some for the worse, it can’t help but feel … different.

When things are different, it isn’t immediately obvious, in my experience, that they are better.  Difference invites comparison, and comparison can kill optimism.

There is quite a bit of change in my little world at the moment.  As near as I can tell, it is all for the good, but, I needed this reminder today.

Today, and all days, I will devote my heart to the Lord.  I will stretch out my hands — full of things that I’m experiencing and thinking about — to Him.

Recently, I was talking with a set of new parents about the challenges of caring for their young son.  They are thrilled with him, but, they cannot escape the obvious realities that he needs absolutely everything done for him.  Their world — for this precious, precious time — revolves around meeting his most basic needs, moment by moment.  It’s an exhausting task.

But, then, we thought about this question, “What is it like for him?”  His every need is met as soon as he makes it known.  He is warm and dry and cuddled and safe and cared for.

In our lives as children of God, we are the baby.  As we grow in Christ, just like the child of my friends, we will be able to accomplish much.  But, no matter how old we are or how mature we are, we are always, always God’s children.

If we will stretch out our hands to him … He is waiting to meet our needs.

That’s what I’ll think about today.

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