Sunday, May 22, 2011

A Hope That Endures

I have been meaning to come and update my blog to share the good news that Brian got a great new job. This is a praise! Soon I will share more about how God did it better than we could have planned. His ways are definitely better than ours.

Tonight I didn't come to share that news, though. Tonight I came to share some thoughts that are brewing in my mind and emotions that are brewing in my heart. This has been a hard year for my church family. I have never seen so many with cancer. There are other things we all face in life whether it be unemployment, illness, loss, or other problems. God never said there wouldn't be storms. In fact, He said we shouldn't be surprised by it.

This week 3 people I love are having major surgery. One is a baby, and 2 women who light up every room they ever enter will have cancer surgery. After you see such amazing people enduring something like this it begs the question "why"? I feel like the Bible makes it really clear what we should do in those moments when we have those questions and I will share my thoughts on that next time. But for tonight, I just want to offer one tiny piece of that beautiful puzzle because those of you who are walking it should know.

I am convinced God allows it, at least in part, because we see Jesus in your skin. He works in you, but He also works through you. When we suffer and we still hope it confounds people. Why doesn't it crush the Christian the way it does others? Because our Hope is not an ideal or a feeling. Hope is not just some sweet thought or a word we plaster on everything from coffee mugs to wall decor.

Our Hope is a Person, and He never changes.

Once we know Him you can't take Him from us. Hope in our hearts is not always as cute as it appears on coffee mugs. Sometimes it just the raw desire to defiantly cling to God when we don't know where He is taking us- but we know HIM enough to know it is going to be worth it in the end. Sometimes our hope shows in defiant tears that shout "I don't care what you throw at me- HE is mine and you can't ever change that. He loves me, and no circumstance can take what I have in Him". Hope often shines brightest in pain. Why is that? I think it is because His power is PERFECT in our weakness.

So please know, and I think you know who you are- those of you who have suffered and waited patiently for the clouds to move and let some sunshine fall on your weary faces- know that you never looked more like Jesus. You show the lost something they may have never seen before. And you make me want to be brave. You remind me to keep putting one foot in front of the other even when the narrow path looks a little too steep and rocky and quitting seems easier.

When my fickle heart only sees the storm and water and I desperately want back in the boat- my eyes catch yours and your sweet face reminds me to put my eyes back on Jesus and take that next step out into the deeper waters. You are living "Ebenezer stones" (1 Samuel 7:12) reminding the world and other believers that the Lord is powerful, and "thus far, He has helped us".

So shine on, my sweet friends. Keep giving Him the glory and when your arms get tired we will hold them up. I'm humble by the saints around me. I'm so grateful for you and so overwhelmingly privileged by the honor of lifting you up to the One who is our Life, our Abba Father, and always a Hope that remains unchanged.

"Our Hope endures the worst of conditions.
Its more than our optimism, so let the earth quake,
our Hope is unchanged" - Natalie Grant

"So God has given both his promise and his oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary." Hebrews 6:18-19 (emphasis mine)