Hope

I had already fed the animals, picked off the morning’s offering of tomatoes and okra, and sat down with a cup of coffee before I looked at the date.

September 1.

Though it is not the official beginning of Autumn (which is September 22), the march toward cooler temperatures, golden leaves and all things Crock Pot has begun. Blessed relief.

But there is a heaviness that follows me around these days.

Like you, I have found myself weighed down by the horrific, tragic events pouring out of our screens and speakers. Conversations have felt heavy, going into hard places with my kids who are asking really hard questions.

“Mom, what happens if someone denies Christ?”

“Mom, I’m afraid I might choose the wrong path when I grow up.”

These questions cause me to dig deep, to sit hard on what I truly believe the Scriptures teach about the love, mercy, and grace of God. The answers my children seek are important, potentially life-altering, and the pressure to ensure I am giving them solid, Biblical truth is incredible.

I breathe silent prayers as I listen for the Lord’s leading. I look at the child with the question and I tell them stories. Stories of faith, stories of martyrs and failures and grace and King David and Peter and Paul, of the prostitute named Rahab and Mary who wiped the feet of Jesus with her tears and I impart hope that God goes lovingly before us, prepares us, strengthens us from faith to faith as we learn to trust Him and gather stones of remembrance that make our pockets heavy and our legs stronger under the weight.

Oh, my sweet ones, if only you could see how he will carry you. He will be your strength and, when you fail (because you most certainly will) he will give you feet like that of a deer and set you in the high places because that is what he does.

The world is broken and our hearts are, too. Fear whispers lies into vulnerable ears and we wonder how in the world will we possibly stand under the coming pressure?

Then September comes, the turning, the promise, the rest. Holidays grow nearer on the calendar and, look! There is Advent, just a few weeks away. And before that, Thanksgiving! Oh, what a chance to practice eucharisteo! Christmas! The babe in a manger, God who came near and remains here with us, His Spirit within us who have surrendered to His Son. There are celebrations and feasts on the horizon that will remind us of the great Hope that anchors our soul.

Nothing is beyond the grasp of God. No evil, no earthquake, no persecution, and no storm. Though the earth be shaken and our hearts fail, our God stands strong and sovereign, strengthening His people, weeping with those who weep and promising an end to suffering that is coming soon.

He will make all things new, and we will stand with hope realized, declaring He is worthy of it all.

We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf…

Hebrews 6:19-20 (ESV)

Jesus went before us in suffering. He knows the depths of fear and pain. He also knows the victory of resurrection and is, even now, preparing a place for us.

Fix your eyes upon him, friends. Don’t be swayed by promises to the left and right. Feast upon every word of the Scriptures, over and over, day after day, and feel the hope begin to course through you.

Lift up your eyes, and gaze upon the One who has overcome the world.

Then go. Tell the world why you are able to have hope. Tell them of the Cross, of a Savior who offers hope and life and eternity to ANYONE who will repent and place your faith in Him. Jesus is the answer, the only answer to the hard questions and there is no prerequisite to salvation! Despite all you may have heard, you do not have to “clean up” first. It doesn’t matter what you have done, who you have been, or how far you have run from Him…He will welcome you with open arms and give you a new heart and new way of thinking that will have ripple effects with every step you take.

And He will make every tear, every heartache, worth it.

When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the people slaughtered because of God’s word and the testimony they had. They cried out with a loud voice: “Lord, the One who is holy and true, how long until You judge and avenge our blood from those who live on the earth?” So a white robe was given to each of them, and they were told to rest a little while longer until the number would be completed of their fellow slaves and their brothers, who were going to be killed just as they had been.

Revelation 6:9-11 (HCSB)

Then one of the elders asked me, “Who are these people robed in white, and where did they come from?”
I said to him, “Sir, you know.”
Then he told me:
These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation.
They washed their robes and made them white
in the blood of the Lamb.
For this reason they are before the throne of God,
and they serve Him day and night in His sanctuary.
The One seated on the throne will shelter them:
They will no longer hunger;

they will no longer thirst;
the sun will no longer strike them,
nor will any heat.
For the Lamb who is at the center of the throne
will shepherd them;
He will guide them to springs of living waters,
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.

Revelation 7:13-17 (HCSB)

Praise be to God.

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