“HOPE is the best stimulant.” This phrase, taken from a fortune cookie, was the writing prompt for my son’s creative writing class. Since I am having trouble coming up with ideas to blog about, I decided to begin there.
First, in order to pursue this idea, I want to describe stimulant. I think a good synonym would be motivator. Hope is what motivates us to engage in living. I include engage because I know there are times when I have been alive but not engaged in living. Some days it is unbelievably difficult to show up for life, but today is not one of those days so I am contemplating hope.
What is hope? In a general sense, hope is an expectation of something better, that something broken can be fixed or that something empty will be filled and that loss is not the end but believing redemption follows.
The longer the delay, the harder it is to hope. When my husband’s military duties permitted him to return at the end of the week, I could anticipate his return. However, when he was deployed for a year, it was much harder to hope for that day. It is easier to hope for something certain than something that might happen. Nothing is guaranteed unless you know Jesus, but if you have trusted him there is always hope. In Him we have a sure hope
That He is with us always even to the end of the age
That God causes all things to work together for good to those who love Him, to those who are called according to His purpose.
That He is able to keep each one of us from stumbling and make us stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy.
This hope motivates us to persevere even when our earthly hopes shatter. While earthly hopes may disappoint, the hope of the glory of heaven can only exceed our wildest imaginings.
Romans Chapter 5 opens with these verses… Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through who also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. In one sentence we have the essence of the gospel. The sacrifice and gift of Jesus not only reconciles us with God but also enables us to persevere in this present life while assuring us of a future hope of glory.
God designed each of our lives to paint a picture of His grace, telling a unique story. On my wall hangs a picture of a man standing in a light house with the waves crashing high above his head, yet his face and posture indicate perfect peace in the midst of the turbulence. He is certain the rocks that comprise the tower will hold and protect him.
To me, this portrays the grace in which we stand. We know our Rock is steadfast and in the midst of chaos, He holds us secure. Jesus gives us grace today. What impact is God’s grace having in your life right now?
It seems as we don this season’s fashions, a new trend is afoot. It has gained wide popularity not just among the trendsetters, but nearly everyone these days is seen sporting “an abundance of caution.”
At first glance this seems wise and even prudent, but is caution just another name for worry or fear? Did David use an abundance of caution when he set out to meet Goliath? Did Mary weigh the pros and cons before she broke open her alabaster jar anointing Jesus before he entered Jerusalem?
In Matthew 6 Jesus tells us not worry about our lives – for who by worrying who can add a day or even an hour to their life? Are we allowing the worries of this life choke out the life God has poured into us? In my own paraphrase, I urge you not to let what could happen keep you from carrying out the daily assignments or divine appointments God has for you. Don’t let caution be an excuse for disengagement – for discontinuing the activities you enjoy or for not maintaining connection with people significant to you.
I wonder if believers in Nigeria remain in their homes as they consult growing trends and statistics of the numbers of believers captured and executed or churches burned. Do believers in China exhibit an abundance of caution as they decide whether to meet secretly with others, or do they wholeheartedly entrust themselves to God who knows exactly how many days He has given each of us? Are we being wise stewards of the time he has given if bury this time in fear of what could happen? Nothing that happens is a surprise to God. Nothing is outside of his protective power.
The psalmist in Psalm 91 recognized this declaring, “The Lord is alone is my refuge and place of safety, He is my God and I trust Him. He will rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly disease… His faithful promises are your armor and protection. Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night, nor the arrow that flies in the day. Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness nor the disaster that strikes at midday, He delivers you from the snare of the trapper and from the deadly pestilence… If you make the Lord your refuge, if you make the Most High your shelter, no evil will conquer you. “
Instead of shrouding ourselves beneath an abundance of caution, we can boldly wear our shields of faith and cover our minds with our helmets of salvation. While these do not make us impervious to the evil and harm surrounding us, we are reminded not to fear that which can destroy the body but to take care to guard against that which can destroy our soul. Our Lord reminds us in John 16:33 that although this world is filled with tribulation, we take courage because He has overcome this world.