Return of Hope

George Washington's Mount Vernon

A few weeks ago I attended one of the sweetest weddings I've ever been to. In part the time was sweet because it was spent in company with two of my closest friends. Two of us toured Mt. Vernon and thrilled to learn of George and Martha Washington's beautiful marriage. We laughed uproariously at our continual inability to navigate suburban DC, barely getting the mother of the groom to the church on time.  But mostly the sweetness came from seeing God's goodness to the young couple whose vows we had come to witness, His blessing on their lives, and His work in preparing these two for each other. By the end of the weekend I found myself repeatedly thinking, “Look what God has done!”

These ladies give me hope, too

Psalm 66:5 captures this idea when it says “Come and see what God has done: he is awesome in his deeds toward the children of man.” This thought has remained with me, giving me joy when I remember the newlyweds, but also as I consider God's work in my own family this year.

Despair characterized the last months of 2013. The apostle Paul says that he was “afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing.” During that period I could not have said that. Afflicted, I allowed myself to be crushed. Perplexed, I despaired. But God, in His kindness, did not forsake me, and His presence stayed me. I asked Him for hope, and He heard my prayer. I wrote this quote from John Calvin on a card (with my own punctuation) and put it in my prayer card box:

     We should ask God to:
  •     increase our hope when it is small,
  •     awaken it when it is dormant,
  •     confirm it when it is wavering,
  •     strengthen it when it is weak,
  •     and raise it up when it is overthrown.

The year 2014 has been one of returning hope. At the very tail end of 2013 the Lord encouraged Tim and I in a profound way through scripture during a sermon. That passage strengthened us to the core. David talks of hope given through God's word when he prays, “Remember the word to your servant in which You have made me hope.” (Psalm 119:49)

As I reflect on this last year, it hasn't been an easy one, but God has continued to be faithful. He has continued to give hope – sometimes through events, sometimes through His people, and often through His Word. I just love that God is called a “God of hope!” (Rom 15:13) Instead of despair and fear for the future, I am filled with anticipation to see what the Lord has in store. Look what He has done already! I can't wait to see His awesome deeds to come!

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Rom. 15:13)


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