Through Every Season

Month: December 2020

Where is Your Hope?

I have a few confessions to make.

I loved this Facebook meme for the end of 2020.

The general consensus that this has been a bad year and that everyone just wants it over has been hard on me. Not that I thought that this was a particularly good year or that many of the changes that this year brought haven’t been hard on me or that I don’t want to see this year end. 

IT’S THAT THE EAGERNESS IS MISPLACED.

The hype at the end of last year about how great 2020 was going to be really bothered me as well.

You see, in December 2012, when Joel died, I learned not to put my hope in a year. 

Many years earlier, God gave me a verse for my kids that became my prayer and hope:

All your children shall be taught by the LORD Himself, and great shall be the peace of your children. – Isaiah 54:13

I prayed that they would be taught by the LORD Himself. I prayed daily that they would love the Lord and serve Him with all their hearts. My goal in homeschooling them was to teach them to be led by Holy Spirit. They are really great kids, hard workers. Ages 26-32 now. They love the Lord, are incredibly smart. The Lord Himself has truly been their teacher.

On a Wednesday night in November of 2012, someone in our church had our oldest and youngest sons stand up and spoke Jeremiah 29:11 over them: 

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you a future and a hope.”

The promise felt a little out of place. I thought, “Of course, God’s plans are good.” We were overflowing with hope. All three boys were living at home while working their way through college. My daughter was preparing to graduate from homeschooling. Everything was good. 

Then that awful day in December came. Joel died. My hope was shattered and I lost all sense of what hope was. No one can live without hope. I needed a different kind of hope, a more trustworthy hope.

I had never thought about how that wonderful verse in Jeremiah 29:11 was spoken to a people also promised 70 years of captivity. They would never see their kids graduate from college and live a long prosperous life this side of Heaven either. 

How did they live? What was their hope? I had to search the scriptures diligently with all my heart to learn what biblical hope really is. 

I learned to love verses that I had skipped over before. I held onto them for dear life. Job and Joseph and Paul and Jesus became my best friends. They had suffered long and hard. They understood.

Our hope was never meant to be in a year. It’s not meant to be placed in the things or people of this world. Yes, God has good plans for us. Yes, He wants to prosper us. But our treasures are not earthly treasures where moth and rust corrupt. They are Heavenly. They are eternal.

I had to learn to live this way:

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things above, where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God. Set your minds on the things above, not the things on the earth. For you have died, and your life has been hidden with Christ in God. When Christ your life may be revealed, then you also will appear with Him in glory. Colossians 3:1-4

I had to learn perseverance: 

So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you will become mature and well developed, not deficient in any way. – James 1:4

For a long time, I had to trust that perseverance would produce the hope I’d lost:

Not only that, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us. Romans 5:3-5

I had to believe that my suffering was temporary and achieving a greater glory:

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  – 2 Corinthians 4:17  

I had to learn to trust that God’s grace would be sufficient for whatever the new year would bring:

Each time He said, “My grace is sufficient for you: for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

I had to learn to aline my hope with our heroes of faith: 

All these people died in faith, without having received the things they were promised. However, they saw them and welcomed them from afar. And they acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.

Now those who say such things show that they are seeking a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them. Hebrews 11:13- 16

I had to learn to think soberly about this life and rest my hope FULLY on Christ and His return: 

Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, rest all your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. – 1 Peter 1:13

My hope has grown eager and secure because it is no longer in temporary things.  

But you, beloved, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, eagerly waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you eternal life. Jude 1:20-21 

How is your hope?
Is it misplaced?
Or is it only in our eternal hope in Jesus?

In His love,

Jenny Coleman
GriefShare facilitator at Redland Hills Church

We are starting two GriefShare groups this Spring.

Anyone grieving a death of a friend or loved one:
Sundays at 3 PM starting January 17th

Bereaved parents:
Wednesdays at 6 PM starting January 13th

Ask for details or find one by zip code near you at GriefShare.org

Struggling with Suffering

My favorite verses have become the ones where Jesus struggled with suffering… because through them I know I am not alone, I am not abandoned, I am chosen, I am loved.

He took with Him Peter, James, and John, and began to be deeply troubled and distressed. Then He said to them, “My soul is consumed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch.” – Mark 14:33-34

Jesus gave into the sorrow.. He allowed it to consume Him to the point of death. And turned to “Abba, Father,” to Him who “all things are possible for.”

His friends… fell asleep.

He prayed the same thing again.. and again. – God never tires of hearing our prayers.

Until a few weeks ago, I believed this was the only time Jesus gave into His sorrow. However I recently realized that the trouble Jesus felt and tears He cried at Lazarus’ tomb are connected to the trouble and deep sorrow at the garden of Gethsemane. In the chapter following Lazarus’ resurrection Jesus told Philip and Andrew:

“Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? No, it is for this purpose that I have come to this hour. Father, glorify Your name!’ … After Jesus had spoken these things, He went away and was hidden from them.” – John 12:27-28, 36

It’s okay to struggle… to be troubled… again and again… as you face your sorrow and turn to the Father, submitted to His will and longing for Him to be glorified. And it’s okay to disappear from the crowds. Jesus did more than once. 

It’s also okay not to feel all better even when the comfort comes directly from Heaven:

Then an angel from Heaven appeared to Him and strengthened Him. And in His anguish, He prayed more earnestly, and His sweat became like drops of blood falling to the ground. – Luke 22:43-44 

His sweat became like drops of blood while earnestly praying in anguish AFTER an angel from Heaven appeared and strengthened Him. Heaven’s comfort didn’t make everything okay. It didn’t take away the suffering. It appeared and strengthened Him in the midst of it.

During the days of Jesus’ earthly life, He offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the One who could save Him from death, and He was heard because of His reverence. – Hebrews 5:7 

We are heard because of our reverence. Loud cries and tears do not disqualify us. They are not a sign of a lack of faith. We pray to the One who is able but not always willing to save us and our loved ones from physical death. Suffering and being separated from those we love causes anguish. Even Jesus asked why:

“My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?”

We are not alone. We are not abandoned. We are chosen. We are loved.

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. – Colossians 3:12 

You’re Invited

I was pouring out some pent up emotions (and tears) in prayer on my walk the other day. I noticed I’d been trying to live bootstraps pulled up, marching forward right over my heart. I know that is not the Father’s heart towards me, so I decided to declare the truth to my heart by praying through Psalm 23. When I came to “my cup runs over,” I “looked” inside my cup. It was empty. A tear plopped into my empty cup..

How are you? Are you taking your cares to the Shepherd of your soul? Are you speaking truth to your heart? Are you seeing Jesus rightly? Are you taking time to sit at the table He has prepared for you in the presence of your enemies? Are you allowing Him to fill your cup?

I asked the Lord, what had He prepared for me? What was at the table? Why was my cup dry? These verses came to mind:

And He took the bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body, given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” In the same way, after supper He took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is poured out for you. – Luke 22:19-20

Jesus humbled Himself, suffered and died that we might eat and drink of Him. He is the sacrifice prepared for us in the midst of our enemies.

“I am the living bread that came down from Heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And this bread, which I will give for the life of the world, is My flesh.” – John 6:51

On the last and greatest day of the feast, Jesus stood up and called out in a loud voice, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said: ‘Streams of living water will flow from within him.” – John 7:37-38

Jesus is our Spring of Salvation; a flowing source of salvation that the thirsty can return to again and again.

Isaiah 12:2-3
Surely God is my salvation;
I will trust and not be afraid.
For the LORD GOD is my strength and my song,
and He also has become my salvation.
With joy you will draw water from the springs of salvation.

Jesus’ sacrifice and invitation to come eat and drink of Him is very good news to those who are thirsty and willing to come. Will you draw water with joy from our Spring of Salvation with me?

May you feel His loving embrace this Christmas,

Jenny

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