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,
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
Wednesdays at 6 PM starting January 13th
Ask for details or find one by zip code near you at GriefShare.org