As the calendar turned to 2019, I rather informally processed the previous year. The word that kept coming to mind was “hope.” Last year brought many good and hard things, as is true in any year. I was challenged, encouraged, discouraged, happy, sad and lots of places in between. Our family experienced the gamut of emotions as well. Pain, joy, new birth, loss, transition, heartache and waiting marked our days. What would the Lord have me pray about this year and meditate upon? Hope!
I am praying that the Lord gives me fresh hope in Him, hope for my life, hope for my family and hope for the future. As I write, I am hoping for an excellent outcome for my son Mark’s knee surgery that we helped him recover from recently. We never outgrow being a mom, and he needed his mom and dad this week.
Hope is a theme throughout Scripture, and the hope we have as Christ-followers is an expectant one. Lamentations 3 is a hard, heavy and difficult passage of Scripture to read – as can be true of seasons of our lives. As you read further though, something changes in verse 21. The writer speaks to himself versus listening to himself as he calls to mind God’s truth and reminds his soul to be hope-filled. I had never noticed the word “hope” in this passage. Interestingly, the word “wait” in verses 25-26 translates as “hope” in Hebrew, giving this Scripture a power packed, hope-inspiring section to ponder.
“But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope:
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases,
His mercies never come to an end;
They are new every morning;
Great is your faithfulness.
‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul,
‘Therefore I will hope in Him.’ The Lord is good to those who wait for him,
to the soul who seeks him.
It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.”
I find this passage very encouraging! As a mom I am not able to always be merciful and faithful to my calling, even on my best days. I will disappoint, fail, hurt and be discouraged.
In ministry there are so many ups and downs it seems challenging to remain encouraged. To be honest, my default is discouragement, not hope. Recently I made a special birthday meal for one of the women with whom I meet. I got out linen napkins, set the table, prepared food that she liked that would fit her special diet, and I invited another friend to join us. She didn’t show up! I was bewildered. Some family that she had not seen in 15 years had unexpectedly come to town, so she texted me asking to delay the meal for an hour, and then another hour (my chicken didn’t handle the delays too well!). In the end she didn’t come at all. While we had a nice evening with the other friend, I was feeling pretty devalued as I waited and waited. I was not feeling too loving or merciful that evening. Thankfully, as we met the following week, the Lord allowed me to respond to her with mercy and love as we read the bible together. It took a while to get there emotionally, yet in contrast, the Lord never fails, is always merciful, His love is new every morning and His faithfulness is great. That is why I can hope in Him.
The last stanza of the 1923 hymn “Great is Thy Faithfulness” expresses the hope from Lamentations 3:
Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide,
strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!
Great is thy faithfulness!
Great is thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see:
all I have needed thy hand hath provided.
Great is thy faithfulness Lord unto me!
We don’t know what circumstances we will face in any season. What we do know is that we can hope in the Lord. The Psalmist says it beautifully in Psalm 62:5, “For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him.” May the Lord bless you today with hope in Him, a reminder of his love, mercies and faithfulness, an enduring peace, strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow.