Hope for the Best

The last few months have been a whirl.  Packing up my life and moving temporarily in with my parents before permanently moving halfway across the country, it’s been a season of transition and change.  With that always comes the bitter and the sweet.  In my experience, more often than not the bitter is the temporal pains and the sweet the spiritual lessons gleaned along the way.  Springing from this season, eternal hope in glory is a sweet theme playing over and over in my heart.

13774350_1109086805796963_717508180_n(1)Hope is a touchstone word for me.  For so much of my life, hope was wrapped up in the earthly longings—hope for a husband, family, child; hope of a fulfilling vocation and career; hope for a home.  These hopes were no guarantees and nothing to depend upon.  In my reaction to crushed dreams, I tended toward eliminating hope.  “Prepare for the worst, and don’t hope for the best” was my mantra. It prohibited crushed expectations which soured life.  However, reading Romans 12:12, “Be joyful in hope,” or Romans 15:12, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit,” or Romans 5:3-5, “We know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not put us to shame,” or Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for,” filled me with shame for my lack of hope.  Although, I “knew” our hope was not founded on things of this earth but rather in things of heaven, I couldn’t claim it.  It wasn’t overflowing into my life.

My understanding of this hope eternal has grown through this move. In leaving my family—moving almost a thousand miles away—I gave up special times together, memories to be made, conversations to be had, baby cuddles, and hugs.  Besides the comforting confidence in following God’s will, the greater solace came in the knowledge that though I gave up time on earth with them, we will have all of eternity together.  Additionally, upon my arrival, I learned that a dear friend just received a diagnosis of cancer—terminal apart from the healing work of God.  The potential for a shortened time together here on earth, rallied this growing eternal hope within me.  For though I sorrow at the thought of not sharing more of my life with her, I am encouraged in the knowledge that any separation will be for a little while.  Eternity will be forever.

Of course, our hope eternal in glory is not only about the reunion of loved ones, but so much more.  It is the removal of sin and its wretched curse.  It’s the full satiation of all our longings in Christ Jesus our Savior.  It’s being at complete peace with God.  It’s the right ordering of all things.  Rather than shaming ourselves for longings, we can yearn for those things to be fulfilled in heaven–the rightful fulfillment.  In so doing, we follow Paul’s exhortation in Colossians 3:2, “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.”

In the removal of the temporal, dearly loved ones and things in my life, God is breaking me free from the bounds of the earth and making way for me to follow faithfully with a view toward glory rather than merely five or ten years on earth.  Freedom comes in that outlook.  Hope overflows for that future when things will be made right and filled with all goodness.  “Hallelujah what a Savior,” we have for bringing about our salvation to this glorious end!

Unexpected Christmas

This morning listening to Christmas carols, I was struck anew by Kari Jobe’s “Adore Him.”  We’ve grown up with the Christmas story.  It’s no surprise to us.  Of course, God had his Son born in a manger. Of course, shepherds came and saw him.  Of course, he wasn’t born in Herod’s palace… really, though, of course?

Jobe captures the true surprise this is in the first two verses of her carol:

Countless days on a journey that led so far
Endless nights they traveled to follow the star
They did not find a palace, just a humble village home
And searching for a king, but finding a child, no crown, no throne…

Expectation turned to mystery
For nothing was like anything they dreamed
Anticipating the royal and those honored by this world
Instead they gazed in the awestruck eyes of a lowly peasant girl…

Just think how quickly we feel hurt when we don’t get the recognition we deserve or when someone else gets the credit for something we did.  Here, the Creator of the universe came into the world and didn’t get any of the recognition a mere mortal prince receives.

Recently, I among my friends and family, babies have been or will imminently be born. In the anticipation, I have witnessed many people come together before the baby is even born to love him and give him gifts.  The celebration is natural, and everyone adores the baby.

nativityHow is it then, that the most special baby was visited by shepherds-the lowly-and foreigners?  Why, when the priests learned from the magi that their foretold messiah had come, they did not join the party to find him? Those that should have anticipated his coming the most had no share in the welcome.

How beautiful is our God?!  The scriptures are full of commendations to the humble, and our God exemplified that very characteristic.  The one due all glory clothed himself with humility.  His whole life is a testament to that.  All I can do is worship with gratitude–Thanks be to God!