Finding Lost Hope

“But as for me, I will always have hope; I will praise You more and more” (Psalm 71:14).

I have a confession to make.

I lost my hope.

I had hoped in a dream that I believed was God’s plan for me – it was exciting and I was filled with anticipation.  But when my life turned in a different direction, I set my backpack full of hope down and shuffled off on this unwanted new path.  It all seemed more like a heavy burden – just another unfulfilled longing.  It was easier to leave it behind than to continue carrying it around like so much dead weight.

The Bible mentions quite a few people who stood at the same crossroads.  Moses, Elijah, and Naomi come to mind.  Peter and several of the disciples, uncertain of where their lives are going after Jesus’ death, dejectedly went back to fishing (John 21).  And then there are two of Jesus’ followers  walking on the dusty road to Emmaus when they encounter a stranger.  They tell him about Jesus (isn’t that a kick), sadly saying: “We had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel” (Luke 24:21).  They saw their lives going in a completely different direction than they expected.

Part of the problem is our understanding of the word “hope.”  We say, “I hope it doesn’t rain out the picnic today.”  “I hope he asks me to the prom.”  “I hope you feel better soon.” – but these are spoken like “wishful thinking.”  That’s a “cross-your-fingers” kind of hope.  The Bible portrays hope as “an attitude of confidently looking forward to what is good and beneficial.”  It’s a hope that serves as “an anchor for the soul, firm and secure” (Hebrews 6:19).  It’s not a hope in circumstances, but rather a hope in the One who called us and sustains us and guarantees a good outcome.  It’s a hope that we can carry with us no matter what twists and turns life takes.  Better yet, it’s a hope that carries us no matter what.  That’s the kind of hope you and I need.

Remember Peter and those disciples on the road to Emmaus – the ones who had lost hope? Their stories didn’t end there.  At the end of that fishing trip was breakfast with the risen Jesus and restored hope for Peter.  At the end of the Emmaus road was the joyful realization that the stranger in their midst was the resurrected Lord Himself.  In the end their hope was renewed, in fact, it was even stronger than before.

One of my favorite verses in seasons like this is Proverbs 13:12: “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when dreams come true at last there is life and joy.”  I believe this is an assurance that our God-given dreams don’t get cast aside when life takes an unexpected turn.  Because God expected that turn, even if I didn’t, and somehow my dreams will make the turn too. And when He brings them to reality, they may not look exactly like I envisioned, but they will be full of life and joy.  And hope.

Holy Father, I’m picking my hope back up and I’m going to walk this new path with the assurance that “He who began a good work in me will bring it to completion” (Philippians 1:6).  My hope is in You.  There’s no better place for it to be.  Amen.

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In the Mother’s Prayer Room

“I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of Him” (1 Samuel 1:27).

I’ve found a real connection and draw inspiration from some of the mothers in the Bible and in Christian history.  In honor of Mother’s Day, I’d like to share my Mother-Heroines with you. Maybe you will find a connection and inspiration too.

I’ve long had a special place in my heart for Hannah, the mother of Samuel.  Hannah’s story is found in 1 Samuel 1-2; she endured many years of barrenness – what I called infertility for seven years.  Hannah prayed fervently for a child – and God granted her prayer and she gave birth to Samuel, who became a great leader of the Israelite nation.  I, too prayed for many years for a child and God granted my desire as well. Hannah and I kept praying until God said yes – we both had sons after many years of waiting. Our key verse is her words to the priest Eli, when she and her husband presented baby Samuel at the Temple.

Bathsheba is an example to me of a mom who sinned greatly, yet God forgave her, blessed her and used her in His plan. Her story is told in 2 Samuel 11-12. Bathsheba was another’s man’s wife when King David initiated an affair with her, then murdered her husband to cover up his sin when she discovered she was pregnant.  Though her child died, God forgave her and blessed Bathsheba with another son, Solomon, who followed his father on the throne of Israel and ruled (for a time) with godly wisdom.  I am a mom who messed up more than once, and, just as God forgave Bathsheba and redeemed her life, He has done the same for me.

There is a mom and grandmother I truly aspire to be like: Eunice and Lois, whose godly lives and teaching shaped young Timothy, who became the Apostle Paul’s “right-hand man” in ministry.  Paul said of them: “I have been reminded of your [Timothy’s] sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also” (2 Timothy 1:5).  What a legacy!  That’s the kind of mom I want to be, one who models a “sincere faith” that influences my child and someday, my grandchildren.

At this stage in my “parenting career” I most identify with a mother named Monica who lived in a.d. 300-400.  Monica was a woman who loved God passionately and also loved her son deeply.  Monica’s son was a young man with a – shall we say – “zest” for all the world had to offer.  He pursued his own pleasures and made choices that broke his mother’s heart.  He loved his mother, but he was determined to live his life on his terms.  Monica prayed fervently and faithfully for her son.  She wept and pleaded with God to bring her son out of the world and into His Kingdom.  She sacrificed for her son and endured his misbehavior and the consequences that followed him around everywhere he went.   Her son later wrote these words about her, “I cannot adequately tell of the love she had for me, or how she continued to travail for me in the spirit with far more anguish than when she bore me in the flesh.”[1]  As Monica sought godly counsel for her son, she begged and pleaded with the local bishop.  “Finally the bishop, a little vexed at her persistence, exclaimed, ‘Go your way; as you live, it cannot be that the son of these tears should perish.’”[2]  Monica and God won the battle for her son’s soul and he came to salvation at the age of 32.  Perhaps you’ve heard of him – Saint Augustine of Hippo – one of the greatest fathers of the Christian faith.  I also have a grown son whom I pray for continually.  As he struggles to find his way in the world, I pray that he will be caught up in the enormous love of God and will live his life as a follower of Christ.

Motherhood is the hardest thing you’ll ever do.  Maybe this Mother’s Day the sun dawns on a broken heart, a longing unfulfilled, an unimaginable loss, a strained relationship, or a struggling child.  I want to encourage you to take a look at the mothers of the Bible and the Church.  The one common denominator in every one of their stories is a mother on her knees for her child.  Come join me in the Mother’s prayer room – we’re all in this together and best of all – God is in it with us too.

Dear Father, I think the heart of a mother comes closest to Your own heart than any other on earth.  I pray for my son to know You and to love You with all his heart, mind, soul and strength.  I pray for my fellow moms – give us endurance to stay on our knees and let us rejoice together when our children say “I belong to the Lord” (Isaiah 44:5). Amen.

[1] Saint Augustine, Confessions of Saint Augustine, Edited by Tom Gill. (Alachua, Bridge-Logos,2003),117.

[2] Augustine, 72.

Reposted from “A Mom Like Me” 5/12/2015

Child of God

Antonio Allegri’s Head of Christ – Public Domain

“Now if we are children then we are heirs – heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in His sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory” (Romans 8:17)

The story is told of a wealthy husband and wife who traveled around the world collecting wonderful and costly works of art.  Their home was filled with the finest sculptures and paintings.  In time the wife passed away and their son grew up, joined the military and went off to war.  One day a knock at the door brought the terrible news that his son had been killed in battle.  The man shut himself away, alone in the house with all his valuable treasures.  Years later, another knock at the door brought a surprise visitor, a friend of his son from the military.  He held a brown-paper-wrapped package in his hands and told the old man that he had been searching for him for many years to give him a portrait he had painted of his son shortly before he was killed.  The father thanked the friend and unwrapped the package with tears in his eyes.  The painter-friend had captured the essence of his son, especially in the eyes.  He took down his prized painting from above the mantel and placed the painting of his son in its place.

When he finally died his estate announced a great auction and the most important art collectors and dealers from around the world came.  The auctioneer gaveled the auction open and displayed the first painting – the simple portrait of the man’s son.  The auctioneer asked for a bid. No one said a word.  He asked again, who will give me just $25 for this painting?  No one moved.  They weren’t there for sentimentality, they were there for the great sculptures and beautiful paintings.  Finally, one man in the back raised his hand, “I didn’t come here to buy anything, I just wanted to watch, but I’ll take the painting for $25.”

“Going once, going twice, sold to the gentleman in the back for $25.”

Then the auctioneer rapped the gavel on his stand and announced, “The auction is now closed.”

“Closed! How can that be?”  “What about all these paintings and sculptures?  There’s a whole house full of treasures to be sold.”

The auctioneer put down his gavel, “The old man’s will declared that only one painting would be sold – the painting of his beloved son.  Whoever takes the son gets it all.”

God set His beloved Son to redeem lost souls and bring them into His family.  He said that whoever chose to believe in His Son would instantly become His child and would have rights to all He owns – which is heaven and earth and all the universe and eternal life.  The Son is the Way to all the treasures of God – actually, the Son is the greatest treasure of God.  And those treasures can be yours if you put your faith and trust in Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord.  It’s an incredible offer – you trade your sinful life for the glory of Christ.  Don’t pass it up.

Whoever takes the Son gets it all.

Lord, You are far and above the sinful creatures on earth, but in Your great love for us, You gave Your Son so that we could have it all – redemption, hope, joy, peace and eternal life in heaven with You.  Only a fool would pass up such a wonderful offer.  I chose Jesus.