Characterized by Hope
I Corinthians 13:13
And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
Over the years, I have experienced set backs in life. It doesn’t even matter what they are, considering everyone has set backs, falls, disasters, tidal waves…so you understand. I do not always handle set backs well. Over this past summer, God has been doing a work in my life, reopening doors that I tried to close years ago. Why? Well, I wanted to know too!
Three situations were resurrected from years ago. I did not like that! Of course, God brought these things into my life right as I was trying to plan for moving to Mexico, and I was trying to stay focused on my future direction, not past failures. The common tie to these three situations from my past was that I had shut down each of the situations because I had lost hope that they would ever improve.
Why did God reopen these situations? In a very kind way, I feel like God has rebuked my lack of hope, warning me to not handle my current struggles and set backs the same way that I did in those circumstances. I have been meditating on what hope looks like and how important it is in a Christian’s life ever since, so as I’ve read the Bible, the message of hope has stood out to me like a St. Bernard hiding in a group of kittens. I can’t even give specific verses, because I have found it in everything I have read! The Bible’s theme of redemption is based on faith, hope, and love.
Hope is what makes me, as a believer in Christ, different from the world, and it is the key to my ministry and happy existence. Yet, why has the biggest contender to my hope and optimism been other Christians? In I Cor. 13:13, Paul groups hope as one of the 3 most important characteristics. We talk about faith and love a lot, but then at times I hear people talk about discouragement and depression as necessities of life. I would like to point out people like Moses, Joseph, Esther, Ruth, David, Gideon, Nehemiah, Joshua, Paul, and Jesus. All of the heroes of the Bible were people that worked to keep hope in God even in the face of some of the hardest trials imaginable.
A close friend and I just started a long distance book study together, which I’m thrilled about! We are just now beginning to read The Hope Quotient by Ray Johnston, and I definitely see the Lord’s hand in ending my summer with this book. I haven’t read much of it yet, but I already am enjoying his message! Feel free to begin reading the book and email me about what you think. I would love to spread hope and join together with others trying to learn more about what hope looks like!
God renewed my hope in two particular areas this week. One thing that can be discouraging for me is my teaching ability. I am a new teacher, and there are days that I feel like I got my Master’s degree in nagging…. I began to pray about some new fresh ideas on how to reach my students’ hearts after a day of feeling like my words were flying out the window. God answered my prayer! I have already instituted some new ideas that were direct answers to prayer, and they are working! Teaching requires a lot of hope. Hope that I can communicate what I need to. Hope that students can learn and grow. Hope that God can somehow use this time together to glorify Him.
|Nothing reminds me of hope more than watching plants grow!|
Here is a half rotten amaryllis bulb I found, completely solid
and growing with brand new roots popping out every day.
Starting over with a new hope
The other area that I found myself feeling discouraged in was my linguistic ability. I am not a linguistically gifted individual! I was a late bloomer in language (thankfully I had an older sister willing to talk for me and interpret my brain for others). All these memories were going through my mind when I moved here, and I had very little hope of learning Spanish quick enough to join in on ministry. As my friends and family asked how they could be praying for me, I started replying, “Pray for me to learn Spanish!” Saturday, I had a small glimpse of hope: a small, confusing but successful conversation with someone IN SPANISH. That was all I needed! Hopefully my conversations will get better from here on out!
God is a God of hope. Being saved gives us a hope in an eternity in heaven, a hope that we can live completely different, successful, and happy lives here on earth. Does that mean we don’t experience waves of difficulty and ups and downs? No of course not. But it does mean that we should know where to go when we are discouraged and need some hope (the Bible). It means that we should not give up on relationships, jobs, abilities, places, or ministries that God calls us to be a part of.