Hope, it is something that we all desperately need to keep us going. With a good dose of hope, we would not have a reason to get out of bed in the morning. Because it is hope that that cheers us up when everything around us seems glum and impossible.
It is hope that takes hold of the strong arms of trust and faith to keep our heads above the billowing waves. When discouragement seeks to suffocate us and build such a high wall that we will never be able to enjoy another ray of sunlight again, it is hope that points us to the great promises of God and reminds us of the importance of trusting in things that though yet unseen, will one day become a wondrous reality.
Like a vitalizing tonic, hope has the power to revive the nearly dead soul. Bringing it back from the brink of lifelessness into a vibrant and purpose driven life.
There are days when following the Lord just seems to come naturally. Then there are times when everything goes wrong, and my eyes settle upon the problems of life, instead of focusing on the beacon of hope that Jesus longs to shine upon my troubled path. Caught up in the frustration of my struggles to make even a modest success of my life and the never ending disappointment as something always seems to come along and snatch away my few, hard won pennies of achievement, I forget that my eyes are supposed to look steadfastly upon Jesus and not down at my trembling feet.
Sometimes, worn out by sickness and chronic pain and the discouraged by the constant battle to take one step forward only to be pushed back five or ten, I begin to look away. Without even realizing it, my attention begins to focus on myself and before I know what has happened, all the problems of life rise before me eyes. Instead of dwelling upon the promised joys to come, my heart begins to mediate upon the quiet pain that I try to bury deep within some forgotten corner of having to watch all of life’s dearest dreams pass me by.
As I look at my life, and behold all the times that I worked so hard only to get sick or have some financial crisis come along and tear my dream into pieces, all the hopes that now lay in ashes at my feet, and all the longings of life that will never be, discouragement fills my heart and before I know it has created a thick wall between me and the path of life.
In that moment all I can see is my hopeless state. Pain, frustration, want, loneliness, and all that makes the heart to ache seems to be my lot in life. Instead of feasting upon the promise of the heavenly Canaan where sin and pain are unknown and of the day when the years of famine will be swallowed up in an instant, my eyes have been held captive by the misery of the hear and now.
Thankfully the Lord is full of mercy. And even though I made a mistake in taking my eyes off His wondrous promises to focus upon the wilted landscape of this barren desert, God lifts up His mighty arm, and sends bright beams of light to break through the darkness. Tenderly He reminds me that this world is not my home. This life of sorrow and trail is but for a moment.
True, my pain and sorrows may be great, and my basket of disappointed hopes heavy. And if this short life, that at its best may last a little over a hundred years, were all that I had to look forward to, then I would have every right to shed a fountain of tears. Then I would be justified in filling the ocean with the deep rivers that would have every reason to pour forth from my eyes as I mourned my pitiful state.
But God has made a way of escape from the sentence of death. He has paid the price of my sins and although I have done nothing to deserve it, has opened the door to eternal life. An eternal life filled and overflowing with opportunities that I have never imagined. A life where I will build my own home, walk golden streets, speak with unfallen angels, investigate the far flung corners of the universe, take a ride on the back of a giant dinosaur, swim in the river of life, eat from the Tree of Life, compose my own music, understand the inner workings of bacteria, and more.
For ceaseless ages I will have the opportunity to study the amazing story of salvation. To understand the intricacies of earth’s history as never before as link by link I behold how God’s hand was moving behind the scenes to reach the hearts of men. For endless ages I will be filled with wonder as I begin to see the golden chord that worked from the fall of man, up to the final days of earth’s history, and how a seemingly small event three or four thousand years ago, played a role in reaching my heart today.
Best of all, even greater than never feeling worn out and tired, never having to worry about earning enough money to pay the bills, greater yet than being able to eat any dish from the heavenly garden without fear of an allergic reaction or enduring nausea, I will have the opportunity to once again hold the hands of loved ones whom death’s cruel hands had taken from me. Having been woken up from their all to long sleep at the sound of Jesus trumpet, we will once more enjoy each other company. For all of eternity we will work and play together. We will gather together at Jesus feet, and like the disciples did, we will spend hours feasting upon the wonderful words of truth and wisdom. Our hearts overcome by gratitude as He tells us how He held our hands on our day of sorrow, of the many ways that He worked to rescue us from sin, and sings to us the very song that He sung on the day that we accepted His mercy.
As I listen to that still small voice, reminding me of a few of the many wonders that I will have a chance to enjoy on that great day, I cannot help but forget my sorrows. The wall of despair that blocked my eyes from the path of hope quickly begins to crumble as I think not of today’s pain nor dwell upon its sorrows. But instead I once more look forward to the glorious day when my pilgrimage is over and my days of trial and heartache have at last come to an end. When at last my empty years have been swallowed up by the endless years of plenty.
In that day the tears of today, though all to important seeming now, will fade into the background, as my eyes behold a billion glorious that I could never have imagined. And life, such an active and happy life like I had never dreamed possible, becomes mine to enjoy for evermore.
It is amazing how fast this world is changing. As I look upon the strange happenings in the political world and behold how close we are to war, as I see and experience the pangs of inflation, and watch in horror as it truly seems like men’s hearts are growing cold to the needs and desires of their fellow men.
More and more I cannot help but wonder where has joy gone? Where has the peace and happiness that makes our life upon this sin tinged earth disappeared to?
With great sadness, I look around and behold pitiful scenes of want. My heart aches as I see so many weighted down by fear of the future. And I long all the more for the wonderful day when true joy, a joy free of the taint of sin, will at last be ours. O how I look forward to the day when Jesus stand up and says no more and the battle between good and evil comes to an end.
Right now as the drums of war pound in our ears, as the bombs of what could easily turn into world engulfing war fall heavily upon the shivering soil, it is hard to picture a day when strife and blood shed will come to an end. Right now while hunger and disease rule, even a day without pain seems impossible. Yet that glorious day is almost here.
The very things that call us to cry out and ask where joy has gone, the very terrors which fill us with horror, are even now seeking to point us to the fast nearing approach of the last great battle between good and evil. Wars and rumors of war abound, the ears of man are closing to the rights and needs of their fellow men, disease almost seems to be falling like the rain from heaven, and pest are getting out of control, yet we were told that this would be state of things just before Christ returns.
But one of the biggest signs that the end of our days of trials and tears is drawing near, is the fact that we are starting to see the mask come off and we are seeing the first open attempts to rule the hearts of mankind. To tell men that for the sake of freedom you must give up your freedom. That if you want to enjoy the God given right to work for your daily bread, to buy and sell, you must silence your conscience and follow the rules and whims of man.
While these ground breaking attempts to grab power have come as a surprise to many, God’s word has warned that a day was coming when only those who receive the mark will be allowed to buy and sell.
And that no man might buyorsell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. Revelation 13:17
Clearly this is a mini quiz in preparation for the final exam. Showing us that our graduation is quickly drawing near.
And while our earthly joy is fading, our heavenly joy is drawing near. Soon we will know a joy that knows no bends and will never come to an end. Because it will be a joy holy and pure, inspired by the endless wonders of Heaven and an earth made new.
As I consider that wondrous day when death and sorrow are forever buried, my heart once so heavy by the many sorrows taking place around me, cannot help but leap for joy. As I look forward with longing to that great day of release. And it is my hope that you will give your heart to Jesus and even now begin to taste a slice of this never ending joy.
I was watching this video today and I thought it was fascinating. Could it really be that elements of the gospel are actually interwoven within the Chinese language? I know that there is quite a fair list of languages where the seventh day of the week is a form of Sabbath such as Spanish where Saturday or the seventh day of the week, is called Sabado. But to think that elements of the story of the flood, the fall of man, and even the salvation story have been memorialized in language is quite exciting and faith building.
It was so exciting, our dream of moving to the country seemed like it was going to come true. My parents had brought three beautiful acres in the country, and it would not be long before we left the city life for the peace and quiet of the country. My father was so excited that he every time we visited the he would pull down a few of the thin trees that would easily give way.
He even went to the store and purchased a chain saw so he could cut down and clear the land.
Some days, when the pain is mild and my energy is surprisingly high, it is easy to get out of bed and face the changes of an increasingly strange and hectic world. But some days, when sorrow and pain blend together, when trial and heartache haunt my door, it is tempting to curl up in a ball of agony and let the stress of this world gain control.
But on those days there is one hope, one blessed beacon of promise that keeps me afloat, and that is the promise that He is coming. That in spite of today’s spiking heartaches and fears, there is a reason to get out of bed and smile. That even though my dreams may lay in crumbled heaps around me, even though chronic sickness has robbed me of many a joy, I still have a reason to lift up my head and sing songs of praise.
Because today with all of its trials and hardships is not the end. This world full of crime, hate, sickness, and death is not the fruition of my hopes. Like Abraham, Issac, and Jacob I am just a pilgrim in search of a better land. But unlike them, my story is not set at the beginning, but at the end. Instead of thousands of more years, this world is lucky to have a dozen years. And by the way things are changing, and it seems like we are descending into madness, often wonder if we will even see the next decade.
Faith, it is a very small word containing only five humble letters, yet it certainly is a mighty word. When everything is going right, and the road of life is quiet and well paved, it is really easy to say I have faith and think that you understand what that word really means. But how can you? What faith is required when life is at its best and want and fear have no place in your life.
What faith is required to walk on plush carpets and eat ice cream by the pool? What faith do you have to rely on when your life is like a romantic postcard or an add for a tropical resort? What exercise of heart and mind is called for when your life could be flashed up for the poster image of successful because your every want and need is met for years to come. When your beliefs line up with the crowd and are excepted at every turn as the only way to live, saying I have a measure of faith takes neither courage nor self-denial.
It is not until trial and adversity hunt your steps, when discouragement and disappointment hunt you down like a pack of hungry hound dogs that you really get a glimpse of the depths and power of faith. Because it is then that you have to chose to hold on to faith. It is then that you have to chose to grab hold and cling to faith, that it become more than words.
From our comfortable arm chairs it is easy to look back at the mighty men of faith and say, I would do the same. Or to look down at those who fell short of the mark and say, I would never do that. Nothing would make me lose my faith. I would never chose the comforts of this life over faith in Jesus. If I were in that garden, or if I had been King Saul, or if I had been so and so I would have done this and not done that.
I trust and wait, is an easy thing to say when everything is going right. But during times like these, when the tiny two steps forward that it has taken years of struggle to gain, in one second has been swallowed up, and it seems like you are about to be pushed back a thousand feet farther than ever before, its not so easy to say. And harder yet to mean.
I trust and wait, praying and working, even though that is all you can do in this life, sometimes does not seem like enough. And it seems like vanity, when you look at the wall of problems eagerly seeking a way to knock you down.
O how simple those words of faith are in times of ease, but in uncertain days like this, when your fledgling business that a few months before was just starting to grow, has suddenly turned upside down. And a thousand clicks is lucky to bring in one or two sales. And all your painful sweat, your agonizing hours of pushing through exhaustion and pain, have evaporated into another lost dream, suddenly its not so easy to promise to put everything in God’s hands, and to give over your heavy burdens.
In times like these it is so tempting to rip them from His hands, and say Lord, I know better than you. To say why did I let go, when everything I have tried goes wrong. And every corner of my life seems to be filled with nothing but impossible dreams.
Yet this is the moment, this is the hour that our faith must rise to the challenge, and take an even stronger hold of that Almighty hand. Now more than ever, it is time to give God every corner of our heart, and to tell His listening ear of our increasing woe. For we are small and powerless, but who can stand before the Maker of the Universe? Who can cross the line, of Him who by a word quieted the storm?
They say that after a long trip, the last few miles home are the hardest. And from the looks of things, that is where we are in the scheme of prophetic history. The bulk of our wandering in an arid desert is almost over. In a few more miles we shall reach the banks of the Jordan and there we shall at last lay down all of our burdens. But like the wandering children of Israel before us, the last few miles will not come easy. Temptation and trials will increase, as the devil uses every device to trick, discourage, and if possible prevent us from making it to the other shore.
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Today I am in one of those rare moods where I want to imagine what it would be like if through some positive change in circumstances, I was finally able to have my own bathroom. For years I have hoped and prayed that some day I would at least have a chance to have my own bathroom space that I could decorate. I would love to have a theme for each season to keep things from getting boring. But if not, my top pick would be the beach.
I love going to the beach. and listening to the soothing sound of the waves and feeling that refreshing breeze against my face. I used to look forward to those 2-3 days a year that we got to stay at the beach. In honor of those precious memories, if I ever had my own bathroom, at least part of the year I would decorate it with a beach theme. For starters I would pick out a piece or two of beach-themed wall art to help create a relaxing beach mood.
Come Soon and Rescue Us From Sin, is a poem that I wrote years ago. It would seem with the passing of the years that this longing would lose its power, but as I look upon the unsettled state of the world, as I behold the increasing tension between nations and people groups, as I watch in horror the open acts of lawlessness, and witness first hand how man’s hearts are growing cold to the rights and needs of their fellow man, it only grows stronger.
More than ever my heart cries out to God, come soon. Do not wait any longer. The earth indeed is reeling to and fro, and the people of the world are clasping their side and groaning like a woman in travail.
Yet at the same time, when I consider how far from the mark my life is, when I ponder the sad state of the loss, and when I think of how many precious souls have no real understanding of the battle between good and evil, I long for a little more time to pray and seek the lost.
Truly we live in strange times where the effects of sin are becoming so clear that our hearts desperately call out come now dear Lord and put an end to the cruel work of sin, yet there are still many hearts that are open to the calling of God, and as much as we long for the day of redemption, love for our fellow man bids us to wait a little longer.
But as hard as it is to wait, the signs around us are shouting that are wait is nearly at an end. And that today is the day to begin in earnest to prepare our hearts to meet our Savior and to work with all our might for the salvation of friends, family, neighbors, and foes.