Catching Hope

Looking for the grace of God that surrounds us

breathe.

Dear Suffering Saint:

You didn’t expect your circumstances to make it hard to breathe.  I know, because I didn’t expect it either.

I know that sometimes you are caught off guard with That thought.  You know, that one thing that brings the pain back to your mind and heart in a rush, like a sudden gust of wind.  And as it comes, the air your lungs catches quickly and hovers, in one brief inhaling gasp.

….

but breathe.

just take a breath.

and another one.

And then it gets easier. I promise, it does.

It again becomes natural, normal, a simple reflex induced by oxygen and carbon dioxide osmosis gradients in the tiny alveoli of the lungs.

…………………………….

Maybe you knew It would be difficult.  Maybe you were totally caught off guard by it.

Either way, it hurts.  I know. It comes in rushes. Like the rise and fall of an ocean wave…like a breath.

In….out.

Up….down.

Pain….grace.

……………………………….

“But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.'” (I Cor. 12:9-10)

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Glass Lazarus

Sometimes prayer seems this way, I think. Like a Glass Lazarus.

Go with me on the imagery here….

Our deepest desires, our most fervent prayers, the things that makes our hearts weep for longing…these are the miracles that we pray for, and sometimes they seem as impossible as raising a dead-four-days man from the grave.

And it seems that every time we pray, the dream of our Lazarus-like miracle collides with the harsh steel of reality.  Disappointment shatters that dream into a thousand pieces, like one of those tiny, delicate glass ornaments that falls on to a concrete floor.

But I think there’s hope.

In some cases, I think that God shatters our self-dreams because when the distraction of these desires are gone, we can see that underneath lies a God-dream that is so much better.

In other situations, I think we are called to hold on to the pieces of our God-given hope, despite how they seem to be shattered.

But I guess that’s the tricky part, isn’t it?  We can try to pick up the shards of our dream and glue them back together.  Odds are it won’t work, and it won’t make us happy.

Perhaps what we should do instead is sweep up the pieces and put them in Jesus’ hands.  He will give us His dream instead…or He will put the pieces of our hope back together to make something even more beautiful than we can imagine.

“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:21-22)

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Holding A Miracle

In keeping with yesterday’s post, here is one of my favorite YouTube videos.  I think it helped me realize that we don’t have to look too far for inspiration! Enjoy!

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Where He is, Hope is.

It’s always there.  Always.

That’s the thing about hope.  Think about it.

See what I mean?

Hope is always with us, because our God promises to always be with us.  It, He, is there even when it doesn’t feel like it.  We can trust it...trust Him. There. is. always. hope. We can trust because Hope originates from the first Hope-Giver.

The Garden must have looked very bleak to Adam after he sinned.  Shame, fear, banishment…and yet even then, in that darkest of moments when sin entered the world, God gave hope.  “You will bruise His heel, He will crush your head,” the Lord said to the serpent.  And this hope that was fulfilled by the birth of a little baby, then His death…and His glorious resurrection that gave us the right, as beloved Children of the King, to have hope.

People, things, situations can be dark…or painful…or sad…. But because Our God is in control, we can be hopeful.  Even if things don’t turn out the way we’d like.  Even if things feel out of control.  Even if….

Fill in your “even if”.  I have one (several, actually).  Ask the Lord to give you a glimpse, even if it is a small one, of the glorious reality that our “even if”‘s are anything but hopeless to Him.  Where He is, Hope is.  And He is always with us. He is in charge of it all, for our eventual joy.  And, we can trust, Hope does not disappoint or put us to shame (Rom. 5:5).

I love the word hope.  I love what it connotes.  I love the way the letters look together.  I love the message it brings.

I love that it is always there, even when things are dark, because even when it is dark there is always hope for Light.

It seems like I am writing this to you.  I am, in part.  But I’m also writing it to me, because right now, I need to believe it.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.  Romans 15:13

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Waiting

Waiting for something to happen.

I guess we all do it…

wait for the return phone call.

the e-mail.  (or any e-mail!).

the next song on the radio.

the next thing we’re going to eat.

the next person we are supposed to meet with.

the next church service.

the next major life event.

the good news.

the bad news.

the next exciting or interesting thing.

to see how someone will react to what we just said.

and so on….

When really, perhaps we should be living in the moment–rejoicing in the small Grace of breathing and the consequent Grace of living.  We might just be a lot happier people.

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How To Not Say Anything

I haven’t forgotten about this blog, I really haven’t.

I just have a policy that if I don’t have anything worthwhile to say, I won’t write about it.

But my question of late is, shouldn’t we have something worthwhile to say most of the time?  I mean, if the Lord is working in our lives and is active in caring for us, teaching us, and loving us, we ought to always have something to share and rejoice in.

Worth pondering, anyway.

For now, though, I am going to go to bed thanking the Lord for the gift of sleep, and being forever grateful that His mercies that are both new, and abundant, every morning…and by His grace, I will wake up tomorrow with my eyes wide open to see His loving hand working in all the details of my life.

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The End

I was reading in my Pathophysiology textbook recently and came across a picture…a picture I had to cover up because I could no longer look at it.

At first, it was in some morbid way, fascinating…the gaping wound, the structures beneath the skin that should never have been visible, the hesitation marks on the skin where he couldn’t quite get the courage to do it.

And then I looked harder, for a moment.

He had dark hair–I could tell even though the picture was only of a portion of his neck, because of the remaining stubble there.  I wonder why he didn’t shave before he did it.  If he even thought about it.  Maybe life was so out of control that even something as simple as shaving felt like too much.

From the little that could be seen, he looked young…time had not yet etched itself in to his skin.  I wondered what his face looked like…if there would have been clues on his face or in the depth of his eyes that would have told someone of his pain.

Instead, the horrible truth of what he thought of his life and how it should end stared at me through the page in wet shades of red.

I wonder why he did it.

I wonder if he had people that loved him.  Or if he just didn’t know that they loved him.

I wonder if he asked God why his life was the way it was.  Why it was so hard…why it felt so hopeless…

I covered the picture with a bright pink post-it note.  It didn’t really help the deep, painful, heavy sadness in my heart, because I know what is under it’s florescent opaqueness.  Just as the brightness of the post-it note is now highlighted on the page, his story–and what I don’t know if it–is highlighted in my head.  What is truly etched into the page, under the post-it note, is etched into my heart.  I can try to cover it up, along with the rest of the suffering of the world…

Or I can face the suffering.  Look it in the face, hate the sin that caused it, and pray for grace for this fallen world.

Pray for love in my heart for those around me–love that I say out loud so that those I know are certain that someone cares for them.

Pray for the people who have no hope, that Jesus would shine rays of joy into their hearts.

And pray for Jesus to come soon.

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.

-Revelation 21:6

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Single

“Single” is a descriptive word.  It is an adjective–as in, a “single hamburger”.  A “single pencil-eraser”.  A “single person”.  It means, one.  Alone, by itself.

Let’s be honest, here, friends, this isn’t always easy.  I have recently realized how cranky I get when doing things I feel I shouldn’t be doing, but am because I am not married (i.e. mowing the lawn, placing paving stones in the yard, etc.).  I am the first to tell you it’s lonely looking over at the other side of the bed and seeing a pillow (or, incidentally, a book…or a forgotten pencil from my study session…or a cell phone…well, you get the idea.)

However, I think perhaps the word “single”, or at least the idea of the word in this context, should be a verb, not an adjective.  It should be something that implies action, being, moving, changing.  Changing my thoughts and my heart to realize that the world does not exist for me (and, incidentally, neither would a husband!)  Moving to avoid stagnancy in spirituality–instead always being in motion toward sanctification.  Being the kind of daughter, friend, sister, aunt, grand-daughter, employee that the Lord calls me to be.  Acting to decisively make positive steps toward spiritual growth, as well as toward career development, church involvement, etc.

Not looking at others wondering “why them? why not me?”.

Not letting sadness and lonliness take over my heart so that I am constantly dwelling on them.

Not allowing the ease and flexibility of this period of my life to foster selfishness.

Realizing that this state of life may be permanent, and not being paralyzed by that thought or feeling fearful of the future.

And most of all, learning to trust the great Planner who knows what is best for me and has plans for my life beyond my wildest imagination.

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About This Thing Called Life….

…I am glad that I am not ultimately in charge of it.

I am glad that I can rest in the sovereignty of God….while taking responsibility for the things that He gives me the ability to do, but does not do for me.*  I wish I were better at it…but I am learning.  Slowly.

– – – – – – – –

*this concept is explored fully in the study, “Helping Others Change”, by Paul David Tripp.

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7 Ways to Encourage a Single Friend (well, from my perspective anyway!):

1.  Avoid the cliches–you know, “Someday your prince will come”, that sort of thing.

2.  Invite us over to your house to eat with your family.  We “singles” don’t do as much together as you’d think–and sometimes we’re lonely and want the company of different generations.  Even better–“adopt” a single person and make them part of your family dinners, celebrations, etc.

3.  Provide opportunities for smaller groups of singles to gather at your house–invite 5-8 single people over for games/food…this type of non-pressure, neutral environment is great for encouraging young/single people to get to know each other in a non-threatening environment.

4.  Don’t bring up e-Harmony.  : )

5.  Encourage us in our careers and life pursuits, whatever they may be…there is no guarantee that any of us will be married, and it’s nice to be affirmed in ways that do not communicate that we are “only doing this until we are married”.  This encourages women to understand that they do not “need” a husband to be complete in life (instead they are to pursue biblical womanhood partially through the career or pursuit that God has led them to); and encouraging men to settle down and pursue a career promotes Godly, biblical manhood that is attractive to a woman.

6.  Avoid the “My brother-in-law’s sister’s cousin’s boyfriend’s uncle is single–he lives in Ireland and he’s great.”  Carefully chosen encouragements toward one person or another are ok, but please make sure 1) the relationship is practical and 2) that you know both the man and the woman well and feel that they are spiritually, emotionally, and intellectually compatible.  If you absolutely MUST set up a blind date situation, please don’t be offended if I’m not excited for it…and please provide a non-threatening setting for it, such as a small group of friends (including the “intended” and I) for dinner or games.

7.  Encourage us women to learn and practice biblical womanhood (the same applies to men and biblical manhood).  Mentor us–we want the accountability, and need it!  Encourage us to be involved at church, too–small groups, women’s Bible studies, men’s prayer meetings, etc.  Don’t let us try to figure everything out on our own!

8.  One last one, just because it must be said.  A carefully-timed reminder that, “It is better to be single then to wish you were!”, is often appropriate.  : )

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