Joy in Hope

…Because of the love of Christ

I Miss You

Looking into her luminous eyes, I said, “I’ve missed you, and it’s so good to talk with you again.” I meant those words far more deeply than she could know. I met her a few years ago, and it seemed God had given us a special connection that resulted in me having the privilege of mentoring her for a time. But months had passed in which we had not had any real interaction. Yes, I saw her from a distance almost every day, but it seemed she had been avoiding me. I missed her. Missed hearing about growth in her relationship with the Lord. Missed opportunities to pray with her and point her to Jesus. Missed fellowshipping with her. And I was disappointed. Disappointed in myself. Wondered what had happened, wondered where I had failed her.

But yesterday we talked, and it was just like old times. She shared her joys and her sorrows with me, and we prayed together. I felt I had been given a gift, and I cherished our time. As we finished our conversation, I told her I had missed her, and I told her how special it was for me to spend time with her again.

Then she said it. And when she said it, I understood. I understood her, I understood myself, and I understood a bit more of God’s heart. In beautiful humility she said, “Oh, sister, somehow when my heart is far away from God, I don’t want to be with you either. But when I am walking closely with God, I am thinking I want to see and talk with you, too.”

Her transparent words took away my pain and grieved me all at once. Her words diffused my hurt in thinking I had failed her, because I understand what it means to be burdened and deceived by guilt. Our time of distance was not caused by failure on my part. But her words grieved me because in them, I caught a glimpse of the heart of God. I saw His longing for me in my longing for her.

When I’m not walking in step with God, when I surrender to pride, unforgiveness, anger, or other sins, my natural response is to retreat further into myself and away from the light of His presence. Could it be that God in Heaven, the Creator of the Universe, the All-Sufficient One, could it be that sometimes He misses me too? Could it be that He misses you?

“I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins: return unto me; for I have redeemed thee.” Isaiah 44:22

His Grace

His grace is great enough to meet the great things—
The crashing waves that overwhelm the soul,
The roaring winds that leave us stunned and breathless,
The sudden storms beyond our life’s control. 

His grace is great enough to meet the small things—
The little pin-prick troubles that annoy,
The insect worries, buzzing and persistent,
The squeaking wheels that grate upon our joy.

—Annie Johnson Flint


How to Have Hope in a Real World

Justification…peace with God…tribulation…patience…experience…hope.

I love the first five verses of Romans 5. I think my heart connects with this passage because it culminates in a symphony of hope, but in doing so, it doesn’t ignore the realities of living in a broken world.

“Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.”

Justification by faith in Jesus gives me peace with God, and in the glorious realm of God’s grace, my heart sings in hope. Hope in God’s promises, His love, His faithfulness, Himself. But even as I live and breathe in the stunning reality of peace with God, tribulation is an equally present reality in my life. Tribulation, however, isn’t the end of the story!  It works patience in me, and patience teaches me experience. It teaches me how to love and live, it teaches me integrity, it teaches me where to go and where not to go for healing. And here’s the best part of the progression: for the believing child of the living God who has been justified by grace through faith in His Son, this progression culminates in hope!

There was a time in my life when I didn’t prize the peace with God I received through justification. I still experienced the tribulation-patience-experience journey, but it didn’t result in hope; it resulted in cynicism, a hardening of the heart. Tribulation taught me patience, but it wasn’t a trustfully-waiting-on-God kind of patience. It was a  wearily-tolerant-of-pain-producing-people-and-circumstances kind of patience. This counterfeit patience taught me a bleak sort of experience, convincing me that life is just hard and that it’s safer not to trust. But as I learn to allow the beauty and reality of “peace with God” to infuse my heart and brain, I discover that tribulation, patience, and experience teach me to hope: they are a platform on which I can see the reality of the love of Christ at work in me.

While the coming year holds uncertainties, it also holds definite sureties. By God’s grace, 2013 holds the certainties of peace with God, inevitable tribulations, the learning of patience, the growth of experience, and the reality of a hope that will live itself out on the basis of God’s generous love at work in my heart. How can I be so sure of my hope? “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”


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