This is the Day

exploring the soul's quest for joy

Tag: hope

Keep Alert for Changing Conditions

 

I became an empty nester in the middle of a January snowstorm.

 

The snow began falling thick shortly after midnight. Plenty of time to turn black asphalt into a sloppy white slippery mess by 9:00am. Despite the thermometer reading 16 degrees and the sky reading more snow to come, my calendar read drive my daughter back to college.

 

And so, today was the day.

 

Regardless of the road conditions.

 

Or the condition of my heart.

 

I had expected my empty nest to come last fall. My emptying was delayed by 5 months due to my son’s unexpected health challenge. But with his return to college last week, today, the emptying has come.

 

Just as it should.

 

Driving straight into a snowstorm is not my idea of a good time. Don’t get me wrong – I love a good snowstorm. It is my favorite excuse to hunker down and get cozy. When my children were small I would take full advantage of their snow days and not move from the house until they returned to school.

 

But drive in the white stuff? Don’t even think about asking me to do that! I have spun 360s on too many patches of ice driving my children to and fro to ever again relish the idea of driving in the ice and snow.

 

And so I clutched the wheel tightly, my white knuckles matching the sea of white all around me.

 

Emergency road signs blinked their warnings: Slow down, hazardous conditions ahead.

 

How fitting. Here, on the cusp of living life without my children around me for the first time in 24 years of motherhood, I too had better slow down. Slow down and reflect on the joy of having taken them this far. Slow down and be thankful for all that they are becoming. Slow down and recognize that there will indeed be hazardous conditions if I don’t release my children to God, in trust, knowing that he loves them more than I ever could.

 

And perhaps most of all, on this day of letting go, I must slow down and recognize that God will also care for my mama heart – the mama heart that longs to nestle my children in my arms just a little longer and protect them all the days of their lives. God has my heart too as I release my children to their adult lives and to his care.

 

*

 

I heard it before my eyes understood what was happening. The sound was like a truck horn, but longer, deeper, strangely distressed in tone. The sound of a semi-trailer truck blaring its horn, the noise reverberating through the nearly 1-mile long tunnel. Was he trying to communicate with me? Was he getting closer and closer to me? Yes, the horn was his way of saying, I can’t slow down. I can’t change course. Get out of my way or you’ll get hurt.

 

How often have I been like this with my children as they grew into young adults? Unable to slow down and walk by their side, without feeling compelled to tell them which steps to take. Unable to change course and offer them support in the decisions they have made rather than offering them criticism for not making the decisions I would have made.

 

The thing is, our children do grow up, and they will change. They need us still, but they need us less. And they need us differently. They ask us in a million ways to slow down, to change our course. To love them still, but to love them differently. It’s time to pay attention to the changing conditions, or someone will get hurt.

 

Ignoring the double yellow line, I change lanes just before the 18-wheeler barrels past me and out through the tunnel, with two other semi-trailer trucks right on his tail. Sometimes, we just need to get out of our own way.

 

*

 

I ascend the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania, the gray-white of a snow-laden sky rising up before me. Everything my eye can see is shrouded in white. Forests of sugarcoated trees emerge from a thick layer of white icing coating the ground. It is a vision taken straight from Candy Land, or perhaps Elf’s journey through the seven levels of the Candy Cane forest, and in a blink the sheer beauty of the scene has transported me back to the sweetest memories of long ago days spent with my young children.

 

Interrupting my reverie, another emergency road sign catches my attention. Keep alert for changing conditions. Another fitting reminder for this mama on Emptying Day.

 

Everything about the condition of my home is about to change. I will return to empty beds. Empty dinner chairs. Rooms will remain tidy days after I put everything in its place. The silence threatens to be overwhelming.

 

The boots lay strewn on the laundry room floor, as if she’ll come waltzing in the back door and slip right into them. His bed left unmade, with only the coolness of the sheets beneath my fingertips to remind me that he hasn’t just emerged from them, his long lanky frame sauntering into the kitchen to bid me good morning.

 

There will be holidays spent without my precious children by my side. There will be holidays spent together but shared with their new loves by their side.

 

At the crest of the hill, the white road seems to disappear into the white sky, leaving me no choice but to trust that there is indeed a road ahead on which I may safely travel.

 

I don’t know what lies ahead. Will I enjoy my new freedom? What new activities will occupy my time and attention? How will my man and I rediscover a love that was originally shared by just two? Stretched to encompass the dimension of five, it will of necessity find a new shape when it is once more shared by two.

 

The wise King Solomon once said, There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.

 

Today I enter the time between two seasons, a time to keep alert because the conditions are changing. These are the days to pray for comfort as the tears fall when I long for what used to be. These are the days to offer prayers of thanks when joy fills my soul for all that will be new in the days ahead of me. And these are the days to receive God’s grace as I accept the moment I am experiencing, irrespective of my emotional response to it, and know that I am exactly where I should be.

 

 

 

Come, O Light, Come

 

A heavy blanket of darkness envelops our world on this the darkest night of the year. For those of us living in the northern hemisphere, this winter solstice, this stopping of the sun, heralds the end of the disappearance of light and the beginning of its return.

 

But all we notice is the dark.

 

Today in Philadelphia, we will turn our faces upward to catch a slim 8 hours and 20 minutes of light. Barely enough, but far more than our Alaskan compatriots who will wait to see a mere 3 or 4 hours of sunlight this day. During the deep midwinter, most of us long for greater illumination from this most-treasured of celestial orbs.

 

Most of us don’t typically like the dark.

 

Unless we are dining by candlelight in the cocoon of darkened walls, enhancing the glow on friends’ faces, on fine china, on elegant crystal. Unless we are nestled around a roaring fire, whose radiance takes the chill out of a winter night laden with stars.

 

In the dark we are always searching for the light.

 

The darkness awakens in us a sense of foreboding. It disquiets our soul and awakens in us the knowledge that we are no longer fully in control. In the dark we realize how much we walk by sight, taking steps forward only when we can see the road ahead. The dark swallows up our assurance, leaving us with a choice to make.

 

Stay still, or begin to walk by faith.

 

O come thou Day-Spring,

Come and cheer

Our spirits by thine advent here

Disperse the gloomy clouds of night

And death’s dark shadows put to flight

 

How we long for the light. This third stanza from the haunting Christmas carol, O Come, O Come, Emmanuel reminds us that it will not always be night. As surely as the dawn follows the dark, we can be assured that the true Light will spring forth like a new day.

 

Like a light into all of our darkness.

 

And so we wait. But like the awakening of a new dawn, it may take time. At times we too live in a bleak midwinter season, where our own piece of earth stands hard as iron, water like a stone, and we struggle to glimpse any beam of light at all.

 

What is your present darkness that you are plodding through in hopes of making your way forward to the light?

 

This time last year I had no way of knowing I would bury my father in one month and my mother in two. This time last year I had no way of knowing the new medical challenges that would stalk my family this year. I lost count at 66 medical appointments for two of my kids and me this year. You can do the math. That’s more than one medical appointment per week; that’s a high number.

 

But to me, it’s more than a number.

 

The number represents loss. A loss of time. Time scheduling appointments. Time researching options. Time driving. Time waiting. Time conferring with doctors. Time paying bills. Okay, let’s just say it…time worrying. And at the end of all this time, when there is still little resolution to some of these concerns, it all feels a bit like I’ve been wandering around in the dark, bumping into unseen obstacles in my path, and wondering when the light will break through and show me the way forward.

 

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great Light.

 

Perhaps I’ve been looking for the wrong light. Perhaps I’ve been confusing resolution to long-prayed prayers with moving forward. Could there be a journey in the dark whose worth far exceeds any journey we take in the light? It is in the dark that I must yield my need for control to the practice of trust.

 

Trust not that I’ll get the answers but that God is the answer.

 

This is the kind of trust that makes room for hope, and hope always welcomes the Light and prepares it a way.

 

Rejoice, rejoice, Emmanuel

Shall come to thee, o Israel

 

We can choose to move forward in the dark, in steadied hope that the light will indeed come. Waiting in the literal dark of this Advent reminds us that no matter how dark a season of life may seem, light will always break through, for the Light has surely come. When we wait in faith, we can catch glimmers of light before the dawn, before the Day-Spring, that invite us to step further into the light.

 

The world lays still tonight in darkness, but things will not always be thus. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it!

 

Advent Hope

 

I’m wrestling with Advent this year.

 

I desperately wanted this Advent to be a season of peaceful reflection and soul gripping hope, but to be honest, hope feels especially far beyond my grasp this year. All the Advent talk of desire and anticipation, of waiting and watching, of hoping and dreaming has seemed to shine a spotlight on all that I am still waiting for.

 

On all that I have just about given up hope for.

 

I didn’t grow up in a tradition of marking time through a church calendar. For me the month of December meant one thing and one thing only – Christmas! Christmas and all that went with it – the lists, the gift buying and giving, the lights, the cooking and eating, the carols, the laughter, time spent with those we love, and most of all, the Nativity. The birth of Immanuel, God with us.

 

There’s nothing wrong with this approach to December and Christmas. But for me, it was almost as though December was about my getting ready for everything I had to do, and then on Christmas Eve I would prepare my heart for the coming of the King.

 

When your heart is as prone to wandering as mine is, perhaps 48 hours just isn’t enough time to prepare for the arrival of the King of Kings.

 

For the past several years I have been worshiping at a church that celebrates the liturgical calendar, and with it, Advent. And because of that, I now have a slow four weeks to prepare my heart and mind for the coming of the King.

 

In the Advent scriptures and devotionals, I keep reading about hope. And that despite all the turmoil we see around us hope still wins because our hope is to be anchored in Christ’s having come and in his coming again. And while I believe all that to be true, this year my heart whispers, but what about all my hopes for today? For this one life you’ve given me to live today? Am I not to feel the least bit sad when the same hoped for, prayed for desires still go unfulfilled at the end of another year? Am I allowed to even voice that kind of disappointment in the presence of the King come as a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes?

 

It’s not that everything in my life has gone wrong this year. I don’t want to give that impression. There have been plenty of joy spots this year. But the deepest desires remain unfulfilled.

 

Where in the Advent story of optimistic waiting and watching and hoping is there room for my still unfulfilled hopes for unanswered prayers? Does Jesus really say that because Advent contains the promise that he will return one day, that I have no business feeling sad about my unanswered prayers?

 

I don’t think so.

 

Jesus’ ancestor, the wise King Solomon, declares in Proverbs 13:12 – “Hope deferred makes the heart sick; but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.”

 

Can I just be brutally honest with where I am right now? Saying my hope is in Jesus’ return and therefore that should make everything else okay just won’t cut it for me this year. It’s another year of waiting for healing. Waiting for direction. Waiting for a doctor to have an idea. Waiting for release. Waiting for real hope. Waiting for human dignity to be restored. Waiting for some semblance of peace on earth. My hope has been deferred again and my heart is, well, frankly it’s sick. I love Jesus with everything within me, but waiting thru Advent with only the certain hope of his return just isn’t enough hope for me. Not this year.

 

Is there a remedy for this sick heart of mine? This sick heart that cries out for real answers to hard prayers. For fulfilled longings? This year all the talk of waiting and watching and hoping has fallen flat. I want to experience hope fulfilled.

 

Come desire of nations come.

 

 

I long to have the deepest desires of this earthbound journey met. I long to have my sharpest hungers satisfied. Could there be another hope for me this year? A different type of hope? A hope that comes not from the satisfaction of an earthly desire, or the knowledge that Jesus will return, but from the assurance that Jesus has never left me?

 

I stop dead in my tracks. Right there in those first six words from Proverbs, hope deferred makes the heart sick, the God of the universe, the God of Advent has given me permission to feel the full weight of all my deferred hopes.

 

Yes. They make me feel sick. Sick at heart.

 

And they make him sick at heart too.

 

But because he is the God of resurrection and redemption, and because he is in the business of bringing new life out of dead things, he doesn’t want me to remain stuck in the dead place of deferred hope. His promise is his name, Immanuel, the God who stays with me. And he draws me deeper into his name, deeper into his promise.

 

A new hope emerges – a hope that even in all the mess, God is still at work. Even in all the sorrow and pain, nothing is ever wasted. Not one tear. Not one more disappointing doctor visit. Not one more dead end. Nothing is ever wasted. It may not all work out good, but God is still working good thru my unanswered hopes.

 

The baby born in the manger, this Immanuel, God with us, is the very tangible reminder that I do not walk through the pain of deferred hope alone. This God with me sees the sick of my heart and promises that none of my pain is in vain, none of it is wasted when I offer it back to him, trusting that even these ashes he can transform into beauty.

 

This is not an easy offering to make. This is the hard work of offering a sacrifice of praise when I would rather utter a howl of complaint. Offering God my unanswered hopes can only be made from a posture of trust. Trust in the God whose name is Good. Trust in the God who promises to do all things well. Trust in the God who took on flesh so that he would know my pain, because his name is Love.

 

 

 

 

Desire

unnamed-7

Mark 10:46-52

John 5:2-9

 

“What do you want me to do for you?” What a great question to ask of one in need of a touch of kindness. It’s also a great question to ask of one who doesn’t seem to need any help at all, because underneath the offer of help is the sentiment that declares, “I see you; I care about you.”

 

But it can be a rather personal question, can’t it? One that gets us to open up and really discover what we most desire. One that forces us to be vulnerable enough to share what it is we most long for.

 

Is it any wonder that was the question Jesus asked most frequently in the New Testament? Jesus, the one who knows our needs before we fully identify them or give them voice. Jesus, the friend who sticks closer to us than a brother. Of course He would ask, “What do you want me to do for you?” And it’s the question He still asks us today. “Child of mine, what do you want me to do for you?”

 

When Jesus heals the blind man named Bartimaeus in Mark 10, Jesus begins their personal encounter with the question, “What do you want me to do for you?” But even before Jesus could ask Bartimaeus this question, it is Bartimaeus who takes the initiative at moving toward Jesus.

 

When he heard that Jesus was passing by, he immediately began to cry out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” No amount of shushing would quiet him. Not even stern warnings that he keep quiet would deter him. I don’t know much about Bartimaeus, but I love him already!

 

When Jesus calls for him to come, he doesn’t just get up and walk over to Jesus. Verse 50 tells us that he casts off his cloak, jumps up, and comes to Jesus. His cloak may have been his only possession in the world. He is a beggar after all, with no profession and no money other than what he could convince others to give him. His cloak is everything, but it is nothing compared to knowing Jesus!

 

He drops everything he has now in order to get what he wants Jesus to do for him. Am I willing to drop everything I have right now for what Jesus can do in my life if I relinquish the reins…if I drop my cloak?

 

Bartimaeus yields himself to Jesus in three significant ways. He calls Jesus “Son of David”, recognizing Jesus’ kingly authority and right to rule over him. He cries out for mercy, recognizing his need for a savior and Jesus’ power to extend God’s mercy. And he addresses Jesus as “Rabboni”, meaning “my Master”, acknowledging his desire for Jesus to be his master from this moment forward.

 

Bartimaeus’ answer to Jesus’ question, “What do you want me to do for you?” is straightforward and comes without hesitation. “I want to regain my sight!” He knows what his deepest desire is and he feels safe enough with Jesus to ask Him for healing. And then, as Jesus does so many times when He heals, he links the miracle with faith when He declares, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.”

 

But Bartimaeus does not go his own way; instead, he immediately begins following Christ on His way on the road. When our deepest desires are satisfied by Jesus, there’s really no other place we want to be than by His side following Him on life’s journey.

 

Bartimaeus’ story ends well. It begins with his taking the initiative toward Jesus. It continues with his ready answer to the question, “What do you want me to do for you?” And it concludes with his faith making him well.

 

I want to be like Bartimaeus. I want to live out Psalm 37:4 every day of my life so that as I delight myself in the LORD, He will give me the desires of my heart.

 

But often it seems I’m more like the man at the Pool of Bethesda who has suppressed his truest desires for so long that he can no longer articulate what he really wants.

 

What if we don’t know exactly what we want?

 

What if our deepest desires have lain dormant for a very long time?

 

What if we can no longer identify what it is we truly want, because every time we let our hopes rise, the fall of unmet desire is that much harder to deal with?

 

What if I am more like the man at the Pool of Bethesda than I am like Bartimaeus? Can God still work a miracle when I don’t even directly answer His question about desire?

 

The man in John 5 had been sick for a long time, a really long time. Thirty-eight years to be exact. That’s most of his life expectancy in antiquity. Always sitting at the pool by the gate where the sheep would have been brought to the temple for sacrifice. I wonder if he wished someone would offer a sacrificial lamb for him?

 

I love that Jesus knows he had been in that condition for a long time. And He speaks to me again, “Child of mine, I see what condition you are in. I see what condition you have been in for a long time. For a very long time.”

 

And then comes the question. But, it’s not the usual question, “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus knows the man won’t have an answer for that question. It’s too much. It’s too hard to answer that question when you have been in this condition for such a very long time.

 

It’s not the right question for the one who has given up hope that things will change.

 

Jesus knows He has to meet the man halfway. More than halfway. Moved by compassion, Jesus prompts the man to engage with Him when He asks him instead, “Do you wish to get well?” All the man need do in response is give a simple “yes” or “no” reply. Sometimes when we are worn out from praying for the same thing year after year, all we can muster is a “yes” or “no” reply.

 

And sometimes, we can’t even do that. Sometimes our response is like this man’s—a non-response. An excuse. When we have given up all hope that things in our life will ever change, we find ourselves unable to answer Jesus’ direct questions. Instead, we—like the sick man—may just give excuses for why we are still living in the same condition after all this time.

 

Jesus’ question. “Do you want to get well?” is met with this response, “I have no man to put me in the pool…another steps down before me.” Did you notice that’s not exactly an answer to Jesus’ question? It’s an excuse for why nothing has changed in his life.

 

Have you ever felt stuck like this? Wanting something different but not sure what you want? The thing you really desire is so big, so impossible, so out of your league that you don’t even recognize it as your deepest desire. It’s too easy to come to God with our list of failures and limitations and conclude that nothing will ever change. “I’ve failed before; I will fail again,” and so we silence the whisper of desire as it rises up within us. And when we silence our desires, we can’t answer Jesus’ question of us, “What do you want me to do for you?”

 

Did you notice that the text doesn’t say that the man’s faith made him well? It’s hard to have faith in God doing the impossible when we have lost hope. And if we don’t really believe God can do the impossible in our lives, then we aren’t really seeing Him as God the All-Mighty.

 

Jesus does heal this man too, not because “his faith has made him well”, but out of sheer compassion for someone who has given up hope for a better tomorrow. I love this about Jesus. Even though God’s preference is always that we discover our deepest desires and that we present them to Him in faith, he meets the needs of both the one who knows his deepest desires and the one who has yet to discover them.

 

New Morning Mercies

Image 1                                                                                                                         Lamentations 3

 

When my children were younger, I used to read to them every night before bed. It was the sweetest, most anticipated part of my day. The great nestling in before the long awaited stretch of…well…silence! Some stories stretched over many nights and were heartwarming and thought provoking, while others were short, laugh out loud crazy tales that had us gigging until our sides hurt. One of the stories that we read over and over again was “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day” by Judith Viorst. Maybe it was that my first-born is named Alexander. Maybe it was because we could relate to moving house when we didn’t particularly want to move…again. Maybe it was because we can all relate to having days that don’t seem to go as we had planned or hoped.

 

In his great poem of lament, Jeremiah expresses the pain of one all too familiar with living through days where all of his hopes have been dashed. Jeremiah’s cry in Lamentations 3 is truly one of despair. He declares in verses 17-18, “My soul has been rejected from peace; I have forgotten happiness. So I say, ‘My strength has perished, and so has my hope from the Lord.’” I don’t think there is a deeper place of pain to endure than living in the midst of crisis and feeling like all hope from the Lord is lost.

 

Even the non-believing cry out, “God help me!” in times of crisis. If we can’t cry out to God in our times of deepest need, where can we place our hope?

 

Jeremiah feels like all hope is lost precisely because he feels God is to blame for all his adversity. And honestly, doesn’t it feel like that sometimes? “If you had only intervened, God, this wouldn’t have happened.” “Why do you allow this suffering, God?” “If you would only reach out and prove yourself, then I might believe in you.”

 

I love that Jeremiah is brutally honest with God, and it doesn’t stun God in the least. Jeremiah rails, “surely against me He has turned His hand repeatedly all the day…even when I cry out and call for help, He shuts out my prayer.” True, Jeremiah has enjoyed times of deep intimacy with God, so perhaps he has more of a right to this kind of honesty than you or I feel we have. But come on; Jeremiah was devastatingly honest here! Doesn’t it make you expect he will be struck down by lightening?

 

But God doesn’t strike him dead. He allows Jeremiah to express his deepest despair so that in that place, God might meet him afresh.

 

Have you ever experienced such sorrow and hardship that you felt more dead than alive?

 

The picture Jeremiah paints in verses 6-7 reminds me of the ghost of Jacob Marley in Charles Dickens’ beloved tale, “A Christmas Carol”. Listen to Jeremiah’s account of his present situation, “In dark places He has made me dwell, like those who have long been dead. He has walled me in so that I cannot go out; He has made my chain heavy.” Can you not picture Jacob Marley roaming the earth, dead not alive, bound in double iron chains, forced to stay in dark places, with no hope of rescue and deliverance? This is the rejection and despair Jeremiah feels from his God.

 

He continues in verse 9 by declaring that it was with intention that God has blocked all his paths and has in fact made his way unknowable. His declaration, “He has blocked my ways with hewn stone; He has made my paths crooked,” is quite a contrast from King Solomon’s words in Proverbs 3: 5-6 where it is promised that if we trust in the Lord and look to Him for guidance in all things that “He will make (our) paths straight.” How do we carry on faithfully following after God when it appears that He is blocking us at every turn?

 

And this is not the only reference in the chapter to God seeming to act contrary to a promise given elsewhere in scripture. Again it is Solomon who proclaims that “the name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous runs into it and is safe.” But that’s not exactly Jeremiah’s experience, is it? Jeremiah says that God “has bent His bow and set (him) as a target for the arrow.” Have you ever felt like you were God’s target practice rather than His beloved whom He would protect and keep safe?

 

Not only does Jeremiah feel like God is blocking his progress and using him for target practice, but he feels like God is intentionally deceiving him. Have you ever felt like that? Like God just couldn’t be trusted? The image I get here is of the Lord approaching Jeremiah in his anguish, offering him something to eat—to nourish and sustain him. And with an open heart and an open hand, Jeremiah takes a mouthful of the food God presents to him. No sooner does he bite down than he realizes he has been deceived. This isn’t food at all. “He has broken my teeth with gravel!” How do you restore relationship with the One who is to be your protector when it appears to your mind that He knowingly deceived you in order to harm you?

 

Perhaps you have experienced times of unemployment, sickness and disease, financial disaster, estrangement from family or friends, or the death of a loved one. Or perhaps you have even had to endure some terrible combination of all of these challenges at the same time. When we encounter such desolate times that it seems God has removed His hand of blessing from us, it is all too easy to forget what we know of God from scripture and feel like God is actually acting against us.

 

And when we feel that even God is against us, we can, like Jeremiah, be overcome by a terrible sense of shame because of the destitute state in which we find ourselves. Jeremiah acknowledges that in his present state he has “become a laughingstock to all (his) people.” Like Jeremiah, we see the look of pity in others’ eyes, and wonder if those feelings of pity are not in fact shifting to thoughts of disdain for our impoverished state. After all, doesn’t everyone like a winner?

 

Jeremiah responds as any of us would. His “strength has perished and so has (his) hope from the Lord.” When we experience devastating loss, where one blow hits after another, our strength will naturally falter. And when it does, it is all too easy to focus on our difficulties and lose any real sense of hope of things ever changing for the better.

 

In his classic novel “A Separate Peace”, John Knowles observes, “Now, in this winter of snow…I began to know that each morning reasserted the problems of the night before, that sleep suspended all but changed nothing, that you couldn’t make yourself over between dawn and dusk.” Can you relate? Have you ever longed for change but felt hopeless instead?

 

And then, as if awakening from a very bad dream, Jeremiah interrupts his lament in verses 20-21 as he instructs his soul to speak truth to his mind. Jeremiah declares, “Surely my soul remembers and is bowed down within me. This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope.” What is it that Jeremiah’s soul remembers and what is it that his soul recalls to his mind that brings him such hope? Precisely this…

 

“The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Thy faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I have hope in Him.’ The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who seeks Him.”

 

When things look bleak, and there appears to be no way out, it is time for our usually less-active soul to speak to our always over-active mind the truth about our God.

 

Our God is compassionate and faithful, loving and kind beyond all measure. And His mercies are new every morning, just like the manna that would mysteriously appear every morning in the desert for the wandering children of Israel. So while our particular situation may not have changed between dusk and dawn, His mercies are there, fresh, every morning to meet us in that place of suffering, disappointment, and pain.

 

Jeremiah’s soul reminds his mind one of the greatest promises from God, that the Lord is his portion. This little word is packed with powerful meaning. In Biblical terms, one’s portion is one’s inheritance. When Jeremiah declares that God is his portion, he is reminding himself that he is but a sojourner on earth; his real destiny is his eternal destiny with God. And God has promised Jeremiah an eternal inheritance with Him.

 

No matter how bleak life may seem, our inheritance in God transcends all else. This is what truly gives Jeremiah hope despite the intense emotional and physical pain and searing loss that he is encountering.

 

The same promise of an eternal inheritance is available not just to Jeremiah, but to all who believe in the Lord Jesus. And that is our real source of hope.

 

So when times of suffering, hardship, or disappointment threaten to undo you, that is the time for your soul to practice speaking to your mind the truths about God and the incredible hope we have in Him.

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