This is the 11th post for the series A January of Unwrapping Hope and summarizes what has been unwrapped thus far.
As we near the end of January, I’d like to take a moment to reflect in thankfulness upon what God has graciously gifted, as I’ve begun unwrapping His Hope in the series A January of Unwrapping Hope. Here are the 10 gifts of wisdom and encouragement God has bestowed so far:
- Hope grows in and through suffering where we turn to and accept God’s Word as His gift of Love to us: “If we confuse God’s love with human love, we deplete it of its power. We allow it to become an idol of conditional, even punishing love, rather than the Gospel Love of powerful grace…So, let’s not “lean on our own [broken human] understanding”, but fix our eyes on the author and perfecter of our faith, who is more than able to complete His good works within and through us, as we respond palms open to His powerful loving grace, allowing the hope of things unseen to grow within us.”
- Hope is an active pursuit:
“So let’s “walk right up to God” (Hebrews 10: 22-25, The Message):
let’s do it—full of belief, confident that we’re presentable inside and out. Let’s keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going. He always keeps his word. Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching.
- Hope is gifted in active, reverent, responsive silence, where we respond to His gentle whispers to commune with Him: “Throughout the Bible, God calls us into this active silence: in the call to the Sabbath, in His response to Job, where He lists the wonders of His powers stunning Job into awestruck stillness, in His call to live out our faith in “repentance and rest” and “quietness and trust” (Isiaiah 30: 15, NIV):
This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says:
“In repentance and rest is your salvation,
in quietness and trust is your strength,
but you would have none of it.
4. Hope has room to grow, where we hold onto the goodness of God in all circumstances and ask Jesus to unburden us from our human expectations: “You see, Hope, is also an expectation. It is the expectation of faith in the absolute and eternal goodness of God. It says: “Whatever the circumstance, I am confident in the Victory of Our Lord, in His Kingdom Come, in His Will be done.” And yet, our sinful human hearts are prone to fall into the trap of human expectations, where we replace confidence in the Lord with confidence in “pleasant” circumstances (or people!).”
5. We move forward in hope, when we let go of our need to see ahead and trust our Light, who is leading us through the darkness, to equip us: “If I strain forward in faith and trust, it requires me to step forward with my hands empty, believing that the Lord has equipped me for the good works HE has prepared for me and that though I cannot see the path before me, He will lead me, as I strain forward to hear His Voice and that He will make my path straight.”
6. We can rejoice confidently in our Hope because His Presence overcomes any and every shadow of darkness that we face in Him: “in that moment, in which I had come to the very ends of myself … He was able to show me that death and disease are but a shadow and that His Presence is a reality too powerful for this evil shadow to overcome. Even death and a body and mind ravaged by the evil hold of cancer have NO power over the might of our POWERFUL Lord and Savior. Now we see but in part, then we shall see in amazing, technicolor wonderful full (1 Corinthians 13: 12).
Job 14: 7 – 9 (ESV)
“For there is hope for a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, and that its shoots will not cease. Though its root grow old in the earth, and its stump die in the soil, yet at the scent of water it will bud and put out branches like a young plant.
8. Hope, “the joy set before” Christ, is birthed within us when we give our heart to Jesus and is grown through His Love within us: “I can embrace “the joy set before” me, because my Saviour is embracing it within me, leading me forward into it. My Hope, “the joy set before Him”, is being birthed from the Spirit within me. It is He who sees the wholeness and life that await me, whose “assurance in things unseen” unburdens the weight that presses down upon me. It is my Saviour within me. “God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are”, walking into good and hard circumstances with us, birthing and growing our “unbelievable inheritance” from within.”
9. The Spirit of God roots us more deeply into His Love to embolden our Hope: “Instead of being fearful of His disappointment, I saw His outstretched arms of grace. Instead of holding onto the reins, frightened if I let go all would crumble around me, I slowly began unclenching my fingers and opening them, palms empty before Him…
For (2 Corinthians 3: 17 – 18, NIV):
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
10. Hope (and faith!) is transformed as His Spirit opens the Word to us as a Letter of Love.: “I always saw faith as “being strong in the Lord” shown by good deeds and “hope” as the assurance of seeing our loved ones again. But, as He’s been holding out His Love to me and drawing me into it, faith is becoming a belief in the absolute goodness of our God, no matter the circumstance and both resting and moving forward in that assurance, while hope is becoming a growing excitement at meeting Jesus and beholding His Love face-to-face.”
Next week, I will end the series by studying and reflecting on men and women in the Bible who lived their earthly lives out emboldened in Hope.