Week Twenty-Two, Day Two
Hope is the great stabilizer. It steadies us in times of fear and difficulty, not because we know that everything will turn out as we want, but because we know that God is trustworthy. Hope is what helps us stay on course regardless of circumstances. Biblical hope finds its roots in God and in his goodness, mercy, and power. We exercise our hope when we endure patiently. We nurture our hope when we read God's Word. Though we hope for earthly blessings, our greatest hope is aimed at the life to come, when God will not only wipe away our tears but invite us to share his joy forever. When you pray to Miqweh Yisrael, the Hope of Israel, you are praying to the One who saves all those who trust in him.
A blessing on the man who puts his trust in the LORD, with the LORD for his hope. He is like a tree by the waterside that thrusts its roots to the stream; when the heat comes it feels no alarm, its foliage stays green; it has no worries in a year of drought, and never ceases to bear fruit... Hope of Israel, LORD! (Jeremiah 17:7-8, 13 JB)
PRAYING THE NAME
A blessing on the man who puts his trust in the LORD,
with the LORD for his hope.
He is like a tree by the waterside
that thrusts its roots to the stream;
when the heat comes it feels no alarm,
its foliage stays green;
it has no worries in a year of drought,
and never ceases to bear fruit. . . .
Hope of Israel, LORD!
Those who turn from you will be uprooted from the land,
since they have abandoned the fountain of living
water. (Jeremiah 17:5-8, 13 JB)
Reflect On: Jeremiah 17:5-8, 13
Praise God: The fountain of living water.
Offer Thanks: For the ways God has already rewarded your hope.
Confess: Any lack of belief in God's self-description provided by Scripture.
Ask God: To help you root your life fully in him.
Grey Is the Color of Hope is the title of a book by Irina Ratushinkaya, a poet who was unjustly imprisoned in the Soviet Union during the 1980s. With all due respect, it would also make a great title for a book about life in Michigan during the long winter months. I remember one January a few years back, when the total sunlight for the month was measured neither in terms of days or hours but in terms of mere minutes—eight to be precise. If you weren't lucky enough to be looking out a window when the sun finally broke through the clouds, you would have missed it. Little wonder my five-year-old stood at the front door a few days ago and started jumping up and down, clapping and squealing excitedly: "The sun, the sun, the sun!" You know it's bad when a preschooler starts acting like that.
And then there's my mother. Her way of dealing with the endless gray skies is to pretend they aren't so endless and so gray. She insists on wearing her sunglasses on the cloudiest of days because "it's so bright out." She sees "gray," not as a shade descending into black, but as a color that's on its way to becoming light.
Maybe that's how we should think about our lives during periods that seem unremittingly gray or dark. Instead of letting anxiety or doubt paint the darkest possible conclusion to our problems, we need to stoke our hope, to let it advance against the shadows until the darkness recedes. "‘For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future'" (Jeremiah 29:11).
Hope grows best in the soil of faithfulness. As we live our lives for God, loving his law, doing his will, immersing ourselves in his Word, believing he is who he says he is, and worshiping him together with his people, our hope will grow stronger, and we will be like the tree planted by water, whose leaves are always green and supple. We will also experience the truth of the words of the prophet Isaiah, who assured us that: those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint. (Isaiah 40:31)
Pray the words of Jeremiah 17:5-8. Then close your eyes and imagine that you are a tree whose roots go down to the stream. Ask God to nourish your hope and renew your strength.
For more from Ann Spangler, visit her blogspot on Christianity.com. Be sure to check out Ann's newest book, Praying the Attributes of God: A Daily Guide to Experiencing His Greatness.