January 19, 2021
Holding on to Hope
by Grace Fox
Last year at this time, my husband and I held high hopes for the future. As co-directors of a missionary sending organization, we looked forward to seeing how God would raise up more workers for the harvest at home and abroad. We anticipated attending our annual staff conference in Poland, leading short-term teams to Eastern Europe, and training Middle Eastern nationals for career ministry. As a Bible teacher, I busied myself writing materials for upcoming women’s retreats. We’d booked our calendar and bought airline tickets.
Then the pandemic struck. Countries closed their borders, airlines grounded their flights, and authorities banned public gatherings.
Saying that 2020 propelled us into unfamiliar territory is an understatement. It stretched and tested us, and it brought Isaiah 42:16 to life. “And I will lead the blind in a way that they do not know, in paths that they have not known I will guide them. I will turn the darkness before them into light, the rough places into level ground. These are the things I do, and I do not forsake them.” (ESV)
As our usual ministry doors closed, we asked God to guide us in a new direction. He led us down the Zoom road to stay connected with our international staff. Becoming more comfortable with virtual communication paved the way for us to host an evangelistic outreach to Poland, complete with translators and breakout rooms for Bible study. After my speaking events were canceled, He directed me to develop and host two online Bible studies—truly a modern-day miracle for a techie-challenged person like me.
God shone light into our darkness and leveled rough ground before us within the context of ministry.
He did the same for our family when my 88-year-old mother’s health failed. She’d always been strong and independent. One morning, an unexpected diagnosis propelled us into foreign territory. Suddenly we were sitting vigil by Mom’s bedside in a hospital with relaxed but confusing COVID restrictions. But God once again fulfilled His promise to lead us along a path new to us. He guided our decisions about Mom’s care until she passed from our presence into His, and He continues to walk with us as we journey this road called grief.
Here we are, my friend, at the beginning of 2021. Last year at this time, we may have looked forward to the unknown with eager anticipation. This year, skepticism or fear might cloud our perspective. Vaccines can end the pandemic but they can’t fix political strife, restore lost income, or bring back those whom we loved and lost. They can’t heal the hurt that 2020 inflicted on our hearts in so many ways. A little voice in our head warns us not to hold high hopes lest circumstances beyond our control dash them again.
Let’s silence that voice.
You and I don’t have a clue about what this year holds. But this we do know—God promises to lead us on paths we have not yet known. The One who sees everything from beginning to end will guide us. The Light of the world will illumine our darkness. Almighty God for whom nothing is impossible will level the rough places before us. Therein lies our reason for hope.
Let’s face 2021 with the confident expectation of a good outcome. That’s not to say everything will turn out as we wish or expect. It’s saying that, whatever happens, God is still in control. We hang onto hope because we’re in the hands of almighty God who loves us more than words can say. And there’s no better place to be.
“And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in you.” Psalm 39:7
This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).
About the author: Grace Fox is a career global worker and the author of ten books. She’s a regular contributor to Mornings with Jesus (Guideposts) and a member of the First 5 writing team (P31 Ministries). She and her husband of 39 years live on a sailboat. Together they celebrate three married kids and nine grandchildren. Her new book, Finding Hope in Crisis: Devotions for Calm in Chaos (Rose Publishing) offers bite-sized nuggets of encouragement for those whose minds are on overload.
Learn more about Grace and her books at gracefox.com.
Join the conversation: How have you been staying positive in these difficult times?