Friday, November 20

Lift Up Your Hearts: Part Two

Part Two of the talk I gave for the "A Few Minutes With God" website. May you be blessed!

Finally, hope is so integral to our spiritual lives because it distinguishes us, sets us apart, allows us to embrace who we are – heirs to the Kingdom of God, His sons and daughters. Without hope, we could never fully embrace this rich inheritance or believe in its possibility, let alone its reality. While in the midst of difficulty, it is hard sometimes to remember and claim our dignity. We forget the price He paid so that we could be free. We doubt our inheritance, our worthiness. We say to ourselves, “I’m not good enough, I’m worthless, it’s too hard to keep believing otherwise.”

But hope empowers us to embrace fully this inheritance that we have in fact already received by virtue of our baptism. Although we cannot see the kingdom of Heaven that awaits us, we are hopeful because we believe in Christ's promise. We embrace the birthrights of princes or princesses, because we have hope in Christ who makes them a reality.

The moment of doubt are exactly the moment that hope lifts up our hearts, reminds us of His promise and love, chases away the fear, and helps us to keep believing, keep pressing on even when there’s every apparent reason to give up. Romans 5:3-5 gives evidence to this, saying, “Not only that, but we even boast of our afflictions, knowing that affliction produces endurance, and endurance, proven character, and proven character, hope, and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.”

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So if Hope is so important and vital to our walk, why is it sometimes so hard to hold on to? Why is it so easy to forget in times of difficulty? Why is Satan so easily able to rob our hope and our peace?

It is a part of human nature to desire to see, to touch. We like to have proof before we will accept something as fact. You know the expression, “I have to see it to believe it.” The same goes for our spiritual walk. It is challenging to embrace peace and hope, trusting that “all things work for the good for them that love the Lord,” when everything seems to be crashing down around you. 

The devil attacks us where we are most weak. Now is a time of uncertainty and fear. Many of us are suffering financially, emotionally, physically. We fear for our country, for our families, for our future. It’s hard enough to deal with the present, let alone be able to look past our current crises into a future that appears bleak and hope for the Lord somehow to provide. It’s easy to say, “How can I hope that the Lord will take care of the future, when my situation right now is so precarious? He doesn’t seem to be hearing my prayer right now, so clearly I have to rely on myself to get through this!”

It doesn’t help that the world condemns and scorns the hopeful as dreamers and fools. We as Christians are told we ought to focus on the Now: why should you sacrifice and die to your desires for the sake of an Eternity you can’t know for sure really exists! You should instead live for the moment, do what feels good now! Don’t do the moral or the right thing, but instead give in to your inclinations.

Thus, the world entices us with the temptation of pleasure right now, of security right now, of success right now. The world tells us we have to take care of our own problems, that it does no good to rely on some unseen Higher Power to fix our situation. The world offers a false sense of happiness, provision, and peace that ultimately leaves you feeling empty, unsatisfied, and lied to. It tries to make you consider yourself and earthly pleasures the only “gods” worth counting on.

Let’s be honest, it’s easy to be hopeful when times are good, and when everything you touch seems to turn to gold, when you can see the Lord working, see answered prayers, feel His joy and peace. At times like these, you wonder why everyone isn’t more hopeful.

But the hard times are what make us saints. Anyone can be hopeful in the good times, when it’s oh-so-easy. In the times of difficulty, that’s when we truly pick up our crosses and walk the road to Calvary with our Lord. We suffer the Cross with Him, and are carried by the hope of His promise into the Resurrection. Thanks to Jesus, we know that the Resurrection lies in the hope of a new dawn following the darkest night of the soul.

Our hope in Jesus, as well as His joy which is our strength, gives us the courage we lack, a strength that is not our own, which lifts us up on the wings of eagles, lifts up our hearts out of despair and discouragement into His marvelous light. Our hope transforms the need to rely on our own strength and knowledge to fix our circumstances, into a new ability to surrender to His will.
Our example must be our beautiful Mother Mary, who is such a perfect model of hope in the Lord. She knew in her heart what would be asked of her Son, the One who would die that all might live. She pondered, she surrendered, she proclaimed “Fiat, let it be done according to Thy word,” and she hoped in the Lord’s promise that all would be for the greatest and best good. She stood at the foot of her Son’s cross and silently watched His sacrifice, all the while hoping for the greater glory of God. Her hope in spite of her suffering must be our example.

Stay tuned for Part Three tomorrow!!!

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