Archive for the ‘Hope’ Category

Was God a No-Show?

Posted: November 8, 2012 by clairer in God's Faithfulness, Hope, Trusting God

Every political candidate knows that one of the most important parts of any campaign is the Get Out the Vote (GOTV) effort. You can do anything you want on the campaign and spend however many millions of dollars on campaign ads, but if you don’t get your supporters registered to vote and ensure that they actually show up at their polling location, your campaign is worthless. This election day, the GOTV effort was legendary as millions of Americans flocked to their polling stations and waited for hours in line to vote. But, as I sat in my family room on Tuesday night and watched the results of the election come in – as my heart sank with each reported result that went the “wrong way” – one thought echoed in my mind: where was God’s turnout in response to my prayers?

I pray for our nation – and particularly, for this election – every day, as I know many Christians in this country do. I prayed specifically that God would raise up godly leaders who would fight for Biblical principles and defend the innocent – like the unborn. In a way, I and many Christians across the country waged a prayer campaign for this election.

Perhaps that is why I, and others, felt so devastated and discouraged when the results returned to show that our country had elected men and women who – although I believe sincerely desire to help the country – do not promote biblical principles, nor work to protect the unborn. Also, across the nation, ballot initiatives passed which undermine traditional values of faith and family.  It wasn’t just that campaigns failed to turn out enough voters. It felt like the most important person of all – the One to whom we’ve directed our pleas and petitions to for all these months – just…didn’t show up, like the many no-show voters who were just “too busy” or forgot. Where was God on election day?

As I’ve been mulling over this question for the past couple of days, I’ve come to a couple of conclusions:

  1. When we don’t see His hand, we learn to trust His heart.
    One of my favorite verses in the Bible is in Hebrews 2, where it says, “Now in putting everything in subjection to [Christ], [God] left nothing outside [Christ’s] control. At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to Him. But we see Him…”At the moment, we can’t see what God’s plan is for our nation. We can’t understand how this election somehow fits into His overall scheme. We can’t even see how this election was somehow subject to His sovereign plan. However, we know Him. We know His heart. We know that He will never leave us, nor forsake us. We know that He works all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purposes. And we know that He is watching over us…even when we can’t see it. We may not understand God’s plan for our country…but we know Him and can trust His heart.
  2. God doesn’t need to do things our way to accomplish His purposes.
    I’m sure we are not the first Christians – nor the last – to wonder why God allowed bad things to happen to our nation. The Israelites must have wondered what God was doing when He allowed them to be conquered by the Assyrians and Babylonians. The first Christians must have wondered why Jesus didn’t return to overthrow Nero and bring an end to the persecution the church experienced. Christians around the world must wonder why God allows tyrannical Communist and Muslim regimes to rule despite prayers for relief.Under today’s leadership, we do not experience anything like what these Christians have experienced. But we can take comfort that God works, even through ungodly leaders to accomplish His purposes. The pagan Babylonian king – Nebuchadnezzar – had a direct encounter with God which forced Him to acknowledge God as the Sovereign of the universe. Through Pharaoh, God revealed His power to the Israelites. Through Artaxerxes, God provided the funds for the walls of Jerusalem to be rebuilt. Through Nero, God scattered the church and His saving gospel across the globe.God’s purposes will be accomplished in His time and His way. He does not need to operate through our chosen leader or through our chosen strategy. He will accomplish His perfect will in this country – no matter what the election results say.

So where was God on election day? He was there. He was present. He was aware. He never left us. He heard our prayers. Though many of us may wonder what God’s plan is for our nation, this election should not be a source of discouragement for us, nor should it shake our faith in our good, gracious, and loving God. When we serve a sovereign God, no situation is ever impossible or hopeless. Instead, it is time for Christians to continue to pray for our nation and wait in anticipation to see how God is going to work and move beyond our wildest hopes and dreams.

Note: This blog post is not meant to be a commentary on the “rightness” or “wrongness” of any particular party or politician. If your party celebrated a victory this election, I hope that you recognize that this post is still relevant to you. Whether you face disappointments in prayers for an election, or for healing, or for — really — any area of life, these points still stand. Please continue to intercede in prayer for our nation and our leaders.

Hungry for Hope

Posted: January 2, 2012 by clairer in Bible, Hope

I always cringe a bit when I come across verses in Psalms like Psalm 1:2, “But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on His law he mediates day and night.” Love of, and devotion to, God’s word is a consistent theme in Psalms. I feel a bit guilty when I read these verses because, while I read my Bible pretty consistently, my love of Scripture is nowhere near this level of passion. I always wonder how David and the other psalmists did it…how could they generate such excitement for the Scriptures — the law no less! — to be meditating on it day and night? Part of it definitely came from a genuine love for God and a desire to know Him better. But I think there was something else driving their passion as well. The psalms are songs of desperation as much as they are songs of praise. The psalmists often were starving…not physically, but they were hungry for hope.

When God created mankind, He did some amazing things with the way the human body works. One of those things was He developed self-preservation instincts in the human brain. Because of this, when people are literally starving, the thing that dominates their waking and sleeping thoughts is food and how to find food. Psychologically, these thoughts haunt them until their hunger is satisfied.

I think it works the same way with hope. When people are desperate and spiritually needy, the search for hope and the source of hope dominates their thinking. For those who have no source of hope, this search is, well…hopeless, and leads them to despair as they feel the resounding emptiness of the hope that the world offers. But for Christians, being hungry for hope leads us to the one place we know we can find it: the Scriptures.

The Scriptures remind those who have lost their hope that there is a God who cares for His children, who works things for their good, who can work miracles, who has preserved His people for generations, and who has solved our greatest problem. This is what drives the psalmists, in the same way that a person hungry for food “meditates” on food day and night, so too do those who are hungry for hope.

I know in my life, the times that I have felt the most needy have likewise been the times of the greatest spiritual growth in my life because I have been driven to study and “dwell” in the Scriptures. This realization has caused me to begin a new (intense) Bible reading plan to start this new year. If I want hope in the year ahead, I want to cultivate a passion for my source of hope…God’s Word.

For other ideas of Bible reading plans, an excellent helpful article can be found here

Hanging On

Posted: November 28, 2011 by clairer in God's Faithfulness, God's Goodness, Hope, Purpose, Trusting God

I think that one of the most poignant scenes in the Lord of the Rings occurs at the end of the Return of the King. The ring has finally been cast into the sea of lava in Mount Doom and Frodo dangles over the lava at the edge of the cliff, clinging with all his might to a jagged rock. He looks down as the most important object in life — the reason for his year-long journey — sinks and dissolves in the fire beneath him. Then he looks up at Sam, offering him a hand. He looks back at the ring. For a moment, it looks like he will let go…that he will follow the ring to a fiery end.

It’s that moment that always stands out to me. Frodo thought — even just for a moment — of letting go. What was going through his mind as he watched the most valuable thing in life dissolve beneath him? What could he do? He couldn’t get it back. He was faced with only two options: cling to the cliff or let go and sink below.

Recently, though, I feel like I’ve been able to understand Frodo just a bit more. Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve watched as God has taken certain things that I have invested in and cherished in my life — just like the ring for Frodo — and has dropped them into the fires of “Mount Doom.” Some days, I feel just like Frodo…like I’m just “holding on.”

But like Frodo, I’m also faced with a decision. No, it’s not a choice between life and death, but it is a choice between hope and despair. When these trials entered my life, I couldn’t get rid of them. I couldn’t just “fix” them anymore than Frodo could prevent the ring from dissolving. But that leaves me with only two options: cling or let go.

But unlike Frodo, I’m not clinging to a rock made out of granite and dirt, I’m clinging to the Rock, my Salvation. When I lose the things that matter most to me in life, I can sink into the waves of despair or I can cling to the promises of God. I can cling to the promise that God loves me, that He will never give me more than I can bear, that He works all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purposes, that He knows the plans He has for me — plans to prosper me and not to harm me, to give me a hope and a future. These are the only sure things I can cling to, and in times of trial, these promises are what is keeping me from sinking.

I think that sometimes God gives us trials just to shake our foundation — to show us that what we’ve built our life upon can just disappear. But when we lose our footing and we need something to grab onto to keep us from sinking, He intends that we cling to Him — to that solid Rock — and His loving and everlasting promises. After all, what other option do we have?

Dare to Hope?

Posted: July 19, 2011 by clairer in Hope

“Mrs. Lynde says, ‘Blessed are they who expect nothing for they shall not be disappointed.’ But I think it would be worse to expect nothing than to be disappointed.” — Anne from Anne of Green Gables

When it comes to hoping, are you a Mrs. Lynde — careful and guarded from disappointment — or are you an Anne — fully enjoying the expectation but leaving yourself vulnerable? Has there ever been something you really wanted, but you didn’t let yourself think about it or “get your hopes up” in order to shield yourself from an unfavorable outcome?

I know that in my life, I tend to ascribe to Mrs. Lynde’s philosophy. Often, I’m afraid to let myself hope — to let myself think that things might just turn out the way I’d love for them to — because I’m afraid of the hurt that I will feel if things don’t turn out. Hoping for the best can lead to experiencing the worst, in terms of hurt and disappointment.

That’s why I was surprised when I stumbled upon a verse in my morning devotions. Romans 5:5 says, “…And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us.”

Wait a second…hope doesn’t disappoint? Isn’t that backwards? Didn’t the Bible mean to say “Low expectations don’t disappoint?” How can the Bible encourage us to hope?

The Bible can say that hope doesn’t disappoint because God doesn’t disappoint. The key is, what are we hoping in? The Bible isn’t telling us that dreams won’t disappoint, or wishful thinking won’t disappoint, or that everything we hope for will happen. What it is saying is that when our hope is in the right place — when our trust and security is found in God and His promises — we don’t need to be afraid that God won’t come through for us.

God doesn’t want us to go through life blind and cold to the possibilities He has provided. That excitement and sense of expectancy are part of how God made us! The feeling of anticipation is a gift from God meant to be enjoyed. The key is not to base your hope in the thing desired but in God. If that object of joy is taken away, can you still delight in the good plan of God? If tragedy strikes, can you still rejoice in a faithful and ever-present God?

It’s when you can do these things, when you can say “Whatever my lot, you have taught me to say, it is well with my soul,” that you know your hope is rooted in the right place. When our hope is in the Lord, we can dare to hope and never fear disappointment.