"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." (NIV) Romans 15:13
It is so hard to believe that another year is behind us. I'm not sure about all of you, but I think the oler I get, the quicker time passes! Reflection at the end of the year can help us to see what went well, what didn't go so well, and what we want to change. When we think about such things, we can better understand what choices we made that were good choices, and which choices were not necessarily God-centered. I certainly had opportunities to make better choices throughout the year in many circumstances.
Typically, while we do this type of reflection, we also realize that we have had prayers that may not have been answered yet - something we are hoping for in our hearts. Yes, we may "like" to win the lottery, we may "want" to have a new car, but HOPE is something completely different. Hope - which can be hard to define, is to want something with the understanding that it will come to fruition. Hope is what we have when we take our heart to God. Hope is what God gives to us when we absolutely trust that He will act in our behalf - our BEST behalf. We may want things that aren't necessarily what we need to have. Hope is when we take those heartfelt desires to God and trust that he will deliver to us what we need.
Yes, I have things that I am hoping for that haven't been revealed to me this year. As we hope, and wait, we can become discouraged. We can get frustrated and think many thoughts:
God isn't listening to me.
I'm a bad person - it will never happen.
I'm being punished.
Maybe what I am hoping for will NEVER be answered.
Maybe what I am hoping for is too big for God.
Yes, sometimes our discouragement and frustration can lead us to doubt God and His lack of love for us. Our verse for today clearly states that our hope resides FULLY with God. As He truly is our God of hope, we are filled with love and joy, peace and trust, and most importantly, the Holy Spirit! God gave us the Holy Spirit to reside IN us when peace, love, joy, and hope seem far away. Because we are blessed with the Holy Spirit, we need not doubt - don't doubt that God can hear you; don't doubt that you are forgiven; don't doubt that God is the great I AM - and has power over everything and everyone; Don't Doubt. Stand strong in the hope that God has given you in the Holy Spirit.
Do you need to find a story of great hope? Read about Elizabeth and Zechariah. Now that is HOPE! They hoped to have a child and were blessed not only with a beautiful child, but the child who came before Jesus - John the Baptist! This blessing was not given to them when they were young, it was provided to them when they started running out of hope. Yet, it was all part of God's diving plan. We all have hopes like Elizabeth and Zechariah. Maybe it is hope for a child, maybe it is hope for love, maybe it is hope for relationship restoration, maybe it is hope for . . . .
Believe this - God KNOWS your hopes. God is aware of your needs. God will deliver to you exactly what you need. Your hope resides in God. As this year ends and the new year begins, may you find peace in the fact that God loves you so very much, and knows your hopes and desires - and He will deliver. May you all enjoy a wonderful New Year in Christ.
Heavenly Father, thank you for the Holy Spirit who resides in my soul. May I realize that the hopes of my heart are revealed to you - and that you will bring to me exactly what I need, when I need it. May I fully trust you, God, and may the peace that only you can bring into my life, reside in my heart forever."