I’ll admit it, life is feeling stressful these days.  I love my job but it is the source of great stress at times and can bring great discouragement.  I am sure many of you can relate to this.  This world can be very hard and I believe impossible with out having Hope in something bigger than me and the circumstances that surround me. The Bible is full of verses of Hope, stories of Hope, words of Hope and promises of reasons to Hope.  Many of my very favorite verses are those that offer Hope and encourage us to Hope.  When I am feeling frustrated or discouraged for whatever reason I find myself searching and leaning on those very verses.

Jeremiah 29:11  “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.”

I have been thinking about hope a lot the last few days.  The thoughts began after some simple, somewhat trivial activities. Two things I have been thinking of and working on lately got me thinking.

1. I longed deeply for snow.  (Let’s be honest here, from October to March I long for it.)  It gave me something to look forward to, a reason to run to the window first thing in the morning.  All that hope didn’t produce the results I had wanted but  there was some joy just in that simple hope.

2.  I have been working on Christmas pieces for my Etsy shop.  As i was looking for ideas and researching what was available, I began to notice how many things had the word hope in them.  Signs, ornaments, cards, posters, and decorations all shouting out the word hope.Clearly it is important to many of us and many of us cling to it.  Clearly it is important to me as I remember this isn’t the first time I have written about hope.

This all got me thinking about why Hope is so important to us.  As I pondered and used my own experience to gauge this I couldn’t think of one day that I didn’t have Hope for something.  Now don’t get me wrong on this, I have felt hopeless.  I have thought for brief moments here and there that things were never going to get better, that the darkness would last or the pain would never go away.  But even in those darkest of moments, way down in the depths of my heart……hope was there.  In fact there is no doubt that it was hope that sustained me.  I couldn’t always feel it and at times had to fight really hard for it, but it was always there.

Romans 15:13 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.

There is no secret that I love snow.  I don’t just mean that I think it’s pretty or prefer a white Christmas.  I mean I LOVE it.  When I see the flakes falling from the sky there is a joy that overcomes me that I can’t put into words.  As a small child I can remember looking and longing for it often.  I would check the window every few minutes.  I would make sure the clouds were still there and that the temp was just right.  One year on the day after Christmas I collapsed on my parents bed in tears.  It wasn’t that Christmas that was over that broke my heart, it was the bright sun that was melting all the snow.  Such deep sadness I felt at that moment of course exaggerated by an over tired child, but still heart break.

Psalms 39:7 “But now, Lord, what do I look for?  My hope is in you…..”

God knows his precious children in the most beautiful and intimate ways.  He created me and knows the innermost parts of my heart.  At moments that I needed Hope the most my Heavenly Father has provided it in only ways he can.

A number of years ago, on a particularly rough day when I was struggling the most to feel the comfort and presence of God, he reminded me in the gentlest and most perfect way.  I had been crying out to Him and felt as if my cries were going unheard and certainly unanswered.  Feeling distraught and discouraged and honestly hopeless, I stood at the window and just stared.   I remember very clearly saying “God I need to feel you, I need you to show me you are hearing me and that you are here.”   It was a prayer of great desperation. Just seconds after the words escaped my lips, I saw the very first snowflake of that year.  They began very slowly at first and quickly became larger and fell faster.  Suddenly I felt as if I was standing in a snow globe and as I stood staring at the same spot I had been for quite some time I began to feel hope swell up inside of my heart that moments before had felt quite hopeless.  It was God’s simple way of saying to be me “I’m here, I hear your cries, I’m working.”  My troubles and heartache didn’t all melt away in that moment but I began to lean on that hope that I felt like I had lost.

There has been a lot of rough news in our world lately.  So many burdens to bear.    Illness, war, school shootings, unspeakable tragedies all around.  So much heartache, so much sadness.  It’s hard not to be overwhelmed.  Yet in the midst of all of that I feel great hope.

I realize that for me Hope is everything.  Without it I have nothing.  Hope brings me to love others more, do my job better, be more thankful, forgive, heal and feel unbelievable joy!

So where does that hope come from?

1 Peter 1:3  Praise be to God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!  In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”

This life is hard, so very hard some days.  We need hope so that we can move on to things we can’t even begin to imagine.

Romans 8:24-25  For in this hope we were saved.  But hope that is seen is no hope at all.  Who hopes for what they already have?  But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

So I live with Hope.  Hope in things that I don’t know or things I can’t imagine.  I have hope because of the promises that God has made.  He is the source of my hope and the joy that often accompanies it.

The importance of Hope often overwhelms me.

Lord it’s in your hands!