Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Holding Out Hope

 
    I don't hate winter. I am actually a "four seasons" kind of girl. I like the changes each season brings. I love lots of things about winter: wearing sweaters (I own 33 cardigans for a reason! #notaminimalist) soups and stews, Christmas, hot coffee, snuggly blankets, and marveling over each unique snowflake. There are things I don't love, of course, like constantly clearing snow off my car, slipping on the ice, cold feet, and driving in bad weather.

   And every year, around this time, I get a little bit "done" with winter. It has been particularly bad this year, because since Joel has been out of commission (He had ACL and meniscus surgery and cannot even put his foot down for six weeks!) I've been doing double the amount of work I usually do. As I left this morning to take him to physical therapy, I slipped on the ice. I didn't go all the way down, but I have landed on my behind three times already this winter. Poor Joel had to navigate all that on crutches, which is why he has only left the house twice in the last two weeks. I am tired of doing all the driving, all the car scraping, all the grocery shopping, all the cooking, cleaning, and general household-running that he is usually so good to help with. I know I sound whiny, and that so many have it much worse, but as the kids said when they were little while waving their hands frantically, "all duh!".

   And after steering my car through a slide on the icy road all I could think is, "I wish it were summer. And the roads were dry and the weather was warm. And Joel was better."

    The fact of the matter is, I *know* summer will come. (Yes, I know spring is first!) Way back in the beginning the Lord promised us:

“As long as the earth endures,
seedtime and harvest,
cold and heat,
summer and winter,
day and night
will never cease.”
Genesis 8:22

  And I know that is true because I have seen it in my own life. Further back than I can remember the cycle of the seasons has been unbroken. And I realized, that is what hope really is. I don't know what exact day summer will come. Yes, it is marked on the calendar but we all know how *that* really goes. It is hard to think about summer right now with two feet of snow on the ground. We have had more snow this year than in many years. We had weeks of temperatures below twenty degrees. I haven't seen grass since November. I am thrilled that the sun has finally started setting after 4 pm (on the three days out of seven that I can even see it), however it is still.so.hard.  But I would bet my life on the fact that there will be summer in the year 2017. (Unless Jesus comes back, and I will take that any day!)

    And I just can't think of a better definition of hope. For a believer "hope" isn't wishing, like the rest of the world thinks it is.

"Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see." Hebrews 11:1
Confidence. Assurance. Not guessing, or wishing, or speculating, or gambling. It's a guarantee. And that is the hope we have in Christ.

"Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;  perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us." Romans 5:1-5 

   I don't have to worry, because I have a guarantee. This frustrating, seemingly endless, plodding, not-so-great part will end, and it will result in God being glorified. Winter WILL lead to summer and my suffering will produce perseverance if I don't give up and lose heart. I have hope. Such great, marvelous, life-changing hope. And it is 100 % guaranteed, more certain even than the changing of the seasons. True hope isn't fragile, or perishable, or in need of coddling. True hope knows what the future holds, even if I don't have a date for my calendar. True hope will see me through.

   These seasons, both the physical and the figurative, aren't going to last forever. I know, because I have hope.

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