Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Season of Perpetual Hope

So many have heard that this is the season of perpetual hope!  I agree with this in so many ways, but I have also had occasion over the last few weeks to consider that countless people struggle during this time of the year.  I won't recount all of the ways one may struggle; I'm sure no one would disagree with this fact.  Well, one particular Bible scripture has often come to my mind recently:  "Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life." Proverbs 13:12  I've given much thought to this, even in regards to my own life...dreams, hopes, and desires that I long to see fulfilled.  I will attest that if my hope begins to fail me, my heart truly feels heavy and discouraged (not to mention the physical implications of this proverb).  However, when a desire or longing is fulfilled, hope is restored and renewed...hope in the good of people; hope in justice; hope in humanity.  My soul feels encouraged!  My steps feel more certain!  My heart feels lighter!  My smile is brighter! 

Everyone deserves to feel this way, especially during this season of perpetual hope!  The reality, however, is that this will not be so.  But I am determined to do whatever I can, during this season, to restore the hope of another!  We all can do something.  Each one has something to give.  Sometimes, the simple act of wearing a smile can brighten another's life and help to restore one's hope in humanity--especially when the smile one receives is unexpected. 

In times past, I will admit that I have counted myself out of being able to do much or make much of a difference.  Often, I have even discounted myself due to financial circumstances--though I always have had a roof over my head, food on my table, and clothes on my back.  I have turned the other way!  I will no longer discount what I am able to give or contribute.  I began this season purposing in my heart to ask God continually, "What would you have me do today?"  It's no surprise that most often what I felt compelled to do was something for someone else!  I have tears in my eyes recalling some of what God impressed on my heart to do, because I am so overwhelmingly grateful that He has allowed me the opportunity to take my eyes off of myself and my own circumstances

What I have begun to experience, in turn, is that my very own hope has been restored in more ways than one.  My heart has been encouraged by the generosity, thoughtfulness, and kindness of others during this season.  More importantly, I am learning that even when I wonder if what I have to give is enough, I realize that if I give becomes more than enough.  As a result, we have more than enough.  A wise man and pastor at our church, Jeffrey Smith, said recently "When it's in your hands, it is never enough; but when you put it in God's hands it becomes more than enough."  There is such truth and hope in this understanding.  If I trust in God when I choose to do for someone else--or give to someone else--God blesses and increases it.  He blesses the giver as well as the receiver.  Hope is restored. 

So my encouragement is that we would all take time to consider others before ourselves.  What do I have to give?  What can I do for someone else today?  How can I be a blessing?  This should be the season of perpetual hope...and it should never end!

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