Hope Required

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I went for a walk during my coffee break at work the other day. The weather was surprisingly mild for February. It wasn't raining either, which is even more surprising given that I live in the suburbs of Vancouver, BC, and we are known for our rain.  

I only had 10 minutes or so to get out and get some fresh air, so without delay I set out for the great outdoors. I work in a retail area, so my great outdoors is a 2 square block walk on sidewalks past paint stores, gas stations and restaurants, but it's always a nice change from being inside all the time. Anyway, I got outside and headed across the parking lot, moving as quickly as I could to make sure I would get back before my break was done.

There's something so invigorating about being outside, especially when the air is cool. I feel myself breathing deeper and smiling on the inside (and usually on the outside too), like everything is right in the world. As I did my speedy stroll around my work neighbourhood, I noticed that the plants and trees were starting to show signs of spring. There were little buds forming on the tree branches and green shoots were making their way up out of the soil in the landscaped areas.

Now I know there are months to go before the spring, and I'm sure the plants know it too, but sometimes I wonder if they're just showing some signs of life to give us hope; hope that the spring will come again, that the days will be longer, that the trees will blossom and grow their leaves, that flowers will bloom and the air will be warm again.

I think we need that.  We need to have hope that there will be better days.  During the winter doldrums that means dreaming of the spring. In times of difficulty, it means holding on, because this too shall pass. There are going to be plenty of days in our lives when the sun does not shine, when things don't go our way, when we are sick, or broke, or frustrated, or sad. Hope is what pulls us through.

The only question now is, in what do we hope? Or better yet, in whom do we hope? Really that is the most important question of all. What is the foundation for our hope? Is our hope just a wish? Or do we have assurance of more than that?  

The Bible teaches that God created the world and He sustains it and sovereignly rules over it. I know that He is in control of all things. He is my Lord and my Saviour so, when everything is going well, or when times are hard, I can rely on Him and know that He knows what's going on. He has a plan and He is working it all out.

The Bible also says if are reconciled to Him through Christ Jesus, we are His children and we don't need to worry.  He will take care of us. In the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew Chapter 6, Jesus tells us not to worry about what we will eat or drink or what we will wear because God our Father knows that we have need of these things and He will take care of us, as He does the birds of the air and the flowers of the field. 

Thinking about these things can give us hope.  It doesn't mean we will never go through hard times; we might, in fact we probably will.  It just means that when things in our lives are looking as bleak and barren as a northern winter landscape, we can have faith that God is with us and we don't have to go through it alone.  Just like waiting for the spring, we can be assured that there are better times to come.

My prayer for you is the same as that of the apostle Paul:  Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy spirit.  Romans 15:13