For your weekend…

Hope.  It’s become the word of the week.  From our pastor’s Sunday morning sermon to multiple blog posts and conversations, it has been a week filled with hope.

I’ll be honest and tell you that some of it hasn’t really looked all that hopeful.  Hope hasn’t always come dressed in a smile this week.  Some of those posts and conversations were tearful and hard, but the fact that people were still talking about the future expressed a certain hopefulness that they weren’t always able to put into words.

According to www.biblegateway.com there are 164 uses of the word hope in the ESV translation of the Bible.  I looked.  In fact, I read every one of those verses and I also read the official definition of the word on http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hope  which told me that hope is both a noun and a verb…and that the word “expectation” was used in defining both of them.

One of the first verses I thought about when I started writing this post was Hebrews 11:1, which says,

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

That verse tells me that hope comes first.  Faith comes later and that brings me to your challenge for the weekend:

Grab a pen and some paper.  (There’s just something about seeing things written down that can make a difference!)  Now, take 10-15 minutes and just think.  I’m pretty sure that there is an issue you’ve been wrestling with this week, so I’m not going to assign a topic.  Pick your own.  Take those few minutes to really think it through.  Then write down your hopes for the situation.  List what you’d like to see happen…list your expectations…list whatever comes to mind.  Depending on your problem, it might include some fears or concerns.  List those, too.

I’ve found that miscommunication—or the complete lack of any communication at all!—is generally at the heart of most interpersonal issues.  Once you know what you’d like to have happen in a given situation, you can more clearly express those thoughts to others…and that absolutely increases the odds that they will know what you’re thinking! (grin) Oh, I’m laughing as I type, but I’m also serious.  We can’t get upset when others don’t respond the way we’d like if they don’t KNOW what we’d like as a response. That doesn’t guarantee they’ll be on board with what you desire, but at the very least, it gives you a starting point for meaningful conversation.

Now, if your issue is something that you need to chat with God about, please know that this is NOT a fortune-cookie promise that you can take to God and demand His response.  This exercise, however, can give you the time to settle out what you really do want from the situation.  That, in turn, will allow the Holy Spirit to guide you about whether or not your desires match up with what God has already said in His Word…and if not, it will give you an opportunity to change that.  Again, just seeing it on paper, can give you more clues than you might imagine about whether or not something is actually a reasonable expectation or not. However…and this is really important!…remember that God IS the God of hope and there is nothing beyond His power.  When your desires match His will there is nothing He won’t do to see them fulfilled.

 “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” Romans 15:13

Grace & Peace!…and hope.

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