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plIn my last two posts, I have tried to share about something I firmly believe in. Whether I actually succeeded in making any sense, who knows. But the more I thought about it, I realized that there needed to be one more post relating to the topic of choosing a life with God. I needed to say something about hope.

We all hope for things, it’s just part of being human. Depending on our life circumstances, what we hope for can be quite different. It could be you hope that the Packers will dominate everyone this season and take home a Super Bowl win. (Personally, I live with the vain hope that the Bears will actually win something this year…) Maybe you’re hoping that your kid gets the lead in the school play, or that you will simply accomplish everything on your to-do list today. Some of us have more serious hopes; that the chemo treatments will work and the cancer will be gone, a missing child will be found, or a much-needed job will come your way after months of unemployment. Whatever the circumstance, hope can be a very powerful tool. And when it’s lost, the result can be tragic.

Psychologists and sociologists have determined, through countless studies, that hope is more than just a feel-good emotion. It actually has direct and very positive effects on how we handle difficulties, achieve our goals and interact with the world around us. Hopeful people are generally more successful regardless of their profession, and they are more apt to recover from a serious illness. Because they are able to take a setback and learn from it, they become instrumental in helping others through hard situations. They also are much easier to work with (in any kind of situation) because they do not feel that they must have full control over the task nor do they don’t feel as if they are the only ones with the correct answer. They are more willing to “go with the flow” because they are not trying to compete with everyone. Hopeful people also do not see it as a personal attack if someone disagrees with them, or uncharacteristically speaks harshly to them. They are more apt to give that person the benefit of the doubt, more quick to forgive and forget. This doesn’t mean, though, that hopeful people never have hard days.

Life is not easy; I think we can all pretty much agree on that. But when you have hope in something, it helps make those really hard days just a bit more tolerable, right? Well, what if that thing you have hope in fails you? How do you move on from there? Even the most positive, optimistic thinkers can hit the bottom. For me, this is where faith has to come in. There is no one thing, or any one person, on this planet that you can put your hope in and it never fail. But, there is a God who cannot fail and He is accessible to you no matter where you are in your life.

Isaiah 40:31 (NIV) – But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

Hebrews 11:1 (NIV) – Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.

Psalm 119:114 (NIV) – You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in your word.

Psalm 31:24 (NIV) – Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord.

The word “hope” is said more than 120 times in the Bible. However, it’s not really meaning the kind of hope that psychologists and sociologists are talking about. Their “hope” is kind of like the simple definition you can find in the Merriam-Webster dictionary; to want something to happen or be true and think that it could happen or be true. The “hope” in the Bible is much bigger than that, because it is hope in Jesus Christ. It is a hope that settles deep in our soul, and it anchors us to what we say that we believe (the word of God). It is firmly grasping what we KNOW to be true; that regardless of whatever difficult things come our way, we have been promised the day when the dark and sad things of this world will forever be gone, and we will again live in the perfect goodness that God originally created for us.

Living in the hope of Jesus will always far exceed the hope of human understanding. When you are facing what you’re certain is going to break you and you think you have nothing left within you to give, if you have hope in Jesus, that well is never going to run dry. There will always be something left to raise you back to your feet.

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In concluding these three “making the choice to believe” posts, choosing to live a life for Jesus does not always mean everything is going to be sunshine and rainbows every day. You still live in a fallen and sinful world, so I guarantee you that hard times will come. But there are three things than can determine how you come through those hardships, and they also can make a huge impact in how you live your life during the wonderful and amazing days; faith, love and hope. How you see God, and if you believe or not that He is who He says He is. If you accept the love that He has for you, and take  comfort in knowing that His love will never cease, no matter what happens or has happened in your life.  And finally, if you have Biblical hope, and know that all good things do indeed come from your Heavenly Father, and that He wants to bless you beyond measure.

One of the times that God spoke to my heart during the years I was not walking in faith, was on a Sunday morning when I had been back in my hometown visiting family.  I had (grudgingly) attended a concert at my parents’ church the night before, and the guest singer performed with the church choir during the Sunday service. The song that he sang was simple in lyrics, taken right from the book of Revelation. But combining that with the beautiful music and soaring voices of the choir, something finally stirred deep down in me, and I thought to myself, I want to be in that place when this world has ended.

“I saw the Holy City
Descending from the sky
So brilliant with the light of God
The city is His bride
There is no temple in this town
No sun, no moon, no lamp
For God’s own glory is its light
Illuminated by the Lamb
And God Himself will wipe the tears
From every weeping eye
No death, no pain, no mourning cry
And every tear made dry.
And now our God will dwell with them
The new Jerusalem
And He Himself will walk with them
The new Jerusalem.”

Now, many years later, I take great comfort in knowing that I can survive whatever comes because I AM going to that place. My prayer is that you too, will make the choice to believe, and we will all one day walk together with our God.

Céad míle beannachta~                                                                                      (One hundred thousand blessings)

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