Renewing Hope in 2011

I make it a habit at the end of every year to evaluate my year.  I evaluate the ups and downs, the progress and the set-backs and especially, where I am in my spiritual journey relative to the beginning of the year.  What did I learn? Did I grow in any areas?  Where did I fall short?  What has God done throughout the year? Am I closer to the Lord than I was?

While I haven’t begun my 2010 reflection quite yet, 2010 marked a year of great change and a big leap of faith for me. And in the process, a roller coaster ride of emotions.  It has been a year of learning to walk by faith, not by sight in a new way, calling for a new level of obedience.  It has including grieving, joy, dreaming, fear, hope and discouragement!  (Yes, my journal entry will be long this time)!

But there’s one theme that has stood out to me recently that I’d like to share with you today – it’s about hope.  I’m in the middle of waiting on God to see expectations fulfilled, not just in the new season of change for me, but in areas I’ve prayed years and years for.  This year has just placed a magnifying glass on the concept of “waiting” for me.  As days turn into weeks and weeks turn into months, and eventually years pass as we wait for changes, dreams or prayers to be answered, something can happen to hope.  Prov. 13:12 says, “hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” When expectations and longings are put off for a long time, sometimes our hearts grow discouraged.  As time marches on and your hopes are deferred, how do you hang on?  What can keep you hoping?

Not long ago, I read this verse:  “Sustain me according to your promise, and I will live; do not let my hopes be dashed.”  Ps. 119:116

It was at a moment of discouragement.  A moment where I was feeling like perhaps my  hopes were going to be dashed.  The Holy Spirit grabbed my attention and began to speak to me through this verse.   It was David’s cry to God for help in sustaining his hope.  I looked up the word sustain – “to provide with nourishment, to keep going; to hold up”.  I realized that God could “keep me going, to nourish my heart and hold me up” by his promises to me.  I turned that verse into a prayer to the Lord:

Lord, take your promises for my life and for the answers to prayer that I’ve waited years for, and supernaturally sustain me with them.  Keep my hope alive with your promises.

I felt a strength and peace begin to flow in my heart.  I didn’t have to come up with my own strength.  God was my strength and my hope.  He is my source of hope.  And He is your as well.  If you are feeling the weight of unfulfilled hopes and dreams, take some time this week, this new year and allow God’s many promises for  your life sustain you.  Read them, claim them, pray them.  And trust the God of hope.  

Rom 15:13  May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.  NIV

May you overflow with hope in 2011!

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