Tag Archives: hope

“Chimpanzees and a Promise from our God”

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“Chimpanzees and a Promise from our God”

For one of our recent date nights, Shawn and I had dinner then watched a documentary on Disney Plus called “Chimpanzee.” We really know how to live it up.

Image result for disneynature chimpanzees
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KokQL4aLfrI

The movie starts out with Oscar as a newborn chimpanzee born in the African rainforest, and we watch him grow from an infant to a toddler chimp, climbing on the back of his mom, Isha, and struggling to learn how to use rocks and sticks to get food.

We get to watch this group of 35 or so chimpanzees work together and live in community. It was easy to become attached quickly. Before long we see another group of chimpanzees come along, which I called “the bad ones,” though Shawn reminded me they are animals and this is nature so they aren’t exactly “bad ones.”

 However, at some point in the film, Isha, becomes separated from Oscar during a confrontation by the aggressive group. I felt some intense anxiety, but still thought I was safe. I said to Shawn, “This is Disney. They won’t show us a movie that kills off the parent.” To which Shawn replied, “Really? Lion King . . . Snow White . . . Bambi?” He had a valid point. Disney is all about that.

And this is a documentary, after all. It is a real-life story. Life always has times that are seemingly stinky.

It’s easy to forget that. It seems like there would be a pretty good formula –
Good Choices + Jesus = Easy Life.

But that formula is a big fat lie.

In Scripture, lots of God’s peoples went through struggles; some a seemingly unfair amount. Paul, who devoted his life to Jesus after believing in Him, talked about being beaten over and over, lots of prison time, hunger, thirst, cold, and a scary time of being shipwrecked. He didn’t have it easy at all (2 Corinthians 11:23-29).

And it’s especially difficult for us when the hard times come rolling in one after another. I know I’m not alone in experiencing this. We get to a point where we wonder if we are strong enough to handle one more thing. And honestly, alone we probably aren’t. But we aren’t alone. That’s the promise that Scripture gives us.

“So we can confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?’”
Hebrews 13:6, ESV

The Lord is our helper. We aren’t alone. We aren’t relying on our own strength. When those difficult times come, and they will, we do not give up because God is our helper.  

I won’t lie – life can be hard. But it isn’t something we have to fear because we are not alone in any of it. Our God is faithful. And in an amazing twist, He can also make something beautiful from our hard times. 

The Disney documentary ends on a brighter note than the dark spot it took us to, and our lives will too. If we know Christ, the end is going to be amazing. But we can find joy in this current part too, because our God is with us.

A Redeemer of Hope

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A Redeemer of Hope
People Walking, by DM Grace

I have a recurring dream where I am in a car and we are driving crazy-fast on dangerous, hilly roads, when we go airborne and I’m always certain this is my final day on earth Then, just before landing, I wake up. The waking up part is one of the best feelings in the world. So terrified, then suddenly such relief.

I remember falling asleep in tears one night, a bunch of years ago, certain I had done so much damage to our marriage that we would be finished. I felt more shame and hopelessness than I ever have felt any other time in my life. And when I woke up the next morning, I was groggily piecing things together in m y mind, hoping that I could tell myself it all had been a dream. But as my story came together in my head, I was crushed to remember it all had been true.

This was real and happening and I was facing a future I didn’t know. The pit in my stomach grew. I had no hope for us.

Being without hope is a lonely, dark place. I hope you haven’t been there, but if you have then you know what I’m talking about.

In Luke 24, two followers of Jesus were walking along a road after Jesus’ crucifixion, feeling an extreme level of hopelessness, when Jesus showed up to talk to them. He didn’t let them realize it was Him, and instead asked them something like, “Whatcha talking about?” They told Him about this Jesus being a prophet who was so powerful, but that the leaders had given Him the death sentence and crucified Him. They went on to say, “but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel.” (v. 21)

But we had hoped.

Hope is such a beautiful word, but “had hoped” is heart-breaking. Once there was hope, but now there is not. We are past that time when we were anticipating a rescue or restoration or healing to a time where we can’t see nay signs of hope anywhere. It was a nice dream.

After spending the evening with these guys talking to them about Scripture and staying at their home and blessing their bread and giving it to them at their table, Luke says, “their eyes were opened.” They suddenly were able to see their Christ, the One they “had hoped” would redeem their people. He was not dead at all but had been with them all day.

Jesus met them where they were to restore their hope.

This is so significant to me for many reasons, but one is that He remained on this earth a mere 40 days after his resurrection. That He chose to spend nearly an entire day with these two to help restore their faith is something that makes me love Him even more, if that’s possible. This is a Savior who cares so much about each one of us that He will go to great lengths to bring back our hope. He loves us so much.

Jesus has restored my hope in Him so many times. And thankfully He also restored my hope for my marriage. He redeemed us, and I still can’t get over it.

Whatever is going on in your life, I don’t want you to lose hope. But I know of Someone who is happy to restore it when you do.

He does it in His own way and in His own time, but He will do it. It may not look a thing like you planned or imagined but trust His ways. There is always hope in Him.

“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.”
Hebrews 6:19a

Remaining Hopeful in the Waiting

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“If we are faithless, he remains faithful— for he cannot deny himself.”
II Timothy 2:13

This has been a weird year. Last year about this time, Shawn made a New Year resolution to play more basketball. He loves it and it gives him some exercise in the process, so it’s a win-win. But the first game he played in January resulted in knee surgery, a new-used ACL and a meniscus repair, followed by 3 months of physical therapy. (His resolution the year before was not to wear pants… Neither lasted very long).

The year trudged on, with me going back to work some, difficult times at church that have brought me to a time of what feels like grieving, and a writer’s block that would leave me sitting at my computer with no words to spill out on my screen.

I’ve stared at the blank page far too many times to count. There was nothing to say that could benefit anyone who might read it. I prayed for words, but felt nothing.

I am not a patient person, and it’s hard for me not to get answers right away (and, by the way, they need to be the answers I want). And while it hasn’t been a terrible year at all (many good things have happened – Noah likes high school, I like my job, our family got away for a weekend trip to Tennessee, and God has faithfully provided), it has felt like a year of chipping.

A bit of chipping away at our self-sufficiency, when so many friends and family have given and blessed us in ways we never would have asked. A bit of chipping away at my selfishness of my time, time I was wasting and didn’t realize it until I had to fill those hours up with working. Some chipping away at my comfort, seeing that new or different isn’t always worse, even if it hurts a little.

And I’m learning some patience. If God has words for me to write, first I must spend more time with Him to hear what that is. If He wants me to wait on His words, and not just fill up a screen because I need another blog that week, that’s okay too.

But the waiting is hard.

I was reading in Luke this week, and in chapter one, Zechariah gets big news. He is old, and so is his wife. While we don’t know exactly how old, “well along in years” doesn’t sound like something you would say to a 40-year-old. But Zechariah gets a visit from Gabriel, telling him, “Your prayer has been heard.” He and Elizabeth are gonna have a baby! And not only that, but a baby who will do great things for God’s people, and who will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from birth. Now that’s an answer to prayer.

But it made me wonder, how long did Zechariah pray for this? How long did he go month after month, waiting to see God bless them with a child, only to find out that again, it hasn’t happened? Did his prayers lose their punch, as months and then years start to add up, without seeing any result?

Did daily prayers to God turn into weekly, then monthly, then an occasional, “Please God,” when he saw another new baby in the neighborhood? Until at some point, he just resolved that it was too late.

In verse 18, he questions Gabriel, saying, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.” That didn’t sound like a guy who had just faithfully prayed that morning for a bouncing baby boy. And Gabriel responded with a bit of a punishment – he will be silent for the remainder of the pregnancy, “because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their proper time.”

God’s proper time is rarely what we want and hope for it to be. We are really like toddlers, wanting it now, sometimes throwing in a tantrum to show we mean it (just me?). But God is a good Father, and He knows far better than we do what we need, and when we need it. He knew Zechariah’s baby was going to be special. John would bring many people of Israel back to their God. He paved the path for the ministry of Jesus, then was blessed to baptize Him himself. God knew when this needed to happen. He knows best. He always does.

Don’t lose hope. Our prayers aren’t always answered in the way that we want, nor in the time frame we want, and sometimes it seems like they haven’t been answered at all. But we can trust our Father.

Remind yourself of God’s faithfulness in the past, and His faithfulness to others around you. He is a good Father.

Don’t lose hope in the waiting. There is always hope.