As I sat this morning to write this blog, I knew I needed a review of what has been settling in my heart regarding HOPE.
Bay and I just finished a wonderful weekend on retreat with our FOCUS Ministries board of directors.
It was a weekend of spiritual renewal and worship...
...of "Sabbathing" (see last week's blog).
It was a weekend of encouragement, of fellowship, of rest, and much laughter.
AND, it was a weekend of re-fueling HOPE within...along with a prayer of leaving that place to be a more purposeful HOPE dispenser.
HOPE is what I've been studying since January (and, I'm not tired of looking for new insights yet).
What a journey!
The lessons have been many. I've learned to dig deep to mine my HOPE:
1) to run to the anchor of my hope: Jesus, the solid rock on which I stand;
2) to pound on the door blocking my hope with God's amazing promises (I write those promises out and pray them back to the Lord as a reminder to me of His faithfulness at all times);
3) to "make friends" with the struggle (this includes, acceptance and surrender); remember:
4) to pray with fasting; this process is a tremendous source of power, strength, and wisdom in the midst of hardship
5) to lean on the Providence of God; He is always standing in the shadows, even when it seems He is M.I.A., working all things for GOOD (because He is good)
6) to keep my eyes focused on things above; heaven is our ultimate hope...but seeing the then, always keeps the now in perspective.
7) to claim my identity; I am royalty; I have an assignment on earth (sometimes that assignment needs to be realigned with God's purposes); and intimacy with the King of Kings is my ultimate source of comfort.
Right there...seven major considerations on finding HOPE when it is waning.
We, frequently, have to work to find the wonder of God's word!
There is one more lesson on HOPE I'm contemplating.
I've always known I'm a word-nerd.
To find good words, I read.
All of us find our words from another source.
I make certain my sources are rich in TRUTH. (Here's a secret: as I grow up I want God to be my ventriloquist, and I, His mouthpiece...I guess that makes me His dummy...hmmmmmm....well, I'm OK with that!)
After studying on my own, I really enjoy reading commentaries (so, yes, I'm more than just a word-nerd). I found a great one on the book of Esther.
Written by a woman, Dr. Jobes, dispenses insights that have kept me convicted, and to be honest, on-my-toes theologically.
The HOPE found in Esther has not been her focus.
The theme she has centered on is what I've found interesting, and worthy of one more consideration for finding more HOPE. It's the idea of:
Reversal of Destiny
(often referred to as Reversal of Fortune; or Reversal of Expected Outcomes)
The whole concept is woven beautifully into the structure of the book....
...and, it is built into every fiber of the BEING of the Lord God!
It is a part of His innate character. My God is the Reverser of Destinies.
Jobes' declares this is the lesson the Lord wants me to learn from the book titled Esther:
There is always a surprising "BUT GOD" just around the corner.
My God is a God whose greatest joy is to Reverse Expected Outcomes for my good and His glory.
Just when it seems things can't get worse - YAHWEH SHOWS UP!
(for good to those who love the Lord and are called according to His Purposes)
It may not always be the way I anticipate; but, His ways are higher than my ways (Is 55:8-9)....ALWAYS!
It may not happen in our timing; but, His timing is PERFECT...ALWAYS!
I may not always see it in the now; but, I can be assured to see it in the THEN...and, the THERE.
This aspect of God's character is just one of the BRIGHTEST LIGHTS shining at the end of my dark tunnel.
This aspect of God's character often sits in obscurity, because my enemy would like for me to forget it. So, he subtly blinds my eyes to this important part of God's nature. It sits in an obscure little book, hidden in plain sight, in the midst of our Old Testaments. However, this truth remains:
I may not see Him working through the trial, but He is definitely at work in it!Big difference...
Jobes believes that's why Esther is included in our Bibles.
I frequently need this reminder...we all do...when life puts us in a place of stuck.
However, while Esther is filled with examples of God's hand reversing the expected, it is just a microcosm of the whole of Scripture. Esther's redemptive story helps us to remember the greatest personal reversal I will NEVER deserve.
This theme of reversal of destiny is woven throughout the book of Esther. However, the reversal of destiny is a major theme in all of biblical theology, spanning the entire Bible. God’s plan to redeem a people from death is a reversal of expected outcomes for those He saves. Therefore, the cross of Jesus Christ is the pivot-point of the greatest reversal of destiny that spans all of history.
The God who loved us that much will surely continue our story of redemption, of His reversal of our destiny, until "that day..." It is FACT!
Let it fill you with HOPE!
The Lord is in charge of your story...and, it matters to Him how it turns out.