Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Advent Thoughts #4 - December 3

I received an e-letter from a friend of mine. This friend is a "global worker" (we used to use the "m" word to describe this gal, but we can't anymore). She works in an undisclosed 10-40-window-country. That means I can't tell you where she is serving. However, her neighborhood has become a war zone in recent weeks: bombs, rifles, grenades (you get the picture). Her e-letter can't be reprinted, but I can tell you some of the contents. The day before she wrote this missive, five brothers-of-the-faith had been martyred for their beliefs. One dad, along, with his two teenage sons, she and her husband knew very well. Their little Christian community was rocked and deeply grieving, but, she said, "Not without hope!" They all know that these modern-day-martyrs were not swallowed up in death, but to LIFE. It's why Jesus was born, so He could die, to bring new hope of everlasting LIFE. It doesn't mean life will be easy or happy. It does mean we all have a better something to look forward to in the midst of such tragedy. Hope is not deferred even in this tragedy, making the heart sick (Proverbs 13:12)

Last Saturday, my daughter-in-love and I, took my four little grand-treasures to Focus on the Family. They were showing a free movie (with free popcorn and drinks), and the bookstore had a 25%-off-the-entire-store sale. Since I am focusing on Advent, I bought a beautifully carved Advent-wreath. This week we've lit the first candle, which represents HOPE. I understand the need for HOPE so much more after pondering and praying over my friend's note. As I prayed, I found myself in the middle of Jeremiah's Lamentations. Everything in his life had been stripped away. Yet, in the middle of the loss, Jeremiah KNEW and DID NOT FORGET hope. That's because he knew the only source of hope. Here are his words:

Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this:
The faithful love of the Lord never ends!
His mercies never cease.
Great is His faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each and every morning.
I say to myself, "The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!"
The Lord is good to those who depend on him, to those who search for him.
So it is good to wait quietly for salvation from the Lord.
And it is good for people to submit at an early age to his yoke, to sit in silence beneath His commands.
Let them lie face down in the dust, for there may hope be one is ever totally abandoned by the Lord.
Though he brings grief, he also shows compassion, because of the greatness of his unfailing love. Who can command things to happen without the Lord's permission? Does not the Most High send both calamity and good?
Instead...let us turn back to the Lord, and lift our hearts and hands to God in heaven...
(excerpts from Lamentations 3:21-41)

Again, may we be reminders of the HOPE that is found forever in the faithfulness and mercies of our God. He will, as Jeremiah goes on to remind us, be true to His promises regarding His chosen, His beloved Children; and, He will come again! Advent is near!

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