2020 Hope Whispers

The future is uncertain, but God’s faithful love will always be certain.

When It’s Hard to Understand God’s Plan

2020 has been a tough year. When we experience losses, trauma, and sorrows, it can be so hard to understand God’s plan for us, can’t it?

This year the most read post is one from 2015:

God’s Plan Is Greater Than Ours

“No, in all these things we are more than victorious
through Him who loved us.
For I am persuaded that not even death or life,
angels or rulers, things present or things to come,
hostile powers, height or depth
or any other created thing
will have the power to separate us from the
love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord!”

Romans 8:37-39

Nature is a Retreat of Hope

“All my life through
the new sights of nature
made me rejoice
like a child.”
Marie Curie

Thank you to my brother John
for these stunning photos.
🙂 Please respect copyright laws. 🙂
Chipmunk
Botta’s Pocket Gopher
Black-crowned Night Heron
American Avocet
Redhead Male
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Acorn Woodpecker
Osprey With a Meal of Koi

When It’s Hard To Jump Into the Jordan

It’s scary to step out and take a risk into the unknown, isn’t it?

When God made a way through the Red Sea for the Israelites, they saw the waters part before they took one step. But crossing the Jordan River was different. The priests carrying the Ark were told to step into the swollen waters. When they took that step of faith, God opened the way to the promised land.

God has been whispering to me to “jump into the Jordan” ever since I read this guest post at Ann Voskamp’s blog.

I identify with the need for being absolutely certain. I recognize that paralyzing fear when it comes to decisions in my life. When I read eloquent posts, I feel insecure and indecisive, and that negative voice whispers, “You’re not good enough.” I question whether or not I should keep writing. Whether or not I should continue this blog. As I wrestled with this again during my summer break, I wanted a clear answer from God. He didn’t give me that. Instead, He gave me a nudge to trust Him, to stop standing on the shore, terrified that I can’t step forward without knowing for sure it’s His way for me. Without knowing what the outcome will be. Even without “feeling” Him beside me. He nudged me to take a step of faith and jump into the Jordan’s unknowns, trusting He’s got me and will never abandon me.

“For we walk by faith,
not by sight.”
2 Corinthians 5:7
“Because of the Lord’s great love
we are not consumed,

 for His compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is Your faithfulness.”
Lamentations 3:22-23

Maybe you, too, feel you don’t have a way with words like some writers. Maybe you, too, don’t feel “good enough.” The truth is we don’t need to become more fluent writers to blog. All God asks is that we “jump into the Jordan” with all our inadequacies, trusting His power to part the rivers of our impossibilities with His Almighty strength. Trusting His grace is greater than our fears of not being enough. Trusting His faithful love will guide us and give us the words, whether few or many. Believing He can bless even the sharing of a Bible verse, a song, a nature photo, or an inspirational quote.

Whatever insecurities and impossibilities are overwhelming us right now and paralyzing us from moving forward, God is bigger. In His power, we can step forward into the unknown. The same God who can make a way through the rivers and seas He has created also has the power and the desire to help us jump into the Jordans of our lives and to trust Him to lead us and take care of all our needs.

“And looking at them Jesus said to them,
‘With people this is impossible,
but with God all things are possible.'”
Matthew 19:26

Faith
by Jordan Feliz

“There is no ocean that can’t be parted
There is no mountain that can’t be moved
I know there’s help for the heavy hearted
The weak will find their strength renewed

You just gotta have faith
Mmm, you just gotta have faith

It’s light for the shadows, for all your tomorrows
It’s knowing He’s there through the sun and the rain
It’s when you believe it, before you can see it
And you can walk on ’cause he’s making the way…”

Not Ignoring Either the Pain or the Beauty In Our Lives and In This World

Courtesy of Little Birdie Blessings

“Why? Why? Why?” The only word she would speak. On and on in a croaky voice.

This woman recently passed away at the care facility where my granddaughter works. Over-analyzer that I am, I wondered “why” she did this. Were there deep hurts in her heart that she could not voice?

It wouldn’t let me go, and I realized that deep down in my heart many whys are like heavy sludge, refusing to loosen. Why do so many vulnerable children and adults suffer from abuse and neglect? Why is there so much hate and injustice in this world? Why won’t God heal me from this chronic illness? Why does my heart sometimes refuse to see myself through Jesus’ love and grace? Why do I condemn myself when God doesn’t condemn me? Why can’t I let go and trust God completely with all that overwhelms me? Why? Why? Why?

I too easily get bogged down with the pain and ugliness in this world. How dare I be happy when so many people are suffering in this world? I can’t seem to let go of these concerns and place them into the hands of our God who has the whole world in His hands. And I forget to remember the beauty He still gives us.

I recently read an article about living in the tension of beauty and pain. Alia Joy‘s reflections resonate in my heart and speak to the anxieties that sometimes burden me. She challenges us to keep turning our eyes toward beauty.

“We keep turning our eyes toward beauty,
not to ignore the ugliness in the world,
but to have the strength to do something about it.

He has equipped me with everything I need.
He’s not calling me to ignore
his blessings or my pain,
he’s asking me to bear witness
to life as it is.
The pain and the beauty.

He’s calling me to peace in the tension,
not an escape nor another thing to do
but a place to abide in him
and be met with hope.”

Focusing too much on the pain and darkness can overwhelm us and drain our strength. Turning our eyes toward beauty, especially the love and hope to be found in Jesus, strengthens us. Our calling is to abide in Him and His love and to bear witness of life as it is, both the pain and the beauty.

During my break, I again revisited a 2012 post, Depression and New Beginnings. It helps to remember how God graciously sends beauty in the midst of pain to help us move towards the light of His love and grace and how He gave me the vision for a changed focus at this blog.

It’s good to remind ourselves of past mercies, isn’t it? To purposely look back at how God rescued us again and again. To remember that even when we can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, God is still loving us and working quietly to strengthen us to make it through the darkness.

Pain in your heart and life, in mine, and in this world is real, and God doesn’t want us to ignore it or hide it. May we be authentic with the pain and the ugliness but also bear witness to the beauty of His unfailing love and compassion.

Though I have returned, I need to give myself more grace. I hope to be here through the summer, but there will be times when I share something short or even skip a week or two. I look forward to hearing from many of you again. As always, readers, though I would love to connect with you, don’t ever feel pressured to comment. Whether or not you join in the comments, it is my prayer that Jesus wraps you in the safety of His love and grace. I hope you never leave here without His hope!

Steady My Heart
by Kari Jobe

“Even when it hurts
Even when it’s hard
Even when it all just falls apart
I will run to You
‘Cause I know that You are
Lover of my soul
Healer of my scars
You steady my heart…”