Hope Is Never Cancelled

Each of us have been affected one way or another this year by Covid. Things we took for granted have crumbled around us. Cancellations abound. And so many losses in various ways – physically, mentally, emotionally.

There are people already suffering from life’s trials, and Covid repercussions make them all the heavier. We live in a condo with 14 individual units connected by a hallway. One of our neighbors only recently found out she had leukemia and she soon passed away, leaving behind a grieving widower and children and grandchildren. Her body had to be cremated, and the funeral is postponed until April or whenever it is more safe to meet together. They are not the only ones who have had to put memorial services on hold this year.

A mental and emotional toll is draining people of the joy of life. Elderly people who are socially isolated are dying from loneliness. Other people are dying from Covid complications without loved ones beside them. Frontline healthcare workers are over-worked and over-stressed. Addictions and domestic abuse are escalating. Unemployment and homelessness are also increasing. I can’t even begin to list the rippling effects of Covid in households, nursing homes, hospitals, and our world. It’s so sad, isn’t it?

Behind the masks, we can see the defeated looks in the eyes of so many. Is it any wonder why so many don’t feel very celebratory this Christmas season?

But there is a reason to still celebrate! Out of His infinite, unconditional, compassionate love for us, God came down to earth to be born in our human flesh and laid in an animal feed box in a stinking stable. Homeless and helpless. Because of Jesus, hope was born, and that hope is and never will be cancelled.

Because of Jesus, joy and peace can dwell in our hearts. We don’t have to feel guilty to allow joy into our hearts when so many are suffering. Joy can coexist with sadness. Joy is not always dancing and shouting Hallelujahs. Sometimes joy is a quiet confidence and trust that God’s got us, no matter what.

Immanuel – God with us. God will never, ever abandon us, no matter how difficult the journey of our lives. No matter how much it feels like He’s forgotten us, He never will. No matter how much hate and evil is in this world, He has and will bring peace on earth. No matter how hopeless our lives feel, His heart of love and compassion delights to fill us with His eternal hope.

“Do you not know? Have you not heard? Yahweh is the everlasting God, the Creator of the whole earth. He never grows faint or weary; there is no limit to His understanding. He gives strength to the weary and strengthens the powerless.” Isaiah 40:28-29

“Let Your unfailing love surround us, Lord, for our hope is in You alone.” Psalm 33:22

“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.” Romans 15:13

“Is there room in your heart
Is there room in your heart
Is there room in your heart
For God to write His story
You can come as you are
But it may set you apart
When you make room in your heart
And trade your dreams for His glory…”

Resurrection Hope, Peace, and Joy

“Then, following him, Simon Peter came also.
He entered the tomb and saw the linen cloths lying there.
The wrapping that had been on His head
was not lying with the linen cloths
but was folded up in a separate place by itself.”
John 20:6-7

“They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put Him.” Peter and John hear the weeping words of Mary Magdalene, and they rush to the tomb. Arriving first, John bends over and peers in. When Peter appears, he immediately enters the tomb, followed by John. Strips of linen, possibly still caked with scabs and spices, lie there. But where is the body of Jesus? And what’s this? The cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head is laid by itself. Not merely tossed aside, but neatly folded up.

John and Peter must have known the custom of some carpenters in first century Palestine. A carpenter carried a sweat cloth to wipe his face as he worked. To show a job was completed, an illiterate carpenter folded up the cloth and left it on or near his work, indicating to the one who hired him, “My work is finished.”

After Jesus said “It is finished” and gave up His spirit, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus lovingly took down Jesus’ disfigured body from the cross, a body that was “marred beyond human likeness.” (Isaiah 52:14) They gave Jesus a decent burial, washing his body and wrapping it in strips of linen with 75 pounds of spices, an amount used in royal burials. As was the Jewish custom, they wrapped his face with a cloth and laid Him in a new tomb.

Yet now here is an empty tomb except for grave-clothes and a neatly folded cloth. A robber would never have left order behind. If someone had stolen Jesus’ body, the grave-clothes would most likely be gone with it.

“The cloth was folded up by itself, separate from the linen.” Why? Commentator Matthew Henry believed Jesus is sending us a message: “No one stole Me away. On the contrary, I rose up alone. I walked out alone. I alone did this, for I alone could do it. I am Almighty God.”

As John and Peter gazed at the folded cloth, did Jesus’ words about the work He must do flood back into their souls? Did they remember how Jesus promised that after three days He would rise again?

According to John 20:19, we know they were afraid. The disciples had locked the doors because of their fear of the Jewish leaders. But then Jesus Himself in the flesh suddenly stood among them and breathed “Peace be with you!” Peace that bursts their hearts with joy!

Jesus has finished what He came to do – to die in our place to redeem us from sin and death, and He has risen again just as He promised. We don’t need to look for him among the dead. He is risen!

Are we still mourning the death of Jesus, or are we opening the eyes of our hearts to what Jesus has finished for us and to the hope and joy of His glorious resurrection?

“My Redeemer Lives”
by Nicole C. Mullen

P.S. This is an edited version of a post from 5 years ago, before many of you were reading this blog. I hope it will strengthen your heart to know our Redeemer lives. Because He lives, we can face tomorrow and whatever troubles come our way!

We are traveling to a family event this week to attend a special ceremony and to celebrate our son’s retirement from the Air Force after 20 years in the military. I hope to post again on April 3. 🙂

“Now may the Lord of peace Himself
give you peace at all times and in every way.
The Lord be with all of you.”
2 Thessalonians 3:16

Soul Longings to Know Jesus More

“My goal is to know Him
and the power of His resurrection
and the fellowship of His sufferings,
being conformed to His death.”
Philippians 3:10 HCSB

Lord Jesus Christ,
I Want to Know You

I want to really, truly know You. Deeply, personally, intimately. In the depths of my soul. To believe in You, not just about You. I want Your desires and Your passions to become mine. I want to “know” You so well that I will live and breathe You with every step I take in this life.

I Want to Know the Power of Your Resurrection

I want to not only believe You rose from the dead, but that it was personally for me. That You left my sins buried there in the grave, and now I am truly free. I don’t want to live weighed down with a heavy burden of my own sins and the sins against me. I want to be freed from the chains of shame. I want to inwardly experience that same power that rose You from the dead, to be saturated in and fired up with Your resurrection power in me that I will live for You with all my heart, soul, strength, and mind. That I will live in and through You and Your power with every fiber of my being. That I will fly freely for You.

I Want to Know the Fellowship of Your Sufferings

I want to grasp more deeply how much You suffered for me. How You suffered such excruciating pain out of Your deep love for me. But Lord, sometimes it’s so hard to ask to know more of the fellowship of Your sufferings, because I know that means I, too, must learn what it is to suffer. But You have said that if I want to share in Your glory, I must also share in Your suffering. And Lord, I know You have taught me more about You and the bottomless depths of Your love through sufferings. It is through sufferings that I learn to be more like You. It is through sufferings that I experience more of the power of Your resurrection. But oh, Lord, no matter what kind of sufferings I go through in this life, it will never, ever be even a speck of what You have suffered for me. What body, mind, and soul anguish You endured! Thank You, Jesus, for Your unconditional, fathomless, faithful love!

I Want to Become More Like You in Your Death

I want to continually be conformed to Your likeness. In the inward depths of my soul. I want to die to myself and live for You. I want my selfish desires to fall away. I want You to increase and me to decrease. I want to be so planted into the likeness of Your death that I will willingly take up my cross and follow You, no matter what the cost. I want to be ready to suffer for Your sake. Please, Lord, make me strong in You and for You.

“Jesus Is Alive”
by Fellowship Creative

“Captured By Your Love
That You Would Give Your Life
Oh I Stand Amazed that
Jesus Is Alive”