Hi, friend. How’s your soul? Does it feel heavy? I know mine does.
I am so deeply burdened for my city and nation right now.
Does it all feel like too much to you, too?
I have spent so much time looking around at what’s happening, assaulted on all sides from the groaning of our broken world. Constantly looking left, right, left again.
Pandemic, loss, death.
Racial division, protests, riots.
A news ticker streams relentlessly in my mind, regurgitating bits and pieces of headlines, distracting me throughout my day (and night…anyone else?) So much time spent looking around that I realize I’ve almost entirely forgotten how to look UP.
In the midst of this dark time, we are desperately searching for hope at ground-level, feeling around for it blindly and coming up completely empty-handed. But this should not surprise us. Why? It’s simple. Real hope isn’t found here. It doesn’t originate here.
Hope is a heavenly entity.
Listen closely: This is not some weak Christian platitude. No, this hope I’m talking about is living Hope. It’s real and it’s powerful. That’s because Hope is a Person. Jesus.
Earthly hope is crossed fingers at best, but heavenly Hope is guaranteed to not let you down.
So if you find yourself on your hands and knees, fumbling around in the dark, feeling for answers and remaining continually discouraged, I’d tell you you’re actually closer to hope than you might think. Stay on your knees – keep that posture – but lift your chin and direct your gaze heavenward.
It’s time to quit searching horizontally for what can only be found vertically.
Here is some balm for your soul. Read these next paragraphs with purpose (maybe slowly or aloud or multiple times) so they don’t just pass through your lips but they also infiltrate your heart.
I lift my eyes to the hills. Where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth (Psalm 121:1-2). Come to me all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Take up my yoke and learn from me, because I am lowly and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light (Matthew 11:28-30).
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us (Romans 5:1-5)
According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor (1 Peter 1:3-7)*emphasis mine
Because “he turns his ear to listen, I will call on him as long as I live” (Psalm 116:2). Kneel in humble prayer and agree with the Spirit. Don’t know what to pray? Ask him to direct your paths and use you as a vessel of Light. Clenched, anxious fists? Open them in surrender. Open the pages of your Bible and seek him. Find the scriptures written above, highlight them, ask God to help you believe them. When we look to him, (can you believe we even get to look to him?), he will not look away.
When we remove our gaze from this world and place it on Jesus, and an exchange takes place.
Sorrow for joy.
Mourning to dancing.
Trials to triumph.
Darkness for light.
Burdens for relief.
Chaos for calm.
When your burden is being carried by Jesus instead of you, you’re freed up to move toward taking back ground for the kingdom of God.
Can you see it now? The more we behold him, the more we are made into His likeness, and the more his Light permeates the heavy darkness we find ourselves in. And the best part? His Light, his glory, is transformative. Meaning, it has the power to bring about actual change in people.
He transforms. He restores. He makes all things right and beautiful again.
He is able. And in turn, he enables us.
So, like the song says, look up, child. Lock eyes with the Savior. Let your life be a holy broadcast of Living Hope. Our world needs it.
Dear Shanna: Your post resonated with something I share last night. It’s amazing how God knits things together. Take a look when you get a moment. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iN7TqAKzy7Q&t=8s
I enjoyed all that you said in your post. I particularly liked the way you closed the message. Lock your eyes with Jesus.Wow. I found myself reveling in that thought so much. Thank you. Thank you very much for saying that Shanna. You don’t know how much it mattered.