Hope Wins

Today is Wednesday.

I type that with the certainty of a person who thought it was Wednesday all day yesterday. I got up, edited and published my Wednesday devotional and then suddenly remembered it was Tuesday. I went to my Tuesday staff meeting (thank God for that brief moment of clarity!) and then went to pick up my dog from the vet in the afternoon. Then at 5:00 I told my husband that it was time for our Wednesday night family ZOOM call. But it was still Tuesday.

Lest you think I was having a day-long senior moment, (a reasonable guess) I need to explain my lack of focus. On Sunday morning as I was getting ready for church, my 13 -year-old Labrador Retriever collapsed. I called some friends to help me get her in the car. I was able to check her in to an Animal Hospital, and with the very kind and knowledgeable help of Dr. Grossman, she was diagnosed with Vestibular Disease, and we brought her home late Tuesday afternoon. She is wobbly but well.

Those three days were a nightmare for me. I got a harsh reminder of what grief and anxiety feel like. From Sunday morning until she wobbled through the door yesterday, I was in physical and emotional pain. My chest and stomach actually hurt, and I could not keep my mind from going to all of the worst situations. I could not sleep, nor could I eat. Driving up the driveway knowing she would not be running to greet me at the door rendered me paralyzed to the point that I could not get out of the car for fifteen minutes that first day.

Yesterday morning, on my Wednesday/your Tuesday, I woke up to a much too quiet house and proceeded to upload my Wednesday devotional. My mind was spinning, but luckily, I had written it last week. As I worked on it, a large robin red breast perched on the railing right outside my window and sang his beautiful song to me. I stopped and watched him, thanking God for this gift of rare beauty in the midst of my emotional tsunami fog.I felt my heart lift just a tiny bit and I allowed my mind to envision bringing Georgia home and things returning to normal.

In other words, I began to feel hope.

We finally got the call that she had recovered enough to be brought home and I began to feel the deep knot unknot itself. Hope was then affirmed by spotting another red-breasted robin sitting on a hedge outside the vet’s office. God had been with me all along and these two bird sightings were like a sweet tap on the shoulder as he reminded me that he had never left me in those long hours of uncertainty.

Hope is the antidote to grief. Hope stands in the boxing ring with anxiety with its gloved fists raised and yells, “Give me your best shot.” Hope wipes out the fear of the worst thing happening. In the end, hope wins. Even if the worst thing had happened and we lost Georgia, I was reminded that thanks to the hope we have in Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection, I could look forward to that day of seeing her again, whole and restored. And ornery. Always ornery.

When we first got Georgia as a thirteen-week-old puppy, a vet told us that large pure bred dogs like her had a life expectancy of 8 to 12 years. She is thirteen and I know we are living on bonus time. The last three days were just a dress rehearsal for her inevitable curtain call. But somehow, I know that when it happens, peace will come at some point as I anticipate the reality of being reunited again.

Isaiah wrote a lot about hope, and this Scripture describes how I felt … except instead of eagles, I got robins:

Isaiah 40:31 (New Revised Standard Version)

But those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
    they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
    they shall walk and not faint.

I don’t know what battles of hopelessness you are facing today, but I pray you will take this Scripture to heart. It is hard to wait when you don’t know the outcome, but Jesus reminded us that he is with us wherever we go, even to the land of hopelessness. So hang on! Your Redeemer comes.

Happier Days

Nothing is Too Hard

I love the headings that bible editors put in the beginning of each passage. They give us a clue about what is coming and provide a lovely one-sentence synopsis of the verses. I was delighted to open up the Common English Bible version of today’s passage and read the heading, “Nothing is too hard for the Lord.” Now I can’t wait to dive in!

Let’s go back to a time in Old Testament history when Babylon had invaded Jerusalem and the prophet Jeremiah was in jail. Israel had fallen into enemy hands and Judah was on the verge of being taken over as well. The people had been captured and taken to Babylon and the outlook was very bleak.

Hopeless, even.

Jeremiah 32 (Common English Bible)

32 Jeremiah received the Lord’s word in the tenth year of Judah’s King Zedekiah, which was the eighteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar’s rule. At that time, the army of the Babylonian king had surrounded Jerusalem, and the prophet Jeremiah was confined to the prison quarters in the palace of Judah’s king. Judah’s King Zedekiah had Jeremiah sent there after questioning him: “Why do you prophesy, ‘This is what the Lord says: I’m handing this city over to the king of Babylon, and he will occupy it.

In this midst of this mess, God spoke.

Jeremiah said, The Lord’s word came to me: Your cousin Hanamel, Shallum’s son, is on his way to see you; and when he arrives, he will tell you: “Buy my field in Anathoth, for by law you are next in line to purchase it.”And just as the Lord had said, my cousin Hanamel showed up at the prison quarters and told me, “Buy my field in Anathoth in the land of Benjamin, for you are next in line and have a family obligation to purchase it.” Then I was sure this was the Lord’s doing.

This is one of those “Wait … what??” moments. God told Jeremiah that Judah was falling into enemy hands and they are about to be deported, so he should go buy a field of land in Jerusalem. Jeremiah’s strong faith was evident in his response to this startling instruction … he knows that something this nonsensical has got to be the Lord’s doing.

Have you ever been in a situation that seemed hopeless … impossible even … and then all of a sudden something changed or moved or appeared that made it all work out? Has God ever given you an instruction that seemed crazy, but it turned out to be exactly the right way to go?

Jeremiah did as he was told.

So I bought the field in Anathoth from my cousin Hanamel, and weighed out for him seventeen shekels of silver. 10 I signed the deed, sealed it, had it witnessed, and weighed out the silver on the scales. 11 Then I took the deed of purchase—the sealed copy, with its terms and conditions, and the unsealed copy— 12 and gave it to Baruch, Neriah’s son and Mahseiah’s grandson, before my cousin Hanamel and the witnesses named in the deed, as well as before all the Judeans who were present in the prison quarters.13 I charged Baruch before all of them: 14 “The Lord of heavenly forces, the God of Israel, proclaims: Take these documents—this sealed deed of purchase along with the unsealed one—and put them into a clay container so they will last a long time. 

15 The Lord of heavenly forces, the God of Israel, proclaims: Houses, fields, and vineyards will again be bought in this land.”

And indeed, the diaspora eventually ended, and the Israelites returned home.

I think this is a good reminder to us that when the Lord speaks, we should listen and obey. And it also assures us that nothing is too hard for the Lord. So whatever heavy load you are carrying today, give it to him.

God is able.

God is Able by Michelle Robertson

Despair Prayers

Last week I spoke with a new widow in my congregation. Her husband of over 70 years passed away a month ago and it was her first time back in church. She described what many people experience with grief: she can’t stop crying, she is overwhelmed, she is depressed and lonely, and it took her a tremendous amount of effort just to come to church. I could feel the despair oozing out of her as she talked, and my heart was broken for her. I assured her that grieving like this is normal, and eventually she will learn new ways to live with her loss. I know this to be true, but the words sounded hollow and empty in the face of her suffering. She looked at me with trusting eyes and pulled herself together.

If I could invent a tonic for despair and bottle it up, I would give this woman cases of it. Her pain was etched into her face, her voice, and even the way she moved her hands as she spoke.

Pastoral care involves being with people in some of the worst moments of their lives. We visit in the hospitals, in hospice centers, in prisons, and in homes when someone’s life has just fallen apart, or a great loss has occurred. We sit in our offices as people come and describe the indescribable. When this happens, I think about the scriptures that assure us of Jesus’ promise of his presence, his salvation, his redemption, and the hope that he brings.

But sometimes I think about Job.

Job is a story of despair. Nobody in the Old Testament had it quite as bad as Job. Job lost his home, his hundreds of sheep and cows, his wife, all of his sons and daughters, and even his health. In the midst of all of his undeserved suffering, he prayed this prayer of despair:

Job 3 (Common English Bible)

3 Afterward, Job spoke up and cursed the day he was born.

Job said:
Perish the day I was born,
    the night someone said,
    “A boy has been conceived.”
That day—let it be darkness;
    may God above ignore it,
    and light not shine on it.
May deepest darkness claim it
    and a cloud linger over it;
    may all that darkens the day terrify it.
May gloom seize that night;
    may it not be counted in the days of a year;
    may it not appear in the months.
May that night be childless;
    may no happy singing come in it.
May those who curse the day curse it,
    those with enough skill to awaken Leviathan.
May its evening stars stay dark;
    may it wait in vain for light;
    may it not see dawn’s gleam,
10     because it didn’t close the doors of my mother’s womb,
    didn’t hide trouble from my eyes.

This is despair at a very deep level. To wish you had never been born is an indication of a profound loss of hope and debilitating depression. Have you ever felt that way?

11 Why didn’t I die at birth,
    come forth from the womb and die?
12 Why did knees receive me
    and breasts let me nurse?
13 For now I would be lying down quietly;
    I’d sleep; rest would be mine
14         with kings and earth’s advisors,
        who rebuild ruins for themselves,
15         or with princes who have gold,
        who fill their houses with silver.
16 Or why wasn’t I like a buried miscarried infant,
    like babies who never see light?
17 There the wicked rage no more;
    there the weak rest.
18 Prisoners are entirely at ease;
    they don’t hear a boss’s voice.
19 Both small and great are there;
    a servant is free from his masters.

Job’s despair goes from hopelessness to anguish. He longs for the blackness of death over the light of life:

20 Why is light given to the hard worker,
    life to those bitter of soul,
21     those waiting in vain for death,
        who search for it more than for treasure,
22     who rejoice excitedly,
        who are thrilled when they find a grave?
23 Why is light given to the person whose way is hidden,
    whom God has fenced in?

In this next section, we read words that many of us have felt in the darkest moments of our lives. We dreaded something and it came. Our groans become our daily bread, and our roars for rescue pour out like water. In the 26th verse, Job echoes what many people feel in moments of defeat. We have no ease. We have no quiet. We can find no rest.

24 My groans become my bread;
    my roars pour out like water.
25 Because I was afraid of something awful,
    and it arrived;
    what I dreaded came to me.
26 I had no ease, quiet, or rest,
    and trembling came.

And so, to the list of everything Job lost, we can add more things. Job lost his peace of mind and his ability to rest. But do you know what Job didn’t lose?

His faith.

At the end of his story, Job’s life was restored to him because he didn’t lose his faith. This brings us comfort in our misery, knowing that God’s presence is never gone from us in times of trouble. We can expect that in some measure, life will return after a siege. “New normals” replace old normals and God helps us pick ourselves up and get on with things. No, my new widow’s husband won’t ever come back to her. But in due time, she will indeed learn to live with her grief and find comfort in happy memories of their life together.

We do recover.

So, if you find yourself in a season of despair right now, remember Job. Don’t lose your faith, and don’t give up your hope. God is with you.


Reflections of a New Day by Michelle Robertson

Take the Beach Road

On the Outer Banks in North Carolina, there are two main roads for traveling north to south. Highway 12 (a small two-lane road known as the Beach Road) runs parallel to the ocean and is a picturesque route featuring rustic beach cottages, small mom-and-pop venues, beach access points, sea oats, and stunning ocean views. The Bypass (Highway 158) runs parallel to the beach road and features five lanes of rushing traffic, crowded strip malls, touristy establishments, too many traffic lights, grocery stores, and more chain drug stores than you would think a place with such a small permanent population would require.

The speed limit on the Beach Road is 35 and on the Bypass it is 50. (Unless it is a crowded Saturday in the summer, in which case the functional speed on both roads is 35 or under.) That is when locals turn to one another with a confidence born of experience and say, “Take the Beach Road.” Local wisdom figures that if 35 is the fastest you will be able to go anyway, you might as well enjoy the view.

Actually, there are many reasons to take the Beach Road. The charm, the salty ocean breeze, the views, and the sound of waves crashing on the shore all serve to calm the spirit and refresh the soul. And you won’t encounter people not knowing how to navigate the tricky middle turn lane as you would on the Bypass.

“Take the Beach Road” has become a metaphor for making life choices that slow down your pace, help you to breathe, focus your attention on the glory around you, and relax.

You remember how to relax, don’t you??

In Paul’s second letter to the church in Corinth, he addresses a choice that they are facing. Will they continue to live under the law of Moses, with its multiple red lights, its complicated turn lanes, and its lack of freedom, or will they choose the glory of the Beach Road that is freedom in Christ Jesus?

2 Corinthians 3 (Common English Bible)

12 So, since we have such a hope, we act with great confidence. 13 We aren’t like Moses, who used to put a veil over his face so that the Israelites couldn’t watch the end of what was fading away. 14 But their minds were closed. Right up to the present day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. The veil is not removed because it is taken away by Christ. 15 Even today, whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their hearts. 

The law of Moses can only take you so far. But when the veil of that law is removed, freedom of movement is available through the opening of the veil by Christ’s actions on the cross. Remember when the curtain in the Temple was torn in two pieces from top to bottom at Jesus’ death? Come on in.

You can be forgiven.

You can be redeemed.

You can move forward in hope and confidence.

16 But whenever someone turns back to the Lord, the veil is removed. 17 The Lord is the Spirit, and where the Lord’s Spirit is, there is freedom. 18 All of us are looking with unveiled faces at the glory of the Lord as if we were looking in a mirror. We are being transformed into that same image from one degree of glory to the next degree of glory. This comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

Through repentance and confession, we are invited to turn back to the Lord and experience the glory of forgiveness and redemption. And so we never need to be discouraged, because mercy is always just ahead at the next intersection.

4 This is why we don’t get discouraged, given that we received this ministry in the same way that we received God’s mercy. Instead, we reject secrecy and shameful actions. We don’t use deception, and we don’t tamper with God’s word. Instead, we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God by the public announcement of the truth.

Whatever road you are on right now, don’t get discouraged. Take a moment to breathe. You can find hope in the Spirit and have confidence that if you are staying in a lane that leads to Jesus, you are on the right road. And if life’s troubles and complications have you exhausted today, pause for a moment, breathe deeply, and take the Beach Road.

Just Breathe by Michelle Robertson

Reigning over Anger

Have you ever gotten really, really angry at God?

There are times in our lives when confusion, despair, disbelief, and tragedy can make us lie flat on our backs in a darkened room where we work hard just to breathe. The shell shock of abrupt loss can rend us speechless, mindless, and hopeless. A sudden death. A sudden divorce. A sudden business closure. A sudden betrayal. All that is left is anger.

I felt this way many years ago when a precious friend and co-worker died of cancer in her late 40’s. Her kindness and joy were a bright light in every situation, and when cancer did its ugly thing, I thought the warmth of her light had gone from the earth permanently and I was ANGRY at God.

A few months after her death, I went out to the beach in the middle of a terrible storm and stood on a sand dune for hours. The winds and the ocean raged around me as I raged at God. In the end, I came to realize one thing: God is mightier than the loudest thunder of my grief and mightier than the most destructive breakers in my sea of anger. He met me there with the warmth of his light and taught me how to go on and find a light of my own.

Psalm 93 (New International Version)

The Lord reigns, he is robed in majesty;
    the Lord is robed in majesty and armed with strength;
    indeed, the world is established, firm and secure.
Your throne was established long ago;
    you are from all eternity.

Realizing that God is from all eternity puts an exclamation mark where death and loss have tried to leave a question mark. There is nothing to fear when we accept that God’s throne was established long ago, way before our misery began. Even before the devastation came, the Lord on high, mighty and robed in majesty, was present. Without minimizing our agony, God still reigns in the reality of eternity. And so we can let go of our grief and grasp ahold of the hem of his robe, where healing and hope can be found.

The seas have lifted up, Lord,
    the seas have lifted up their voice;
    the seas have lifted up their pounding waves.
Mightier than the thunder of the great waters,
    mightier than the breakers of the sea—
    the Lord on high is mighty.

I don’t know what sorrows or griefs you are dealing with today, but know this: the Lord is greater than your struggle. He sent his only son to die so that you might have life, and have it abundantly. So while you wait to breathe again and for the light to return, look to the one who is mightier than the deepest sea. God longs to soothe you with his love.

Your statutes, Lord, stand firm;
    holiness adorns your house
    for endless days.

May he reign over your happiness for endless days and nights as you seek the warmth of his strength. His presence is firm and secure, and he will never leave you, no matter how angry you are.

The Seas Lift Up Their Voice by Michelle Robertson

It Depends on Faith

When you are at your darkest moment and you open your eyes in the morning and all you see is crushing despair, how strong is your faith?

Friends who are saddled with the unrelenting sadness of failed marriages, family members involved in criminal activity, terminal diagnoses, and watching a mother waste away in hospice are currently experiencing this right now. Maybe you are, too.

In the bleakest of our circumstances, Paul advises us to look to God’s promises to counter-balance the hopelessness that we feel. God’s promises are real. God’s promises are steadfast. God’s promises are eternal.

The promise made to Abraham in the form of a covenant of God’s abiding presence with his descendants is one of the most comforting promises we can rely on in times of trouble. God promises to always be WITH us, having claimed us for himself. This promise is not based on any law, but based solely on God’s faithfulness to his people.

Romans 4 (New Revised Standard Version)

13 For the promise that he would inherit the world did not come to Abraham or to his descendants through the law but through the righteousness of faith. 14 If it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void. 15 For the law brings wrath; but where there is no law, neither is there violation.

16 For this reason it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his descendants, not only to the adherents of the law but also to those who share the faith of Abraham (for he is the father of all of us, 17 as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”)—in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. 

The promise rests on grace. Hallelujah! It doesn’t rest on performance on our part, it doesn’t rest on the law, but solely on the grace of God. We understand grace to be the unmerited favor of our Lord. You can’t earn it, so you can’t lose it, thanks be to God. God’s grace is guaranteed.

18 Hoping against hope, he believed that he would become “the father of many nations,” according to what was said, “So numerous shall your descendants be.” 19 He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was already as good as dead (for he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. 

And so we must be like Abraham, and hope against hope. No matter how awful your circumstance is, grace can come in such a way that your head will spin. God often does the unexpected in answer to our fervent prayers and unwavering faith. Even old Abraham and geriatric Sarah conceived a child!

20 No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, 21 being fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. 22 Therefore his faith “was reckoned to him as righteousness.” 23 Now the words, “it was reckoned to him,” were written not for his sake alone, 24 but for ours also. It will be reckoned to us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, 25 who was handed over to death for our trespasses and was raised for our justification.

May we have the faith of Abraham as we encounter the terrible. May we have the righteousness of Sarah as we pray for the impossible. And may we be raised in Christ as the final proof of our hope that “with God, all things are possible.”

New Mercies I See by Michelle Robertson


I hold my breath this morning as Inauguration Day is finally upon us. The horrific images of January 6th are seared in my mind and I am fearful of violence in my nation’s capital. The uncertainty of all of this overwhelms me, and I almost long for those days in 2020 when the most pressing concern was the pandemic. Who would have thought that something more frightening than the pandemic would come along? But here we are.

In God’s incredible prevenient grace, the assigned scripture for today is a timely reminder that God is our refuge. While we wait in silence to see how this day unfolds, the psalmist reminds us that we should be waiting for God ALONE. Our hope comes from him. Alone.

Psalm 62 (New Revised Standard Version)

5 For God alone my soul waits in silence, for my hope is from him.

Are you feeling shaken by the events of January 6th? Remember this:

6 He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken.

7 On God rests my deliverance and my honor; my mighty rock, my refuge is in God.

8 Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us.

It is normal for our trust in all things to be shaken right now. Politicians, the government, law enforcement, our future together…nothing seems certain. But we are reminded to trust in God AT ALL TIMES, not just on the easy days. Were there actually any easy days? I can’t remember.

9 Those of low estate are but a breath, those of high estate are a delusion; in the balances they go up; they are together lighter than a breath.

Verse 9 levels the playing field. Those of low estate and those of high estate don’t amount to much. There is no point in putting our trust in any one human, institution, or nation. God ALONE is our hope.

10 Put no confidence in extortion, and set no vain hopes on robbery; if riches increase, do not set your heart on them.

11 Once God has spoken; twice have I heard this: that power belongs to God,

12 and steadfast love belongs to you, O Lord. For you repay to all according to their work.

No matter what happens today, tomorrow, or until Jesus returns, know this: God ALONE has the power. God ALONE offers his steadfast love. God is in control.


God Alone by Susie Fitch-Slater

Open the Eyes of Our Hearts

Open the eyes of my heart, Lord
Open the eyes of my heart!
I want to see you.
I want to see you.

I can’t recall the first time I sang that contemporary praise song, but I will always remember the clarity that it brought to me as I sang it. Praise songs are often criticized for being simple and repetitive, but others would say that is exactly the point. Repeating a phrase in music is a way to ensure that the meaning takes hold in your mind and in your heart. Repetition is a technique that helps a concept to be easily remembered. Do you remember singing the ABC song? I rest my case.

In this simple chorus, we ask the Holy Spirit to come and open “the eyes of our hearts” in order to see, know, and experience God more fully and more completely. The juxtaposition of heart and eyes is clever in the way that it encourages us to make a visual connection between being open to God’s presence and thus seeing him in his complexity. I think the challenge is to see God in the world around us….in the circumstances, places, and the people in our purview.

Where do you see God today? Where is he active in your daily routine?

It’s interesting to remember that this is exactly what Paul prayed for his beloved church in Ephesus. He longed for them to see God with the eyes of their hearts, too.

Ephesians 1 (Common English Bible)

15 Since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, this is the reason that 16 I don’t stop giving thanks to God for you when I remember you in my prayers. 17 I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, will give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation that makes God known to you. 

18 I pray that the eyes of your heart will have enough light to see what is the hope of God’s call, what is the richness of God’s glorious inheritance among believers, 19 and what is the overwhelming greatness of God’s power that is working among us believers. This power is conferred by the energy of God’s powerful strength. 

Note that when he lists the things we will see in our hearts, hope is the first thing mentioned. The hope of God’s call, his glorious inheritance, the greatness of his power, and the power of his strength are things that we see when we open the eyes of our hearts.

What do you need to see today? Have your circumstances clouded your vision? Has abuse, depression, addiction, despair, or hopelessness blinded you to God’s activity in your midst?

It happens. Those are the times when we need to blink away distractions and focus on what happened when Christ died on the cross.

20 God’s power was at work in Christ when God raised him from the dead and sat him at God’s right side in the heavens, 21 far above every ruler and authority and power and angelic power, any power that might be named not only now but in the future.

Christ is far above anything that distresses us today. He is stronger than any stronghold, deeper than any well of sorrow, higher than any artificial high, mightier than any words of condemnation, and more powerful than the evil one who would love to keep his hands firmly pressed against your eyes in order to blind you to the reality of God’s mercy and grace.

Open the eyes of your heart, and you will see God. He is in every circumstance…just keep looking.

Open the Eyes of My Heart by Brand Honeycutt


Have you ever longed to be vindicated after an unprovoked attack? Having someone come alongside of you and take up your cause can be life-giving. In contrast, standing alone against oppression can absolutely flatten your soul. To hear someone articulate your defense is what everyone desires in such moments. If you have ever defended a friend against an attacker, you are a blessing. Friends don’t let friends stand alone.

Our Psalmist today is in that exact spot. He is alone in his situation and looks to God for vindication. What better friend could we have than the Lord to stand with us?

Psalm 43 (New Revised Standard Version)

Vindicate me, O God, and defend my cause
    against an ungodly people;
from those who are deceitful and unjust
    deliver me!
For you are the God in whom I take refuge;
    why have you cast me off?
Why must I walk about mournfully
    because of the oppression of the enemy?

In God’s timing, the vindication is not immediately given. We don’t know why. Perhaps the Psalmist needed to learn how to defend himself. Perhaps God was teaching him something. Certainly patience and trust in the waiting times are things we learn when we cry out to God and have to wait for an answer.

That is exactly where our Psalmist lands. He knows what to do, where to go, and who will deliver him as he waits and asks for help.

O send out your light and your truth;
    let them lead me;
let them bring me to your holy hill
    and to your dwelling.
Then I will go to the altar of God,
    to God my exceeding joy;
and I will praise you with the harp,
    O God, my God.

This statement of loving trust is beautiful. He calls out for God to send light and truth. He asks to be led up the holy hill where he will worship at God’s altar with exceeding joy. Already he is anticipating that vindication is coming.

Why are you cast down, O my soul,
    and why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
    my help and my God.

He remembers God’s help and reassures himself that he doesn’t need to be cast down. Hope returns, and he is comforted.

Do you know what to do, where to go, and who to wait for when you are feeling beat down? Do you trust God to hear when you cry out for deliverance? Do you anticipate his coming, even in the waiting?

God is your refuge and strength. Keep seeking his light and his truth. When the time is right, he will defend your cause and deliver you from deceit and unjust treatment. So go to the altar and wait. Praise God with joy and wait. Lift up your head and wait.

Hope in God! He is your help and salvation, and he’s on his way.

Hope Dawns by Paul J. Clifford

Mood Rings

Readers of a certain age might be interested to know that mood rings are BACK. I recently visited my hip young niece, and was surprised to see one on her hand. Some of us can remember this amazing fad from our own youth.

For the uninformed, a mood ring is a ring made with thermochromatic liquid crystals that change color with changes in temperature of the ring finger. These colors are thought to be a reflection of the wearer’s emotions. For example, a blue ring indicates that the wearer is calm and relaxed. Yellow signals nervousness and unhappiness, while black….well, run fast if your friend’s ring goes black. Black reveals someone who is tense, nervous, overworked, harassed, and stressed. I once had a boss who wore a mood ring. It was very helpful to us peons. The word would spread through the restaurant that the “RING IS BLACK” and we would all scurry into the corners until he went back into his office. That ring probably saved our lives.

Everyone has a bad day. Everyone wakes up in the occasional bad mood. But whether we choose to stay there or not….THAT is the question.

Lamentations 3

19-21 I’ll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness,
    the taste of ashes, the poison I’ve swallowed.
I remember it all—oh, how well I remember—
    the feeling of hitting the bottom.
But there’s one other thing I remember,
    and remembering, I keep a grip on hope:

22-24 God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out,
    his merciful love couldn’t have dried up.
They’re created new every morning.
    How great your faithfulness!
I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over).
    He’s all I’ve got left.

Sometimes the only way out of a bad mood is to simply acknowledge it, and then REMEMBER. Remember that God’s loyal love never runs out. Remember that his merciful love can never dry up. Remember that he is our hope and our faithful savior. Remember.

25-27 God proves to be good to the man who passionately waits,
    to the woman who diligently seeks.
It’s a good thing to quietly hope,
    quietly hope for help from God.
It’s a good thing when you’re young
    to stick it out through the hard times.

The niece with the mood ring is going through a very hard time right now. This scripture speaks right into her situation…it is a good thing when you are young to stick it out through the hard times. I venture to say that it is also a good thing when you’re OLD to stick it out through the hard times.

28-30 When life is heavy and hard to take,
    go off by yourself. Enter the silence.
Bow in prayer. Don’t ask questions:
    Wait for hope to appear.
Don’t run from trouble. Take it full-face.
    The “worst” is never the worst.

Did you hear that? The “worst” is never the worst. Hang in there, black mood-ring-wearers. Blue is coming soon. Remember where your hope comes from. Things may be dark for a night, but hope comes in the morning. Don’t ask questions: just wait for hope to appear.

HopeRise by Michelle Robertson