“Hope is the thing with feathers…”

(Romans 1:17, CEV) The good news tells how God accepts everyone who has faith, but only those who have faith. It is just as the Scriptures say, “The people God accepts because of their faith will live.”

A general definition of the word faith is, “complete trust or confidence in someone or something.”  Faith is not simply believing — it is a complete, active, ongoing involvement with God.  When we have faith in Him, we are choosing to stay connected to what we know to be true, rather than simply going on what we feel in the moment, and taking ourselves beyond what we can see (which, honestly, isn’t always a whole lot).  Faith requires something from us, and given our selfish natures, we aren’t always willing to comply. 

There have been countless times in my life when my faith has been tested.  A natural worrier, and somewhat of a skeptic, I have found myself confronted with genuine hurts and distrust in God’s process.  I have never once doubted His existence, because I’ve felt His presence too often to ever deny that He is real, but I have had my days where I struggled to hope in Him.  Looking back on those moments in my life when I was not fully trusting God, I don’t think I realized that my loss of hope was indeed a lack of faith.  But…that’s what it was.  Hebrews 11:1 tells us, “Faith makes us sure of what we hope for and gives us proof of what we cannot see.” 

When I was pregnant with my son, Ben, before I ever even knew that I was having a son, I held a secret hope within my heart — I wanted a red-haired, blue-eyed, boy.  I don’t know why.  It just came to me one day, clearly, that this was what I hoped for in my child.  So, it was no surprise to me when we found out that it was a boy, and even less of a surprise when the labor and delivery nurse said to us, “I see red hair!”  I guess I just always knew, and part of that knowing was trusting God’s strange, yet fascinating ways, and having an understanding of His love for me.  I didn’t know then that I would have only one child.  I didn’t know then, of the deep heartache that would be soothed by this simple fact — that God loved me enough to give to me so precious a gift…my made-to-order, one and only, boy.  This seemingly small thing has carried me through to the other side of many heartaches, much depression, and a whole lot of loneliness — all of which come with the letdown that is infertility and pregnancy loss.  This one thing taught me to trust the process…no matter how difficult it gets.

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –

That perches in the soul –

And sings the tune without the words –

And never stops – at all –

-Emily Dickinson

Hope truly is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul.  It lingers, like a mother bird on her eggs, never giving up — through rain and wind — fighting off predators…her wings a protection and covering over what she cherishes more than anything else.  Our dreams, our plans, our desires…they must all be sheltered under the covering of our hope, which only comes from Christ…and that hope is born from our faith in God.

Faith is no simple feat.  It is linked directly to our abilities to love God when we are hurt with Him, and to hope in Him when we can’t see the reasons or the outcome.  It is reaching out in the darkness, fully trusting that His hand is there to hold.  It is found in the remembrance of the victories and glories of the past, and knowing that through every single bit of it God hasn’t changed.  It is in these things that our faith is found, strengthened, and renewed. 

(Romans 10:17)  So faith comes from hearing, that is, hearing the Good News about Christ.

So you see, it all comes back to Christ — to the Good News that God so loved…SOOOOO loved…the world!  What more could He give?  What more could we ever ask?  And all that He asks in return is that we have complete confidence in Him.  And the reward?  We are welcomed and accepted into God’s favor as His beloved.  From grace to grace, and glory to glory, we have eternal hope.  Because we have chosen to have faith, we walk through every part of our lives as His own — with hope as our trustworthy anchor, holding us fast to the truth of God’s word and the Good News of Christ. 

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, when my faith is shaken and tested, help me to remember that I can trust You.  When my heart is broken, help me to remember that I can trust You.  When I don’t understand, help me to remember that I can trust You.  And I will praise You through it all.  And I will love You through it all.  Because I choose faith.  Amen.

Silenced By Fear

(Mark 16:1-8 ESV) 1 When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. 2 And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. 3 And they were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” 4 And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back—it was very large. 5 And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed. 6 And he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. 7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.” 8 And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.

I like to get up early. There’s nothing quite so beautiful as a sunrise on a clear morning. Frequently, I’m outside walking the dog as the sun peaks over the horizon. The birds are singing; the quietness of the morning is soothing and peaceful. It’s one of my favorite times of the day.

I also love morning because it’s a time to reflect. I don’t like to jump up out of the bed and feel rushed; the anxiety of the morning rush puts me in a bad mood for the remainder of the day. Just give me my coffee, the sunrise, some quietness, the friendship of my dog, and I’m good to go!

I’ve often wondered about the happenings at the tomb on resurrection morning. The picture painted in Mark 16 is one of stark contrasts. The women walked together to perform the task of anointing the body of Jesus. Just after sunrise, they begin to ask about who might be available to help roll the stone away so they could access the body for the ritual anointing. And then, when the sun had risen…

The conversation with the angel was enlightening. No, it was more than that. It was transformational. In that short conversation they learned of the fulfillment of centuries of prophecy. They recalled the words of Jesus. After all, He had been telling them to expect this. He was not dead; rather, He was alive. And the angel ended his instruction by reminding them, “…just as He told you.”

But, what happened next was unexpected. “They went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.” I’m not being critical. I may have reacted in the same manner. But, it still strikes me as an unusual response to the greatest news they could have received. He WAS alive! He had risen just as He said. Could there be better news? I think not! But, instead of telling everyone–instead of running, and screaming, and shouting–they said nothing… to anyone. Why? Because of fear.

As I read this account today, I was reminded of the many times that I have allowed fear to prevent me from experiencing the fullness of God’s blessings. I’ve missed opportunities to talk to individuals about Christ because of fear. Fear is a great silencer. It is the killjoy of the party. It stifles instead of liberating the soul.

Today is a new day. God has provided each of us with a new supply of mercy. We have much to be grateful for. His blessings are abundant. I want to encourage you to celebrate life today. Don’t let fear hold you back. Enjoy the sunrise. Enjoy the Lord!

PRAYER: Realizing that this is the day You have made, I will choose to rejoice and be glad in it. Help me to put fear aside and live life to the full knowing that You are with me. Let me boldly declare the Good News of Your resurrection! Amen.

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