PANDEMIC: HOPE OR FEAR

We all are aware that a deadly virus is spreading fear across our planet. What can we do? How shall we cope? Where can we find hope?

Many people offer ways to cope with fear, and some try to offer hope even in the midst of a pandemic. (I do not have all the answers, but I know Who does.)

That which we face right now is beyond our control, but we can choose how we react to our new world condition. So then… how do we react to the overwhelming uncertainty that is our current reality?

First each one of us needs to know without a doubt that we are God’s child. We can choose to exercise His gift of faith, and if we have prayed sincerely to accept Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, we can know.

When we know Him, then we can experience hope in whatever we face in life. We turn from going our own way to going His way. We learn His way by reading His Word and spending time with Him in prayer.

We need to refuse to dwell on fear and negativity. We can choose to focus on God’s Word instead. When we feel fear creeping into our minds, we can feed on Scriptures that share His hope and His promises.

We can pray for His peace and comfort in our current circumstance — whatever it is. We can choose to intentionally experience His presence knowing that He will never leave us nor forsake us according to His Word. In fact, God’s Holy Spirit is here to comfort us.  Knowing this brings hope to any circumstance.

We can acknowledge that God is in control of our lives, and nothing takes Him by surprise. We can remember that He cares for us. He loves us so much that He provided our salvation — a sacrifice not given lightly to then leave us abandoned to the ways of a world spinning out of control or to an evil randomly having its own way. We can trust God to finish what He started in the world and in our individual lives. Again, knowing this brings hope to our lives.

May we acknowledge and accept God’s providential will when we recognize it. May we pray for discernment, so we will be aware of His purposes. When we understand His will we can experience His hope.

May we study His Book — the Holy Bible — so we can trust the ending of His story. If we do this then we can look forward without fear. May we believe that His way is best and that our future includes a glorious eternity in His presence with a home Jesus Christ has prepared just for us. When we trust Him for the world to come, we can trust Him in this one. That is real hope.

Also we can care for those around us. We can share the hope that we have in Christ with others, who may be struggling with fear. If we personally know His love, then we will have enough hope to share.

We will contemplate God’s love and care whenever we feel fear overpower our faith. We will practice prayer, choose faith, meditate on the Scriptures, and intentionally respond in hope not in fear.

I do not pretend to know the details of our future lives, but I believe the Bible that says all things will be for our good and His glory. Beyond this I will leave the details to Him. Although that is sometimes easier said than done, I believe He is worthy of our faith and trust.

He alone is God. In Him alone our hope is found. Since He is still on His throne, I can sleep at night knowing that He has got this pandemic.

 

“These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.”  (1 John 5:13)

“The LORD is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The LORD is the defense of my life; Whom shall I dread?”  (Psalm 27:1)

“But He [Jesus] answered and said, ‘It is written, ‘MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE, BUT ON EVERY WORD THAT PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD.'”  (Matthew 4:4)

“I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper that He may be with you forever.”  (John 14:16)

“For I am confident of this very thing that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”  (Philippians 1:6)

“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”  (Romans 8:28)

“I will lift up my eyes to the mountains from where shall my help come? My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to slip; He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The LORD is your keeper; The LORD is your shade on your right hand. The sun will not smite you by day nor the moon by night. The LORD will protect you from all evil; He will keep your soul. The LORD will guard your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forever.”  (Psalm 121:1-8)

DAUGHTER’S BIRTHDAY: HOPE AND PRAY

  • January 31, 1985, was unforgettable for me. A precious bundle of beautiful baby was delivered via C-section where a record winter snow had just covered the world outside.

She weighed “about 9 pounds,” according to an experienced doctor, who proved accurate (exactly nine pounds) according to the scales. A length of twenty-two and a half inches meant she was half an inch longer than her older brother had been four and a half years earlier.

She really was a beautiful baby, and every possible moment was spent just holding her and being awed by such a miraculous gift. Sincere promises were made to love her and to do my best to take care of her and to be there for her… always. From my heart came prayers for her physical, mental, and spiritual growth, and with hope for her future.

Today I wonder how 35 years have gone by so quickly. If I am alive another 35 years then I’ll be 100! It seems strange to ponder these thoughts of time passing and of aging, but… “c‘est la vie” (“that’s life”).

These past 35 years have been full of continuing love, joy, prayers, and special memories. I’m still thankful for the awesome gift she is and appreciative of her tender heart and gentle spirit. She’s still my “little dear” even though she now stands about four inches taller than I do (there’s a funny story about where she gets her “tall genes”).

We laugh when her actions sometimes show she is “a chip off the block.” We’ve (partially) merged my realism-leaning art appreciation with her abstract-leaning artistic talents. Together we share a meaningful special song…. She constantly broadens my horizons in many ways, and best of all she has caused my heart to grow exponentially in ways she cannot imagine.

I pray the best for her, which means God’s best. He’ll do His part; she must do hers. May she… “Trust in the Lord with all” her “heart, and…” “not lean on” her “own understanding. In all… ways acknowledge Him, and He will make” her “paths straight.”

I still pray for her, and as long as I have breath and consciousness I will still hope for her future.

Happy birthday, Little Dear!

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3: 5,6)

Your adornment must not be merely external—braiding the hair and wearing gold jewelry or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.” (1 Peter 3: 3, 4)

BIRTHDAY BLESSING: HOPE FOR BELLA’S FUTURE

Ciao, Bella!!!

Happy birthday with love to my precious granddaughter! How perfect that Bella in Italian means “beautiful.” I totally agree that you are — even if we’re not Italian!

Remember that it’s more important to be beautiful on the inside than on the outside. It’s better to be kind and good and loving than just to look pretty. Follow God everyday to become truly beautiful in your heart!

Remember that it’s more important to be wise than just smart. It’s better to be wise enough to make right choices and think good thoughts than to be smart enough to be a clever fool. Learn God’s ways to grow in His wisdom to live right!

God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life. He will be with you ALWAYS! Remember one of our favorite verses: “I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me!” (Phillipians 4:13)

I remember your birth brought hope for your future, prayers, and excitement! The first time I met you as a beautiful bundle of baby I unleashed a load of love and released tears of joy. It was a moment I will always cherish and never forget.

You, granddaughter, are a gift from heaven, and I am blessed beyond measure to be your grandparent! To your parents: THANK YOU for your part in the Beautiful Bella miracle!

To God, the Creator of Life: Thank You for this amazing gift of a granddaughter! May her life be filled with Faith, Hope, and Love. May she walk Your Way, believe Your Truth, and live Life according to Your plan. Thank You for her time now on earth, and thank You even more for her eternal life to come in heaven that will never end, because her name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. In Jesus’ name, Amen!

“Behold, children are a gift of the Lord.” Psalm 127:3

COLLEGE of OZARKS GRAD: HOPE and a FUTURE

Here’s a true story of hope that begins with a newborn girl found abandoned in a trashcan in China. With this nearly hopeless beginning would she have a future?

The infant was found by a family who provided care for five years until she was passed on to a different family. In their “care” for the next six years she took care of herself mostly on the streets of China. Had she gone from little hope to no hope? Surely there was no future for her!

Then at age 11 she was placed in an orphanage. How much hope could be in this situation now? What about her future?

Just prior to turning 14 she was adopted and brought to America, which seemed like heaven to her. Her life’s vastly different situation brought changes where hope could be found and dreams of a positive future finally could be realized.

Speaking no English and barely literate, she was now homeschooled by her “forever” family who provided not just an education but love and care. She earned an Associate’s degree at a community college, dreamed of a Christian education, and applied for College of the Ozarks, where she was placed on a waiting list.

Although it didn’t appear hopeful that she would be accepted right away, she was. It wasn’t easy, but she faced the struggles, which already had been so much a part of her life.

“While at College of the Ozarks there were a couple of times I felt like giving up, but  I gained a lot of perseverance…. I learned to ask for help even when I didn’t want others to see me struggling,” she expressed and acknowledged the support and prayers of others that helped her succeed.

She studied. She learned. She worked. She became stronger. She experienced growing hope and enjoyed planning for her future.

She graduated from College of the Ozarks with honors in May 2018. It was a worthy accomplishment but even more importantly, she had learned to trust God who spoke these words found in Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord… plans to give you hope and a future.”

Congratulations, Katelynn Corkern!

(Did you know that C of O students participate in a Work Education Program to pay for their education and an opportunity to graduate with a 4-year degree without student debt? For more info about College of the Ozarks — called “Hard Work U” by Wall Street Journal — go to www.cofo.edu.)

PRAYER: NEW HEART… NEW HOPE… NEW FUTURE

Dear Lord, You know I’ve prayed for her… for her grandparents… for her mother… for her children… for her to have a future and a hope. I realize You love her and patiently waited for her. You created her, knew her so well… knew even the number of hairs on her head. You saw her pain… and the pain of those who love her.

You understood her need for Your redemption… for Your power to change her direction… for Your joy in her life… for Your wisdom to trust You… for Your peace that passes all understanding… for Your faithfulness… even when she felt hopeless.

The dark night was real, but Your Word says joy comes in the morning! Tuesday morning brought that joy when she called her grandmother from rehab. It was the call long awaited. She at last had reached the end of herself… and the beginning of new life in Christ!

May she choose to be filled daily with Your Spirit… to find strength in Your joy… to walk in Your Way, Truth, and Life. May she experience Your hope… to pray, to grow, to share Your love. May she model godliness… as a woman… mother… daughter… granddaughter… friend….

Thank You, Lord, for the miracle of a new heart… a new hope… and a new future. Amen.

(The above prayer was inspired by true events in the life of a real person. Her recent decision brings hope to me, so I’m sharing.)