Thursday, April 28, 2011

Remaining Hopeful When Life is Hard

Don’t you just love getting new things? I know I do. I especially love getting new clothes, shoes, accessories…pretty much anything new now that I really think about it. To me, this past Easter was a reminder of newness, a renewal or a rebirth, if you will. Resurrection Sunday is a day when old things have passed away. Your sins are forgiven and you are washed white as snow because Jesus Christ CHOSE to go to the cross for your sins and mine. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 2 Corinthians 5:17

I can’t help but feel renewed in my journey as a Christian woman, wife, mother and teacher. With that being said, this past weekends’ mountain-top experience is over and I am back to the reality of my life; the pain, the creeping fear and doubt that cloud my thoughts, unexpected trials, and of course, the mundane….which I think is sometimes the most difficult for me to experience. Yet, I long to hold on to ‘the mountain-top’, the place where I feel so close to Christ and His presence along with His power, unconditional love, forgiveness, grace and mercy. I realize I can always be in God’s presence, but sometimes I make poor, flesh-filled choices or I allow the enemy to rob me of what God is wanting to do in my life.  For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. Galatians 5:17

It is easy for me to experience the Savior when I am focused on what He did for me. My mind was stayed on Him as I thought about what He endured for me over two-thousand years ago on Good Friday. My eyes were fixed on Him as I pondered all that He was willing to subject Himself to just for my sake. I waited with anticipation for Easter Sunday as He overcame the grave and had victory over Satan. "He is risen", I whispered to my heart. I am forgiven. He loves me. He cares for me. He will protect me. He will provide for me. He won’t leave me. HE DIED FOR ME and He willingly went to the cross so we could spend eternity with Him.

Below, is a similar picture to the one I have hanging above my fireplace in my living room.  It is smack-dab in the center of my room so I can stare at it. I have it framed and adorned with a scarf and tassels, and above it, I have placed a crown of thorns.  I purposefully placed it there to remind me of what to dwell on when I will face days of discouragement.  This is the scripture that is written on it:  

"He is not here; for He is risen, as He said."
Matthew 28:6 
What joy this Blessed Assurance gives,
"I know that my Redeemer lives."
Job 19:25

Peter and John Running to the Tomb (1898)
Eugene Burnand
Musee d'Orsay, Paris

Now, my picture did not give the reference for the scripture, "I know that my Redeemer lives", so I looked it up and quite honestly I was so shocked to find that the reference came from none other than my favorite writer: JOB! (sarcasm noted).  I could not believe it.  I have starred at this picture for YEARS and the verses written on it have always ministered to me.  When I look at that print I see hope in the eyes of John  as he is running to the tomb and in Peter's eyes, I see sadness.  (In the replica print we purchased, a note was written by the artist stating that he purposefully tried to paint a look of sorrow on Peter's face because he denied the Lord.)

Now you might be asking yourself why did I get so excited when I learned that it was a verse from the book of Job...I'll tell you why.  We are new in Christ, right?  We prominently celebrate Christ's resurrection each year at Easter, right?  His resurrection brings us hope, correct?  Tell me what first comes to your mind when you think of the book of Job?  I'll tell you what comes to my mind when I think of that book:  tears, pain, heartache, long-suffering, depression, despair, etc.!  As a disciple of Christ, I have read the book of Job several times and 'Hope' is NOT the first thing that crosses my mind when I read.  That poor man, he went through some tumultuous storms and deep waters, yet, right there in print, we can learn from one of the masters of sorrow, Job himself, and find hope in our Redeemer.  What a testimony!

If you are in Christ, you are a new creation today. Reflect back to this past weekend and bask in your Glorious Savior’s resurrection regardless of your current circumstances.  We all have pain in our lives, what is yours?
  • Struggling to make ends meet because of the poor economy?
  • A difficult or broken relationship?
  • Physical diseases or ailments?
  • An unsaved loved one?
  • World-wide disasters?
The trials and hardships in one’s life can be endless and can make us feel like we will always walk in the ‘valleys’.  Remember the words of Job, "I know that my Redeemer lives." Job 19:25

Yes, we are new in Christ, but as we get back to our 'day in and day out' lives that are filled with difficulties remember that we have hope because of His scarred-filled hands.

So, when your life is hard, how do you remain hopeful?  What are some practical tips and ideas you use to keep your eyes on the Lord?  I would love to hear from you!

No comments: