I figured a month into the new year would be a good time to revisit resolutions now that the hype has faded (and most likely been forgotten). A few years ago I stumbled across the idea of a “one-word resolution,” in which you pick one word to focus on throughout the year instead of the usual “lose weight, exercise, eat healthy” resolutions that statistics say only 8% of people will keep throughout the year. I remember choosing the word “patience” one year…that was a wonderfully horrible idea, because God gave me pleeenty of opportunities to practice it! 🙂
On New Year’s Eve, I asked God what my one word should be for 2015 and as I laid down to sleep after watching the ball drop in Times Square that night, the word “hope” popped into my head. Ha, that’s pretty fitting, I thought. Hope in hardships, hope in life circumstances, hope in ministry, hope in relationships, hope in the unknown.
Funny how God works, because shortly after I made that decision to hope, I faced moments where it was easier to complain and be negative instead of choosing to hope. Hope is not an easy thing to choose when your circumstances feel hopeless…you can’t really just will yourself to choose it when it feels like you’re in a dark fog. I struggled to hope. I thought about changing my word, but then God reminded me of this:
“Through [Jesus Christ] we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces perseverance, and perseverance produces strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation, and this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.” (Romans 5:2-5)
Interesting. Hope comes from building character, which comes from practicing perseverance, which comes from facing hardship. We can hope amidst trials because we know that ultimately, having this close friendship with God that Jesus’ sacrifice has given us exceeds any trials we face while on this earth. We know the end result: eternal friendship with God. That’s pretty awesome.
I wrote this faux tattoo on my hand to remind me to look up at God instead of down at my circumstances. This whole idea of looking up has truly helped me to fix my eyes on what is true, excellent, and worthy of praise instead of what is false, discouraging, and wah wahh.
“Two women looked through prison bars.
One saw mud, the other saw stars.”
This challenge came at the perfect time, because I also recently started rock climbing. Talk about a tangible way to learn perseverance! When you are so close to the wall and your arms and legs are about to give out, your friend holding onto the rope can cheer you on and give you tips for where to put your hands and feet next. They can see the bigger picture because they are further away, and if you listen to their instructions and choose to persevere and look up, you will eventually get to the top.
Exhibit A: Your perspective (Ah, this is so hard and hopeless!)
Exhibit B: Their perspective (Wow, this is so easy. You’ve got this!)
(Thank you, stock photography.)
Excuse my love for analogies here, but on the wall of life, God sees all the different possibilities and routes that we can climb. He knows every step it will take for us to reach the top and He gently encourages and directs us to the best possible rocks to hold onto on our way. He knows which rocks will be a part of our journey twenty feet up the wall, but He only needs to provide guidance for the very next move we’ll make. All we need to do is trust His leading, persevere when it’s scary, and look up!
“Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.” (Hebrews 11:1)
I don’t know which route of life I will climb to get to the top. I don’t know how long I’m supposed to be in Dallas; I don’t know how long I’m supposed to be in full-time ministry; I don’t know how long I’m supposed to be single; I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know. But I do know that God knows and that He’s going to help me climb the best possible route of life to get to the top. So when it gets hard and I want to give up, all I need to do is focus on His voice and choose to hope.
My hope is that you’ll do the same. 🙂 Huzzah!