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I wrote this post a couple of weeks ago and never finished it or posted it.  After the events in Connecticut on Friday, it seemed appropriate, and timely, to revise a bit and post.

A while back I saw this picture on instagram.  A friend had posted it.

And when I saw it, it was like the Lord spoke right to me. 

Because lately, I am facing challenging situations in my life that seem to have no resolution in near view.  I sense God asking me to trust Him, and yet I feel sometimes like there is little chance that things will change, get easier, or get better--at least anytime soon.

And I have accepted that there will be challenges and difficulties in life.  I know that is part of living in this world.  Wrestling with sin, suffering, sickness, injustice, evil, death.  Those things are here to stay, until the appointed time when Christ returns, rights all wrongs, and sets straight all that we have mishandled in our efforts to rule our little areas of this great big kingdom.

I know that evil is real, and it is not just external to me.  It starts inside of me.  And as much as I long for God to set all things right, to come and punish injustice and bring peace, I know that I am the first one in line deserving His wrath.

And this is where the narrative gets beautiful, and it's especially wondrous this time of year.  Because God did not leave me in that fearful place.  HE CAME.  Emmanuel.  God with us.  A child, and yet a King. The HOPE of nations.  God became flesh and dwelt among us.  And He came to die.  

The manger in the shadow of a cross.

He came to make right all that I have done wrong.  He came and brought HOPE. 

So while I acknowledge the affect of sin in my heart and in those around me, I believe I have a choice to make.  Will I believe that it can be different?  I know the power of the One I follow and the miracles He can bring about.  Will I trust and hope in things I cannot yet see?

While I want to always be willing to face challenges with grace and trust, and accept whatever comes from my Father's hand, I also want to believe the impossible--that God might chose to intervene, act miraculously, and demonstrate the same power that raised Christ from the dead.

And it is not something of me, mustered up or manufactured by me.  HOPE has been given to me, to possess and to cling to when everything around me gives me reason to doubt.  

David Wilcox wrote these lyrics:
You say you see no hope, you say you see no reason we should dream
That the world would ever change, you're saying love is foolish to believe
'Cause there'll always be some crazy with an army or a knife
To wake you from your day dream, put the fear back in your life...

Look, if someone wrote a play just to glorify what's stronger than hate,
Would they not arrange the stage to look as if the hero came too late
He's almost in defeat. It's looking like the evil side will win,
So on the edge of every seat, from the moment that the whole thing begins
It is...
Love who makes the mortar
And it's Love who stacked these stones
And it's Love who made the stage here
Although it looks like we're alone
In this scene set in shadows
Like the night is here to stay
There is evil cast around us
But it's love that wrote the play...
For in this darkness love can show the way.

So given the choice I have, to despair and give up or to have hope--I choose HOPE.  Darn it!!  I choose stubbornly in the face of much opposition to hope in faith that my God CAN and WILL act on my behalf, and on behalf of so many I care about whose burdens seem too great to bear.  His ways are not always mine, often they are above me and my ability to understand.  But knowing His perfect LOVE and His perfect goodness, I'm going to believe and ask with boldness for Him to work out what He knows is the BEST.

"But as for me, I will always have hope."
Psalm 71:14

When I feel beaten down and tired, I will always have HOPE.

When I have failed yet again, I will always have HOPE.

When reality falls short of my expectations, I will always have HOPE.

When I am not all that I know I should be, I will always have HOPE.

When the mountain is higher than I could have ever expected, I will always have HOPE.

When it seems like someone will never change, I will always have HOPE.
When evil seems to triumph over good, I will remember that it has not had the last word.  It's day is coming.  

And I will always have HOPE.

(P.S. I highly recommend reading the entire chapter of Psalms 71.  See if it doesn't bless your socks off.)