Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Devotionals for the Heart: Hope

Had I Not Believed

A devotional by Sharon Musgrove

“I would have despaired had I not believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for and confidently expect the Lord; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for and confidently expect the Lord.”
 –Psalm 27:13-14 (AMP)

In a recent conversation with my sister-in-law, she shared with me a heart-to-heart talk she'd had with her son. In their private moments together, Jan’s twenty-something child expressed a deep concern for the world.

“Mom,” Jan recounted his words, “I’m afraid that the world may not exist when I am your age.”

A resident of San Francisco, my nephew had been experiencing the destruction of California’s Camp Fire. According to National Public Radio’s news coverage on November 20, 2018, the blaze was called “the deadliest and most destructive, destroying more than 13,000 residences, as well as 514 commercial structures and more than 4,000 other buildings.” At that time, the death toll was 83. This fire left San Francisco with possibly the most polluted air in the world at that time.

“He is a worrier,” Jan shared. “But the fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree.”

I’ve reflected on that conversation many times, feeling sorrow for such a heavy burden on my nephew’s mind. For him, what began as grief over horrific losses, by worry, had become fear of the end of the world! What an overwhelming feeling!

God shares His love and concern for us throughout Scripture, telling us not to worry. Like a parent to a young child He says, “I am with you.” (Isaiah 41:10 ESV). “I will not leave you as orphans.” (John 14:18 ESV). “I am head over all.” (1 Chronicles 29:11 ESV). He tells us to cast all anxieties on Him (1 Peter 5:7 ESV) because He cares for us.

God gives us a solution to our fear, yet we choose to worry. Worry that grows sorrow into feelings of hopelessness. Rather than giving God our worries, we are choosing hopelessness.

Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology defines “hope” with these words: To trust in, wait for, look for, or desire something or someone; or to expect something beneficial in the future. This definition shows “hope” as a projection of positive thinking into future events, while hopelessness projects negativity into the future. Hope says, “Better is coming!” While hopelessness mumbles, “Things will never change.”

How do we change our thoughts from hopelessness to hopeful? By choice…by evaluating all the information available rather than just focusing on the negative….by factoring God into the equation rather than excluding Him.

God’s command not to worry indicates that we have control over our minds. So, while we don’t have control over the events of this world, we do have control over how we think of them. We can choose not to worry. We can choose not to despair. We can choose to tell God that we are saddened by tragic affairs but are grateful that He is caring for us as a loving parent for a helpless child.

The Amplified version of Psalm 27:13-14 is wonderfully encouraging in using the words that echo the definition of hope: “wait for” and “confidently expecting.” I love the undertones of confidence! The Bible says, “I would have despaired, but I was too busy believing in God’s goodness.” (Psalm 27:13-14 AMP)

Hope does not ignore that there is ugliness and tragedy in this world. It does not slap a happy face on a sad and frightening experience. Hope looks at the world’s pain and says, “I have the courage to believe in God and He is working this out.” Had I not believed, I would feel hopeless!

I pray for us today, that we cast away worry in exchange for hope!

Author Bio:

Sharon Musgrove is a self-proclaimed sociologist. The opportunities opened to her, over the years, have led her on a fascinating journey observing human behavior.

She has a diverse background in business, fitness and health industries. This background led her to a unique position writing curriculum and teaching for two private, Christ-based, residential recovery programs. Both recovery programs served women primarily from the homeless community.

Sharon has traveled multiple times to Kenya, serving on medical teams and teaching in the rural Maasai communities. She's been privileged to participate in Leadership camps for maturing young women. These annual camps have a mission of encouraging and empowering the impoverished, underprivileged, and often abused young Maasai girls.

Easily identifying personally with the brokenness of the women she's served, Sharon now sees all people as needing more encouragement regardless of cultural or socioeconomic status. Within these ministries, Sharon has witnessed the transformative power of loving words spoken to the broken-hearted. Sharing God’s love and witnessing its transformative power has become her passion.

In her leisure time, Sharon enjoys her garden, health food, travel, and a good story. She and her husband, Jeff, make their home in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. They have two grown children. Currently, Sharon is writing her first Christian historical fiction novel utilizing her study, experience, and understanding of self-destructive behaviors.

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