Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Devotionals for the Heart: Hope for your heart in troubled times


Hope in Desperate Times
A devotional by Christa MacDonald


“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” – Romans 5:3-5 (NIV)

How are you holding up these days?

As I write this, the world is in the midst of a pandemic. My husband has been furloughed from his job, and at mine, my staff has had their hours cut and the administration has let me know that I will likely be next.

Our family is facing the fear of illness and death as well as a financial disaster, just like so many others. Those are the plain facts. But it’s also spring, my favorite time of the year. I’m a gardener, so these weeks ahead of summer are all about preparing and working for the future. It’s hard not to be cynical and fearful of the days ahead right now. It has been a struggle to keep ahold of the joy this season usually brings.

Planting a garden is an act of hope. Every year I am amazed at what comes from the tiny seeds that I stick in the dirt, hoping for the best. I have trays of seedlings sitting next to me now, stacked on shelves in a window, straining towards the sun. That sight usually fills me with an expectant joy. But this week I had read too much of the news and started to feel hopeless, that the virus would eventually reach us no matter how hard we’re trying to keep it at bay and that I’d die before I could see them transplanted in the ground. I let fear take over completely and drag me down with it.

Normally, I’m a practical person, and when it comes to things that scare me I like as much information as possible so I can make the best decisions. Like so many others, I want to know what the worst is so I can prepare. Typically, I find some comfort in that. Not this time. It might be because I was already dealing with a number of crises in my extended family and stress has been my constant companion since November. Perhaps I burned through whatever reserves of calm and rationale I had. Hope is already an audacious thing in this broken world, and it seems impossible in times like these.

After days of struggling with flashes of panic and hopelessness, I realized where I went wrong in all of this. There’s no plan I can make, no human power I can access, no steps I can take to save myself or my family. I am not in control. But, if my control is an illusion, and if my strength is gone, that’s okay.

God is in control, God gives us the strength it takes to live, one day at a time, moment by moment. For those who place their faith in Jesus Christ, hope abounds. The real stuff, too, not wishes or dreams. Hope of Heaven, secure in the knowledge that this time of suffering is God’s will and whatever happens and however it ends it will be for the good of those that love Him.

We persevere, bringing the Gospel to the world around us, serving others as we are able in the time and place that He has given us. Not despairing, not tiring, but pressing on in hope.

~*~
Author Bio:

Christa MacDonald is a 2017 ACFW Carol Award finalist for contemporary Christian fiction.

A native New Englander, she was inspired by her travels through the north woods of Maine to write The Broken Trail, which would become the first in the Sweet River Redemption series published by Mountain Brook Ink.

Christa's writing focuses on the real-life challenges of the modern world, love’s sometimes crooked path, and the redemptive power of Grace.

When not working or writing Christa can be found ferrying her kids around, reading, or attempting something crafty.

She and her husband live with their three kids, two cats, and one dog along the coast of New England. Connect with Christa at www.christamacdonald.com.

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