In the sweet by and by, the old hymn choruses, we shall meet on that beautiful shore. The lyrics to this beloved expression of faith reflect the struggle between meeting life’s challenges and believing in our heavenly resting place:
There’s a land that is fairer than day,
and by faith we can see it afar;
for the Father waits over the way
to prepare us a dwelling place there.
We shall sing on that beautiful shore
the melodious songs of the blest;
and our spirits shall sorrow no more,
not a sigh for the blessing of rest.
Too often, the challenges of day-to-day living can leave us feeling soul-tired. Just when we think we have one problem solved, three more crop up out of nowhere. Wanting silence, instead we are constantly bombarded by information from our cell phones, radios, computers and televisions, conflicting information that promises clarity but only increases our confusion.
When so many problems surround us, it can be easy to lose sight of the one, true Light that guides us toward peace. But making God the center of our lives is exactly the key to holding on to the only thing that can keep us going when things are toughest–hope.
Isaiah tells us the reason why hoping in God is so important: “But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint” (Isaiah 40:31).
I need reminders about hope. These days, when I am sometimes tempted to ask God why my race isn’t done, when I feel so tired from life’s challenges and losses that I find it almost impossible to see any good reason to keep pushing to follow my faith, the promise of hope keeps me pushing forward anyway.
Hope involves what is most important to me, which is fulfilling the purposes God put me on this planet to do: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11). God knew me before I was a twinkle in my mother’s eye. He knew what He had planned for me, and He knew exactly how I would please and disappoint Him as I go through this life. When I least feel like getting out of bed in the morning, the knowledge that God giving me another morning to wake up to means He still has work for me to do is sometimes the only reason I push back the covers and rise.
Hope also helps me when I am most down, when life is at its darkest. Losing my mother to perhaps the most terrible disease on the planet has brought me dark days indeed, but through it all, I tried to give myself hope by reminding myself of one of my favorite verses of all, this one thanks to Paul:
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)
Remembering this verse helps me look for the positive things, the little moments of joy amidst the sorrow, the sharing of my tough times that I have forced myself to do to try to bring some help to others from the lessons I have learned and am still learning.
Hope is also central to the core message of God’s love for us, a love expressed through the sacrifice of Jesus so that all who believe may find that sweet shore where praise for the Creator will flow from all lips. Making sure that all the people I know somehow learn that message of hope from my actions and words oddly increases my own hope in our eternal resting place, that sweet by and by:
Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I hope in Him!” —Lamentations 3:22-24