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    The Hope Within Us

    Wednesday, December 3, 2014

    The excitement over Spirit Week's "Tacky Tuesday" was at an all time high yesterday morning. I let my littles happily dress themselves in the clothes of their choice, fed them breakfast and then shepherded four little feet out the door to start our day. 

    Our day was normal, just like a lot of other folks around town. There was nothing too horrible and nothing too fabulous; we just enjoyed the beauty of the mundane. 

    The warm spirit of Christmas is in the air and that coupled with the fun festivities of spirit week left me tangled up in my own little world. 

    In our same little town somewhere a few miles down the road another woman woke and dressed her children yesterday. She fed them breakfast and followed pretty much the same routine that I did, but her day ended so much differently. 

    Instead of giving warm baths and brushing teeth before bedtime last night, she sat in a holding room waiting to see if a name released was that of her child. 

    It was. She cried. She probably will be for a long time.

    As I sat and watched the news last night about the school bus tragedy in Knoxville my heart grieved and I'm sure yours did as well. There's just not much else that compares to the empathy for another parent knowing that they are picking out grave-sites when it should be Christmas presents and Angel costumes. 

    It's times like this that we begin to ask ourselves the timeless questions that don't surface on brighter days. Questions such as:

    What is the purpose for our pain?
    What is the reason for a tragedy such as this?

    While I don't pretend to have all of the answers to these questions and more, what I do know is The Holy One who does. 

    I was led to the eighth chapter of Romans this morning as I was praying for the families and The Message version of verses 19-22 says this: (emphasis mine).

    That’s why I don’t think there’s any comparison between the present hard times and the coming good times. The created world itself can hardly wait for what’s coming next. Everything in creation is being more or less held back. God reins it in until both creation and all the creatures are ready and can be released at the same moment into the glorious times ahead. Meanwhile, the joyful anticipation deepens.

    22-25 All around us we observe a pregnant creation. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs. But it’s not only around us; it’s within us. The Spirit of God is arousing us within. We’re also feeling the birth pangs. These sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for full deliverance. That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don’t see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy.
    All of creation knows that we are longing for the day when Jesus returns and we will all be made whole. 
    When times are good we get comfortable. We don't necessarily experience the pains of birth as discussed in this passage because, quite frankly,  we are living pretty comfortable here on planet Earth. The "coming good times" are overshadowed by the present good times we live in. 
    On a day like yesterday however, we are reminded that we are all living in eager expectation for what is to come. The joyful anticipation deepens. 
    As long as we are waiting for that glorious day there will be tragedy and disappointment. It's likely that it could be you or I the next time. We do live in an unperfected, fallen world. But we have this glorious hope…..the hope in Christ in whom we believe. 
    My prayer for our town and especially those families who lost a loved one yesterday is this: While we groan in anticipation, may the hope of what is to come overshadow the pain of what is present.

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