I drove down the street the other day past a group of children playing outside. It’s Nebraska, and it is winter time, but the sun was shining and the weather wasn’t too cold. Two of the kids were playing with a bottle of bubbles. I couldn’t see any bubbles that they were blowing but while I was driving by, one bubble floated up to my car window, and I drove right into it. It stuck to my window, but did not pop and stayed there for quite a while as I drove to work. I wondered if it was just cold enough that the bubble slightly froze, and that is what kept it stronger than normal even with the wind and my car pressing against it. As often those odd little things do, this got me to thinking.
That bubble made me think of hope. I feel like that emotion is a bubble that begins in your mind or your heart or even your gut and slowly floats through your whole body before bubbling over out into your life. It can raise your spirits and engulf you in anticipation of good things to come. It doesn’t matter how sad or hurt you are or how gray the skies are, hope stirs the sunshine to break through and changes the entire picture. I have been facing some strong struggles in my life in the past nine months, and my days are up and down. I don’t think I have it any harder than anyone else. All in all, I am utterly blessed with family and friends, but there have been some large bumps in the road since last summer. We all face times in life where things seem to be amazing and times where we can’t seem to catch a break. The last year for me has seemed more of the latter, but I have been feeling in the past month that things are starting to turn upward. Perhaps it is just that my faith is turning upward … to my Lord, who gives me the hope that I desire to wait for yet another day. He assures me that he has my heart, and is holding it together with his grace. He covers me with his love each night, and wakes me with hope each morning.
Hope. By definition, hope means a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen or the action of feeling that. The second definition I found says “a feeling of trust.” While the first definition is definitely more widely accepted, I was stopped in my tracks when I read the second one. How true this is when our hope is from God. It is trust – trust in Him to continue to guide our journey and protect and care for us. That is what faith can do – give us that hope – that trust – to turn things completely over to Him and know that while some steps may be hard and some may hurt, He has the destination in mind that will make the entire adventure worthwhile.
Romans 5:2b-5 tells us that “we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice 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.” We rejoice in our suffering, that says … rejoice. Because that suffering will make us stronger, which will make us wiser, which will give us hope … the only hope we need … hope in our Lord. When all the puzzle pieces come together, the picture is much clearer.
So back to that bubble. Normally, it should have popped the instant my car touched it … possibly even before, just from the wind or impending impact. But I believe the colder temperature outside made it stronger than usual. Its “suffering” produced its “endurance” and so it bore the strain longer. Is that bubble like us? With suffering, does God make us stronger so that we can endure more than what our broken human hearts can normally take? Does that endurance help us build our character so that we are more like God wants us to be? Does that character and trust in God help us hope? Yes, I certainly hope so.
Suffering, persevering, learning, hoping,