In today’s Encouragement Today devotional, I shared the story of Mary. I can see her plainly if I close my eyes. Life marked her. She was jittery. Nervous to approach a stranger, much less God, and yet so brave as she did exactly that.
Do you know that feeling when you feel God? Really feel him? That’s what I felt as we prayed together. He reached down and wrapped this broken woman close and she felt him for the first time.
I love that.
But that same encounter reminded me of the ones I am still praying for, and the answers that have not come yet.
But it also gave me hope.
So, how do we keep that hope reservoir filled up when we’ve prayed for a long time?
Reach out to others
I may not have the opportunity to see God work in my loved ones life. They live far away, or God is working in ways I cannot see. I can love. I can pray. I can believe. But when the actions and chaos continue, it may cause hope to ebb.
But when you reach out to others, you get to see God work.
Mary’s grandmother stood behind her quietly, tears running down her face. I have no doubt that this grandma had worn patches in the carpet praying for this granddaughter. I hadn’t sown for years into Mary’s life, but was privileged to be there when all of her grandma’s prayers came to fruition.
As we reach out — perhaps to a neighbor, a friend, a stranger, as a Sunday school teacher or youth worker, to your children’s friends or co-workers — we just might get to see someone else’s prayers unfold.
That pours hope over your own prayers as you bend your knees to talk to God.
Pour hope into your empty well
Like a hamster on a wheel, we often just keep going. If we pray enough. If we do enough. If we say the right words.
All of these are good things, but if they are our total focus, we’ll soon be empty. Face it, there’s a bottom to our well.
But Christ promises living water that will not only fill us up, but splash up and over into the lives of others, in our marriage, over our children.
Worry and angst and fear can dry a well up so fast and when that lost loved one looks at us, all he or she sees is a dried-up well. What might happen if they look over and we’re splashing joy and intimacy with God all over the place?
When they are ready, they will know what you have is true because of that overflowing river of peace.
We cannot keep going without stopping daily to fill up. For me, that is carving out a portion of my day reserved just for me and God. It’s worship music softly playing. It’s reading my favorite devo. It’s journaling. It’s prayer, praise and conversation with my Heavenly Father.
And it fills me up with hope.
We put on new lens
We find hope when we put on our eternal lens.
I pray, but I’m not discouraged by what I feel today. My eternal perspective is that I trust that I’m planting seeds that will one day come up in the life of my loved one.
I parent. I speak truth. I do what I can do, but I leave the rest in God’s hands. The eternal perspective is that God loves them even more than me. I can’t fix another human being, but I can trust that God is working in ways I may not see.
Not too long I was ministering in a small church in Arkansas and the pastor asked me the name of a loved one. I looked up in surprise. “Why?” I asked.
“Because God wants me to pray for her,” he said.
He prayed the most beautiful, powerful prayer of homecoming and healing that I’ve ever heard.
He didn’t know my need or that of my loved one, but God did, and he whispered it in a pastor’s heart to pray.
Just one more eternal reminder that God is bigger than me, and His loves reaches farther than I can span, and that even when I think nothing is taking place, that eternally God is mindful of my loved ones.
Because they were His loved ones first.
Hope. Hope. And more hope.
Today I pray that you will be filled with hope all over again.
May I pray with you?