the only reason I have
to take another breath."
I didn't know quite what she meant, but I was happy for her, happy for me to have such a free spirited, joyful friend.
-family system dysfunction..
-doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results over and over and over again...
-living life in the tunnel of someone else's addiction or depression or mental health diagnosis, doubting there's light at the other end,
wondering if there even is an opening out there ahead of you
in the blackness of the future that is another day/week/month/year.
You get the picture? It's a dark one. Hopeless, maybe.
She saw it fading in my eyes, heard the rope running fast through my slipping grasp, burning and blistering and ready to take me into deep dark water. Hope. It was what I lost sight of on the dark days, when I could no longer hear that quiet voice that gives reason and strength and purpose to try again tomorrow.
My friend said she had a verse to give me, which made me pause. I am one who deeply loves the Holy Writ, but I've been hit over the head occasionally by (well intentioned?) folks wildly wielding the Word, so I'm just a little wary when someone wants to "give me a verse." (Remember the old advertisement, "How about a nice Hawaiian punch??" Yeah, wary like that little man in the red flowered shirt should have eventually been!) But her verse was truly a gift, and the time I spent lingering over these words refreshed me more than any glass of sugary red sweetness:
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing,
so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.
a stack of Bibles, including a Key Word study Bible.
a big fat Strong's Concordance (called Strong's because the wonderfully gifted and obviously ODC man who compiled it was named James Strong, not because you have to be strong to heft its 1700+ pages onto your desk).
and a fine little Zebra M-301 0.5mm lead pencil. (Okay, maybe Mr. Strong isn't the only one with a little OCD going on here…)
Seriously, I love digging around those pages, trying to more clearly understand the meaning of the phrases and ideas. And I love discovering what God seems to be saying to me, right here, right now. Sometimes I have passed along what I'm learning from a particular passage to a friend, hopefully gently and with kindness and caution and…maybe, hope. I call my ponderings the Expanded Brenda Zook Version… (EBZV) So, here are some thoughts on Romans 15:13 EBZV.
and what is hope? "the confident expectation of good"
Fill you (me!) yep, FILL. Not measure out a mouthful or pour out a three second dribble like an old time Mennonite baptism, but FILL as in cram a net, level up a hollow place, supply abundantly.
With all joy and peace – not either or, but both/and!
joy: cheerfulness, calm, delight, gladness
peace: quietness, rest tranquility, peace of mind.
In believing – in trust, you (and I!) trusting, having faith in Him,
So that by the power of the Holy Spirit – that One in me, with me, guiding, keeping, aiding… me?! Yes, me.
You – Yep, and me, again!
May abound – superabound in quantity or quality, be in excess, have enough and to spare…oh, there is just so MUCH in this phrase...so. much.hope.
In hope – in the confident expectation of good.
The bookends of this verse: beginning and end, hope.
The superlatives of this verse: fill you, all joy and peace, abound in hope.
The energy and Source and power of this reality: The God of hope, the Holy Spirit's power.
The recipients of this promise: You. And me? oh, pick me, pick me my heart is calling. Wait. He did.
And look, it's Thursday again. And Thursdays are for thankfulness. So lifting my face to heaven, to God, I give thanks for hope:
Where else could I hope to find hope but in You alone, Source and resource of hope? I want to drink my fill, to have enough and to spare, to abound in hope, based not on my efforts or plans or anything I can see or do, but in what I know of Your faithfulness and unfailing love for me. In You alone do I find hope, for on You alone I can, I must lean in confident expectation of good. My hope is in You, for You are truly, wholly, always good. I will lean on this truth and trust You. My hope is in You. Amen.