Last night I shared with women at church my journey to “train my mind in hope” based on the biblical principles of Jeremiah’s choosing to call to mind the new mercies of God (Lamentations 3), David’s cry that God would “show [him] the wonder of His great love” (Psalm 17), and the truth of Romans 15:13 that God is a God of Hope that can fill us with hope till we overflow with it. I wrote about this journey in Guarded by Christ: Knowing the God Who Rescues and Keeps Us.
As part of my journey to fight despairing feelings and dark moods, I thought: I will ask God to show me the wonder of His love. I will look for it and record these new mercies. I will believe that Jesus is my Hope.
And you know the rest of the story: I blogged these new mercies for 6 years without stopping (except for that one day in Kansas).
Sometimes I go back and read what I was thinking and doing on a certain day. On this day, one year ago (2015) I talked to a researcher studying Native Americans and marveled over the beauty of hearing someone’s story of why they do what they do. Another year (2014) on this same day, I was thinking about empowering my children instead of micromanaging them. Still another year on this same day (2013), God was beginning to teach me the most life-changing truth from Ephesians. Back then, I wrote:
I’m learning another path to freedom from comparison, jealousy, insecurity, and even fear. Two Bible verses inoculate me against these kinds of temptations: 1 Corinthians 3:6 tells me that “the Lord has assigned to each his task.” Ephesians 2:10 reminds me that “we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
I realize that some of us are simply appointed for certain externally beautiful, prosperous, joyous things, while others seem appointed for suffering, disappointment, loss, or failure. Is God not still in charge? Is God not still assigning–with great care, specificity, love, and purpose–our task (whether pleasant or challenging)? Is our prepared “good work” suddenly less meaningful because it looks different from another’s?
In 2012, I looked at a baby dangling from the carrier on her mother’s front side. I thought of how Jesus holds me so tightly to him so I can just dangle and kick my feet with joy. In 2011, I was fascinated with Chamberlain’s quote on great deeds as I walked the Gettysburg battlefields. Finally, way back in 2010, when I felt so much younger and immature, God was beginning my education in hope and beauty. I considered what happens when we lose something we can’t recover. A student had deleted her entire paper from a campus computer.
But beauty does arise from the ashes. I see it every semester with every lost paper. I see it in my own life with every thing I’ve ever lost. There’s a way to start again on the fresh page, remember what you had, and press your fingers down on the keys. You start letter by letter, word by word. Soon, you’re not just back where you started. You’re beyond in a beautiful far country that you never imagined existed. And the loss got you there.
Looking back, I know that I can run faster and longer and into much more dangerous territory because of how God has strengthened my soul to know Hope every single day. On this day, there’s something to learn, something to marvel over, and something that invites worship.
And guess what it was? I was walking my daughter partway to school, and we saw a hot air balloon. We called out to it and it answered. Helllllooooooo!! We laughed and smiled and thought about what it must feel like to float above the neighborhood, skimming the tips of the burnt orange trees.
Would you consider daily recording your own experience of God’s new mercies? It will train your mind in hope, and you’ll never be the same. The old despair won’t have the same kind of power over you because you know how to turn it, always, into beauty and worship.