Now whenever I boot up, these rapturous rhodies spill hope between porch rails onto sun-warmed steps before me, and I’m cheered.
Winter starts getting long now, here in this northern state. And the delight of first, second, and nineteenth snowfall is fading in my hunger for warmth in the air and life showing green in rich soil.
So I gave myself the present of the forward look.
They had the forward look…
Paul wrote to them about it:“We give thanks to God always for you all…, remembering without ceasing your work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope” (1 Thes 1:2-3)
The wealth in these three golden phrases somehow passed me by in my former readings of his first letter to the Thessalonians. Each deserves a prolonged ponder, and the first two bear some dissecting. But that third one’s what sings to me this morning—this sharp and shivering morning of white hills and gray twigs and long shadows.
“What a bunch!” I think, reading on (1 Thes 1:6-10). “What a glorious bunch they were!” New but already deep-rooted in faith, glowing with love, sparkling with hope, filled with “joy of the Holy Spirit,” even in “much affliction”! So bright their reflected light, it flashed out to provinces around.
Yesterday He told me he’d spotted teeny green spikes of snowdrops in the patio flower bed, but that the cold snap withered them right back down. I feel like that. Even the idea of venturing out on errands, nostrils streaming frost-air clouds, makes me shrink back down in, too.
But on the dining table, nurtured in house warmth, japonica I snipped for the weekend shows increasing signs of the joy to come. More buds swelling into ivory every day.
Hope is like that isn’t it?
Not just vain, fairy-tale hope. Hope so real you can almost trace its contours with your fingers. Hope that “does not disappoint” (Rom 5:5), “sure hope” (Heb 6:17-20 ESV), evidenced by the buds and blooms of patient perseverance it brings forth. Nurtured by the warmth of His encompassing love, drinking deep from His wellspring, it bears and multiplies its evidence. Steadfast endurance to keep holding on, even “in much affliction,” comes from knowing it’s coming, that time of new life and bright joy.
Looking with joy to the God of hope this winter morning.