Thankfulness releases us into hope.

This week's devotional is from Pastor Jeff Mazzariello.

ENCOUNTER:  Read Lamentations 3:19-26

"...Yet I call this to mind and therefore I have hope..."  Lam. 3:21

The simple biblical message of Hope is that our great God and Savior, Jesus, will show up for us.  That he would show up and meet us in our lives and burdens and wounds and dreams.  This what we hope for and what our hearts can't afford to lose hope in.  Think about how much it seems that we were created for hope.  Our hearts soar when we start to dream and believe that God is real and that he does indeed see us and care for us, and that there is all the chance in the world because of this that he could come in gracious power and bring CHANGE!  We were made to live in this hope.  And think about how brokenhearted we feel when hope starts to slip away and our greatest fears loom large that maybe he simply isn't there, or worse, that maybe he doesn't seem to care.

Hope is a fundamental need of the human soul, like air and water are to the human body.  We are desperate for more of it.

The great news is that we can build our hope in Jesus showing up.  It comes from remembering that we have seen him show up in the past.  If he has been faithful before, then we are encouraged that he will be faithful again.

BE REFLECTIVE:

The difficulty is that in our panic or discouragement, we don't take the time to reflect on what is surely true:  That God has shown up for us in the past.  Over and over.  There are lots of reasons we miss seeing where God has been faithful.  Sometimes when we are afraid, we nurse a grudge against him and say, "Well, that probably wasn't him."  And sometimes we remember pain and assume that is evidence that God didn't show up for us.  We can also look at all the beauty and goodness in our lives and think that those things are too "small" for them to be God showing up.  But upon reflection, God will allow us to see his sustaining power and grace he has poured out in the past.

During this advent season (from Thanksgiving to Christmas) would it be good for your soul to recount (even keep a list!) of the blessings of God's presence in your life today and over the last year?  Upon reflection:  For what are you thankful to God?

BE A BLESSING:

One of the ways that God shows up for us is through people.  When we live in love, and live out of the gifts God has given us, people are deeply and truly met by God... through us.  We literally become the hands and feet of Jesus to others.  We can lift each other to a place of being able to see the good that God is doing.  We can help each other remember what there is to be thankful for.  Who in your world needs to be reminded that they are seen, loved and blessed by God? How can you "be" the presence of Jesus to them?

BE TOGETHER:

And you need those people helping remind you that God is near and that it is worth placing our hope in him for what we need.  It is like (Holy Spirit) magic!  When we get with others we believe more deeply that God can and will show up.  We were made to generate this kind of reflection and hope by simply being together praying and talking about the things of God.  Being together leads us to thankfulness and this leads us into hope.  If you are alone, you will that much more subject to the discouragement that comes with the loss of hope.  With whom are you journeying this week??