May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace, as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Rom. 15:13 (NIV)
Heavenly Father, meditating on this verse today is like standing under a gentle, steady shower of grace, after near drought-like conditions; or like waking up on a cool, crisp, morning in the mountains of Montana after a month of high-humidity breath-sucking heat; or like a panoramic train ride through Switzerland, in which every scene seems to top the last. Such is the wonder of your Word, the sweetness of the gospel, and the power of hope.
Nothing or no one really has to change for your Spirit to bring us hope in the depths of our hearts, the messiness of our stories, and angst of our circumstances. Whether it’s a “Brexit” vote that causes global uncertainty or the poor choices of good friends; the cancelling of a flight or the adding of a root canal to new week’s schedule; the vacation that didn’t happen or the mold infestation that did happen; the cancer that came back or the prodigal that hasn’t yet… you are still God, still in control, and still good; and we have more than sufficient reasons to have hope—even overflow with hope.
You gave Jesus to us and for us. Everything that needed to be finished, when Jesus was in this world, has been accomplished; and everything …
“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” Psalm 46:10 (ESV)
Dear heavenly Father, thank you for commanding our stillness, for otherwise, we wouldn’t choose it—especially when we’re a little bit (or a big bit) anxious. Help us to cast our cares upon you, as we quiet our hearts before you.
Confirm in our hearts, yet again, that you are in complete control; that you are working all things together after the counsel of your will; that you are working in all things for our good; that we cannot add one minute to our lives by our worry or change one broken story by our fretting.
Father, we long for the magnificent, über-glorious, all-things-new Day of Jesus’ return—the Day when you will be “exalted among the nations.” But we also long for you to be exalted in situations that weigh heavy hearts in this day.
Be exalted in our health care stories. Some of us are waiting for our MRIs and scans to be read; some of us just got disappointing lab reports back for people we love. Father, whether we live or die, whether we have twenty more years, or twenty more minutes, we belong to you through Jesus—and we are ever so thankful. Grant us grace and peace, for however you choose to write our stories.
Be exalted in our family stories and relationships. Nothing fuels our joy, and our anxieties, more than our relationships. Father, renew and refresh our relationship with Jesus, so that we will see others with …
6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.
Dear heavenly Father, thank you for welcoming us in our weaknesses and worries, and for catching every care we cast in your direction. Should we “pray more and worry less”? Indeed, that’s not a cliché; it’s our freedom. You know my needs better than I do, but here are a few obvious to me:
Always, I need power to love others as Jesus loves me—rather than repaying criticism for criticism, indifference for indifference, or hurt for hurt. I need grace to accept my aging and aching body. I need peace about the political chaos in our nation. I need wisdom for decisions lining up in front of me. I need freedom from the accusing and condemning voice of the enemy. I need faith to trust you with the lives of people I love.
Thank you for what you’ve already done? That’s easy to do, Father. You’ve given Jesus to me and for me—who is my righteousness, holiness, and redemption and a whole lot more! I praise and bless you for the indescribable gift of the gospel.
7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
I gladly receive the promise and provision of your peace, Father. I don’t have to understand everything. I know your timing is Swiss and your faithfulness is great. Guard my fickle, wandering, impatient …
Jesus replied, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.” Luke 18:27 (NIV)
Dear heavenly Father, we praise you for your promises of steadfast love, daily mercies, and doing the impossible, for we need all three. Because of your steadfast love, we have incomparable peace. Because of your daily mercies, we have the freedom to be vulnerable. Because nothing is impossible with you, we can trust you with our heaviest burdens and hardest situations.
Father, some of us are running to your throne of grace today, primed for a miracle; some of us are making our way very slowly, under the weight of shame and emotional exhaustion; and some of us are stuck on the mercy-road, not sure we can risk the pain of hoping again. Thank you that you meet us where we are, as we are. Thank you for always running towards us in the gospel.
For those of us who ache with the pain of betrayal, loss, and rejection hold us tightly, close to your heart. We want healing, yet some days we want justice much more than we want mercy for those who have hurt us. Help us Lord.
Father, for those of us who feel the burden of our guilt, the consequences of our failure, and the shame of our foolishness, free us from our attempts at putting things right with you. You must script our repentance and renewal. Only your grace is sufficient. We’re tired of trying to be our own savior.
Father, for those of us who want to trust you with failing health, …
But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you. 2 Pet. 3:8-9 (NIV)
Dear heavenly Father, thank you for being patient with our impatience. You’ve never been late for anything. “Swiss timing” is tardiness, compared to the precision of your faithfulness. You’ll send Jesus back into our world, to finish making all things new, at just the right time. That grand Day will happen not a day, early and not a day late.
And how we long for that Day. No more death, pain, or mourning; no more knowing in part or loving in part; no more goodbyes or good riddance’s; no more disappointing others or being disappointed; no more betrayals or rejections; nor more broken hearts or broken anything; no more heartaches or even heartburn.
But Father, your faithfulness isn’t just tied to the timing of the second coming, but to everything else you’ve promised as well. Indeed, there’s no panic or second-guessing in heaven today. You’re not distracted, agitated, or perplexed about anything—that’s us, not you. Though it’s hard to imagine why you haven’t answered certain prayers with a quick and big “Yes!” nevertheless, you do all things well. You gave Jesus for our sins; certainly we can trust you to give us everything else we really need (Rom. 8:32; 2 Pet. 1:3).
So grant us grace in our waiting, strength in our weariness, and …
I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jer. 29:11 (ESV)
Dear heavenly Father, this well known, beloved verse simultaneously confronts us and comforts us. It confronts that part of us that wishes you would simply “baptize” the plans we make for ourselves. We’d write stories that include as little disruption and change as possible; few surprises and no suffering; tons of familiarity and predictability, and very little actual need for faith and waiting. In essence, we’d love for you to be more of a Sugar Daddy than Abba Father. Thank you for your kindness and patience with us.
In our heart of hearts, that’s not what we really want. We don’t really want you to be the clay and us the potter, not really. We trust you; we love you, Father. You gave Jesus to us and for us; of course you’ll give us everything else we actually need (Rom. 8:32).
It’s just that sometimes your plan includes things that, in the moment, don’t really feel like they’re for our welfare at all. There are stretches when it seems like you answer our prayers with a disproportionate amount of “No’s” to “Yes’s”. Healing doesn’t come quick enough (if at all), and there’s more month left over at the end of our budgets. Our kids struggle and furnaces die, cars break down and good friends move on. Instead of grace upon grace, sometimes life feels like disappointment upon disappointment.
And yet—big-time yet, Father, we know better. So grant us fresh grace to wait upon …
Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!” Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Ex. 14:12-14 (NIV)
Dear heavenly Father, fear and worry can really do a number on us. I totally get how your children preferred returning to a life of slavery in Egypt, over trusting you in the wilderness of the unknown. I’ve often felt a similar temptation to choose a known brokenness over the promise of unseen beauty. Help my unbelief as I face different battles and skirmishes in life. Help me be still and trust that you’ll fight for me.
Father, I’m not facing the threat of Egyptian soldiers (thankfully). Often my biggest battles are within my own heart. You tell me of your great love for me in Jesus—which I really believe is true; yet too often I look to people and circumstances to fill me up. Free me, Lord, free me.
Many times I battle with trusting you with the hearts of those I love. I resort to ineffective ways of manipulating, spiritualizing, or trying to “fix” people. It never works, never. Help me love others as Jesus loves me. Help me to extend your welcoming heart, your merciful acceptance, and your counterintuitive …
Now may the Lord of peace himself give you his peace at all times and in every situation. The Lord be with you all. 2 Thess. 3:16 (NLT)
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:17 (NIV)
O LORD, you will ordain peace for us, for you have indeed done for us all our works. Isa. 26:12 (ESV)
Dear heavenly Father, I praise, bless, and adore you for many reasons. Today, in particular, I rejoice in your commitment to give us peace—to center, settle, and encourage our hearts. You never pressure us just to ‘”get over it, buck up, and be strong”. You welcome us in our weakness, confusion, and frailties.
In Paul’s words, you promise peace “at all times and in every situation.” To know that you are with us and for us, to know that you love us and are in control of all things—that is what we need, more than anything else. So Father, here are some of the “every situations” for which we ask you to “ordain” a good measure of your peace.
Grant us peace, as we trust you with the hearts and futures of our children. No matter the age of our kids, we still want to write their stories. Forgive our unbelief; free us from our “meddling”; and grant us all season grace to love, accept, and encourage our daughters and …
And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. Luke 2:20 (NIV)
Dear heavenly Father, it’s the day after Christmas, and many of us have over-munched and under-slept; but above all, we’re grateful for the gift of Jesus. For our favorite Christmases, and our most difficult ones, all need your grace. The “after Christmas sales” began a week before the actual day, clearly signaling that we’re always yearning for something more.
For those of us for whom the day was “nearly perfect,” we worship you as the God from whom all blessings flow and good gifts come. For those of us for whom the day was a constant reminder of how much we long for the Day when wolves and lambs will lie down together in peace, we worship you as the God who has secured that very Day through Jesus.
When the shepherds left Jesus’ manger, they were still shepherds. They still couldn’t worship at the temple; they still couldn’t give testimony in a court of law; and they were still “profiled” as untrustworthy members of the community. And a five-star inn didn’t open up the next morning in Bethlehem for Mary and Joseph, with angels serving as round-the-clock nurses.
Father, thank you, that as followers of Jesus, we don’t have to pretend about anything. Jesus came into a broken world for broken people, and we all qualify. You call us to believe, not to make-believe—to delight in you, not to deny reality. …