Last year God gave me a challenge.
but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
2 Peter 3:18
In January, I thought this challenge to grow in grace meant spending more time reading my Bible and more time praying and connecting with God. It seemed straight forward enough.
But by mid-March, our world was turned upside down. And along with it, this seemly simple challenge from God was too.
Truthfully, I totally forgot about it while we were reeling from the impact of coronavirus on our lives. But as we moved through the beginning stages of the pandemic, I realized exactly what God had challenged me to do.
It was bigger than simply reading my Bible and praying more. It was about seeing God for who He truly is. And how no matter what terrible thing comes my way, He is still in control!
This challenge forced me to stretch farther than ever before. And it changed me in ways I never could have dreamed of.
After everything we’ve endured this past year, you’re probably feeling the same way. 2020 gave us a new perspective on life and more importantly on our relationship with the One True God.
If you missed this challenge, don’t worry, you can still read it and take part in it by reading the Bible Study 3 Ways to Grow In Grace.
Now it’s a new year and a new opportunity to grow closer to God!
This year, God is doing something new. Instead of a challenge, He’s given us a promise.
A Promise of Hope in Uncertain Times!
Here’s the Bible Verse God has placed on my heart for this year…
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
You might have noticed, the word “hope” doesn’t appear in this verse. But it’s there. Loud and clear.
Within it, there’s a promise of hope in uncertain times. Because that’s exactly what we’re living through.
We have no idea what tomorrow will look like or how long our lives will be this way. So right now, the future seems like a hazy faraway dream. It’s a stark contrast to how we saw the future this time last year. Back then we thought we knew exactly how our lives would play out. We could see it so clearly and plan accordingly.
But even though our lives are in limbo right now, this promise laid out in Romans 8:28 gives us hope that everything we’re going through will turn around. Because that’s what hope is… an expectation that our current circumstances will change for the better.
So even with a hazy future looming over us, one thing is certain… God is offering us hope during the difficult parts of our life and for a brighter future to come.
So, let’s break down this verse and look at each part of this amazing promise of hope in uncertain times…
This verse starts us off on the right foot with a statement, a fact, that we know with absolute certainty who holds our future in His hand.
If we possess this knowledge, then we can have complete confidence that the One who saved us will see us through this hardship.
He reached down and rescued us from the miry pit. (Psalm 40:2) So why do we wonder if He’ll do it again?
When we read this verse, we usually think of all the good things that happen in our lives. It’s pretty natural to want to focus on the positive and put all of the bad stuff out on our minds. And it’s true, God will use all of the good stuff to bring about His plan for us.
But this phrase “all things” actually refers to suffering. It means the “suffering of the present time”. And if there’s anything we can relate to during a global pandemic, it’s suffering in our present time.
With that said, God doesn’t cause us to suffer needlessly or without reason. There’s always a reason and it’s found in the next part of the scripture.
work together for good…
God’s hand is always working behind the scenes of our lives, putting the pieces of the bigger picture together, and doing it all for our good.
Sometimes we can see what He’s up to and have an idea of what the picture will look like once it’s put together. But most of the time, we can’t.
Instead, we rely on faith, knowing that hope and faith go together like PB&J. We have hope, confidence, that God is on our side. And we have faith, believing without seeing, that God is doing what He said He would, working it all out for our good.
And we don’t need to look any farther than the Bible stories of both Joseph and Job to see this in action. They both suffered greatly. And they both had faith that God would see them through it. (Joseph’s story is found in Genesis 37-45 and Job’s in found in, well… the book of Job)
As we read their stories, it’s good to remember that they only represent a brief moment in their lives. The hardship they suffered didn’t last forever. At some point, God’s hand came into view as He put the pieces together for them.
And believe me, He is going to do the same in our lives! This moment of suffering won’t last. We will get to the other side of this hardship and God’s hand will come shining through in the end!
to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose…
This promise of hope isn’t for everyone. It’s only for Christians. Those who God has called and those who have accepted His offer of grace.
Unfortunately, not everyone will accept this offer. Jesus said… narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it. Matthew 7:14
But if God has called you into a relationship with Him, and you have accepted His invitation, then this promise for hope in uncertain times belongs to you!
And you have been given more than just hope, you have been called to a purpose. A purpose that is bigger and greater than yourself. God’s purpose, His perfect plan.
All of those plans we made at the beginning of 2020, they were our plans, not God’s. They failed because we were focused on the here and now. And because we couldn’t see the bigger picture the way God does. Now, I’m not saying our plans were bad. I know all of mine weren’t, and I’m sure yours weren’t either. But God has a bigger purpose for us than simply getting by.
He wants us to join Him in His kingdom plan. You know the one, right?…
Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you.
This our purpose and our God-given mission. To take the name of Jesus to those who haven’t accepted the call yet. To show them the love He’s offering. And to see the hand of God putting those pieces together for them, and for us, as He works all things for our good.
If you’re struggling in this present time to see His hand at work in your life, take heart. One thing is this crazy upside-down world is certain… A promise of hope in uncertain times is yours! All you need to do is accept it. Then sit back and watch God’s hand orchestrate it all!