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Devotion by Patrick

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. Romans 15:13 ESV

It was a milestone calling for celebration, and although its significance was deeply personal, it was much more so for my sister: 10 years cancer free. I still remember where I was standing when she had called me 10 years earlier to tell me she had cancer (in my kitchen), and how she had downplayed the whole thing and tried to put my mind at ease. Isn't it just like a big sister to downplay cancer, for goodness sakes?

Lora and I were best friend-close, a sweet relationship born of the shared grief of losing our mother to breast cancer when I was nine and she just 16 months older. It was awful but, I suppose in its own way, taught us some of life's hardest lessons, the type you think might kill you but actually makes you stronger. Mama was fierce, and she wanted her daughters to be strong when she was gone.

My sister was strong and courageous during her treatment and recovery. Mama would've been so proud. And on this particular night, we were celebrating her life and good health, cancer free for 10 years. The room was full of the friends and family who had cheered her on and prayed her through the entire ordeal.

Lora was understandably overwhelmed and emotional, so it was Jody, her husband, who welcomed the crowd and kicked off the evening's festivities. I've never forgotten the depth of his words and our "theme" for the night: Hope. He spoke of the power seeded in hope, how it's something we can hold onto when everything else in our world looks bleak. He shared how even during the darkest moments of my sister's illness they always had hope because they knew Jesus. After love, I can think of no greater power in this world than hope. It is as essential and as necessary as food or water or oxygen.

And here's the good news: you, too always, always have hope, my friend. Always. No matter what, no matter your current circumstances. Like faith, hope isn't a feeling. It isn't dependent on what you do or don't do; because of who Jesus is and what He has accomplished, your hope is secure. When you're seeking Him first (Matthew 6:33), you will see and sense this hope. Scripture tells us that ours is a God of hope who is able to fill us with all joy and peace in believing, that by the power of the Holy Spirit we may abound in hope! The very nature of Christ embodies hope. For those who follow Jesus, hope is not wishful thinking but a great expectation of what is to come, promises fulfilled, an assurance that all things are working together for our good (Romans 8:28).

I don't know what your circumstances are, but friend, even though at times it may feel like you've lost all hope, you haven't. Prayers may not be answered in the way you wanted them to be, but Jesus loves you and those you love more than is humanly possible, and He always has your best interests in mind.

According to our quiz, you've received Hope as your word of the year--might it be a sign? I think it holds significance for you, and me...all of us, really. We have hope because the very God of hope indwells us through His Spirit. A new year is the perfect time to begin praying with greater intention, and with our hearts focused on the hope we have in Christ, would you join me in asking the Lord to provide everything you need for the desert you are walking through? You are not alone, friend, you have an entire community of (in)hope sisters who are walking with you, also seeking the abounding hope available to each of us. Let us be bold in our asking, expectant about what this year will bring. God knows you, loves you, and made The Way for you to always have hope, no matter what.

Blessings

Patrick

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