Hope in Hard Spaces

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV)

“I say this because I know the plans that I have for you.” This message is from the Lord. “I have good plans for you. I don’t plan to hurt you. I plan to give you hope and a good future.” – (Jeremiah 29:11, ERV)

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Eternal, “plans for peace, not evil, to give you a future and hope – never forget that.” – (Jeremiah 29:11, VOICE)

Even though this verse is committed to memory and planted securely in my heart, there is something to be said about seeing it in print and bringing it to the surface of my heart and mind. God’s timing is perfect. He knows what we need, and when we need it most. I have not been in a good space the last few weeks, in particular, the last few days, as I am struggling with believing my purpose is found in the classroom. After more than a year and a half away from a “normal” classroom routine, kids are struggling to “do school” and I am challenged more than ever before to figure out how to help kids learn and grow when they choose distraction and avoidance rather than to try. I knew I was meant to be a teacher from a very early age. Clearly God purposed and prepared me for the position, yet after twenty-five years, I have been questioning everything. His plans for me are good, and include a future and a hope. On the roughest days, I have to remember and trust Him for the truth of His promises. May we ever seek the Lord, who has good plans for us all, and has a future and a hope that He is preparing for each of us.

Each life with a plan,

Purpose to fulfill;

Crafted with intent,

With strengths and with skills.

Let not obstacles,

Deter His intent;

For challenges come,

And strength’s heaven sent.

When things go awry,

Choose trust in what’s true;

Fresh hope, a future,

Are waiting for you.

Help us rise in faith,

To trust in what’s true;

Better is coming,

O Lord, bring it soon.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are our hope and our future. Thank You that You have created each of us with a plan and with purpose. Forgive us for our fears and doubts when we become overwhelmed with the here and now. Teach us to lean into You to be our strength and our anchor through every storm. Show us how to love those around us well so that they may recognize the hope and future that lies before them is good. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for creating us each with a plan and purpose, and for being our hope both now and forevermore. Amen.

© Shannon Elizabeth Grabrick and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord. – Psalm 31:24

Unknown Open Doors

“Call to Me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” – (Jeremiah 33:3, NIV)

“…Pray to Me, and I will answer you. I will tell you important secrets. You have never heard these things before.” – (Jeremiah 33:3, ERV)

“Call to Me and I will answer you. I’ll tell you marvelous and wondrous things that you could never figure out on your own.” – (Jeremiah 33:3, MSG)

Though this passage is a message that God gave to Jeremiah while he was shackled and guarded in captivity, the message remains true for us, no matter our circumstances. God is the God of all wisdom, understanding and insight. Though Jeremiah and his people were in a dismal situation, God spoke promises of what was yet to come. His plans and purposes for the people did not end in captivity, but rather in being rebuilt and free. In the same way, God has a plan and purpose for us. No matter what we have been through, are going through, or face in the future, God will grant us wisdom and understanding to navigate each step, and to walk forward into the hope He has for us all. May we ever call on the Lord to lead us well, for He is faithful to teach us and reveal to us that which we need to know to keep moving forward into all that is yet to come.

Choose call on the Lord,

Photo by Harrison Haines on Pexels.com

He’s faithful to tell;

The wonderful things,

That help us live well.

God in His wisdom,

Reveals unto us;

Unsearchable things,

He hears our requests.

No matter what is,

In Christ, there is more;

Through love He reveals,

Unknown open doors.

In struggle, seek Him,

In strength, give Him praise;

Pursue His wisdom,

To walk out each day.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that as we seek You, You reveal new wisdom and insight that grant us hope and equip us for all that comes our way. Forgive us for allowing our present circumstances to limit our faith. Teach us to turn to You and pray, for You are faithful to show us what we need to know to keep moving forward in the direction You have called us. Lead us to love those around us well, so that Your goodness and grace are evident to all. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we call on You and trust You to give us wisdom and insight as to how to continue in the direction You have called us. Amen.

© Shannon Elizabeth Grabrick and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

Then you will call on Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. – Jeremiah 29:12

Higher Than Ours

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.” – (Isaiah 55:7-8, NIV)

The Lord says, “My thoughts are not like yours. Your ways are not like Mine. Just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so My ways are higher than your ways, and My thoughts are higher than your thoughts.” – (Isaiah 55:7-8, ERV)

Eternal One: My intentions are not always yours, and I do not go about things as you do. My thoughts and My ways are above and beyond you, just as heaven is far from your reach here on earth. – (Isaiah 55:7-8, VOICE)

I don’t know about you, but I am so thankful that this is true. So often, I think things should go one way, or situations ought to be resolved as I imagine, yet God, in His infinite wisdom, brings far more beauty than I could have ever imagined. This is where we are challenged to trust the process. It is a bit easier to do each time we witness His faithfulness in our lives and the lives of our loved ones. That being said, it is a seemingly lifelong process to recognize and remember that God’s ways are for our ultimate best, even when we cannot see how good is possible. May we ever remember that God knows the outcome long before we have even begun, and that He is for us, not against us. 

Our thoughts and our ways,

May be good and bold;

Yet God’s are greater,

Our future He holds.

When we cannot see,

How things could resolve;

God is on the move,

So fears ought dissolve.

Let us turn in trust,

To the Lord above;

For His ways are best,

All is done in love.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that Your thoughts are higher than our thoughts, and Your ways, higher than ours. Thank You that You see the end before we have even begun, and You are ever available to lead us and guide us in the ways we are meant to go. Forgive us for our frustrations and fears when things do not go the way we had planned or imagined. Teach us to trust the process and to remember that You hold us in the hollow of Your hands. Lead us to love one another in ways that strengthen, encourage and convey Your faithfulness. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You and Your ways, for they are always best in the end. Amen.

© Shannon Elizabeth Grabrick and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight. – Proverbs 3:5

Hope is Rising

Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord. – (Psalm 31:24, NIV)

Be brave. Be strong. Don’t give up. Expect God to get here soon. – (Psalm 31:24, MSG)

Be strong, and live courageously, all of you who set your hope in the Eternal! – (Psalm 31:24, VOICE)

As I was doing my lesson planning yesterday, I did more research on the work of Amanda Gorman, the poet laureate who spoke at the Inauguration. Both when she shared her poem then, and while I discovered a recent poem of hers, “The Miracle of Morning”, I was in awe of her ability to tackle current events and convey hope through poetry. My sixth graders have been studying the poem, “If”, by Rudyard Kipling, and the opportunity to spend some time studying the works of a modern-day poet seemed a perfect pairing. For me, as I listen to and read Miss Gorman’s words, I cannot help but think her message is one of choosing to be brave and strong, and to not give up. The words call upon hope to rise within us, much like God’s word, for He is where our hope is held, and our Source of courage, strength and resolve. May we seek the Lord to find the strength and courage to see His love that is all around us, and the resolve to love as we are loved by Him.

Take heart, dear ones,

For hope is rising;

Light found in darkness,

There’s no disguising.

The chaos that is,

Will not always be;

For hope is rising,

As love is released.

A choice to honor,

Sisters and brothers;

To stand hand-in-hand,

Supporting each other.

Stand up, dear young ones,

Please take it from me;

The future is yours,

Rise up and shine, so all may see.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are good and You are our Source of courage, strength and resolve. Thank You that as we seek and learn to depend on You, hope rises within us. Forgive us for not being light and life in the midst of darkness. Teach us to seek You to ignite Your fire within us. Show us how to love those around us in ways that spread Your light that chases away the darkness. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust in You to raise us up as light-bearers and love givers. Amen.

© Shannon Elizabeth Grabrick and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

For you have been my hope, Sovereign Lord, my confidence since my youth. – Psalm 71:5

Gratitude for Lasting Good

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. His love endures forever. – (Psalm 136:1, NIV)

Praise the Lord because He is good. His faithful love will last forever. – (Psalm 136:1, ERV)

Let everyone thank God, for He is easy to please! His tender love for us continues forever! – (Psalm 136:1, TPT)

Because God is good and loving forever, we ought to give Him thanks and praise. God’s love is tender and kind, for He loves us as we are, no matter how we come before Him. He loves us at our worst, and brings us to our best as we pursue Him. Every time that I pause and recognize all that God is and all that He has done, I cannot help but give Him thanks and praise. May we ever look around and see the goodness of God and give Him our gratitude, as His love endures forever.

Give thanks to the Lord,

For He’s always good;

Love that’s forever,

His grace understood.

All praise to our God,

For His love that lasts;

It’s not dependent,

On future or past.

He loves us right now,

And He always will;

For that’s what Love does,

Brings peace and goodwill.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are always good, and that Your love endures forever. Forgive us for the times that we neglect to thank and praise You, as our perspective becomes clouded by the challenges we see, rather than Your solutions that we do not. Teach us to trust You and give You praise, no matter how things seem. Show us how to love those around us in ways that inspire hope and make Your love tangible. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we give you thanks forever, for Your love, goodness and grace. Amen.

© Shannon Elizabeth Grabrick and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

Let them give thanks to the Lord for His unfailing love and His wonderful deeds to mankind. – Psalm 107:8

Pray for ALL People

First of all, I ask that you pray for all people. Ask God to bless them and give them what they need. And give thanks. You should pray for rulers and for all who have authority. Pray for these leaders so that we can live quiet and peaceful lives – lives full of devotion to God and respect for Him. – (1 Timothy 2:1-2, ERV)

The first thing I want you to do is pray. Pray every way you know how, for everyone you know. Pray especially for rulers and their governments to rule well so we can be quietly about our business of living simply, in humble contemplation. – (1 Timothy 2:1-2, MSG)

Most of all, I’m writing to encourage you to pray with gratitude to God. Pray for all men(people) with all forms of prayers and requests as you intercede with intense passion. And pray for every political leader and representative, so that we would be able to live tranquil, undisturbed lives, as we worship the awe-inspiring God with pure hearts. – (1 Timothy 2:1-2, TPT)

This is certainly a season that being reminded of the importance to pray for our nation, state, and local leaders is imperative. As our nation waits in anticipation, our prayers for our leaders, impending leaders, and one another, is essential. More than anything, our prayers need to be for peace and pure hearts. No matter the outcome, God is greater than our circumstances. Our ability to love one another remains, regardless of who sits in a leadership position. We need those who lead to do so with wisdom, grace, and kindness toward all people, and we need to celebrate and lift each other up, despite our differences. I know not what the future holds, but I do know to Whom I will ultimately look for guidance, grace and peace. My ability to be loving and kind is not determined by the government nor those in positions of authority. Finally, may we all pray for leaders everywhere, and for each other, so that we may live tranquil lives with the freedom to worship and be inspired with pure hearts and pure motives.

O Lord, help us pray,

For all those who lead;

Grant them Your wisdom,

And bring us Your peace.

Show us Your mercy,

Lead us by Your grace;

Make goodness present,

Throughout all our days.

Teach us to trust You,

For all’s in Your hands;

Teach us to worship,

As You heal our land.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to pray for those in positions of leadership and authority in our land. Thank You that despite what we see, You have a plan and a purpose in all things. Thank You that You can use even the worst of circumstances to bring Your good. Forgive us for allowing what we see to determine whether or not we pray and lift others up. Remind us anew to pray for those in positions of leadership and authority. Show us how to love and lift others up, especially in this season of uncertainty. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, as You are our Prince of Peace who loves without limits and holds us all in Your hands. Be glorified O God, as we lift leaders up and pray for Your will to be done. Amen.

© Shannon Elizabeth Grabrick and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present 

I call on You, my God, for You will answer me; turn Your ear to me and hear my prayer. – Psalm 17:7

Good Plans

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV) 

“I say this because I know the plans that I have for you.” This message is from the Lord. “I have good plans for you. I don’t plan to hurt you. I plan to give you hope and a good future.” – (Jeremiah 29:11, ERV) 

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Eternal, “plans for peace, not evil, to give you a future and hope – never forget that.” – (Jeremiah 29:11, VOICE) 

I’m not sure about you, but I really appreciate this reminder today. It is a blustery day outside, I woke up tired, and was feeling a bit weighed down by the challenges and obstacles that are ahead of me. Sometimes, I think I just need to be reminded that He has so much more in store – for me, for my family, for the people around me whom I love. Just because I cannot see the hope and future in situations and circumstances, does not mean that it is not there. In hindsight, I can see again and again, how God made a way where there seemed to be no way, and how He brought beauty from seeming ashes and despair. Our present circumstances and challenges are not forever. Though at times it may feel like a very long season, God has a plan that is good. Today, I will simply soak in the promise that He knows the plans that He has for me, (and those around me) and that they are good. May we ever trust in the Lord and His promises, for He already knows how the story ends, and it is good. 

The Lord has a plan, 

And it’s always good; 

With our best in mind, 

Our hope understood. 

For His plan is peace, 

Not evil nor harm; 

Our glorious hope, 

Through life’s ev’ry storm. 

Choose be not dismayed, 

For in Him hope’s found; 

A future that’s good, 

Where peace does abound. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that no matter what we see or feel, You have a hope and a future for us that is good. Thank You that Your promises are true today, tomorrow and forever. Forgive us for allowing our circumstances to distort our view of You. Teach us to lean into You and the promises that You have for us. Show us how to love those around us in ways that demonstrate hope and peace and goodness. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we hold fast to Your promises that remind us that You have plans for us that are good. Amen. 

© Shannon Elizabeth Grabrick and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present 

Guide me in Your truth and teach me, for You are God my Savior, and my hope is in You all day long. – Psalm 25:5

Free to Serve in Love

For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love. – (Galatians 5:13, NLT) 

My brothers and sisters, God chose you to be free. But don’t use your freedom as an excuse to do what pleases your sinful selves. Instead, serve each other with love. – (Galatians 5:13, ERV) 

Beloved ones, God has called us to live a life of freedom in the Holy Spirit. But don’t view this wonderful freedom as an opportunity to set up a base operation in the natural realm. Freedom means that we become so completely free of self-indulgence that we become servants of one another, expressing love in all we do. – (Galatians 5:13, TPT) 

Freedom is an interesting topic right now, as our nation prides itself on being “the land of the free”. Rather than answers, this can lead to questions, as many feel as if their freedom is being taken. The catch here is to what extent do we exercise our “right” to freedom? Is our intent self-indulgent, or is it to serve one another in love? In Christ, we are free no matter what our circumstances. Our freedom is in knowing that our sin is forgiven and we have a hope and a future forever in Him. With that in mind, the desires of the heart begin to shift and become more otherly; desiring to love and serve others well, rather than simply satisfy the temporary cravings of our flesh. Don’t get me wrong, I want to be able to travel and go out, visit friends and go to church, and go and see my mom – without restrictions or reservations. However, love requires this waiting season. Yes, if I really wanted to do any of those things, I am sure there would be a way to do so, but would it be serving others in love, or simply serving my own desires, without considering the consequences for others? I need God’s wisdom to exercise the freedom He has given, so that I might express love for others in all that I do. This is a lifelong process of learning and growing in how to walk out our freedom in Christ well. There is no “arrival”, as we all have an ongoing battle with our human desires, yet we can ever become more of whom we have been designed to be, as we choose to use our freedom to sincerely love and generously serve others. May we not take our freedom in Christ for granted; instead, let us set aside our self-indulgent desires and go forth, seeking to serve one another in love. 

Brothers and sisters, 

We’re all called to be; 

Invested in Christ, 

So we might live free. 

Free in forgiveness, 

Empowered by grace; 

Called to serve others, 

Make love commonplace. 

Choose to set aside, 

Our old selfish ways; 

Love as Christ loves us, 

For all of our days. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for setting us free in Your limitless love. Thank You that by Your grace, we can freely love and serve as we have been designed to do. Forgive us for our selfishness, that keeps us from loving and serving as You have designed us to do. Teach us to exercise our freedom in You to bless others. Show us how to love those around us best. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we choose to love and serve freely in You. Amen. 

© Shannon Elizabeth Grabrick and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. – Ephesians 1:16

Beautiful Unknown

As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things. – (Ecclesiastes 11:5, NIV)

You don’t know where the wind blows. And you don’t know how a baby grows in its mother’s womb. In the same way, you don’t know what God will do – and He makes everything happen. – (Ecclesiastes 11:5, ERV)

You can no more predict the path of the wind than you can explain how a child’s bones are formed in a mother’s womb. Even more, you will never understand the workings of the God who made all things. – (Ecclesiastes 11:5, VOICE)

 

Back during the times of King Solomon, when he scribed Ecclesiastes, there was no Doppler radar system, nor ultra sound; the discoveries made over the last century in technology were not even an inkling of an idea, and so, and that time, those were reasonably comparable things to the ways of God. In current times, it seems that the comparison would be more along the lines of knowing what this COVID-19 virus actually is, if an effective vaccination is possible, and if and when life might return to a non-shutdown state of existence. God can do incredible things, and we never know how He will move in any given situation. After walking through last year with my mom, I thought this year might be a breeze, in comparison. This separation is an equal sort of difficult. I cannot predict how it will go, nor when it will change. All I can do is trust God, who is far greater than every obstacle we face, and seek Him to be with us through this season too. In the same way that the Lord never left me, and was faithful to show me His nearness every step of the journey, (and still is doing so), I know that He remains present in our current circumstances and is walking us through the valleys so that we may reach the other side of this seemingly sordid space. God is faithful, even in our most difficult seasons. To honestly look at this current season, I cannot say it is all bad. More time with my boys is an absolutely gift, and the time to get a puppy and be present to bond and train him is blessing as well. Though we cannot predict or know how God will move and work in all things, we can be certain that He will move and He will work all things for good for those who love Him.

 

Though we do not know, Beautiful Unknown

All that lies in wait;

Nor why things take place,

The next that awaits.

For God’s ways are not,

The same as our own;

Unpredictable,

Beautiful unknown.

Though sometimes scary,

And not understood;

God’s ever working,

For ultimate good.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the certainty of You, when everything else around us is uncertain. Thank You that though we cannot possibly know and understand all of Your ways, we can know Your heart and Your character; that You work all things out for the good of those who love You. Forgive us for our fear and doubt when we cannot figure out how things could possibly change, or find ourselves frustrated with timelines that do not align with our own. Teach us to trust Your ways and Your timing in all things. Show us how to love those around us in the waiting. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust You to bring good through all things. Amen.

 

© Shannon Elizabeth Grabrick and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

 

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11

Wait in Hope

But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. – (Romans 8:25, NIV) 

So because our hope is set on what is yet to be seen, we patiently keep on waiting for its fulfillment. – (Romans 8:25, TPT) 

But if we must keep trusting God for something that hasn’t happened yet, it teaches us to wait patiently and confidently. – (Romans 8:25, TLB) 

As always, this is a good and timely reminder. Many of us are hoping for the day when the restrictions are lifted, and we can go and do, travel and see, live and be, in a way we are more accustomed to existing. Though it is difficult, we wait for it patiently, as lives depend on our doing so. Despite all that has been missed, we know there is much more yet to come. That is hope, and with it, we must be patient. The saying, “good things come to those who wait,” holds true. When we wait on the Lord and trust in Him, He provides peace and strength and blessings beyond what we could have imagined on our own. In the same way expectant parents hope and patiently wait for the arrival of their newborn baby, we can hold hope for what is yet to come. We know there is more, and that the day when things are no longer locked down will arrive, so for now, we must wait patiently and persevere. 

In the meantime, I am extraordinarily grateful that we are in a part of the world where homes are spread out and space is abundant, so we are encouraged to get outside to exercise and take in fresh air, as long as we are mindful of distancing ourselves from others we encounter while outdoors. What I love is that I already was one to get outside to run and walk for fitness and sanity, and now, all around the neighborhood, others are discovering the benefit of doing the same. I hope the cheerful “hellos” and friendly waves that take place each day while I am out, always continue. Perhaps slowing down is providing a place for hope to rise where it had been missing before. Whatever the case may be, I will continue to hold hope in He who brings peace and strength and joy, even in the waiting.

Choose wait on the Lord, wp-15875605174021756941601808964153.jpg

And know He is good; 

Hope is worth the wait, 

His grace understood. 

For in the season, 

The space that seems paused; 

God’s goodness remains, 

His patience installed. 

There is so much joy, 

In what is to come; 

Peace in the present, 

Glorious outcome. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are with us; always. Thank You that You never leave us nor forsake us, and that we can wait on You and trust in You, for the future is in Your loving hands. Forgive us for our impatience that comes when we struggle to hold onto the hope we know. Teach us to trust You more, as You are our hope and Your love never fails. Show us how to love those around us in a way that strengthens and encourages hope in seasons of waiting. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for the hope we know, that is secure in You forever. Amen.

© Shannon Elizabeth Grabrick and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

Guide me in Your truth and teach me, for You are God my Savior, and my hope is in You all day long. – Psalm 25:5