Posts Tagged ‘Isaiah 40:11’


Such a small word for such a big, important concept.

Multi-syllable synonyms seem to carry more clout:  expectation, assurance, confidence, and conviction offer a few.  (Thank you, Dr. Roget.)

Stir them together and we can create a definition for faith-filled hope:  the constant, confident, assured expectation that God will see us through every circumstance until we’re standing before him in heaven.  Those are words with heft that we can hang onto through dark and stormy nights.



You see, hope is much more than wishful thinking.

But sometimes it hides behind the overwhelming issues we face:  health concerns, financial problems, troubled relationships, difficult circumstances, foreboding futures.



How can we live with confident assurance that all will be well when uncertainty seems to rule the day, the week, the year?

As always, scripture offers us insight:

  • Understand that hope doesn’t come from a hidden reservoir within ourselves.  According to 1 Peter 1:3, our hope comes from God, provided for us out of his loving mercy.  It’s a living hope, breathing energy and strength into our souls.
  • Remember:  we can move forward with positive expectation because He is our all-powerful, grace-filled God—loving, kind, and wise, too.  He’s not just watching from afar; he’s an involved God, tending over us like an attentive Shepherd (Isaiah 40:11a).



  • Rest assured that our faithful God will see us through to a satisfying conclusion—either through events that unfold over time, or perhaps through an instantaneous miracle.  It may be the satisfying conclusion will not come until we cross the threshold into eternity (1 Peter 5:10).  But then, in the glorious ecstasy of that moment, our earthly trials will no longer matter (Philippians 1:21-23).
  • God’s plan is designed for our good (Jeremiah 29:11).
  • Hope involves waiting (Micah 7:7)—expectantly and patiently.

Sometime during second grade I noticed that being a teacher looked like fun.  And soon my favorite pastime became playing school with whomever I could cajole into being students.  When necessary, dolls were pressed into service.

That desire to become a teacher stayed with me all through high school and college.  Finally, after fourteen years, I was the one sitting at my own teacher’s desk, awaiting the arrival of my first students.  My hope, my confident expectation that I would one day be a teacher, had at long last become reality.  The import of the moment was not lost on me.  I had to fight back the tears.



Such euphoric joy does not happen often without waiting.  We appreciate more what we have to wait for.  And frequently, hard work is also involved.

God allows us to be part of the process, teaching us important lessons about patience and perseverance along the way.

Here’s what I need to remember:

Long-term waiting and steady hard work toward a dream makes the fulfillment all the sweeter when it finally comes.

For now, we can enjoy hopeful anticipation of a new reality that is coming, perhaps in this new year 2018—good health, financial security, improved relationships, or fulfilled dreams.  We can take comfort from the knowledge that our God, who is unlimited by the constraints of time, already resides there.  And…


Through the dark and stormy night

Faith beholds a feeble light

Up the blackness streaking;

Knowing God’s own time is best,

In patient hope I rest

For the full day-breaking!

– John Greenleaf Whittier



Let’s step out into each new day breaking with trust and obedience, because God is preparing us for that new reality.

And may these words ring in our ears:


“The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him,

to the one who seeks him.”

–Lamentations 3:25


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What hope have you been clinging to?  Are there scriptures which contribute to your confidence and expectation?  What experiences of the past give you assurance for your hopes of the future?  Please share your insights below in the comments section!


(Revised and reblogged from January 31, 2013.  I do apologize for posting a reblog again.  Steve and I have been sick, catching a nasty bug on New Year’s Eve.  First I succumbed, and then he did.  A new post will be forthcoming next week!)


Art & photo credits:  http://www.flickr.com; http://www.pixabay.com; http://www.heartlight.org; http://www.pxhere.com; http://www.wikipedia.com; http://www.pixabay.com.

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Many elements of the Christmas season trigger memories of long ago, including:


  • The carol, “O Holy Night,” takes me back to the pew of my childhood church where I listened to a gifted soloist, my mother, sing that Christmas hymn. I remember anticipating the high notes—so rich, clear, and resonant. The lyrics, including “Let all within us praise his holy Name” came from her heart.


  • Waking up on a winter morning to the sound of a snow shovel scraping against concrete. Dad would always clear the sidewalks for the suburban commuters who’d walk past our house on their way to the train station—just one example of Dad’s thoughtfulness.*


  • Red, green, and white tissue paper remind me of the gifts our grandmother would pile under her tree for my brother and me (her only grandchildren). You would think Grandma Clara’s shopping budget was unlimited, to see the number of packages. But what she lacked in funds Grandma made up for by shopping for super-bargains all year long. The tissue was probably an economical way to wrap some of the packages, so her precious dollars could be spent on what was inside.


  • The aroma of pies, cookies, or breads baking in the oven take me back to Grandma Rachel’s kitchen. No one’s piecrust was as flaky, no cookies as perfectly browned on the bottom, no Parker House rolls as tender. And no holiday was complete without these treats.


  • Red N-O-E-L letters with angel cherubs adorning each one remind me of childhood home #3. My mother would perch them on the sill of the leaded glass window by the stairs. I don’t know what happened to Mom’s set, but Steve’s aunt had the same ceramic letters and we eventually inherited hers. Now I’m the one who lines them up each year.

Not one of these memories is attached to a significant event, yet they are precious treasures of my heart. Now why would that be? Is it just the nostalgic atmosphere of the season that seems to envelope many of us at Christmastime?

Perhaps such memories highlight best what our Heavenly Father provides for us: his peace, love, and security–entities that our souls crave.  A verse from Isaiah gives us a perfect image of his constant loving care—one that Handel used in Messiah, “He Shall Feed His Flock.” (And yes, my mother sang that one, too.)


“He shall feed his flock like a shepherd:

He shall gather the lambs with his arm,

And carry them in his bosom,

And shall gently lead those that are with young.”

–Isaiah 40:11 KJV

I first experienced the love, peace, and security of God the Great Shepherd within the fold of my loving Christian family—not just during the euphoric season of Christmas but all year long. Memory after treasured memory give proof, and I am so very grateful.

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I thank you, Father, for treasured memories of the heart, and for the love, peace, and security my family provided throughout my growing years. I praise you as the Source of those glorious qualities.  

You first loved us and allowed your only Son to be sacrificed in our place. Such love is beyond human comprehension. You provide peace as we trust in you, just as the angels proclaimed to the shepherds. And our final destiny is secure because “nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

 How can I not be grateful?

(1 John 4:19, 10; Isaiah 26:3; Luke 2:14; Romans 8:31)

What Christmas memory speaks love, peace, and security to you?  Tell us about it in the comment section below!

*After forty years in Florida, my husband and I moved back to the Midwest in 2014 to be near our sons and their families. Imagine my delight to hear that shovel-on-concrete sound again after so many years, and have that ancient memory come bubbling up from the depths.

(Art & photo credits:  www.youtube.com; http://www.flickr.com; http://www.pinterest.com; http://www.flickr.com; Nancy Ruegg; http://www.pinterest.com.)

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As I set the dish washing soap down on the counter, a small cluster of bubbles burst from the open top.  Playfully they danced upward in front of the window.  And I didn’t just smile; I giggled.

Memories associated with bubbles floated through my mind as I watched those drifting bubbles—memories of our children, and now our granddaughter–gleefully capturing bubbles that family members provided for their popping pleasure.  As they grew older, the children took on the challenge of slow and steady blowing, to make the biggest bubbles possible.



But it’s just a pocket of air surrounded by a film of soap.  Why is it that a bubble grabs our attention?

First, no one can refute their beauty:

  • Bubbles reflect light and sparkle with iridescence.
  • Bubbles refract light into brilliant pastel hues.  Ever-changing ribbons of color pirouette over the surface in rainbow swirls.
  • Bubbles gracefully glide across space, undulating on the air currents.

Each of these aspects can also draw attention to another form of beauty: the beauty of the Lord.



(“One thing I ask of the Lord,

this is what I seek: …

to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord.”

–Psalm 27:4)


But what does the beauty of bubbles (of all things) have to do with God?

Bubbles remind me that:

1)  God is light (1 John 1:5).  Ezekiel saw him “as if full of fire…Brilliant light surrounds him” (Ezekiel 1:27).  “The Lord is my light” is also a symbolic statement, referring to his truth and goodness.

2)  The refraction of light into glorious colors is reminiscent of the first rainbow (Genesis 9:15-17).  God told Noah that never again would he send a flood to destroy all life on earth.  The rainbow was a sign of this promise.  To this day, a rainbow—even a rainbow on a bubble—is a reminder that God keeps his promises.



3) The grace with which bubbles move brings to mind the grace of God.  He, too, moves in gentle ways within our spirits, like a loving shepherd tenderly gathering the lambs to his heart (Isaiah 40:11).

Perhaps God’s whole intention for creating bubbles (and many other phenomenon in nature) was to grab our attention and turn our thoughts to him.

So the next time bubbles escape from the bottle of the dish soap, you may wish to send up a prayer of praise, as they merrily bob through the air:


You are resplendent with light, O God (Psalm 76:4)!

You are faithful to all your promises (Psalm 145:13c)!

You are compassionate and gracious, slow to anger,

abounding in love and faithfulness (Exodus 34:6)!


But why wait for serendipity bubbles?  Take some of that dish soap and create your own!



Revel in the sparkling light, the whirling rainbows, the graceful dance…


…and worship!


(photo credits:  www.flickr.com; http://www.pixabay.com;  www.dailyverses.net; wikimedia.com; http://www.pixabay.com.)

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Group of sparrows.

Group of sparrows. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?  Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father…So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:29, 31).

Why did Jesus choose sparrows for this illustration?

They’re so small and common.  (Have you ever felt unimportant and ordinary?)

Sparrows were of such little value in Jesus’ day, they were sold two for a penny.  The poor would buy them to eat—a cheap source of protein.

Nobody much cared about sparrows in Bible times; most folks still don’t care today.  They’re just drab little birds we see every day—hardly worth our attention.

But the smallest, drabbest sparrow doesn’t slip by God’s attention.  Not one can fall to the ground without God knowing.  And if he knows and cares about the sparrows, he certainly knows and cares about each of us.  Verse thirty-one makes it clear:  “You are worth more than many sparrows.”

There’s a modicum of comfort in the knowledge that God sees our situations.  To be honest, though, the fact that he just knows isn’t all that helpful.

Better yet is the news that not one sparrow can fall without God’s consent.

Nothing happens to us that hasn’t first received the stamp of approval from God Almighty.

“Wait a minute,” you might say.  “If a sparrow falls, he’s likely to die.  Not much comfort in that either– knowing that God gave his OK!

Here’s what I want to embrace:  we have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16b), right?  When it’s my turn to fall off the branch, I want to be able to affirm, “Yes, Lord.  Whatever you think is best is A-OK with me.  I know I can trust you because you love me.  And I rejoice in the promise that whatever happens, you will bring good from it.”   (Remind me of that truth when I start to wobble, will you?)

But here’s the best news:  Notice that Jesus didn’t speak of God as some detached, omnipotent being.

He said, Father.

It is our gracious and kind Heavenly Father who tenderly watches over his little sparrows.

Red Bike

Red Bike (Photo credit: swanksalot)

Think of a loving mother who witnesses her small son falling off his bike.  When he gets up with a scraped knee, she won’t just say, “Oh, I saw that happen, Johnny.  I’m so sorry you’re hurting.”  Small comfort in that.

No, that mother will run to her son, hold him in her arms, talk to him reassuringly, take him to the house, and patch him up.  That’s just what a loving parent does.

When trouble comes, our loving Heavenly Father is right there with us, just like that mother.

He holds us.  Isaiah wrote, “He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart” (40:11).

He talks reassuringly to us, especially through His Word.  With the psalmist, we can pray, “Strengthen me according to your word” (Psalm 119:28b).

God is our refuge and sanctuary; he is our home, our dwelling place. (Psalm 91:1-2).

And God patches us up; he restores our souls (Psalm 23:3).  He renews our energy, purpose, and hope.

So, “Don’t be afraid,” he says. “If I take care of the sparrows, I will most certainly take care of you, because you are worth more than many sparrows.”

See? You’re not small, unimportant, and ordinary–not at all!

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Thank you, Lord, for not playing favorites.  What glorious news that each of us is precious to you!  Thank you also for being an attentive God who tenderly watches over us.  And especially thank you for being an involved God, always acting on our behalf, and always for our good.  We are in awe of you, our loving, gracious Heavenly Father!    

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