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Hope  - Merriam Webster defines it as "To cherish a desire with anticipation"; "To expect with confidence"; and "To desire with the expectation of obtainment."  There is a lof of expectation and anticipation in those definitions.

Each year I ask God for a word or phrase to help direct me to something that he wants to show me or have me learn more.  The last two years have been thankfulness (I guess I had a lot to learn, since he didn't give me a different word last year!)  Of course, that carries over.  Thankfulness is the key to victory in our Christian walk, I firmly believe.  But this year I am adding to that "hope."

If I'm being honest, I'm a little nervous how he is going to teach me.  I mean, being hopeless is a catastrophe.  It leads to so many terrible and toxic thoughts and actions.  Recently I was watching the interaction of some kids, all junior high or younger.  They live in an area in our city that is filled with drugs, violence, gangs, sex, and crime.  They are just the next generation to participate in all that - most come from families where at least one person in in jail and another in a gang.  Many are related - because promiscuity is rampant, and young, unwed pregnancy so normal.  There is violence in their houses, schools, neighborhoods, families, and relationships.  As I sat and watched the boys and girls react to each other (and they are BOYS and GIRLS, not grown ups) I saw the boys imitate the men they knew with their language, sexual comments, and vulgar actions.  I watched the older girls' expressions go blank and try to get a tough exterior, while the younger ones still could not hide their fear of what they were expected to be a part of.  But more than anything I saw hopelessness...they are steeped in it.  They have no way out.  My heart broke.

I can teach about Jesus and his love for them and the hope he brings - but it is a foreign language to them.  And it's not just them - its the majority of this world.  So many people have nothing to hope for, nothing to expect and anticipate.  They don't even know that there is that possibility.

Then I think of the verse in Hebrews where it talks about faith being the evidence of what we hope for and the certainty of things not seen, and I think - how can they have faith, if they do not have hope?  It's  a vicious cycle, I suppose.

So that's my word this year - my ministry, my desire, my challenge.  To allow God to develop more hope in me without fear; to feel hope and anticipate the things he is going to do in me, for me, and though me; and to pass that hope on to as many people as I can.  To help teach what hope is and where real hope comes from.

You want my new year's resolution?  There it is.  


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