Greetings to you!

The other day I was looking at Facebook and I saw a teacher friend of mine post a meme that said, “Next week is exhausting.” It really made me laugh because I completely understood where she was coming from. I think so many of us can relate to that phrase right now. Already we know we are going to be tired and exhausted “next week.” We continue to live in a world where “unprecedented” events and viruses are happening at a disturbingly regular rate. We too often see the Fruits of the Spirit go missing in the speech and actions of fellow Christians. We watch our politics divide us instead of each seeing the value of the other so we can collaborate on solutions that are better and fairer for all. We grieve the continually rising number of those who are losing their life. And we have entered the season of Lent in the church, but our entire last year has felt a bit like Lent with giving up so much of our normal lives. It is exhausting and our whole bodies feel that. We long for the day when things can “go back to normal” and pray that that is still even a possibility. 

For me, the month of February might be the perfect symbolic month for the last year. I think February was given the shortest number of days because they knew we would just need to get through the depressing bare trees, grayness, cold and snow as fast as possible. (I know that’s wrong, but it feels right!) 

Whenever moments happen in life that are physically, mentally, emotionally, and/or spiritually exhausting, painful, or stressful I am reminded about my Grandma Jorgensen and her favorite verse. Every birthday card or letter she wrote to anyone in the family would include at the bottom the inscription, “Isaiah 40:31 Keep looking up!”. This was her life verse before it was ever popular to call it so.

“But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

I heard one of the best reflections on this verse over a decade ago when I was struggling through processing my father’s death. This verse is not talking about some magic renewal, a one-and-done quick fix that God gives or about God just removing the pain or the situation. This is about God entering into our suffering, our struggle, our exhaustion and walking with us. When we turn to God in our need, God is there with strength to help us take our next breath, our next step, to endure through the next moment.

As believers we have the benefit and grace of knowing where our real strength and our true hope comes from when life is exhausting, painful, or overwhelming. It is Christ Jesus, the author and perfect or of our faith, who literally entered into our world of suffering, stress, and disappointment to offer hope and salvation.In these difficult moments in life, I strive to model my grandmother. She knew where to look for her hope and strength and kept encouraging her family and friends to do the same. So as the author of Hebrews says, “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful.”

Keep Looking Up!

     First Covenant Church of Moline, IL 2018