The New Year arrives and we hope and pray that it contains ease and blessings, but what if it brings you troubles? Do you think you aren’t blessed? Do you doubt God’s goodness? Do you decide hoping isn’t safe?
We think if we can scoot through life with minimal trouble, our lives are blessed. We wrongly judge another by the amount of trouble they face. And we judge ourselves by how much trouble we face. And often we determine our lives are lacking or wanting for more because we can’t see the hope that troubles potentially bring to our lives.
Hope is both a noun and a verb. As a noun, it is a person, a feeling, or a thing. Hope as a verb means to look forward to with reasonable confidence, to believe, desire, and trust. Hope is action, it’s sustaining, and life-giving. It’s tangible and at times out of reach.
When I use my circumstances as a litmus test for hope, I feel like a pendulum swinging. Hopeful. . . hopeless. . . hopeful. . . hope-maybe? It’s exhausting and disheartening. If I were to look at merely my circumstances for hope, I would miss out on some wonderful blessings and teachings that my troubles bring me.
Hosea 2:15: “There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. There she will respond as in the days of her youth, as in the day she came up out of Egypt.”
In this passage, God is planning on drawing his people to him. They have forgotten him and in his heartache he chooses to run towards them instead of from them. His mercy causes him to draw them near rather than rejecting them. And he uses the desert and troubles to do so.
The Israelites lost their first love. We can relate. It’s easy to forget the hope we had when we were first set free. The troubles of life, the cares of this world and the battle between our flesh and our spirit weigh on us. When we turn to performance and works for hope we lay burdens on ourselves, rather than resting in grace and abiding in Christ.
We look for our hope in blessings and our effort. But hope is Jesus (noun) and it’s trust (verb). Hope takes us from despair to belief when we take our eyes off ourselves and our troubles and onto the God who is within us and who guides us through our troubles.
In our safety conscious world, we think of trouble as bad. But really? Sometimes it’s your door to hope. Placed secure in God’s hands, our troubles become blessings.
They become blessings because they become the catalyst that draws us nearer to God. Troubles often produce a humble heart because we cannot affect change in our own strength. The Valley of Achor becomes the doorway to hope because God gives us eyes to see and ears to hear his will, his way, and his voice.
This New Year is fresh with promise. It’s filled with the promise of God’s presence: his hope, his love, and his joy. The greatest gift you can give yourself is to look at your valley with fresh eyes. Eyes to see God within it, pointing the way through it, and bringing beauty from it. You can look back on your troubles and see them for what they were: the doorway in which you moved closer to God.
Our greatest times of growth are often in the valley where we feel the rain and the wind and the storms. At times, fire sweeps through, and then new growth comes and our hearts become this beautiful landscape of beauty. Fresh green shoots look brighter on a deep black background.
Think of the testimony you become when you allow God to lead you to the desert place so that your trouble becomes a door to Hope. Your troubles become the way you meet God intimately. And guess what? You don’t have to wait until you have a major trouble to know this kind of hope. All of life is filled with daily little troubles. Don’t dismiss the small things. Let the small troubles teach you hope so that when you face the big ones, you’re ready to receive the blessings God has for you on the other side.
1. Read Hosea 2
2. Consider your valley of trouble.
3. Ask God to show you how it can be a door of hope.