In Full Hope of an Answer
Philippians 4:8 “Whatsoever…if there is anything worthy of praise, think on these things.”
Romans 5:1-5 “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”
I need to tell you a story. It’s a story about hope, specifically the hope of a little girl and her wish to have a puppy. A dog story? Yep. Some of you may already be bracing yourself and reaching for the tissue box. You’d be right! It is that kind of story, so hold that tissue, open your heart, and keep reading!
When my now grown-up and married daughter was quite young, she wanted a puppy. It was the kind of request that was first said amid a day’s activities: coming and going from the grocery store or sorting laundry together or playing a game of freeze-tag outside. My reply was usually along the lines of “Ah, honey, Mommy doesn’t want a dog. I have so much to take care of right now. I don’t think we could add a dog.” She was four.
When she was six, she started asking me when I tucked her into bed at night. Right before we would say prayers, she would say, “Mommy, I really want a puppy. Can we have a puppy?” And I would say (yes, you guessed it), “Ah, honey, Mommy doesn’t want a dog. I have so much to take care of right now. I don’t think we could add a dog.”
“Okay, Mommy,” was always her reply.
We did this every three to four weeks for a few months. Her sweet, little voice always patiently asking, always with such big-eyed wonder at what might be my answer, and always accepting my reply of reluctance to add something more to my list of cares. She accepted bedtime prayers and getting tucked in, getting a kiss on the forehead and a hug with the same unconditional love. Then, one night, her request hit the next level.
“Mommy, I know I’ll never be happy again unless I have a puppy.” (My dear readers, you are laughing at me, aren’t you?)
There was still the same sweet, patient, big-eyed wonder waiting to hear my reply. But the transparency of her heart’s plea and the urgency of her request moved me.
That night, her request changed everything.
I remember looking at her for a moment considering my reply. “I tell you what. I’ll make you a deal. You pray that God changes mommy’s heart about getting a dog and then we’ll see what happens.”
“Okay, Mommy,” was her reply. And I tucked her in, kissed her goodnight, and prayed for God’s keeping.
Within a week, I was searching and interviewing dog rescues, shelters, and humane societies within a hundred miles like my life absolutely depended on having a dog! When I met “Cupcake” that day at the animal shelter, I was assured that she wasn’t going to get any bigger (ha! believe that one and you’re in for a surprise). She walked right to me as I knelt on the floor, and she tucked her head against my neck to rest it on my shoulder. She snuggled right in – and found a way into my heart in an instant! She lived with us for the next 14 and a half years.
The evening that Cupcake died, all of us cried including me. That little dog in the shelter so many years ago had found a way to bring happiness and joy to a momma’s heart that didn’t want to make space for her. I remember thanking my daughter that night. I thanked her for making certain that we had a dog. I was hurting, we all were, but we also had experienced tremendous love as a family with Cupcake in our lives.
When you and I pray for our students, we must be, live, and ask in the same big-eyed wonder as my girl had. She was full of hope every time she asked. Every time. Again, and again. Until one night, her plea reached my heart and moved me in such a way that I could no longer wait to give an answer. And that’s me in my human brokenness.
What about God? Does He answer our prayers every time we remember the empty room in our house and our heart aches? I can most assuredly say, “Yes! He does!” Are His answers always at our timing? No.
What do we have while we wait? We have hope, a kind hope for the future for the timing of things that we cannot see. We have all the HOPE we could possibly have because we have our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who has the Father’s ear.
As you pray and guide your students this semester, remind them to praise God through the trials and testing. Pray for their experience, for their endurance as it produces their character, and for their character as it produces hope (Rom. 5:1-5).
Let us never get too old or too big to pray with wonder-filled, childlike hope awaiting God’s answer.
Think on these things!
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