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Hope Despite Change

Psalm 71: 14,18
As for me, I will always have hope;
I will praise you more and more…

Even when I am old and gray,
Do not forsake me, my God,
Till I declare your power to the next generation,
Your mighty acts to all who are to come.

A Visit Home

Over Labor Day weekend, I went back to my hometown to spend time with my parents and siblings.  Knowing that I’d eat a lot of junk, I decided to go on a run around town and preemptively burn a few calories. I chose a route that led me past my childhood home, about a mile away from the house my parents moved into after I graduated high school.

It’s a good thing my legs knew the way, because my eyes wouldn’t have been able to guide me there. Since my parents moved 15 years ago, changes made to the homes on the street have made it incredibly dissimilar to the street of my memories. The fifth house on the left that I called home for so long looks nothing like my home. The garage where my bike lived is now living space.  My favorite climbing tree, our swing set, and the fence no longer exist, replaced by a driveway and a garage installed behind the house.  The huge evergreen bushes I so carefully decorated with lights every Christmas are nowhere to be found.

Admittedly, it was a little difficult to comprehend.  I know that I’ve gone by the house a handful of times since my parents moved, but this time, it hit me how different it was and how the house could never again be my home.

One Thing Remains

Nothing on Earth is permanent.  Childhood homes look drastically different when you visit them decades later.  Adults that seemed Herculean in your childhood have succumbed to the frailty of old age. Family pictures contain faces of people who have gone onto Heaven.  If you let it, the transience of the world around you can be downright terrifying.

But, as Christians, we can hold on to the peace that comes from having one constant, one source of hope and joy that will never leave us or forsake us: our God, our Father in Heaven.  Time and time again in the Bible and throughout history, in times of change and turmoil, God has proven His love to His people. In the Book of Deuteronomy, as Moses passed the reigns onto Joshua and prepared for his death, he told the Israelites, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you,” (Deuteronomy 31:6).

Hold onto God. Easier said than done, right?

Hold onto Hope

The school year has either started for you and your family, or it will start very soon.  This time of year in particular brings about an enormous amount of change.  Even if your kids are at the same school with a lot of the same friends, they will likely still have a different teacher.  Some of us are going through especially tough transitions, sending our kids off to college far away from home or to careers on the other side of the world. So how can we hold onto the unchanging love of God amid all the changes around us? It’s the simplest and most difficult answer: prioritize your family and God.

Prioritizing Family

Janet Diaz, an expert in faith and family, explains, “Like houses built on rocks, healthy families are solid foundations of life-giving values, affirmative self-images, and a positive approach to relationships.”1 When we put our families first, we’re not just helping ourselves and our families.  We’re helping future generations of children understand what it looks like to interact with others in healthy ways, because we’re modeling it for the generation in our households right now.  We’re helping to establish a cycle of positivity in our family when we make sure our families come before technology, money, and careers.

This is no easy task.  The world tells us to save money, buy shiny objects, and strive for glory and fame. We may go for these things under the guise of supporting our families, yet these things can become harmful to our families. Glenn Stanton, contributor for Focus on the Family, gives one Biblical example of why we need to prioritize our family and God over what the world thinks of us: “Abraham did not amass a following by being powerful or persuasive… he did it through family, and he is remembered through the ages as father Abraham.”2 God isn’t worried about the college savings funds we set up for our kids, or whether or not we got them the 2018 Toy of the Year. God wants us to raise our children in faith and love for Him and for one another.

Prioritizing God

God emphasizes the importance of family.  Yet, we must keep God as our top priority over all else. As adults, when we prioritize God over everything else, we set an example of faith for the children in our lives. Pastor Ben Kuerth explains the choice we have when it comes to prioritizing God: “In light of all that God has done for us, He wants us to make a choice today—a choice to serve Him because He has given us the proof of His everlasting love. This is what God’s Word is teaching us to do and the good news is that it’s what, by God’s grace, we can do because it’s for our eternal good.”3 It might be difficult to prioritize our time with God over those things we consider to be for our families, like sports and activities. Yet, we are giving the children in our lives the greatest gift of all by teaching them to put God first through modeling in our homes.

God’s given us eternity. He doesn’t force us to worship or prioritize Him; we have a choice because He doesn’t need us to submit to Him.  But we need Him to be a priority in our lives. As Pastor Bill Limmer describes, “You don’t get charged up by God’s Word just knowing that God’s Word can charge you up… We need God’s Word and Sacrament to recharge us.”4 Placing God first in our lives, being in His Word daily and worshiping regularly, is what’s best for us and our families.

Strive for Heaven

We’re not going to be perfect about making God and our families the most important things in our lives. We may still feel fear when our faces look older in the mirror, or when the world around us changes in the blink of an eye. Find comfort in God’s word, and give yourself a little grace.

God tells us that, because of sin, nothing on Earth is going to be perfect or permanent. There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens (Ecclesiastes 3:1). Yet, you and your family need not fear. Because eventually, together in Heaven, we will escape fear, sadness, pain, struggle, and stress.  And all we’ll know is the love and joy that comes from eternity with Jesus in Heaven.

Sources

1 Diaz, J. (Fall 2017). Family: God’s way to us and our way to God. Human Development, 38(3), 58-65.
2 Stanton, G. (2000). The spiritual significance of family. National Forum, 80(3), 21-24.
3 Kuerth, B. (29 May 2016). The Home. Real-ationships Make All the Difference (sermon series). Sermon retrieved from https://victoryofthelamb.com/sermons/the-home/.
4 Limmer, B. (2 September 2018). Unplug, and then plug in. Rest for the Stressed (sermon series). Sermon retrieved from https://victoryofthelamb.com/sermons/recharged/.

Meet the Blogger

Sammi Goodger is the Office Manager and Director of Communications at Victory of the Lamb.  She’s not an expert in family and faith, but she’s hoping to help herself and others grow closer to God and their families through sharing research and practical tips on relationships and faith.   She can be contacted here.