This is the fourth in a Lenten series on Hope.

The apostle Paul is sitting in a prison, penning a letter to his friends in Philippi. Life is uncertain, his future hopeless; death is imminent, only the date is unsure. How do you nurture hope when there is no hope for change? The trajectory of life, perhaps due to chronic pain or a terminal disease, offers no promise of relief.

Last week's post on hope brought into focus hope's relationship to the past. But what if there is no relationship between hope and your future? While Christians can move the marker of hope into the world that's coming, our certain future hope, is there a way that hope can still relate to our present?

Paul gives us an answer from his jail. 

"For I fully expect and hope that I will never be ashamed, but that I will continue to be bold for Christ, as I have been in the past. And I trust that my life will bring honor to Christ, whether I live or die."

Saturday evening we attended a benefit concert for a friend of our daughter's who is struggling with leukemia. The evening's outpouring of love and music was to encourage and honor a person whose gentle, humble character along with his amazing proficiency as an accompanist has touched many in our community. At the end of the concert, he took the podium to thank his wife and those who had come to honor him. He closed by saying, "All that I have ever done, I have done to bring glory to God." Then taking a seat at the piano, he played a heartfelt rendition of "To God Be the Glory."

When we feel as if it takes all of our energy just to perform the simple tasks of life, it is hard to hope that our lives might bring God glory, As our ability to "do" diminishes, life seems to close in upon us. Paul's hope is that he will continue to put his trust in God's grace to fill his life. "When I am weak, He is strong," he will say earlier in his life. (2 Cor 12:10).

Life with God is life in God. As we lessen, God's presence has more room to fill the space that constitutes our soul. Fear of diminishment may tempt us to close ourselves off from help, especially that which God is yearning to pour into us. But faith that we are connected with God, no matter what, keeps our souls open for loving strength to enter.

This daily strength, no matter what our circumstances or physical state, is what we can hope for. Not our ability to handle life, as much as our belief that our lives are knit together with God's. That no matter our situation, comfort, courage, and grace will flow as we stay open. This can be our hope, and acting on this hope, our lives bring glory to the one whose joy is to meet our every need.

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