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Looking for Hope

Words by Jenna Marie Masters | Illustrations by Marie Warner Preston

Has something ever appeared so unlikely, so improbable that you've laughed? Then you're in good company! In Genesis 18 we catch a glimpse of Sarah's fragile hope and are reminded that nothing is too hard for God.

A mama bird once decided to build her nest in our rotting patio cover. She was the best mama, tirelessly tending to life among the decay. I had hoped we would tear down the cover and replace it with beautiful wood but now found myself praying it would stay up a while longer. I was rooting for the hope of new life.

We’re often eager to bulldoze the things that aren’t perfectly lovely in our life; we don’t want to have to squint to see the potential. The world doesn’t have patience for this. It preaches that if your marriage is struggling, end it. If your friend betrays you, cut them off. If your body grows weary of persisting, stop trying.

This is the world’s way. It is not God’s way.

Don’t bring in the demolition crew so quickly. Instead, look for hope, even if the promise is huddled in a fragile shell.

That is what God does when He looks at us. What Sarah sees as “worn out” and “too old,” God sees as a vessel for His glory (Genesis 18:12). In the barren woman, He catches a glimpse of faith. And where there is faith, miracles are born. Because “by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she considered him faithful” (Hebrews 11:11). Yes, Sarah laughs when God says He will fulfil His promise through her old bones, but she does not laugh at the Promiser. Because even “if we are faithless, He remains faithful” (2 Timothy 2:13).

God allowed a baby to be born from faith’s seed. Seeds are small. Sometimes our faith will be almost imperceptible—cling to hope anyway. When you’re holding broken bits of a marriage, friendship, career, finances, or health in your hands, think of Sarah. Offer up the pieces, along with all the faith you can muster, and trust that God can do a mighty work. Think of the delicate egg perched in our dilapidated patio, holding the possibility of life and death, and of the mama bird focused on signs of life, just like our God looks for signs of faith. Why would rickety boards or an old lady’s bones discourage Him?! Just as He says to Abraham and Sarah: “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” (Genesis 18:14).

Jesus wants us to look at the mountain in front of us, and in faith, tell it to move (Matthew 17:20).

Even when we feel faithless, we can follow the example of the disciples and ask God to increase our faith (Luke 17:5). When we’re brave enough to do this, we’re acknowledging that God’s ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8–9). Birthing new life from old bones is God’s way; letting a baby bird hatch in a termite palace is God’s way. Patiently hover over these truths. Ask for the Holy Spirit to breathe life into every situation. Try not to focus on the broken boards framing the circumstances but surrender to the craftsman of your soul.

What have you been tempted to ‘bulldoze’ in your own life? Grab a blank piece of paper and brainstorm with the Holy Spirit. What ‘seeds of hope’ is God inviting you to see? How can you partner with Him and plant those seeds?

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