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From Lemonade to Lasting Hope
November 2020

Dear Erica Baldwin,

I had a good chunk of this newsletter written, then I came across this headline:

“I'm out of the lemonade business”: Michael J. Fox on the day his optimism ran out

Backspace. Delete. Begin again.

In case you don’t know who he is, Michael J. Fox is an icon of my childhood. He was an 80s sitcom star on Family Ties, he played Marty McFly in the Back to the Future movies, and he’s had a decades-long career as a successful actor. He’s also battled Parkinson’s disease since his 20s, and is known for his advocacy and optimism in spite of his obstacles.

Fox is back in the news because he’s released a new memoir, No Time Like the Future: An Optimist Considers Mortality, after an extremely difficult 2018 which included loss, injury, and literally learning to walk again. In this interview (you should read it), he says:

“...[T]he future is the last thing we run out of. We run out of breath. We run out of everything. Then there comes a point where we have no more future and that's the end of it. But until then there's always something in the future to be optimistic about, to look forward to. It may change our circumstances or it may not, but that will run out, so enjoy it while you have it.”

He ends on an optimistic note - giving a nod to gratitude and living the life you have to the fullest. While I applaud Fox’s resilience and appreciation for life even when we suffer, I sense his lack of true hope: “There comes a point where we have no more future.”

I began thinking about the difference between optimism and hope.

Aware or not, we all have an everlasting future, an eternity facing us. And for the blood-bought believer in Christ, that eternity is filled with joy, completion, and unity with Christ. Hope.

Optimism can fuel us only so far, but hope provides a never-ending supply of endurance, peace, and joy. Our circumstances can be grueling - illness, loneliness, unfulfilled longings, heartache (oh, how I’ve been there!) - but hope supplies the adrenaline to get to the finish line.

The object of our hope is Jesus. The outcome of our hope is eternal life and an inheritance beyond our imaginations. The evidence of our hope is to keep putting one foot in front of the other in obedience, patience, and faith.

Michael J. Fox has it almost right: “There's always something in the future to be optimistic about, to look forward to” -- in Christ. (my edit) Not just Pollyanna platitudes, true hope in Christ is life-changing. Oh, let's start living as hopeful and hope-filled Christians!

No more lemonade from lemons, y’all, but lasting hope in everlasting life. 

I pray you move beyond optimism and ground your faith in the true Hope-Giver. Want a printable of hope-filled verses? Download it hereHappy Thanksgiving (in the weirdest year ever) - may you cling to God's goodness even in a pandemic.

Oh His Goodness,

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. Romans 5:1-2

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. Romans 15:13

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. Revelation 21:4

On the Blog & Socials
Trusting the God of Tomorrow

Our indeterminate endings can be placed in God’s trustworthy hands.

Amazing Grace, Indeed

Reflections on verse 3 of this hymn - "His word my hope secures."

Goodness from Around the Web

Quiet Assurance, a new 30-day devotional book by my friend Thelma, walks through the Psalms and the language of lament. It’d make a great gift for a grieving friend. She writes, “Honest faith asks God to be who he has shown himself to be: near, faithful, good. Quiet humility accepts he is all of those things, even when our circumstances do not correct themselves.” 

(I can’t do affiliate links via email due to restrictions, but check out this page of my site with links and recommendations. Thanks so much!)

WISDOM TO LOVE THE HURTING

I’m not sure if you’ll be with family this holiday season (oh, 2020, just go away!), but in case you are with loved ones who are hurting or are fellowshipping via Zoom or phone calls, I’ve compiled some links that offer wise counsel. Holidays are an especially tender time for those with an aching heart.

What Not to Say to Someone Who’s Suffering
I just want someone to be there. To weep with me. To say she is sorry things are so hard. To not expect me to have perfect theology...What an amazing gift it is not to feel judged by every word I utter in desperation.

Three Things to Consider Before Sharing Scripture With a Hurting Friend
There is a back door for sharing Truth when the amygdala has taken over the brain’s logic center. For me, the back door is music and a hand to hold. For my child, it is food and/or the dog.

What to Say to Someone Who’s Grieving
We don’t have to say words to send a message. We can tell someone how much we care by showing up and by listening.

Podcast: Navigating Grief during the Holidays (38 minutes)
But to use their actual name somehow esteems your loss in it. It somehow demonstrates, I remember. And this person you loved, I loved him too and I miss him, too.

Podcast: The Surprising Power of Lament (32 minutes)
[T]he Bible gave voice to the fact that there are two things that happen in suffering. I believe that God is good, but this is really hard. And lament is the language of what you pray when you’re in pain that leads you to the point of trust.

This song, Blessings, was a lifeline to me during our four years of infertility; even now, I listen with tears. (7 minutes) Joni Eareckson Tada, introducing the song during a conference last year, offered this wisdom:

"Be with people
. Don’t slap biblical truth down like it were a pint of blood and say, ‘Here! Ingest this, this will do you good. You’ll feel a lot better; it will show you how to rejoice in suffering.’

Hook your spiritual veins up to the one who is bleeding out of control with depression and infuse your life into them. It’s going to cost you something, but normal Christian service is always sacrificial service.”

Finally, a little funny for your week. I laughed until I cried. My caption?

Tryin' to get to 2021 like...

Oh His Goodness

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Raleigh, NC 27615
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