“…It is only when everything is hopeless that hope begins to be a strength at all…” ~Jeremiah 31:17
I love to garden. When I shop at Pike’s I focus on and rescue the nearly dead plants. It’s a challenge to resuscitate flowers or to grow things from seed and other methods of propagation. But I love to work in all of those ways so that I can salvage life and share these treasures with others. One of my favorite plants is a rosebush that my mother started for me. Her lovely roses got their beginning in my grandmother’s yard. My dad’s mom took a “slip” from her backyard shrub and resurrected it for our yard. It still thrives at the base of the back door steps at Mother’s in West Virginia. While the bush is tall and gangly, these roses have the look of a cloth made of red velvet. In addition, they bloom all summer and into fall plus they smell heavenly! While most of the flowers that I grow remain out in the yard, this particular rose I bring inside as soon as the buds begin to open. This plant gives me great satisfaction.
So yesterday, just like I do most every fall, I clipped several tender shoots from the plant. I then add root hormone to the ends and planted them in potting soil. Covering them with Mason jars makes a cozy greenhouse to protect these young twigs. It is always my hope to reproduce this lovely, low-maintenance heirloom rose so that I can share it with dear friends.
All winter long I go out into the backyard to check on these rosebush wannabes. I trudge through the 2 feet of snow, uphill both ways, out to the sunny spot where the make shift greenhouse sets. I clip 4-6 shoots in hopes that 1 or 2 might actually take root and survive our ‘brutal’ Atlanta winters. I am ever hopeful that new life will emerge with the spring. This action is also a constant reminder to remember my mother in prayer as she faces the West Virginia winters where it really can snow 2 feet and more.
Most springs I am blessed with a new rosebush or two. But, I have had years when none of the plants took hold. I am ever hopeful that life will return if I am faithful to the task.
This kind of hope is not unlike the more eternal hope that Advent brings. In studying Jeremiah this year, my group has been blessed by what we’ve learned about the type of hope that Jeremiah mentions. He shares the promise from God that there is Hope for the children. In the midst of the siege by the Babylonians, Jeremiah teaches the people a great lesson on hope.
Eugene Peterson in Run With the Horses relates:
As long as matters are really hopeful, hope is just flattery. It is only when everything is hopeless that hope begins to be a strength at all. So at the moment the judgment is at hand Jeremiah speaks the word that evokes hope. There is more here than Babylonians at the gate; there is God in your midst. Jeremiah from his prison in the palace court, a distinctly unhopeful place, pours out his message: “There’s hope for your children. ” Jeremiah 31:17.
Hope commits us to actions that connect with God’s promises. It’s more than wishing. Hope is reliance upon grace even in the face of death: the issue is that hope is living constantly, patiently, expectantly, resiliently, joyously in the word of God.
Let’s make this advent season one of hopeful action-that the Christ child is making a difference in our words and actions not just during Advent, but also throughout the year.
God, let us claim the promises of your word. Thank you that we do have hope that our children have hope. Help us live in such a way that others will see the Hope and want to have it for their own lives.
Johns Creek Baptist Church