An author friend of mine from California writes great blog posts about hope. I swapped with her this week since we both share our findings of hope in our world from opposite places in the nation. I pray you’re blessed by her wonderful post this week. You can read more of her posts, and see mine this week on her site at www.carolshope.com.
Blessing in an “Annus Horribilis”
By Carol Nicolet Loewen
In a speech marking the 40th anniversary of her succession, Queen Elizabeth II referred to 1992 as an “annus horribilis,” a horrible year. Many of us would say the same of 2020.
Our country is in the midst of an ever-expanding pandemic as we wait and pray for an effective vaccine. We have isolated, masked, attended church, family, and business meetings on Zoom. We are hitting new highs for COVID-19 hospitalizations and are cautioned against being together with family members for Thanksgiving and Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa holidays. Fires and floods have taken lives, homes, animals, property. And our election results are still in question, with the media quick to step in with their interpretation before waiting for the final electoral vote in December.
We need hope. And out of that hope we need love that goes beyond our differences.
I heard a statistic recently that more than 80% of Americans–whether Democrat or Republican, Christian or non-Christian, church-goer or non-church goer–say they have no friends who see the world differently than they see it, politically and theologically. We prefer to stay in our own comfort zones rather than deliberately choosing to know and learn to love someone who is “unlike” us. And nothing divides us like fear. Fear of loss … of control, safety, rights, freedom, health, power, economic stability, and on and on.
We look for affirmation, security, and love in a variety of ways, many of which are not only unproductive, but potentially dangerous.
- The sexually abused daughter who grows up to become promiscuous, believing physical intimacy is the way to gain security through the approval of men.
- The son who has never been able to please his father, continues to push himself, trying ever harder to get an “atta boy”. He becomes a workaholic who is almost an absentee parent.
- The tycoon who thinks his business success will buy him security.
- The perfectionist who continually beats herself up because she could have “done it better,” never satisfied despite awards and recognition.
- The rioters and looters who attack and destroy businesses of those they claim to defend.
What we’re looking for is a blessing. “Blessing” is defined as God’s favor and protection; a special favor, mercy or benefit. Three thousand years ago, God gave Moses a blessing for the people of Israel, which my lovely mother sang at my wedding. It still carries deep meaning.
“The Lord bless you and keep you;
the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you;
the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.” Numbers 6:24-26
Only in the blessing of God do we find unconditional love which remains constant, not because of who we are or what we do, but because of who HE is.
“Thy love is uncaused and undeserved. Thou art Thyself the reason for the love wherewith we are loved.” (A.W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy, p. 97)
God has chosen to delight in me. What an amazing, life-altering fact! I don’t have to earn His love. I can’t. I simply need to receive it, bask in it, find my security in it. And when I am secure in His love, I am able to love others and fear begins to evaporate.
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. I John 4:18
So then how can I GIVE a blessing to others? In a video, an impatient man is given a pair of “all-seeing” glasses. People who before were irritants or interruptions are seen through a new lens—recognizing one needs a hug, a woman just lost a dear friend, a man lost his job. Seeing their pain, the man responds very differently than before.
I pray for eyes to see and ears to hear, so I can bless those around me … with a warm smile, a listening heart, a “thank you” to store clerks, health care professionals, and others. I want to intentionally affirm those I love and those who need encouragement.
I have needed a blessing these past weeks. Have you?
What choices will you make this week to receive and give the blessing? I’d love to interact with you at carolshope.com.
And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love,may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:17b-19
Carol Nicolet Loewen writes of hope from the depths of her own loss. She resides in San Jose, California with her lovely second husband and their dog, Paige. Marrying a wonderful man at age 36 and losing him twenty years later taught her to value every moment, that we can survive loss, move ahead and even love again. It also allowed Carol to experience God’s faithfulness during the hardest time of her life. She is working on her first book, a historical novel of hope set in Bolshevik Russia, and loves to connect with her readers at carolshope.com.