Shining with Hope

I wrote this piece back in January, when the COVID-19 crisis seemed far off and was something only occasionally in my newsfeed. But as the deadline for this piece came closer, I realized that while the topics of everyday conversation have changed drastically for most of us, the sentiment is still the same. While we are all juggling things that we probably never thought we would have to, God is still the same, He always has been, and always will be (Hebrews 13:8). 

My ears always perk up when I hear the certain notification of my WhatsApp. There’s only one friend I use that app with. It began when we were both traveling abroad and couldn’t text with our regular numbers and we just kept on afterwards. I told her it’s like our own little international thing.

We often leave each other voice messages; she’s normally walking her dog, I’m normally driving in the car. It’s a cadence of our lives, checking in, reaching for community, asking ridiculous questions, and talking about what we ordered off Amazon.

Today’s message followed a pattern we’ve had since the beginning of the year. It started with a familiar refrain of “I’m praying for you” then went on through a laundry list of hard things. Since Thanksgiving our families have dealt with major sicknesses and chronic illness, kids seeing specialist doctors (one leading to surgery), parents getting older and needing care, the passing away of a grandparent, a flooded basement, and a kitchen remodel. That’s on top of spouses traveling for work, and the everyday busy-ness of life.

But it ended with my friend saying something I can’t stop thinking about.

“Thank you for limping along this journey with me.”

I laughed until I almost cried. That was exactly what we’ve both been doing. Limping along, doing our best, making do with what we have, feeling like we were receiving just enough grace to deal with each day.

It made me think of Romans 5:3-5, “Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

You see, my friend shines with hope. She almost always sees the bright side. She loves Jesus in a way that He shines right through her. She’s known suffering, gained endurance through those trials, has proven her character is built upon the Lord with her service to His kingdom, and has the hope of Jesus.

The last few months have not gone our way and we have not resolved some of these big things yet. But we’ve held on to our faith, our various loving communities in our churches, and our other friends who support us through it all. And it’s shown in the way we’ve grown closer to each other and the Lord.

Are you handling hard things today, or even a lot of little things? Don’t forget, the Holy Spirit is there to help comfort and guide you, even if you are lonely or aren’t sure where your community is. God’s love is there to surround you even when you are handling hard things. 

Even as we look differently at community and try to figure out how that looks in our churches, friend groups, and towns, continue to reach out to those around you. Be creative in the ways that you connect, but be sure that you are connected, to people and to Christ.

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About Cara Kipp

Cara and her husband, Adam, have ministered in a small-town church for more than a dozen years. The town is small, but sadly not small enough that she can raise chickens. However, she is raising three plucky kids and a six-toed cat. Since being saved as a teenager, she’s been involved with the local church, using her passion for women and intergenerational ministry in church planting and church strengthening. She has a passion for Jesus, working out, knitting, and coffee.

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