Friday, January 06, 2006

Great Expectations 2006

I am part of an autism elist that sends out daily scripture and prayer. It is awesome. I have been so blessed by this ministry. This came today. I am blown away by the relevance of this epistle. If you would like to participate in this elist, click on the link 'children of destiny.' I don't read the emails everyday, but I am seriously blessed every day that I do. His word has a way of doing that for His children. Praise Him!
One evening not long ago, I was spending some time with my wonderful husband, Jack. That night I was weary and discouraged. After five years of dealing with the awful affects of autism, my vigor was waning. I was tired and low. In an effort to help revitalize my strength, Jack suggested that perhaps we needed to spend more time in prayer after the kids were in bed at night.

I burst into tears. “What more does God expect of me? I have no energy left at the end of the day after all I have to deal with! And now I have to spend what little time I have for myself doing one more thing?” I have to admit that my reaction shocked me as much as it shocked Jack. Without warning, up and out of me came truth of the depth of hopelessness that I had fallen into.

It became clear I had to go back to the Lord to allow Him to minister to me, if nothing else. How did it get this bad? I had become a living example of Proverbs 13:12, “hope deferred makes the heart sick.” My heart was sick and I had grown weary. In 2005 we had seen little progress with Nicholas, dealing with full-syndrome autism, and had come to the sad realization that our second son, Sam, was also dealing with significant developmental delays. I began expecting bad days – and I got them. The real question then became not “what does God expect of me?” but, “what do I expect of God?”

As I allowed the Lord to minister to me, I began to realize that the discouragement and hopelessness I was feeling was the result of my own self-pity. I had begun to focus more on the loss and pain I was suffering rather focusing on God’s future and His promises. The result was pessimism. I had lost sight of the love of God in my life and in the lives of my children. I had lost my expectation in God for a victorious future.

Then the Lord reminded of something else – future is synonymous with expectation. I went to the dictionary just to see if the terms were linked. I discovered that one definition of future is “an expected state.” And in one definition of expectation is “a confident belief or strong hope that a particular event will happen in the future.” There is no question that one coincides with the other.

God is able to move on our behalf when we expect Him to do so. It really is a simple matter of faith. Do we have faith in God or not? The answer to that question really does determine the path we will follow and what the future holds. It determines how much we will allow God to move on our behalf.

For me, I am determined to shake off the hopelessness and discouragement of this past year. I am choosing to awake each day and make a declaration of God’s goodness every day before the demands of the day overtake me. This is a great exercise for any Christian. The Psalms are full of wonderful declarations of God’s power and faithfulness in the midst of adversity. It may be good to read a passage aloud each morning – even if it’s only a few sentences. Some examples are:

• “But I call to God, and the LORD saves me. Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and he hears my voice.” (Ps 55:16-17, NIV)

• “With God we will gain the victory, and he will trample down our enemies.” (Ps 60:12, NIV)

• “Proclaim the power of God, whose majesty is over Israel, whose power is in the skies.” (Ps 68:34, NIV)

• “Your ways, O God, are holy. What god is so great as our God? You are the God who performs miracles; you display your power among the peoples.” (Ps 77:13-14, NIV)

• “For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.” (Ps 84:11, NIV)

These are only a few passages from the Psalms. There are great statements of faith we can declare from both the Old and New Testaments.

This exercise is more than just making positive statements or wishful thinking. It is allowing hope in a mighty God who is able to do all He has said to begin to rise up within our hearts. It is declaring the truth, which will set us free. That in itself will bring a measure of healing to a sick heart.

But there’s more. As we truly grab hold of hope in God, it will transcend into faith. With our faith arising, God can then grab hold of our circumstance and cause us to overcome. And it is through faith that we will see demonstrations of God’s power. He has the power to heal, the power to deliver, the power to set us free. And, yes, He also has the desire to do so on our behalf. The only true way for us to tap into the power of God, not only for ourselves, but for our children, is to expect Him to move.

In 2006, Jack and I have determined that we will allow an expectation of God’s love and His power to determine our future. We will wake in the mornings declaring that we have God’s strength for today and hope for tomorrow. We will choose not to live “under the circumstances” of our lives, but we will catch a new wind of strength to soar above them. We will expect to have the joy of the Lord. We will expect to see good things for our children.

Does that mean nothing discouraging will happen in the coming year? No. But we can choose each and every day what our response will be. We can either walk in self-pity and doubt, or expect to see God’s hand move in our circumstances. We have determined that no matter what the year brings, we are going to believe in God’s faithfulness to us, we are going to expect to tap into His overcoming strength, and we are going to expect that He will move with power on our behalf. We are expecting a great year in 2006.

Take a moment as we begin this new year to allow a fresh hope in God’s great faithfulness to come on you. Read Psalm 66. And then answer the question for yourself: what is your expectation of 2006?

May the Lord richly bless you in this coming year,
Jack and Rebecca Sytsema


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