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#391645 - 03/31/12 04:13 PM Re: Daily Meditation [Re: JustScott]
JustScott Offline
Greeter Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/27/08
Posts: 2568
Then they led him away to crucify him.
Matthew 27:31

There are days when we find it difficult, if not impossible, to sustain hope. The day of Jesus' death was such a day. It was a day of despair for all who had put their hope in him. It was a day of unbearable grief for those who had been changed by his love. In such terrible moments hope disappears. Darkness seems to be all that remains. God seems absent.

It is, however, one of the most fundamental convictions of the Christian faith that, in those times when hope seems unattainable, God is at work. In that moment when even Jesus had a difficult time sustaining hope in God's redemptive purposes, God was fighting the decisive battle which would extend the rule of the Kingdom to all peoples. In that moment of terror, the foundations of reality were exposed and God was at work on the deep structures of the world. God could do work at that moment which would have been impossible during ordinary times.

Much the same is true of our moments of hopelessness. It is when hope grows weakest that our foundations are most exposed. It is when the struggle to sustain hope is most difficult that God can work on the deep structure of our persons. It is at those times that God can reach the unreachable crevices of our hearts and work on regions where fear and despair seem to reign.

It is a terrible thing to lose hope. But all is not lost. Though we lose hope, God is still at work. It may be that during our season of hopelessness God will extend the rule of the Kingdom of God into new regions of our lives.

In those times when I cannot hope, Lord,
help me to remember the work which
you accomplished during Jesus' hour of darkness.
Remind me, when I lose all hope,
that all hope is not gone
because you continue your work in me.
Extend the rule of your kingdom
into the deepest regions of my heart
where fear and despair have reigned for too long.
Amen

Copyright Dale and Juanita Ryan

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#391773 - 04/01/12 01:22 PM Re: Daily Meditation [Re: JustScott]
JustScott Offline
Greeter Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/27/08
Posts: 2568
. . . the tender mercy of our God,
by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven
to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death
to guide our feet into the path of peace
Luke 1:78-79

Many of us grew up expecting bad things. Some of us learned to expect physical abuse. As a result we may find ourselves covering our heads to ward off a blow when someone is offering a hug. Others of us learned to expect to be neglected. As a result we may experience confusion or fear when someone shows an interest in getting to know us. Expectations which are formed early in life are difficult for us to change. It is not an easy thing to allow ourselves to hope when our hopes have been disappointed over and over again in the past.

Learning to hope, however, means opening ourselves to the possibility that the future may be different from what we have known in the past. To hope is to allow ourselves to anticipate the possibility of good things. Hope is the expectation of good. It is the ability to look for the rising of the sun, while sitting in the predawn darkness.

Our hope for the future is rooted in a conviction about God's character. It is because of God's tender mercies that we find it possible to hope. Because of God's character -- tender and full of mercy -- the sun will rise. We can anticipate good things because God is a good and loving God.
=

I know what it is like to live in darkness, Lord.
My house has been built in the shadow of death.
God of mercy, heal me.
God of tenderness, give light.
Build in me a capacity for hope.
Rise on my darkness, Lord.
Guide my feet out of the paths of fear
and into the path of peace.
Amen.

Copyright Dale and Juanita Ryan

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#391863 - 04/02/12 03:15 AM Re: Daily Meditation [Re: JustScott]
Thebo Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 02/16/11
Posts: 326
Loc: NYC

Thanks, Scott.

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#391879 - 04/02/12 07:50 AM Re: Daily Meditation [Re: Thebo]
JustScott Offline
Greeter Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/27/08
Posts: 2568
It's an honor to be able to share these. I'm glad I can do it.

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#391880 - 04/02/12 07:50 AM Re: Daily Meditation [Re: JustScott]
JustScott Offline
Greeter Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/27/08
Posts: 2568
I will remember the deeds of the Lord;
yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.
I will meditate on all your works
and consider all your mighty deeds.
Psalm 77:11-12

Sometimes hope fails us because of the pain of present circumstances. The intensity of the daily struggle can overwhelm us and crowd out hope for the future. We find ourselves unable to focus on a hope-full future because we cannot see beyond the burdens of the present. But we need hope in order to continue the journey. Without it we cannot go on. Without hope there is only the despair that comes when we think nothing will ever change.

Reviewing our experiences of God's help in the past is one way of nurturing hope. When present events crowd out hope, leaving despair and fear, we can turn to the disciplines of remembering. It can sustain our faith and renew our determination to continue the journey.

Remembering is not an easy discipline for us. Our memory is not good. Even miracles seem to age quickly - they become 'miracles of long ago'. Things that seemed unimaginably wonderful at the time can quickly fade in our memory as present concerns demand our attention. Dramatic breakthroughs in recovery that seemed to be powerful signs of God's grace and presence may seem painfully ordinary after a few months. For this reason it may be necessary to find someone to help us with the discipline of remembering. Hope can often be renewed by asking a trusted friend to remind us where we have been. An objective review of the journey to this point helps us see God's sustaining grace in our lives. And that gives us the hope to go on.

Lord, help me to remember the specific ways
you have sustained me in the past.
Help me to remember how I have changed.
Help me to remember your love and grace
so that I can grow in my capacity for hope today.
Amen.

Copyright Dale and Juanita Ryan

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#392017 - 04/03/12 07:22 AM Re: Daily Meditation [Re: JustScott]
JustScott Offline
Greeter Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/27/08
Posts: 2568
Those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.
Isaiah 40:31

Hope gives us strength. We need strength for the journey of recovery. We need strength to make the changes that need to be made -- and strength to grieve the losses which come with change. We need strength to keep on keeping on. Recovery requires a great deal of physical, emotional and spiritual strength. We draw that strength day-to-day from hope.

There are times when hope will allow us to soar. We will feel the exhilaration of change and new freedom. We will think about the future and imagine good things. We will soar with gratitude and joy because of hope.

There are other times when hope will allow us to run and not grow weary. We will keep going. Keep changing. Keep working. Keep feeling. We may get tired but hope will keep us from getting weary and wanting to give up. Hope helps us to keep running.

There are other times when hope will allow us to walk without fainting. Some days, in our recovery journey, continuing the journey at all is very difficult. The struggle we face may be so intense that we would faint if it were not for hope. But hope helps us to take the next step. One slow step at a time. Step by step, without fainting.

Thank you, Lord, for the gift of hope.
Thank you for the days when hope
allows me to soar.
And for the days when it
allows me to keep running.
And thank you for the days when hope
gives me the courage to walk
without fainting.
Thank you for hope.
Amen.

Copyright Dale and Juanita Ryan

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#392146 - 04/04/12 07:49 AM Re: Daily Meditation [Re: JustScott]
JustScott Offline
Greeter Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/27/08
Posts: 2568
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
Jeremiah 29:11

Hope is about the future. It may be oriented to the next hour, or the next day, or the next month or year or decade. But hope is always about anticipation.

Those of us who like to control things often find hope difficult because we do not control the future. Many of us are compulsive makers-of-plans. We are willing to work ourselves to death trying to make our plans become reality. But when our hopes and vision for the future are based only on what we can control, our vision is inevitably narrowed and impoverished.

We need to remind ourselves regularly, therefore, that God's vision for the future is better than our own. God sees possibilities and opportunities that we cannot see. The horizons of God's imagination are not bounded. When we root our hope in God, a totally different future is possible. It is not a future we can control. God's plans may not be the same as our plans. But we can return again and again to God as our source of hope.

God has been clear about our future. It is God's intention to give us a hope and a future. This is not a promise of a trouble-free life. It is not a promise of immunity from struggle. But it is a promise of hope. God has been with us in the past. God is with us in the present. And God will be with us in the future.

Thank you for paying attention to my future, Lord.
Thank you for making plans.
Help me today to rest in the thought that
your plans for me include blessing.
Open my heart today to the hope and the future
you have prepared for me.
Amen.

Copyright Dale and Juanita Ryan

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#392263 - 04/05/12 08:33 AM Re: Daily Meditation [Re: JustScott]
JustScott Offline
Greeter Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/27/08
Posts: 2568
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 15:13

Hope does not usually come as the just reward for our hard work and struggle. It comes as a gift. The experience of hope is very much like the experience of receiving a surprise gift that is perfectly suited to our needs. A really good gift is one that fits perfectly both the giver and the receiver. Hope fits our needs perfectly. But if a gift is out of character with the giver, then it may be difficult for the receiver to accept without reservations. Fortunately, hope is just the kind of gift that fits God's character. It is a perfect fit for God. The God of Hope loves to give hope.

We need to remind ourselves daily that we do not serve the god-of-relentless-cheerfulness, or the god-of-naivete, or the god-of-blind-optimism. We serve the God of Hope. God is hope-full and loves to share his hope-full-ness with us. We can come to God with our fear, doubt and despair and God will give good gifts to us. When all other reasons for hope fail us, we can return to the God of Hope because God is greater than our disappointment, greater than our failure, greater than the problems and conflicts in our hearts and our homes and our communities and our world.

Surprise me today, Lord.
Surprise me with hope.
Open my eyes to see you clearly.
Help me to see your hope-full-ness.
By the power of the Holy Spirit,
cause me to overflow with hope.
Amen

Copyright Dale and Juanita Ryan

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#392488 - 04/06/12 12:18 PM Re: Daily Meditation [Re: JustScott]
JustScott Offline
Greeter Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/27/08
Posts: 2568
The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, 'Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and "sinners."'
Luke 7:33-34

One of the accusations made by the religious leaders of Jesus' day was that he partied with undesirables. It was unacceptable in their minds to associate in any way with undesirables. That would make you 'unclean'. But it was particularly unacceptable to party with undesirables. Then, as now, religion was thought to be very serious business, much too serious for the kind of celebrations that Jesus enjoyed. Religion was supposed to be about intellectual abstractions and theological detail - not about going to dinner parties with unsavory characters.

In his teachings Jesus draws extensively on the Old Testament themes of the Sabbath, the Jubilee and the messianic feast to make a point. Jesus told many stories about God's love for celebration. When the lost is found, the finder throws a feast. When the prodigal returns, the father has a party. When a single person repents, the angels rejoice. And on and on. Jesus, the man of sorrows, was also a man of celebration and joy.

Like the religious leaders of Jesus' day, we may sometimes find ourselves resistant to joy. We may resist joy because we fear disappointment. Or we may resist joy because it doesn't seen congruent with being a serious minded person of faith. We may resist joy because we have been shamed or even punished for being overly enthusiastic as a child.

It is a risk to make room for joy in our lives. Joy requires that we be open to the possibility of experiencing conflicting emotions. If we wait to experience joy until our anger, grief and self-condemnation are completely gone, then we will wait a long time. But it is possible to experience joy without denying or avoiding other more painful emotions. We can follow Jesus' example of joy today. When joy comes, we can receive it. It is a good gift from God.

Lord of joy,
Lord of celebration,
Open my heart to the possibility of joy today.
Help me to tolerate the confusion that comes when sorrow and joy
live side by side in my heart.
Give me the courage to
joyfully celebrate life.
Amen.

Copyright Dale and Juanita Ryan

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#392653 - 04/07/12 03:29 PM Re: Daily Meditation [Re: JustScott]
JustScott Offline
Greeter Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/27/08
Posts: 2568
O lord, you turned my wailing into dancing;
you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
that my heart may sing to you and not be silent.
Psalm 30:11,12

Sometimes it can seem that all there is to life is grief. We face painful realities and allow ourselves to feel the painful feelings. But grief is only for a season. There will come a season for joy. In fact one of the most surprising things about the recovery process is that as we grow in our capacity for experiencing deep emotional pain we also enlarge our capacity for experiencing joy. Recovery is not just about learning to experience unpleasant emotions. It is about learning to feel the full range of life's emotions.

Imagine for a moment that you are 'clothed' in grief. God grieves with you. It is a time for wailing. Few words pass between you. But there is a great deal of emotion. Then, one day God brings you a new set of clothes. They are the clothes of joy. The time comes to change clothes. Your heart begins to sing. The time of wailing is over. The time for dancing has come.

Who can say how long this will take? It certainly cannot be rushed. But God is prepared to be with us through the whole process. God understands joy. God clothes us with joy and teaches us to dance and sing.

For teaching me to dance, Lord,
I give you thanks.
You are a good teacher.
My heart dances before you, Lord.
Your goodness endures forever.

For teaching me to sing, Lord,
I am grateful.
You are a good teacher.
My heart sings to you, Lord.
Your goodness endures forever.

Amen.

Copyright Dale and Juanita Ryan

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