Hope and Joy for Things to Come

Romans 5: 1-11

Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we[a] have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access[b] to this grace in which we stand; and we[c] boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we[d] also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us. For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die. But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us. Much more surely then, now that we have been justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath of God.[e] 10 For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more surely, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life. 11 But more than that, we even boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

There are several bright yellow daffodils that are blooming in my front flower bed right now. I’ve come to expect them every year about this time but the first year we lived in Longview they surprised me. We live in the parsonage so you never know what might be planted out of sight waiting to surprise you in a home passed down through many pastors. The first winter we lived here was particularly cold, we had a three day stretch where snow piles actually stayed on the ground! It was also a hard winter as we adjusted to life in a new community and dealt with several personal losses in our families.

We’d had a great deal of struggle and sorrow and were just trying to make it through. Early January I noticed the little green shoots in the front flower bed but I had no idea what it could be. And honestly I wasn’t interested. After a while the little green shoots were just part of the landscape and I didn’t notice them anymore. Until one day I turned the corner onto our street and I was greeted by big, bright yellow daffodils. They were so cheerful and unexpected that it made me stop and catch my breath.

I felt such a deep sense of joy and I was reminded of the truth that hope and joy exist even in the midst of hard, cold seasons of life. Throughout the season of Lent, things can seem so somber as we take a hard look at our lives, repent, and fast from things that separate us from God. Even when this season of the church comes later in the year it still feels like winter to me. It feels like a season of reflection and suffering. In the midsts of those seasons, where it feels like there is a lot of loss, struggle, and even death I remember the daffodil bulbs that are planted down deep.

They need the cold in order to bloom. And when the rest of the garden is still brown, they spring up as a welcome reminder that good things grow in tough times. Those hard seasons are holy ground where God is doing His most impressive work making us into new creations. The winter prepares the ground for spring. The cold makes the daffodils bloom.

The struggle pushes us to remember the goodness of our God who loves us so much that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us proving God’s love.

We remember we are not the one who controls the weather but we do get to enjoy the flowers.

We remember that hope and joy are planted down deep in each of us growing with each day as we grow in faith and grace.

Rev. Becca Newcomb is an Associate Pastor at Longview First United Methodist Church. If you are ever in Longview, Becca and the rest of the congregation would love to have you come worship with them.

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