Links Daily Devotional

Hope, Then and Now

We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Thessalonians 1:3, NIV)

People say that the first drive and the first hole will determine how your round goes. We have all experienced grand plans on the first tee, and we have all been reduced to dejection after a water ball or three-putt double on the first hole. If you have played the game long enough, this is bound to happen to you. So here: have a mulligan!

In golf, just like in life, we know for a fact that adversity will come. We still don’t like it. As a child, I remember playing video games. After messing up at the start of a new level, the START OVER button is awesome!

Yes, everyone loves to undo a bad beginning with an immediate do-over. But the problem with a quick fix is that we skip the lesson of enduring through adversity.

So how can we learn endurance despite our flesh, despite our culture that says blessings and ease are what “good” people reap? We know that if we try to do this in our own strength, we will fail. If we say in our heart, “I will endure because then God will bless me,” then we are not seeking God, but our own plan. This agenda can become an idol in our heart. And we will get frustrated if our hardship persists, saying, “What good did it do me to persevere and work hard and keep serving God?” Adversity is not always removed: God left Paul’s thorn. Many apostles and other Christians have suffered to the point of death. Troubles linger for us all.

Today’s verse helps us learn where endurance is found. It is inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. When I pause to reflect on this, hope for both eternity and now comes to mind. Jesus gives us hope in eternal life through His gift of grace. But he also gives us hope now through His Spirit—by loving us, comforting us, guiding us, and giving us peace in this life. This hope, placed in the Son of God, is so much greater than the hope for a sunny day, the hope that the cake turns out to be good, or the hope that I play well today. These are all casual, finite, uncertain, and culturally driven.

The Christian hope goes beyond this present world. If Jesus is who he said he is, then this hope is firm. No other person has claimed to be God and has prophecy, miracles, eyewitness testimonies and historical accounts to support that claim. Our hope is made certain in his sacrifice and resurrection.

We say we have this hope, but do we really believe it deep in our hearts? Are we willing to let it change us and shape us? What kind of joy and endurance would we have in the face of life’s challenges if this truth dwelled in us? Christ is the only one who endured perfectly, and he can guide us through all trials. We can have great endurance through Christ because we know that our sufferings will end one day, when either he returns or calls us home. Thanks be to God for his enduring love and promise! “And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast” (1 Peter 5:10).

Next time we have a perceived “bad” start in life or in golf, we can see it as an opportunity to let Christ renew our mind and equip our hearts to endure. We can surrender to his perfect omniscient work in our lives and let go of what we had planned in our spiritual myopia. For one day, when we see how his beautiful plan has unfolded, we will praise God!

Isabelle Beisiegel

September 24, 2012

Copyright 2012 Links Players International

The Links Daily Devotional appears Monday-Friday at www.linksplayers.com.