Yesterday was Palm Sunday. We were given little crosses made out of palm fronds at church. The liturgy was different. The vestment colors were different. And as I dealt with a 3 year old who threw up all over her church dress and her carseat… and as I bounced a fussy, overtired little 4 month old… I was happily comforted in the reminders that my Jesus, my King, is Lord over all things ~ both small and great. He came in lowly ways. He ministered in the daily things. He came to save.
My mind repeatedly wandered back to a year ago… six weeks pregnant with Sweet Teen… and the terrible dance of hope & doubt I was enduring…
So today, I am sharing with you something I wrote that day; last year on Palm Sunday. It’s as true today as it was 366 days ago. Hallelujah! Hosanna in the highest!
Today was Palm Sunday—a day full of good reminders of our King who reigns, of His lowly entry and faithful rule, of how we as His people can & should cry out to Him, hosanna! Save us now, Lord, we pray! One of my sons in heaven is named Hosanna, and I love the excuse to say his name. When I do, I am crying to the only One who can save to the uttermost. This morning’s church service, as we visited a church we love a couple hours away, began with the choir, pastors, and dozens of children processing through the sanctuary with palms in their hands while we all sang to the Lord of His glory and honor, lauding Him with our praise. We cried out to Him beseeching Him to save us! And since we are on the other side of the story, we know with confidence that He is the Savior! He has saved us! He didtriumphantly bear our sins and conquer death, saving us from the holds of those shackles! Amen!
But we are still in the midst of the story. This morning I felt painfully, acutely aware that the story continues.
I sat there with my family, in the midst still of our own story of asking the Lord to save and preserve and give us life in place of death, begging Him with every little panting breath to cause this baby to live…
In front of us was a family whose daughter suffered a terrible cancer some years ago, and the Lord preserved her precious life, and there she sat with parents and siblings, with health glowing in her cheeks and hair and the saving presence of the Lord spilling from her eyes as she sang…
In front of them sat a family who buried another son this very week—the Lord saved their little boy by ushering him to heaven, and now He saves this family every moment by upholding them even in the midst of horrible grief…
I cried repeatedly.
Suffering everywhere I looked. Sometimes already redeemed. Sometimes not yet.
It is hard to wait for the redemption, and wonder whether we will see it here in this life, or whether we will be yet waiting to see it in the next.
And then Pastor Sumpter preached on hope & joy.
He said, so much of joy is bound up in hope.
How painfully, purely accurate.
I am so afraid to hope and so afraid to be joyful. Even though there is a sliver of me that wants to shout from the rooftops that the Lord has filled my womb—I want to plan and prepare and anticipate and expect an autumn baby—I want to let the kids kiss my tummy and pray aloud all day for the little baby without wincing in my heart of anxiety—I want to talk about baby names for this little person, to embrace this pregnancy rather than moment by moment telling myself not to get attached.
Today we heard an exhortation to ignore the voices in our head that shout realism and logic and probabilities. We ought to rather take joy in hoping, and not to grow weary if we have to keep asking. It is exactly realism, logic probabilities, and my own history that causes me to limit my joy and squelch my hope. But we serve the Lord who delights in giving good gifts, who takes pleasure in acting outside the boundaries which people expect of Him, who came in order to redeem the broken places so that our joy could be full and our hope renewed.
So this week, even as I constantly preach truth to myself not to give in to anxiety just because it certainly doesn’t do any of us any good, I will also be reminding myself day by day to be joyful even when I don’t know the end of the story. Because that is why Christ came. I rejoice in hope—and this hope is not bound up or settled on the things of this world. This hope in which I rejoice is bound up and settled on the glory of God. And because of this, because of God’s glory, we can rejoice fully! Even when suffering comes. Even when endurance is necessary. When character is tried, tested, affirmed. (Romans 2:1-5)
This hope is not foolish. Hope that is grounded in God’s glory will not put us to shame. He died for me. So that I could have hope. So that I could rejoice.
So as I remind myself of these things this week, walking toward Easter as well as taking daily steps further and further into my pregnancy, I will remember the joy and the hope along with the suffering and the grief. It’s the dichotomy of living the Christian life. May He give us the strength and peace to glorify Him this week through all of this.
I want to hope with unabashed, reckless abandon. I want to have incalculable, irrepressible joy.
This is the Lord‘s doing;
it is marvelous in our eyes.
This is the day that the Lord has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.
Save us, we pray, O Lord!
O Lord, we pray, give us success!
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!
We bless you from the house of the Lord.
The Lord is God,
and He has made His light to shine upon us.