There is real tension in the world. There are reasons to be afraid. AND God’s goodness has not changed. Two things can be true at once. There can be darkness and light. Grief and joy. Hard and good. The good news is the light always wins. Exploring the beautiful admonition found in Philippians 4:8 to think on whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy, Alexandra Kuykendall encourages you to keep seeking out goodness even in a time of fear, division, and negativity. It’s a grace to welcome Alexandra to the farm’s front porch today…
My two youngest girls and I parked at a familiar neighborhood intersection with an anticipation of normal.
This was the first activity we’d signed up for pre–COVID shutdown that had not been canceled. What could hold such anticipation? Two girls’ dentist appointments. It’s not that we were excited about the dentist; in fact, they had their typical nerves.
It’s that it felt “normal.” Like things we used to do. We could see another masked family standing outside the door, which suggested there was a new system in place to go in. We’d been so few places outside of the grocery store and occasional Target run that we were automatically struck by how this “routine” visit was not going to be routine.
I felt defeated.
Even though it was only midmorning, the heat from the sidewalk was pushing up toward us. We tried to peer through the windows to see if there was any indication how things inside were unfolding, but the glare and the tint to keep the intense Colorado sun out kept us from seeing in.
Our eyes focused instead on the construction-paper flowers taped to the glass as decorations, with inspirational quotes written in the centers.
“We don’t just find hope once. We are in a constant pursuit of God’s redemption”
My inner cynic thought a few lighthearted quotes were meant to appease us as the sweat dripped down our backs and our lives were turned upside down. And then my eyes focused in on words written on a white cloud at the end of a construction-paper rainbow.
“You may not control all of the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.” —Maya Angelou
Oh, wait. This COVID upheaval may be unique to our times, but upheaval is not unique to the human experience. Obviously I know we can’t control life, but when all of the details felt especially out of control, it was good to remember that some circumstances are simply life on steroids and my responsibility is how I respond. Well, if that wasn’t convicting, I’m not sure what was. I went from grumpy to grateful. I could see the truth in the words and how I needed to apply them immediately.
We walked around the corner in search of shade from the trees. I looked at my phone. Ninety-one degrees and it was only 10:40 a.m. The windows from the office wrapped around the building, and the next flower with yellow petals and a violet center felt like a big smile on a city street. In the center of the flower, written in black marker, were these words:
“We must accept finite disappointment, but never give up infinite hope.” —Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Okay, boom. Finite disappointment was the mood of the day. Limitations felt never-ending.
Everything in this life is finite with the exception of our souls and God.
Those carry on past this temporal world. That infinite hope is what propels me forward.
Way to sum up life there, Dr. King. If I want to live in the space of reality, I have no other choice than to accept what is finite. And to cling to the infinite hope found in Christ.
“When we remember infinite hope, we are better able to see what is true and beautiful all around us. “
I know searching for infinite hope can sound like a simplistic Christian bumper sticker, but much of the Christian life is doing the same simple practices over and over. We don’t just find hope once. We are in a constant pursuit of God’s redemption because if we give up, we will be swallowed by the disappointment, heartache, and evil of the world.
Our job is in the seeking.
So how do we come back to infinite hope in the midst of our finite disappointments? We remember and think on the following:
The parameters of this world. We are bound by twenty-four hours in every day, seven days in every week, the seasons changing, and time moving on.
We have no influence over the sun rising and setting. In some ways there is freedom in recognizing the places we have zero impact, because we can remember God controls those and we don’t.
Our own limitations. When we remember that we are embodied souls and we are limited because we need sleep, nutrition, and exercise, we see our limitations in physical terms. We can only absorb so much information, fill so many needs, and complete a given number of tasks.
There is freedom in recognizing our restrictions.
God’s limitless nature. We go back to what is true about God. He is all-knowing, is without boundaries, and operates outside of time.
There is not a finite amount of grace, patience, or goodness for him to offer the world. He is present in all places, goes before us, and remains behind when we are gone.
God’s character. He is unchanging, so we can always know what to look for when searching for his evidence in the world. He is loving, merciful, and holy. He is just, creative, and gentle. When we find these characteristics reflected in people and places, we hear echoes of his presence.
When we remember infinite hope, we are better able to see what is true and beautiful all around us. God’s hope has not changed.
Alexandra Kuykendall is the author of Loving My Actual Life, Loving My Actual Christmas, Loving My Actual Neighbor, and her newest book, Seeking Out Goodness: Finding the True and Beautiful All around You. A popular writer and speaker for moms around the country, Alexandra has been featured on Good Morning America and Focus on the Family’s daily broadcast.
Most of us feel the world is more contentious and less civil than it was a generation ago, or a few years ago, or maybe even last week. We long to be reassured that everything is going to be okay, that God is still at work, even in small ways. Through personal stories and clear biblical insight, Alex helps us see God at work right now, right in our midst, no matter how messy life feels in her new book, Seeking Out Goodness.
She helps us appreciate other people even when we disagree with them, move past false dichotomies, celebrate goodness in others when we find it, and hope for a brighter tomorrow even as we celebrate the good gifts we receive today.
[ Our humble thanks to Baker for their partnership in today’s devotion ]