Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Greatest Of These...

As a parent, I struggle with wanting my child to be first. The first to walk, the first to talk, the first to read. It is an element of pride that I am sure I will battle constantly in the years to come. Apparently, this desire for first place has even carried into my womb. I am struggling today because I have realized that "Hope" is not first.

I Corinthians 13:13 - And now these three remain, faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.

I have been studying the word Hope for a few weeks now - reading and contemplating each verse in the bible that includes the word hope. When I arrived at the I Corinthians verse earlier in the week, my pride swelled like a mother at a toddler beauty pageant. Imagine the cute little girls, all walking out onto the stage. The pageant host announces, "And now these three remain, Faith, Hope, and Love." My heart beems - my daughter is among the top three. And then he continues "But the greatest of these is love."

It may sound ridiculous, but for a moment when studying that evening, I was a bit jealous. Why does Love get first place - doesn't Paul, the author of the letter to the Corinthians, realize how absolutely amazing Hope is?

Hope is an amazing thing. Romans 5 explains that hope is the final result of struggle, endurance, and proven character. Hope is powerful, it encourages and sustains us. But after the struggle and refining, after the proving of our characters and the growth of hope in our hearts, what then? Then the command is to Love. Only one who has everlasting hope, hope that does not disappoint, hope that does not leave us ashamed, can truly love in the manner as love is described in the rest of I Corinthians 13.

I am thankful for Hope. I need Hope - hope that this world is not all we have, hope that the One who came is coming again, hope that the trials of this life will result in great joy and treasure in heaven. Hope fills my heart and sustains me like food. But Love is what we give to the world. Hope gives me the strength to Love. Love that is patient, kind, not proud, seeks the good of others, and always trusts - that true Love can only pour forth from a heart full of Hope.

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