"Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer." – Romans 12:12
"More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us" – Romans 5:3-5
In these two verses, there is a common thread. Do you see it?
It is hope.
And in my latest novel, Maggie Esh is in need of some of that hope, and fast. The young man she secretly loves deserves a strong and robust wife, as any young Amish man would certainly desire. Unfortunately, Maggie is anything but that.
On page 8 of The First Love—see excerpt below—you'll see that Maggie hasn't yet come to understand the importance of gratitude in all things:
Gratitude for sickness?" I had once whispered to Mamm when the others left to do barn chores and Dat headed off to work. Mamm had looked at me so sweetly, my heart nearly broke in two.
"Ach, Maggie-bird," she said as she opened her arms, and I limped into her embrace, letting her hold me while I cried.
"Will I ever be well again?" I whimpered.
Sadly, Maggie struggles...she strives...and she suffers. Just as we all do at some point in our lives. And when difficulties—such as illness, pain, or financial loss—come, we experience important aspects of life and living that we never would have embraced otherwise. Essentials like endurance and character and, yes, hope, “the thing with feathers that perches in the soul," as poet Emily Dickinson penned long ago. Without hope we cannot fly, spiritually or emotionally, and we cannot fulfill God's plan for us in this life.
So, each November, I sing rather tearfully the old hymn, "Thanks to God," offering praise to our heavenly Father "for pain and pleasure, for comfort in despair." And "for roses by the wayside, and the thorns their stems contain. Thanks for joy and thanks for sorrow, thanks for heavenly peace within. Thanks for all Thou dost provide! Thanks for Jesus by my side."
This month, I'm wishing you a time of reflection and thanksgiving, dear reader-friend!
Blessings and peace,