Years ago, I learned the meaning of Shalom. Among other things, it means wholeness, completeness, tranquility, and the prosperity of your soul. I must admit, I don’t live in that place. But I so long to. For years, I’ve asked God to help me to consistently know this kind of peace, this kind of expectancy. And though I’ve had moments where I’ve experienced God’s shalom for me, I long for more, and so I pray.

Last month, my husband and I battled COVID. He sailed through, but I fought hard. I coughed so much that I tore my ab muscles. It felt like someone took a razor blade to my oblique muscles with every coughing fit. My doctors told me to lie face down in bed and try to take slow, deep breaths. You get the most oxygen that way.

One day while lying face down, I concentrated on my breathing. I wasn’t really thinking about anything else when suddenly a flood of shalom peace overwhelmed me. I’ve never, ever experienced anything like it. Joy, peace, gladness, and expectancy filled me to overflowing, and at that moment, I felt like the richest woman alive. There’s no explaining it, really. It was a taste of heaven.

God met me on my sickbed most profoundly and tangibly. I put on my worship playlist and cried my way through it. In that sacred space, the Lord impressed something upon my heart that I’ll not soon forget. He whispered to my soul, Susie, there’s an appointed time for every God-given breakthrough. If you only knew the good things I’ve planned for you, you’d walk forward full of faith. You’d more consistently trust in My goodness.

I realized that trusting in God’s goodness is profoundly connected to hope about our future.

God has a divine purpose for His delays. He made Elizabeth and Zechariah wait to have a child, because John needed to be the forerunner for Jesus! Hannah had to wait to have Samuel because Israel needed a godly prophet at a very specific time in Israel’s history. There are many players and pieces to your story. And He’s working all things together for your good and for His glory.

I often say that God makes us wait because He’s making us ready. But make no mistake about it. He has good things in store for you!

Even the psalmist says so:

Psalm 139:16-18 (NLT)

You saw me before I was born.
Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
before a single day had passed.
How precious are your thoughts about me, O God.
They cannot be numbered!
I can’t even count them;
they outnumber the grains of sand!
And when I wake up,
you are still with me!

Can we disrupt those good plans? Some say no, others say yes. I’m inclined to believe that we can. If we determine to resist God’s plan, if we’re insistent on going our own way, if we refuse to honor God in all our ways, eventually, He lets us go our own way, and we reap the consequences. This is not to say that God can’t redeem our wandering ways because He absolutely can and does so every single day. Yet how often do you suppose Christians go through life living beneath their spiritual privilege? They know they’re saved, but they don’t believe they’re loved, and as a result, they spend much of their time striving to earn and prove that which Jesus has already won for them. Scripture is clear that a day is coming when all of our strivings will cease, and everything we accomplished in our own strength will burn up. Doesn’t that reality beg us to seek God with all of our hearts that we might live for Him with all that we are?

Goodness is coming for those who love, honor, and revere Jesus as Lord. Answers to prayer are on the horizon. Heavenly rewards await them.

In the famous Christmas hymn, “O, Holy Night,” we sing this line: The thrill of hope, a weary world rejoices, for yonder breaks, a new and glorious morn.

Why do you suppose the shepherds rejoiced at the Savior’s birth, knowing it would be at least another thirty years before they saw an actual breakthrough in their stories?

Because they’d waited a long time for freedom to be an option. They knew the time had come. The atmosphere shifted. The child was born. The heavenly clock was ticking.

What is hope, exactly? It’s a holy expectancy. It’s anticipation that goodness is coming.

Did you know that hope is good for the soul? And that to anticipate goodness is very healing to your brain? And even more importantly, hope changes us? As Dr. Warren Wiersbe once said, “This is not a hope-so hope. This is a know-so hope!”

There are many verses in scripture about hope. Let’s look at a few:

Jeremiah 29:11 (NLT):
For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.

Ephesians 1:18 (NLT):
I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance.

Romans 8:23-25 (NLT):
And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us. We were given this hope when we were saved. (If we already have something, we don’t need to hope for it. But if we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently.)

God is good; His promises are true, and He will always make a way for us.

You have every reason for hope, friend. Though life is hard, we must hold fast to the truth that God is good. He’s always good.

There are answers to prayer that are on their way to you even now. Keep praying. Keep believing. Keep hoping.

And then there’s eternity. When we see Jesus face to face, all of our trials and struggles will be gone in an instant. We’ll know a joy and love and deep-soul healing we never dreamed possible. We’ll finally be home.

Hope in God, dear one! The Savior of the world has come to earth. And He’s coming again!

The Christmas story isn’t old news. It’s good news; it’s now news! Salvation is not just an addendum to the end of your life, and Christmas isn’t just a quaint little story. When Jesus was born, God’s Kingdom came to earth!

Hebrews 10:23 (NLT)
Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise.