hope in times of pain

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Dear Jesus,
Whether it comes from betrayal, neglect, abandonment, or from a broken bone or failing health – the result is some kind of emotional or physical pain.  When I look back on my life, I remember the physical tension of my aching body or the chest-tightening ache that came from a broken heart.  My greatest hope in times of pain is that you will bring me healing.  Thank you that I never have to worry you haven’t noticed my pain.  How compassionate you are to comfort me in my hurts.  On the other hand, there are times when I hurt so badly that I forget about you, Jesus.  I become completely focused on how to stop the pain.  But you never abandon me.  When I feel alone in my hurt, it is often because I am concentrating so much on easing the pain of my problems that I have forgotten you have promised to help me in my difficulties.  Thank you that you never leave me.  I find comfort in your promise to be with me and give me hope and purpose in the midst of my aching body and soul.
 
Ron A. Beers 
 
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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.

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increase our hope in your promises

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Merciful Lord, the comforter and teacher of your faithful people,
  increase in your church the desires which you have given,
  and confirm the hearts of those who hope in you
  by enabling them to understand the depth of your promises,
    that all your adopted children
    may even now behold, with eyes of faith,
    and patiently wait for,
    the light which as yet you do not openly manifest;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
 
St. Ambrose, c.339-397, Bishop of Milan
 
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His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

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to prepare for your coming

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Christ our Advent hope,
bare brown trees,
etched dark across a winter sky,
leaves fallen, rustling,
ground hard and cold,
remind us to prepare for your coming;
remind us to prepare for the time
when the soles of your feet will touch the ground,
when you will become one of us
to be one with us.
 
Karen McIlhappa, 1938 – 2002, Scottish minister of the Iona Community
 
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And it shall be said,
“Build up, build up, prepare the way,
    remove every obstruction from my people’s way.”
For thus says the One who is high and lifted up,
    who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy:
“I dwell in the high and holy place,
    and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit,
to revive the spirit of the lowly,
    and to revive the heart of the contrite.

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a sign of your goodness

Photo by Joachim Riegel on Unsplash  
Father, I’m a man of my time and situation,
Around me, the signs and symbols of man’s fear, hatred, alienation;
a bomb exploding in a market square;
. . . faces on TV twisted in mocking confrontation.
It’s not that we haven’t tried, Father,
to find ways to peace and reconciliation
but always too little, too late;
the forces of opposition were too great . . . 
I am perplexed, angry, hopeless, sick, I want to turn
my back, wash my hands, save myself, my family, get out.
But every time I turn to go
there stands in my way a cross . . .
 
Lord, make me a child of hope, reborn from apathy,
cynicism, and despair, ready to work for that new man
you have made possible by walking the way of the cross yourself.
I do have hope grounded on your victory over powers
of evil, death itself, focused on your kingdom,
breaking on us now as light out of deep darkness.
And I do see signs of hope immediately around me.
I see a wider sign:
I see a sign – flower growing on a bombed-out site.
The sign – an empty cross.  The burden, Lord, is yours.
Lord, I am a prisoner of hope! There is life before death.
 
Prayer from Northern Ireland
 
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Turn to me and have mercy on me;
    show your strength in behalf of your servant;
save me, because I serve you
    just as my mother did.
Give me a sign of your goodness,
    that my enemies may see it and be put to shame,
    for you, Lord, have helped me and comforted me.

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