May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13)
Have you ever found a whole sand dollar on the beach? When Naples was my vacation destination, I spent leisurely days walking along the beach, scanning the shoreline for shells, especially the elusive sand dollar. Oh, the delight when I found one! On bleak, wintry days back in Boston, these fragile treasures would remind me of the sun and warmth that had refreshed both my body and my soul.
There is a legend about the sand dollar that says they represent the story of Christ. On top of the shell is a symbol that looks like a star, a reminder of the star of Bethlehem that led wise men to the Christ Child. Around the star is an Easter lily, a reminder of Christ’s resurrection. The four holes in the sand dollar represent the four wounds of Christ when his hands and feet were nailed to the cross. And if you break open the sand dollar, inside are five tiny dove-shaped pieces.
The dove is seen multiple times in the Bible as a sign of God’s presence and the promise of hope. Genesis 8:11 says, “When the dove returned to him in the evening, there in its beak was a freshly plucked olive leaf.” When Noah needed evidence of God’s faithfulness, the dove brought it to him.
We are living in times of overwhelming challenge, struggle, and uncertainty. Some days it is hard to have hope that things will get better. As people of faith, we must remember that our hope does not come from circumstances or outcomes. Our hope comes from the character and promises of God. Hope is remembering the story of Christ and the gifts of grace, eternal life, and peace that are ours through his birth, life, and resurrection.
Last week I decided to give myself permission to take a late afternoon walk down to the beach with a friend. The sun was warm and the ocean was calm. We were deep in conversation about our families and the impact of COVID when I happened to look down. There lying on the sand was a perfect sand dollar. Sometimes we just need a physical reminder of God’s love and faithfulness.
Those without hope
Dear God, please help me to find hope, despite my circumstances and how I feel. Nothing is hidden from you. You are all-knowing and all-loving. I ask that you give me the assurance I need for this moment, this hour, and this day. Through the gift of your Holy Spirit, fill me joy and peace as I trust in you. Amen.