Hope to Carry On: February 29, 2024

Lenten Devotional Book 2024

Read: Romans 4:13-25

“In hope he believed against hope…” – Romans 4:18a

Three of us from St. Paul’s went down to Olympia to attend an OPOP (One Parish One Prisoner) conference. There was a panel of men and women who had been in prison for years and were now out and thriving because of the OPOP ministry. They considered their OPOP team and its church as their new family. It struck me as I listened to their stories, their struggles, and their journey into faith, freedom, and healing, just how brave they had to be to reach out in faith to even apply to this program. Several of them said they have never in their lives had any adult ever believe in them or care anything about them. Some have families who still won’t have anything to do with them. No one had seen them as a person of worth. o one had ever acknowledged them as a child of God. But, each one took a leap of faith and reached out to this Christian-based program of people in hope that maybe this time it could be different. Our laws judge but not in mercy. They punish but don’t offer hope, training, or mental health. Yet these released prisoners, who had no reason to believe, are now active members of a faith community and healing from their many wounds. Abraham never gave up, he kept his faith, “In hope he believed against hope”. These former prisoners and their OPOP team didn’t quit and didn’t lose faith even when many had rocky starts. Together in faith, we are reconciled.

Dearest Lord God, we thank you for reminding us of those in need who are in prisons of their mind, their body, and/or their circumstances. Help us to see every human being as a true child of God. Be with us, Lord, as we attempt to be conduits of your message of faith, hope, and love. Amen.