“Hope Patrol” dominated my past two weeks. Because our son, Sammy, has been extra busy with work responsibilities associated with tech week and show week at Front Range Christian School, his ten-month-old German Shorthair Point (GSP) puppy, Hope, has spent the bulk of that time at our town home. If we could only bottle her energy! Fun, frolic, and feisty activity has filled the days. Joy, our almost ten-year-old GSP, exhibits a love/hate relationship with Hope. She loves her visits, yet grows weary of her puppy antics.

After Hope and Joy indulge in a hearty meal, armed with a leash in each hand, I have headed out the door for multiple walks each day (my feeble strategy to exhaust Hope’s energy). On one recent gorgeous Colorado morning, blue sky reigned above and the gentle clanking of Hope and Joy’s dog collars filled the air.

Hope lives with the certainty of making new friends and exploring the path we walk. Every walk is a fresh opportunity for meeting new people and tasting new things like leaves, tree branches, pinecones, and other items that don’t belong in the mouth of a dog.

Hope teaches me. Each moment is filled with adventure. She lives with great expectations for every minute of every day. Hope embodies her name as she approaches life accordingly.

Do I live expectantly, with hope? Do you?

On this particular morning, I walked our ordinary path through the park with Hope and Joy. What might God have for us today? I looked across the open space and saw a solitary figure standing in the middle of the field. I wondered about the lonely soul when I heard a heart wrenching sound. Deep sobbing accompanied shaking shoulders.

I continued, with Joy and Hope, along the winding path, on a collision course with the companionless individual. Drawing near, we noticed it was a young man. He was slightly ahead of us, moving toward the middle school adjacent to the park. Periodically low loud sounds of anguish filled the air. He was wailing. My heart broke for him. What had happened that morning? It was only 7:45am! What pain within his heart caused this emotional release? Such courage and pain wrapped in the open space of a morning walk to school.

Coming upon this aching student with Hope and Joy, I spoke out to him. “Sorry you have had a rough morning.” He turned, looked at the three of us speechless, with tear-stained eyes and a soft face. “Would you like to meet Hope and Joy?” I greeted him. We offered him dignity, kindness, and love.

He stopped, smiled, and agreed to meet Hope and Joy. Few things can top sweet puppy kisses coupled with the affections of a mature dog. Through tender conversation, I discovered this young boy’s name and he asked about the dogs. Shortly thereafter, he continued his walk to school. With Joy and Hope, I wished this troubled boy a good day, calling out a blessing as he went his way.

As the dogs and I headed home, I couldn’t help but marvel at the double entendre that described our encounter. I offered Hope and Joy, our cute, loving dogs, coupled with the hope and joy of the Lord.

I’m reminded of the times Jesus met wounded people along his path. He stopped, loved them, and blessed them: the hemorrhaging woman, the distraught father, and the disabled outcasts (see Matthew 9:18-29). Jesus shared comfort, relationship, and healing to those in need. Hope abided in Him and streamed from Him. Joy flowed through His veins and surged toward those He touched.

Interestingly while joy grows as a fruit of the Spirit’s work in our lives, hope remains the certainty we receive at salvation in Jesus Christ. Hope materializes from another world; it’s neither circumstantial nor extinguishable. The reality of hope exists because of God’s great love for humankind.

Likewise, joy proceeds from God, who abides in an everlasting kingdom. Joy cannot be manufactured; it genuinely occurs in us as we abide in the vine of Christ. The more we mature in the Christian faith, the more this fruit, as well as all the others (love, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control) abound.

What do hope and joy look like in your life?

With Jesus, your hope rests securely because He is faithful and true. People see hope as you trust in Him. While following Jesus in obedience, the manifestation of joy becomes visible. It’s His work in you for you and others.

Let’s spread hope and joy. How can you give dignity to a distressed soul? What ways will you encourage those in your path? Ask God to give you eyes to see the hurting, patience to spend time attending to wounded souls, and a heart to share His amazing gifts.

Slow down, look, serve, and love those God places in your path. Let the hope of the Lord and the joy of your salvation encourage someone today.

You may not have dogs named Hope and Joy but you can offer the love of Jesus with a kind word, a caring smile, a helping hand, and a prayerful presence. I pray for this young teen, that the hope and joy of God will fill his soul and lead him to experience the everlasting peace and presence of God.

Drips from the Word: Muse about these Bible verses. Let these truths impact your living.

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Romans 12:12

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35

Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. Psalm 42:11

For you have been my hope, Sovereign Lord, my confidence since my youth. Psalm 71:5

Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:4-5

Splashes from the Spigot: Drink from deep wells. Check out these suggested readings.

Christopher J.R. Wright. Cultivating the Fruit of the Spirit. Downers Grove, IL, 2017

Andrew Murray. The True Vine. Chicago, IL, 2007