Categories
Hope resilience

Unwelcome News

It’s cancer.

You’re fired.

Killed in action.

These are words nobody wants to hear–EVER.

Yet there are times, “When Bad Things Happen to Good People,” as Rabbi Harold Kushner writes in his book by the same name.

Rabbi Kushner wrote this inspirational classic after his three year old son was diagnosed with a degenerative disease that meant the boy would only live into his teens. The book reveals the heart of a spiritual leader, father and vulnerable human being as he deals with one of life’s most burdensome questions: Why, God?

It’s a question we find in abundance throughout the Psalms of King David. Like a bookend on a shelf, such a heartfelt inquiry starts Psalm 10.

Why, O Lord do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?

Psalm 10:1

Have you ever felt this way? I have. And the question that kept coming to mind was, “Where are you God?” But there was no immediate A after the Q.

Maybe you’ve experienced or know someone who has experienced a similar situation.

  • They were supposed to get promoted, but are out of a job instead.
  • Retired to enjoy their golden years, but then their spouse got sick.
  • Had a marriage that wasn’t supposed to fail, but did.
  • Lost loved ones, seemingly before their time, to a terrible disease.

I don’t intend for this to be a totally downer post, but reality says even the strongest believer can lose hope.

This happened to the disciples during their last meal with Jesus, when he delivered the following unwelcome news: “Guys, I’m about to be killed in action.” He also said He’d come back to life again in three days, but they didn’t hear that part. The Lord lost them at KIA.

In a moment, an ordinary Passover became the Last Supper. “This is NOT how the story is supposed to go!” blurted Peter. But it was already happening. Palm Sunday was about to become Face-Palm Friday.

This feeling persisted even AFTER the resurrection. On the road to Emmaus, Jesus spoke with two followers who said, “We had trusted (past tense) that He was the one to deliver Israel.”

Has anyone else ever been in what seemed like a totally hopeless situation–groping in the dark for answers? I have.

Apparently, King David’s critics like to taunt him with the same question over and over: “Where is your God?” (Psalm 42:3,10) However, they missed something; it was still early in the game. And like Rosabeth Moss Kanter says,

Everything looks like failure in the middle.

Near the end of Psalm 10 there is another book end, and this one isn’t a doubt filled question:

But you, O God, do see trouble and grief; you consider it to take it in hand.

Psalm 10:14

God sees.

God knows.

Gods acts.

Now these are words that are welcome–ALWAYS!

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.

Psalm 46:1

Prayer:
Heavenly Father: Today, I choose to remember the dark seasons of my life, and to celebrate the fact that, even then and there, Jesus was all that I really needed. I praise you, God. For even though I was tempted to lose ALL hope, thanks to Your amazing grace I DID NOT!


Need help with resiliency? One of my go to sites is Don’t Lose Hope. It’s an online community focused on betrayal trauma, but addresses other life stressors as well. Please check it out!

Photo by Matthew Henry on Unsplash

Categories
courage Hope

What Happened to Hope?

“hope” by @polsifter is licensed under CC BY 2.0

I rolled up early one morning last week to one of my favorite running routes on the U.S. Army post where I work. It’s a fairly straight, flat road lined with mature shade trees next to a huge field. Just on the other side of the trees there’s a little creek. This particular morning, a light fog blanketed everything. It was the picture of serenity.

However, despite the setting, I started my run brooding over a stressful situation at work that seemed to have no feasible solution. But then I heard something.

Over the hum of the nearby interstate, an unseen group of basic trainees was calling out cadence. I pictured them running in formation as they chanted together at the top of their lungs:

🎶“Everywhere we go-oh, people wanna know-o, who we are, where we come from, so we tell them who we are…”🎶

These aren’t basic trainees, but I imagine it looked something like this.

As the sound of the soon to be soldiers faded into the distance, my sinking thoughts were buoyed by a fresh revelation:

If they can do that, I can do this!

The majority of basic trainees are miles from home—many for the first time— and dealing with a new “normal”, one where drill instructors make ALL the decisions. Homesick and uncertain what’s coming next, these brave young people must stick together to survive the next 10 weeks. Their Esprit de corps, the devotion they have toward each other and the group as a whole, is literally their life-line.

Perhaps the title of this piece should be, “What happened to hope?” Okay, I already changed it; my first one was pretty lame.😀

Anyway, this is what I heard in the soldiers’ chanting: hope for the future. But for the world at large this idea is no longer in vogue.

It’s painfully clear these days that (to many) hope is like a wind up toy with an ever-weakening spring. A quick check at thesaurus.com confirms it. Synonyms for hope include, anticipation and expectation, but also fool’s paradise and pipe dream.

However, for the Christian, hope is as certain as the character of God.

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.

Hebrews 10:24-25

I love the metaphor, “spur one another on.” It’s like every believer is calling out in formation with all their might, “MORE LOVE AND GOOD DEEDS!!”

These days there are plenty of reasons for a child of God to lose hope, but none of them are good ones.

Now is not the time for swerving, by God! And I mean that literally, not sacrilegiously. 😁🙏

Here are a few more of my favorite “hold on to hope” scriptures. Please share some of yours, if you’d like.


“The one who calls you is faithful and He will do it.” 1 Thessalonians 5:24

“Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God.” Psalm 43:5

“But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31

Hold on to HOPE!

Categories
Christian Blog Comfort Hope

God is God, Wherever You Are

Photo by Farrel Nobel on Unsplash

For many of us, these times we’re living through have brought forceful emotions to the surface. For me, this has been particularly visible through mood swings and dreams.

I’ve always been susceptible to up and down emotions, but COVID 19, and now racial tensions on a national level, have taken things up a notch. The hills, drops, and loops of my life roller coaster are larger and occur more frequently.

Hyper-vigilance is the new norm. An unexpected loud sound–FedEx guy rings the doorbell and the dogs go nuts–sends my adrenaline soaring. A typically low-grade frustration takes me from sea level to death valley in a microsecond. It’s like I’m sailing on an even keel one moment, and slipping on a banana peel the next.

Uncertainty impacts the mind.

My pre-covid emotions were driving a Toyota Prius. Currently, I’m cruising in something more like this:


Dreams: they reveal our subconscious desires, and lately mine have been most enchanting. Two nights in a row, I’ve dreamed of intense platonic interactions with others.

Dream number one involves a heart-to-heart conversation with a former colleague I haven’t seen in years. In the second dream, I’m bear-hugging a childhood friend. I’ve also dreamed I’m at some sort of adult summer camp with a bunch of strangers, hiking through the wilderness and making smores by the fire.

Obviously, I’m craving connection with others.

Isolation impacts the mind.

Uncertainty and isolation pack a one-two punch that can put you on the canvas in a heartbeat.

For me, it’s always comforting to look in the Bible for someone who faced a similar situation. Evidently, the psalmist was going through a bit of a dry spell when he wrote this:

As the deer pants for the streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God, when can I go and meet with God? (Psalm 42:1-2 NIV)

Clearly, here’s a person craving connection, but with God, not man. Maybe this is the secret.

In another psalm, there’s a different deer:

It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect. He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; He enables me to stand on the heights. (Psalm 18:32-33 NIV)

Thirsty for a drink, or standing on the heights, God is the one who sustains.

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.

Philippians 4:12-13

God is God, wherever you are.

Follows your heart–no matter how far.

Sees every turn. Knows every scar.

He’s still God–wherever you are.