A friend from my church choir, whose whole family recently recovered from COVID-19, shared a testimony during our praise and prayer time after rehearsal: “Look for the hope.”
I immediately thought of King David’s words in Psalm 112:4 “Even in the darkness light dawns for the upright, for the gracious and compassionate and righteous man.”
Come to think of it, light–no matter how small–always displaces darkness. I experienced this once in a large room of a limestone cavern. The tour guide turned out all the lights; it was the most complete darkness imaginable. “It’s so dark in here you can’t see your hand in front of your face,” he said. “Try it. Stick your thumb on your nose and wiggle your fingers.” Well, I did–looking like one of the three stooges. Suddenly, the lights came back on. “Gotcha!” said the ornery guide.😊
God’s hope is like that. It can illuminate our lives at any moment, because the Lord Himself has his finger on the switch. And, contrary to popular belief, He’s still the BOSS.
And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.
Genesis 1:3 (NIV)
Frankly, I’m in need of some hope from heaven this very morning. You too? Kind reader, our Heavenly Father is able to shed His glorious light, even on the darkest situation. So don’t get caught wiggling your hands in front of your face when He does.😊
This is the message we have heard from Him and declare to you: God is light; in Him there is no darkness at all.
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?
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.
Now these are words that are welcome–ALWAYS!
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.
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!
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…”🎶
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.
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