Message of the Week: Hold on to hope
The eastern portion of our nation is trying to cope in the wake of one of the biggest natural disasters that region has ever seen. Many people are very likely overwhelmed by the damage, chaos and economic hardship confronting them. This is a time for our prayers and contributions to be focused on those who are suffering from the devastation of "superstorm" Sandy.
I remember helping a friend clean up from a much smaller flood that resulted from the levee break near Arboga in January of 1997. Though his house was still standing, the water had reached above his roof line, and his house was a total loss. Fine particles of silt had invaded everything, from power tools to photo albums. Trying to clean up and recover everything felt overwhelming.
However there was one thing my friend didn't lose. Hope. He never lost confidence in God's goodness. He remained hopeful that there was a light at the end of this tunnel. Today, he lives in a beautiful home, rebuilt where his original one stood. His trust in God was not diminished by the hardship he experienced — it was strengthened. He is one of my heroes.
There is a passage in the Old Testament Book of Lamentations that speaks about not giving up even when the worst seems to have happened. Lamentations was written by the prophet Jeremiah, whose warnings that judgment was coming to his nation were met by deaf ears and hard hearts. After Jerusalem, their beautiful capital city, was destroyed by an invading army, Jeremiah wrote these words: "I'll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness, the taste of ashes, the poison I've swallowed. I remember it all — oh, how well I remember — the feeling of hitting the bottom. But there's one other thing I remember, and remembering, I keep a grip on hope: God's loyal love couldn't have run out, his merciful love couldn't have dried up. They're created new every morning. How great your faithfulness! I'm sticking with God (I say it over and over). He's all I've got left. (Lamentations 3:19-24 from THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language)
Sometimes everything around us falls apart. It might be a natural disaster, financial loss, a relational struggle or emotional trauma. What normally supports us is gone. We feel abandoned — even forsaken. Other people are powerless to really help us.
This is when we need to hold on to hope.
The hope that the Bible talks about is not just wishful thinking. It's more than having a positive outlook. It is a confident expectation for a better future. It doesn't come from what we can see around us. It is based on God's character and his promises. The God who loves us and who has been faithful in the past will not desert us now, even though things are very painful and dark. As Jeremiah put it, "God's loyal love couldn't have run out.... How great your faithfulness!"
May this kind of hope fill us during painful and difficult times as we hold on to the goodness of God and his unfailing love for us all.