The Bible is Filled with Statements of Hope
The Bible is filled with statements of hope. It is one shining ray of light in a otherwise gloomy dead world. That hope is based on the promise of God is undeniable. Yet many of us here on Earth have not yet discovered this message. Many people here turn away from this message because they are convinced that they are not worthy of Gods blessings. Right from the start we are warned not to trust our own judgment like in Proverbs 3:5-6 says. That means that I have faulty judgment because I am thinking from a worldly perspective. In theology we hear the term “renewal” and “regeneration”. I believe that is telling me that I personally need to change and be changed in many ways. The hope that I feel when the burden of sin begins to lift off my shoulders is immense.
My energy levels skyrocket and my whole demeanor changes. Renewal to me begins on sunday when I go to church and spend time hearing from those who live very different lives from mine. I know that in my Bible study group we are all college students, even if I am one of the oldest. I see plainly that God is working in their lives. I see many students come in tired and uncertain like me and leave just like me, refreshed and redirected to starting a new and successful week. Hope comes in many forms and has many beneficial functions to promote health and cleaner living.
In the Womens ministry I have opportunity to assist women in all situations and from all different backgrounds. Some were prostitutes. Others were abused. A few are just poorly educated and from other countries. Yet each has met someone who passed on a simple quiet message of hope. Proverbs 18:10 says come to him, not just come to him but run! Why would I do that? I am a sinner and weak. What god would want a weak willed sinner like me? “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”(Isaiah 41:10) Wow, such amazing proof that my weakness is only an illusion. There was a simple man from over two thousand years ago who died to make me stronger. Then beat death itself and returned so that I can know for sure his power to strengthen me is true. That message of hope should be echoing across the halls of eternity. Still I will falter I will fall short of deserving his grace. I am a sinner by the simple act of my birth.
Psalm 120:1tells me by calling out in my weakness I am granted the power to overcome again and again.I have been told that when I receive this "hope" I receive the “indwelling and filling” of this Holy Spirit. I can no longer afford to live timidly or in fear. This lion of God has chased away all doubts and left in place something that I could not create on my own. I now have the fire and presence of God within me. I can not fail. I can only learn and grow through the trials the Lord has placed in front of me and keep fighting through all obstacles, so that I will triumph just as he did over so much more than I will ever face.
How to deal with despair? I know each day I get older and my life long friends get fewer. Life happens and there is nothing I can do that will stop the progression of age and time. Dwelling on my best friends terminal condition often has me sobbing in fellowship meetings as I ask for support. Two years ago I learned the price of living in despair. My youngest brother whom I had often fought with committed suicide. Many decisions that my brother made I could not agree with. Stealing, drug dealing, and even prostitution (not himself but his underage girlfriend). Never could I point out good outcomes of many of those choices. After a last fight before moving to Georgia, we ever spoke again.
The following year in a facebook message I read his last words. Pain and despair were the hallmarks of a tormented soul. I know this because I turned away from such a life as he was living. I already knew that Hell was real and I was mostly already in it. Here I failed as a Christian. My smallest brother I could not save. My brothers last decision itself I also could not agree with. To take your own life is a sin against God. Yet, dare I ask for his forgiveness? I became very depressed and even enraged when I found that a priest did not want to give final rights to my brother and even protested that my brother be buried in our family plot.
In tears I talked to my fellowship group. I could not even fly home in time for his funeral due to pressing matters at work. It was two months after his death that I was able to finally visit his grave. I have not seen my birth mother in over fifteen years. I called my cousin to get ahold of her so that I may visit my brother. I can not stand this woman due to many prior issues. Yet this was a family issue and God commanded me to be the good son and honor the parent. It was a shock to see what she had become. Never have I seen her so frail and weak. My own despair now seemed irrelevant. My own pain became a shadow chased away by the sun in my heart. I was feeling protective of this little old woman who can barely talk in gratitude. I was the only brother out of a family of nine to take her to visit his grave.
God humbled me that day. My pain, my suffering, my needs, were as nothing to him. Learning that in my depth of despair there were others much worse off, made me feel small. I can not imagine my brothers pain nor my mothers as she was closest to him of all of us. But I have learned that God supported me in those times because he was in my heart. I learned from my mother that she had returned to the church as well. Brighter was each day.
Now that my closest childhood friend is dying of terminal cancer I can pray with him and know that we are both comforted in each others faith. There is no despair that we can not overcome both by working together and by praying together.
Looking back at these topics I did not intend to pick polar opposites. I felt compelled to address some of my thoughts in writing and it reflected well on both of those choices. Each of us while here on earth faces many pressures and trials. God is known as the great promisor. Granting hope where ever there is the darkness of despair. Lightening the weight on our hearts with hope. Seeing eyes light up as there is a realization that God revealed himself to us, he wants us to live for him. So no matter what life throws at me I know that he is there for me and I will fight and persevere in every encounter with despair and move on. It is the least I can do to return his investment in pain and blood for me.