It’s the time of year when people are struggling more than usual. There is more depression, more desperation, more financial stress, more yearning for freedom and in general, more of almost everything that makes life difficult for many people around the country. Janet and I are dealing with our own struggle this past week-end as well. Because once a year I have a commitment in Dallas on a Sunday evening and that means that I have to head down to Texas for part of the week-end, which is something that Janet and I try to avoid at all costs.
Years ago, when I had to teach much more than I do these days, I would leave on Sunday to be ready to start class on Monday morning. We both hate to be apart, so we made the decision that I would try to arrange my schedule to avoid these trips as much as possible. But here I am, down in Dallas, at a hotel that is not one of my usual haunts. That means I am in an unfamiliar area with nothing to do all afternoon. I know that I could hop a cab to the mall, or walk around in downtown Dallas, but Sundays aren’t the best days to be in downtown Dallas. Many of the stores are closed, even with the holidays coming. You can probably tell that right now, I would rather be back home with Janet. Now I don’t mean to convey that it’s the end of the world or anything, but we really enjoy being together and so to spend the week-end in different cities just doesn’t sit well with either of us.
I do have a busy week coming up’ and it is important for me to be here, but you get the idea. As I looked across the street when I arrived at the hotel, I saw a homeless man walking into the Dollar Store. He was disheveled, hadn’t had a bath or a shower in a while and quite frankly, looked hopeless. I was kind of feeling sorry for myself when I saw him out of the corner of my eye – it kind of put things in perspective.
But he and I aren’t the only ones needing hope. How about the family of Jared, the boy who died a week ago after a two year battle with cancer? His family needs hope. And another friend of mine is struggling with health issues as well – he needs hope. How about the guy I know who has been out of work more than a year and has a final interview for a job next Friday? He’s in the finals – and you know what? He needs hope… Or the friend whose business is really struggling and she is worried about the future. What about her? You guessed it – she needs hope.
Then, there is another person who is worried about all the business he lost this year. What’s the cure? Hope! And how about our daughter who went through a horrible divorce this year and wondered if she would be able to support herself ? Well, she’s now doing fine – thanks to hope… And my own business is changing, for the first time in years – what will the future look like? Hope springs eternal…
The one thing that I can’t even fathom is what it would be like to go through the issues of life without having faith in the hope of the world – Jesus Christ. Because through Christ – all things are possible. Hopelessness just doesn’t exist when you know how important you are to God. After all, we were created in God’s own image and the Scripture is full of passages that affirm that we are important to Him. That means that when your life is less than you wish it to be; and you are scared, or terrified, or lonely, or worried, or stressed, or unable to meet the bills, or just lost your job, or… Remember to look up. Because that is where you will find hope.
Somehow, things just look a little different when you bury yourself in God’s Word and start to think about all the times in your life that God has shown up at just the right moment. That doesn’t mean that you aren’t going to wonder, in your humanity, whether God will let you down the next time or not – but He won’t. He knows your need – even better than you do; and certainly before you do.
Now if you have trouble finding a way to hope, you might try thinking about the times in your life when you needed help – and God delivered. Or if you think that you have lost your way and don’t know how to re-connect with God, then my suggestion is to think about the last time you remember connecting with Him – He will be there, waiting for you – after all, we serve a patient God.
The verse for tonight is from Heb. 10:23, “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful.” That means when times are tough, try to stay the course. God is faithful and your hope in Him is well founded. I can’t even begin to count the miracles in my life as a result of my hope in God. My encouragement this evening is that God wants you to have hope as well. I know that at times life can seem overwhelming, and the situation seems hopeless, but it doesn’t have to be that way. My prayer is that God will miraculously show you how important you are to Him. You won’t believe how loved and safe you will feel when that happens. In the meantime, have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…