May 2 – Five Reasons to Hope

May 2 – Five Reasons to Hope

Lamentations 3

“Remember my affliction and my wanderings, the wormwood and the gall! My soul continually remembers it and is bowed down within me. But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope…” (Lamentations 3:19-21)

We may not remember hearing so many people lament: is there any hope for peace? In the Middle East? In Africa? In Asia? Is there any hope for my personal situation? Where is the economy headed? When and where will the next terrorist strike be? Is world evangelism a viable enterprise? Perhaps you’ve been writing your own book of lamentations…

“Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope” (Lamentations 3: 21). Here are 5 reasons for hope in the darkest hour. And remember, we’re talking about biblical hope. Not the usual sort of a wish, “I hope it doesn’t rain on our picnic,” but confident expectation.

Warning: the first reason is a little downbeat…

  1. It could be so much worse. Lamentations 3:22a. We are not consumed. Count the evils you don’t have! I sometimes wake up and exclaim: I’m still alive. Wow! So many died last night, why not me? Look at that friend eaten alive of cancer. Why not me? It’s been more than a decade, now, since my son died and still an emptiness lingers on, an unassuageable grief. But then I think of those who have rebellious sons and I say, “why not me?” My son Bob is safe at home with Jesus. You’ve heard the saying, “I complained I had no shoes till I met a man who had no feet.”
  2. God’s blessings abound. Lamentations 3:22b Count your blessings—his compassions never fail—new every morning. Count, name over, focus on your blessings. Often. Can you, In the course of the day do more ‘thank-you’s’ cross your mind than complaints? When my wife died, I wondered. How does hope happen? I remembered a heavy heart lifts on the wings of praise! But does praise work in the really heavy stuff? When my beloved slipped away from me after 25 years of fading away with Alzheimer’s disease, there was a wrenching, a deep sense of loss–deeper they tell me, not less, for her being wholly dependent on me for a decade. Grief. No dancing, no celebration in my heart. At the same time, as I wrote family and friends, there is gratitude. Grief and gratitude. God’s blessings abound.—count ‘em! Focus on them.
  3. God is faithful. Lamentations 3:23b God holds steady though nothing else does. You can rely on him. In our society who is reliable? Politicians? Media? Advertisers? Educators? Judges? Business tycoons? Husbands? Mothers? But you can always count on God. He’s faithful and that gives hope!
  4. God is good . Lamentations 3:25,26. Notice the promise of God’s deliverance is for those who hope in HIM, seek him, and wait quietly, patiently for him to act. It’s not for those who trust in their stock portfolio or retirement plan, who seek human deliverance. Certainly not for those who are impatient, resist, resent their lot in life. Faith. I was riding in the limousine with Mark Shepherd’s father, back from the grave site to the funeral home. We’d participated in a funeral and somehow that brought to my mind his dying son. Mark lived the difficult life of a hemophiliac, crippled, in unrelieved pain, in constant danger of bleeding to death. In the end he contracted AIDs from a blood transfusion and from that he died at age 40. I never heard Mark complain. In that ride from the grave, shortly before his death, I asked his father if he actually never did complain. Well, yes, he said, he did once. When he was about 6 years old, one day he said, “Daddy, why did God make me this way?” Faith in the faithful one- then you’ll have hope!
  5. Suffering is not forever. Lamentations 3:31,32. “Tough times never last, tough people do.” We do hope for a better day. It was Easter, 1992, and I received a letter from a lady I’d never met. It was about Muriel. She wrote, “Isn’t it wonderful that the next face your beloved will recognize is Jesus?” Saturday can seem long. How long since your personal bad Friday? Will Easter Sunday ever come? How long till resurrection dawns? Our long goodbye was 25 years. But Sunday’s coming! For my beloved, it already has. Suffering is not forever.
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