Hope for Today
Yesterday morning I read from 2 Corinthians chapter 1. Mind you, I am not in the habit of reading my bible every single day, though I should—but thankfully, God is not legalistic. It’s only man who makes such assumptions about what service to God should look like; but I digress.
I can only tell you that the Word of God saturates mind, body, and spirit and brings refreshment for the soul. So here it is…the Message version is so poignant, gets me every time….
2 Corinthians 1
3-5 All praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah! Father of all mercy! God of all healing counsel! He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us. We have plenty of hard times that come from following the Messiah, but no, more so than the good times of his healing comfort—we get a full measure of that, too.
6-7 When we suffer for Jesus, it works out for your healing and salvation. If we are treated well, given a helping hand and encouraging word, that also works to your benefit, spurring you on, face forward, unflinching. Your hard times are also our hard times. When we see that you’re just as willing to endure the hard times as to enjoy the good times, we know you’re going to make it, no doubt about it.
8-11 We don’t want you in the dark, friends, about how hard it was when all this came down on us in Asia province. It was so bad we didn’t think we were going to make it. We felt like we’d been sent to death row that it was all over for us. As it turned out, it was the best thing that could have happened. Instead of trusting in our own strength or wits to get out of it, we were forced to trust God totally—not a bad idea since he’s the God who raises the dead! And, he did it, rescued us from certain doom. And he’ll do it again, rescuing us as many times as we need rescuing. You and your prayers are part of the rescue operation—I don’t want you in the dark about that either. I can see your faces even now, lifted in praise for God’s deliverance of us, a rescue in which your prayers played such a crucial part.
12-14 Now that the worst is over, we’re pleased we can report that we’ve come out of this with conscience and faith intact, and can face the world—and even more importantly, face you with our heads held high. But it wasn’t by any fancy footwork on our part. It was God who kept us focused on him, uncompromised. Don’t try to read between the lines or look for hidden meanings in this letter. We’re writing plain, unembellished truth, hoping that you’ll now see the whole picture as well as you’ve seen some of the details. We want you to be as proud of us as we are of you when we stand together before our Master Jesus.
So why these verses? What is this hope for today? Just this…in the eye of the hurricane, and in the middle of the storm you can have hope—and not same waning, spur of the moment, fleeting hope. I’m talking lasting, let you sleep through the night; cause you to wake up refreshed hope. Only God gives that kind of hope.
The other day I saw only doom and gloom. I had an overwhelming sense of being closed in to despair. For a moment, a night, I thought the Lord would leave me to the darkness till I had no options and was hopeless. Its’ too bad that I didn’t read my bible before I actually went to sleep, for it was restless, wearisome, and uncomfortable; yet sovereign God is ever so merciful. I awoke in the morning knowing I needed God, his Word of hope, faith, and promise. I knew I needed my mournful night to pass into joy. I awoke and knew I needed a better diagnosis and not a death sentence—or at least what spiritually felt like one. That’s when I came to “The Rescue.”
When hard times come, there are often no explanations. We may have pain, sorrow, stress, depression, despair, sickness, heaviness, or some other ailment of heart, mind, or soul. In these times, it feels as though the darkness is pressing in on us. It feels as though we just won’t make it to a place called peaceful. We may feel the fingers of despair trying to choke out the abundant Life in us. Oh, what a painful, restless, shaken, and broken place to be; but I tell you there is HOPE for today. That broken, torn, and hopeless place can be our turn-around moment. We can focus our eyes on the author and finisher of our faith and realize that our God of hope does not turn a blind eye or a deaf ear. He will not leave us as orphans. He comes to rescue. He lifts us up. He does for us what we cannot do for ourselves. He walks with us. So let’s not accuse our good and holy God of forsaking us. Our God is a God of light, and he is with us in the darkness. He brings us through. Our lives will tell the story to someone else in need. They will read the story of our lives and be encouraged. So, it was with Paul. He saw that God was his rescuer and using that moment to be with him and lead him to come alongside others in their darkest hour.
Have hope for today. God doesn’t leave us where we are. He moves us forward. He completes His good work in us. He affirms us, makes us, and leads us. Our good and great God confidently and strongly keeps us and surrounds us. What looks like death now can be life waiting to happen and hoping to spring alive.
Psalm 91: 1-2, 11-12
(written Sept. 2008)