Monday, March 17, 2014

Lent - discovering the hope that Jesus has been there before. (Psalm 27:14)

SCRIPTURE: Psalm 27:14 (CEB) – larger reading Psalm 27
Hope in the LORD! Be strong! Let your heart take courage! Hope in the LORD!

Our Daily Bread: During the Thirty Years' War in the 17th century, German pastor Paul Gerhardt and his family were forced to flee from their home. One night as they stayed in a small village inn, homeless and afraid, his wife broke down and cried openly in despair. To comfort her, Gerhardt reminded her of Scripture promises about God's provision and keeping. Then, going out to the garden to be alone, he too broke down and wept. He felt he had come to his darkest hour.
Soon afterward, Gerhardt felt the burden lifted and sensed anew the Lord's presence. Taking his pen, he wrote a hymn that has brought comfort to many. "Give to the winds thy fears; hope, and be undismayed; God hears thy sighs and counts thy tears; God shall lift up thy head. Through waves and clouds and storms He gently clears the way. Wait thou His time, so shall the night soon end in joyous day."
It is often in our darkest times that God makes His presence known most clearly. He uses our sufferings and troubles to show us that He is our only source of strength. And when we see this truth, like Pastor Gerhardt, we receive new hope. Are you facing a great trial? Take heart. Put yourself in God's hands. Wait for His timing. He will give you a "song in the night." 

When is hope truly hope? When everything else seems lost!

The Psalmist states that joy comes in the morning (30:5). As a young man I claimed that verse even though I didn’t know it. It fell to my lot to assist one of brothers in delivering his Miami Herald paper route during the summer. There were certain parts of his route that scared me to the core... strange shadows, strange noises, strange smells. On moonless nights I would put off delivering papers to “those” places until the very last… hoping against all hope for an early sunrise. The sun seldom beat me and therefore, with extreme reluctance, I had to pedal my bike into those dark alleys or walk the apartment buildings very dark hallways.

Life is like that sometimes. Dark and scary. Strange shadows and things that go bump in the night. We would much prefer to walk through life with knowing all the facts and having great insight. We would much rather have everything come at us in broad daylight. But life isn’t like that no matter how much we cross our fingers, close our eyes real tight and make pinky swears. At the very least life is scary and that is where hope comes in… as well as faith in the Lord!

Lent reminds us that no matter what we face, no matter how dark the night, no matter how scary the shadows… Jesus has already been down that path and faced what we are facing… and therein lays our hope. Joy really does come in the morning.

No one jumped out of the shadows and nothing went “boo” … and I always got safely home as the sun was just starting to break the horizon.

In the face of everything that we face in life, O Lord, give us hope that you are really in charge, you know the outcome, you are the purveyor of hope. And thank you for sunrises!


G.K. Chesterton - Hope means hoping when things are hopeless, or it is no virtue at all...As long as matters are really hopeful, hope is mere flattery or platitude; it is only when everything is hopeless that hope begins to be a strength. 

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