March 16th, 2016

Hope for Desperate Times

Wooden cross (3

Wooden cross (3

Fear pounded in the hearts of the Israelites. Ahead of them lay the seemingly uncrossable waters of the Red Sea. Behind them the chariots of the armies of the Pharaoh thundered toward them. Their panicked complaint to Moses came in the form of an accusation. “Is it because there were no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness?” (Exodus 14:11)

This was desperation, pure and simple. Free for a brief but glorious moment, the Israelites faced the dread returning to slavery in Egypt or death by drowning in the Red Sea.

Just like the Israelites, we too live in desperate times. Though we may not be literally caught between the unthinkable option of a powerful army or sucidal calamity, life still throws daunting challenges our way that make us feel like we’re trapped. Men and women who have served effectively at their jobs for years find themselves out of work and out of options. Young people face a future absent of the opportunities known by their parents and grandparents, their education seemingly wasted as they fill the next coffee order. In many parts of the world, danger abounds, extremists’, terror activities on one hand and poverty on the other. Natural disasters inflict inexpressible loss on communities and entire regions.

For such desperate times, hope is the only remedy. But not the flimsy, empty wishes and happy thoughts we often spout when we don’t know what to say but want to say something.  Instead we need genuine, meaningful, powerful hope. The kind of hope that comes from the cross of Jesus. Hope that holds real promise and real substance.

No one is immune from these struggles. We all face the same threats: loss of livelihood, life-threatening illnesses, natural disasters, struggles to make relationships work and so on. But how we respond to these desperate times says a great deal. How should followers of Jesus react? What do our reactions say about the significance of our faith to those who watch us? Do they see in us a reason to hope at all?

However, even the strongest of Christians can find themselves feeling as if they have lost hope, there is suddenly a lack of confidence about their faith and what hope brings. If as Christians we say we have placed our faith in Christ, why do we sometimes feel as though our problems have left us without hope? We claim a relationship with a God of hope, yet we sometimes tend to view life from a hopeless perspective.

Reflection

When have you forgotten to keep my eye on the cross and felt there was no hope?

Prayer

Lord, loving Savior I ask now that you would help me keep my focus on you so that I might be able to once again regain my hope. The hope that you gave all of us through your death on the cross.

Amen

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