The Thrill of Hope, in a Weary World…
Do you feel it? The heaviness… The tension… Are you like me, longing and waiting to finally exhale, and live fully again?
This past Christmas I received two cards and one gift that had the word “hope” on them. Every time I experience something in three’s, I take notice. It probably doesn't really mean anything, but receiving three things that spoke of hope was significant and meaningful to me, because I was very weary of the crazy 2020 twilight zone year that has left us hanging and hoping to either go back to the way things were, or finally move forward to something better. We hoped 2021 would offer that, but it’s not looking so good either. So, we’re still waiting, for that big sigh of relief...
As much as I hope against all hope, I’m also keenly aware that life as we knew it may never return, and that’s okay. I can’t believe I’m saying that because I have really hated these past ten months. I mean really hated everything about it, and my posts reflected it. Some agreed with me, and some didn’t. A kind friend pointed out to me that I could have said some things more lovingly and gently at times, and I accept that, and I will purpose to do better. I’m not promising that I won’t still offend some people though, because we all know it’s impossible to please everyone, and because I post Biblical truths, which we all know is not so popular anymore. I will keep proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ, and other wisdom from the Bible, regardless of how it might offend. As far as other topics screaming across social media feeds and accosting our eyes and ears through the tv, I’m going to try to refrain from reacting to them. Again, no promises.
I have struggled greatly since this pandemic of fear took over the world. I have been in disbelief and so discouraged over how our country and the world has reacted to a virus. It’s not the plague, it’s not small pox, it’s a more extreme flu virus, perhaps more severe for some than others, but it’s highly treatable and highly recoverable, much like the flu. Never in my life, have I seen the entire world gripped by fear the way it is over this 99.98% recoverable virus. It has completely dominated every aspect of life. It’s always the topic of conversation. Everything we do now is controlled and constrained by fear of getting it or spreading it. The lockdowns, precautions, and restrictions have ruined people's lives and livelihood. Yes, the virus has killed people, also like the flu, and that’s always very sad, but it doesn’t have to devastate us or dominate our life. Sickness and death is sad and painful, but it has been with us since the fall of Adam and Eve, and we don’t need to live in fear of it, or try to escape it, because it comes to us all.
The Bible says that God has numbered our days, so we can’t die before our time. The Bible also says that God is sovereign and in control and nothing comes to us without Him knowing and allowing. The Bible says that all things work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose.
The Bible also overwhelmingly proclaims from beginning to end, that we don’t have to fear or worry about anything, because our hope, peace, joy, salvation, security, and eternal life, is in Jesus Christ, so I don’t fear sickness or death. I don’t like being sick. I’m actually a big baby when I’m sick, but it is a part of life. It always has been and always will be. We haven’t cured the common cold. We still have the flu, even with a vaccine, and there are all kinds of other sicknesses out there. Jesus didn’t heal everyone when He was on earth, and God doesn’t heal everyone now. God allows some people to be sick and even die.
Remember Job? All the pain and suffering that he went through? God allowed all that. Remember Lazarus? Jesus allowed him to die so He could raise him from the dead. He let Mary and Martha weep and mourn for their brother because He wanted to show them that He is the resurrection and the life.
This tells me that sickness, pain and even death serves a purpose to teach us something about God, and to make us stronger and more resilient for life. So, it shouldn’t be something we fear, or even think of as bad. Life is hard and bad things happen. Look at what Jesus and His faithful followers went through. Jesus didn’t try to keep John the Baptist from going to prison. They both knew that God had a plan, and they both knew that suffering was a part of it. And, remember how John died? Jesus didn't stop that either. When Jesus called and commissioned His disciples to preach the gospel, He prepared them for pain, suffering, trials and tribulations, and He said it would be a blessing. And Paul said, to count it all joy.
People forget that we are sinners living in a fallen world, and it’s all because we didn’t trust and obey God’s word, and the consequences of our sin is pain and death. Read Genesis, then keep on reading to Revelation. Now Jesus paid the ultimate price for our sin on the cross, and for those who believe in Him, repent of their sins, and persevere to the end, will be saved and inherit eternal life. But, we still live in this fallen world, and we forget that this world is not supposed to last forever, it is temporary, and we are temporarily passing through because this world is not our home, heaven is. When you read the Bible you gain so much wisdom, perspective, boldness, and courage.
Mankind has been obsessed with eradicating sickness, reversing aging, trying to prevent death, and saving the planet for as long as I can remember. Yet, with all our advances in medicine and technology, we still get sick, we still age, the planet is still winding down, and we will still die, and that’s okay. If you know Jesus, and you trust and believe in God, you know this is true and you don’t fear.
I know several people who had been terribly ill and near death, who had deep abiding peace in their circumstances because of their deep abiding faith in God and His sovereignty. I know people who have lost children and spouses who because of their faith in Jesus weren’t devastated by their loss because they believe God is still good even when circumstances aren’t. They know that God’s ways are not their ways and there is a bigger plan and purpose to their pain, and they know that their loved ones are with Jesus, perfectly healthy and at peace, and they know they will see them again. This is not wishful thinking, this is Biblical fact and a reality for those who truly know Jesus as Lord and Savior. This is life transforming truth that elevates perspective and gives hope against all hope, and peace that passes understanding in all circumstances.
I'm sure many of you will think this is just Pollyanna religious rhetoric, and some may accuse me of being insensitive and harsh. And, I know some of you will testify that this is truth and wisdom to live by, because it is. It's in the Bible.
We all have different opinions and different beliefs and different perspectives and different experiences and different circumstances and different journeys, but there’s one thing we all have in common; we will all stand before the living God Almighty, Creator of Heaven and Earth, Creator of all mankind, and give an account for the life that we lived by faith in Jesus Christ.
The Apostle Paul said in Philippians 1:21: “For me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” And in First Corinthians 2:2: “I determined to know nothing…except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”
That’s how I want to live. I want to be known for living fearlessly for Jesus and for fearlessly pointing people to Him. Jesus is our only living hope. He is our only safety and security. He is the only Way, the only Truth, and the only Life, worth living and dying for. He is better than anything this world can give, and better than anything death can take away. I will not live in fear of a virus, nor will I live in fear of tyrant leaders. I will respect and honor those in authority because God says too, and He put them there, even the evil ones, but I will exercise discernment regarding unreasonable and irrational mandates they impose upon us. I will not let anyone guilt me into complying with arbitrary, ever changing rules and regulations that make no sense and actually harm more than they help. I will continue to share the truth of God’s word no matter how unpopular or offensive. I will continue to remind people to think, pray, read the Bible, and seek and trust God’s wisdom for how to live, rather than depend on people, government and church to tell them how to live.
Before you accuse me of lacking compassion for those who are sick and those who have lost loved ones, let me assure you that I have abundant compassion, tenderness and loving concern for everyone. I mourn with those who mourn. I grieve for the lost. I pray for those who are suffering. My heart breaks every single day at work for the precious residents who are suffering terribly from isolation, loneliness, and heart break over missing their families. It is cruel and unnecessary. The so called cure is worse than the disease, and there are many, many people, professionals, doctors, and scientists who agree. There is another and better way. Wearing masks is not virtuous and they don’t save anyone. Isolating and avoiding family and friends is not protecting or loving them. Shutting down small businesses (while big business is still allowed to operate) is not wise, or helpful, it’s exactly the opposite. None of what we're doing is healthy or saving anyone. At some point we have to resume living fully. We need to hug, shake hands and see each others smile. Sure, we keep washing our hands, like we always did before, and stay home when we're sick, like we always did before, but it’s time to be brave and live free as God created us to be.
Jesus said in John 10:10: “The thief comes to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”
The “thief” comes in many different forms. Think about it.
The Bible says: ‘Do Not Fear,’ in one form or another, 365 times, once for every day of the year. Let’s do that. Live abundantly beloved. Live without fear. Live free in the freedom Christ won for you on the cross. Not only for yourself, but also for your loved ones. That is how God would have us live. Strong and courageous, loving and trusting Him for our life, health and death, and for our loved ones too.