Thursday, March 19, 2015

Hope in the Dark

Catch up on the series here:
1 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5 // 6

A quick side bar - In a previous blog, I encouraged you to read your bibles, talk to the Lord, and seek some of these truths out for yourself.  "You don't have to take my word for it!"  (Remember Reading Rainbow?!) I should also mention that a lot of different books and sermons have heavily influenced this entire series.  I can't put together a formal bibliography because I've listened to and read these sorts of things over years - so much so, that now, I'm not even sure what are my own thoughts or others'.  I will, however, pass on two sources that I have been transformed by the most, aside from scripture...  1) John Piper's sermons on the book of Job, his series on hope, and several miscellaneous messages on suffering.  You can search by topic on the Desiring God website, if you are interested in hearing more.  2) The book, Learning to Walk in the Dark, by Barbara Brown is cheap on Amazon, and totally worth the read.

As I mentioned in another previous blog post, seasons change, and lament gives way to healing and restoration.  Though you may be convinced I am the most depressing person ever, if you keep reading, I promise to prove you wrong!  The closer we come to Easter, the more light will shine into this little series on darkness.

So, moving on.  Today, let's talk about hope.  (See?!  I told you more light would come a'shinin' in soon!)

Hope is a big deal when it comes to journeying through the dark in lament.  Like, a really big deal.  

Lament is not truly lament without hope.  

Lament is rooted in hope.  It is completely founded in hope.

But, you might ask, what is hope?  We use this word often, and I think it can mean many different things.  But, because I am not a seminary-trained theologian or a literary genius, or a dictionary, for heaven's sake, I would like to draw just two different pictures of hope.  Both depend on who or what you are hoping in.
1. You might be an athlete, hoping to make the winning shot in a basketball game - you could easily hope in your athletic ability, practice and training.  You might be a girlfriend, hoping your boyfriend doesn't break up with you - you could easily hope in your boyfriend's character, or even your own beauty and charm.  You might be a mama, hoping your baby doesn't die of a horrible sickness - you could easily hope in your doctor's wisdom and modern medicine.  You might be a middle-aged man, hoping to reach your destination safely - you could easily hope in your car's tires, or the caution of other drivers, or the weather forecast.  
I would like to argue that all of these things are untrustworthy and prone to failure.  All of these things can, and probably will, at some point, let you down. 

When we put our hope in these shallow, finite sorts of things, our hope is wishful thinking.  At best, it is optimism.  It is a fingers crossed, lip biting, knocking on wood, Pollyanna sort of thing.
2.  I think a better option is to put our hope in God.  He is trustworthy, always keeping His promises, always true to His Word, never failing.  He is not a sugar daddy, and He will not guarantee winning shots, healthy babies, safe travels and a breakup-free life, any more than a good earthly father will say "yes" to everything his sometimes immature and naive child asks for.  But, God does promise our good and His glory...  Which, by the way, is even better than all of those surfacy things.  He will do the miraculous.  He will do immeasurably more than we could ever hope for or imagine!
When we put our hope in the Lord and His character, our hope is confident expectation. 
Confident expectation.  We can be sure of Him - His nearness, His comfort, His answer, His faithfulness, His healing, His restoration, His resurrection.  This sort of expectation is faith-filled and fully-convinced.
This kind of confident hope in God produces endurance - endurance for our journey through darkness.

Hope produces the strength to keep going in the same way that hope for victory brings endurance to finish the race.

(...that illustration, I know, is from John Piper)  

Hope is the fuel to journey through, and come out on the other end...

Earlier in this series, I said that lament was a hope-filled journey towards healing and restoration.  

Hope says, "Even though it is still dark, even though I still can't see, even though I can't see the light at the end of the tunnel yet, I will keep going!  I will keep putting one foot in front of the other!  I will keep moving towards because I am fully confident and fully convinced there is good and glory on the other side!"

Again, lament is not truly lament without hope.

Without hope, we wallow in our own despair, saying, "It will never get any better!  This is my lot in life!"  Instead, in hope (and in lament!) we bring our cries straight to God, knowing He can make things right.  He heals.  He delivers.  He restores.

Without hope, we whine, we pity ourselves, we become self-centered, we spiral downward and become more disconnected.  Instead, in hope and lament, we journey up!  The bitter cold and barrenness of winter journeys toward spring, and then summer!  

Without hope, we give up and admit defeat.  Instead, in hope and lament, we approach God's throne with boldness and wrestle with Him - not giving up, until He blesses us!
From Psalm 42:5 - Why are you cast down, O my soul?  And why are you in turmoil within me?  Hope in God!
When we find ourselves in the dark, in the valley and in turmoil, hope!  Lament!  Go to Him!  Run to Him!  Journey through!

There is good and glory on the other side - miracles and immeasurably more than you could ever hope for or imagine.

I promise.

And, so does He.


1 comment

    Makes me think, too, of Romans 5:3-5 -- in right response to (exulting in our) trials, hope is eventually produced. When hopelessness and/or despair is the current state of my heart, look back to determine whether or not I've rightly exulted in (responded to) the trials I've been invited into (the fellowship of His sufferings; it's a GIFT to be invited into His sufferings).
    Was thinking the other day, too, that LAMENT does not equate with VENT. You walk through that really quite plainly especially in the second half of your above-posted post.


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