A Hope That Overwhelms Grief

I have heard it said before that “when things are going well we talk about God, but when things are tough we talk to Him.” I would say this is abundantly accurate.

C.S. Lewis in The Problem of Pain says “We can ignore pleasure, but pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains; it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”

In reflecting on my own season of trials, suffering, difficulty, and a slew of circumstances not working out the way I thought they would, I was brought to Genesis 50:20 where Joseph says “you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.” For me, I know that Satan would want nothing more than for me to functionally “curse God and die” (as it is said in the book of Job) but I know that God is working something greater out, and because of that I can count this present suffering as joy–knowing that I am growing more aware and secure in Christ because of it (see James 1:2-4).

Besides, our God is in the business of turning defeat into victory.

We see this almost entirely throughout the Bible, don’t we? We see this in Genesis with Abraham and Isaac and with the story of Joseph’s abandonment by his brothers; we see this with Moses and the Israelites in Egypt, being delivered from Pharaoh, across the Red Sea, in the wilderness, etc.; in countless battles and struggles in the Old Testament; and most significantly we see this with Jesus on the cross (and ultimately His resurrection, ascension, and promised return)!

It is Truth like this that causes David’s cup to overflow in Psalm 23 while still in the valley. His circumstance has not changed, yet his disposition has been eternally altered.

Tim Keller puts it extremely well when he says “The Christian faith has a hope that overwhelms grief. This hope doesn’t get rid of the grief or pain but sweetens and shifts it.”

Again we say, ‘what Satan intended for evil, God (rightly) redirects for good.’

This is why the author of Hebrews can say “we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.” (Hebrews 10:39)

This truth grows in us a trust and a confidence otherwise unattainable. This truth is what propels Paul in Romans 8 to say “if God is for us, who can be against us?” (v.31)

This is why we can echo with 1 Thessalonians 4:13: “(we do not) grieve as others do who have no hope” and with numerous Psalms that proclaim “God is doing all of this so that He alone may be magnified! It is for HIS namesake and HIS glory that He does it!”

With all this in mind a particular quote yields a helpful context: “If we would talk less and pray more things would be better than they are in the world; at least we should be better enabled to bear them.” ~ John Owen.

You see, it is seasons like these that force our eyes off of ourselves and exclusively to Christ. He is the One we turn to; in Him (alone!) we trust, for He is trustworthy. His very self is declared “Faithful” and “True” (Revelation 19:11) and many verses echo the truth proclaimed in 1 Thessalonians 5:24 that says if God promises: “He who calls you is faithful; He will surely do it.”

This is a hope that overwhelms grief.

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An Anchor For Our Soul

As Christians we can subtly slip into trusting our accomplishments, success, health, bank account, respect that we have garnered, or the fact we have outpaced our competitors. We can feel better about life when things are going well. We can also despair when it’s not going so well.

Hebrews 6:19-20 says, “We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever.” In our lives it’s sometimes not a life-altering event that discourages and demoralizes us, but it’s adversity after little adversity, frustration after little frustration that can throw us to the ground.

The writer of Hebrews is telling us that the world is like water spiritually. It’s always moving, changing, and insecure, so we need an anchor for our soul. We can attempt to anchor our soul in the things of the world, such as human relationships, health, family, and career, but ultimately those are always changing, moving, and insecure. We need an anchor that goes through the water and provides the safety, security, and stability we need in the drifting and storms.

Thank God he sent Jesus to be the anchor we all need that provides what nothing else can. I don’t know what life will bring my way and I don’t know if the ringing in my ear will ever go away, but I do know I have an anchor for my soul, who is Jesus Christ, who is my trust, security, and hope.

(content adapted from a post found on The Resurgence blog here: http://ow.ly/bfV6f)

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This has held very true in my life.

I find myself to naturally placing my worth, identity, and confidence in the shifting things of this world. Deep down I understand that these things will not, and were never meant to, satisfy, yet time and time again I put my hope in the fleeting things of this world that will ultimately pass away (1 John 2:17, 1 Corinthians 7:31).

In a world filled with variation, I soon felt the longing in my heart for consistency. A hope that will never fail me, and a desire that will never be extinguished. All the things on this earth have left me longing for more–nothing was ever truly satisfying.

Enter Jesus.

James 1:17 says that, in Christ, there is no “variation or shadow due to change.” He is unchanging.

Hebrews 13:8 says that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” He is reliably the same.

Hebrews 12:18-29 paints the picture that God is removing the shakeable, inconsistent, and ungratifying things of this earth to establish His Kingdom, an unshakeable Kingdom, in which we can have eternal hope in.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not rejecting the things of this world. The Bible says, after all, that God created all things for the praise of His name and the glorifying of Himself (Colossians 1:16, Romans 11:33-36, 1 Corinthians 10:31). But our ultimate hope cannot lie in created things, where we worship created things over the Creator (Romans 1:21-25), but must be rightly positioned to God (Revelation 4:11).

May we not put our hope into things that will ultimately fail us, because they were never meant to truly satisfy us.

May we echo the longing written about in Psalm 42:1, “[a]s a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God” and in Psalm 27:4, (“[o]ne thing I asked of the Lord, that I will seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord.”

May we reflect, daily, on the account in Ecclesiastes 3:11 which says that “eternity is written into man’s heart” and heed the words of C.S. Lewis when he says, “If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.”

May we build our house on the Rock that is Jesus Christ, and not the sand that is worldly things (see Matthew 7:24-27), which cannot and will not satisfy your deepest longings for joy, peace, approval, and acceptance.

We were made to glorify God, and to find our hope in Him–and Him alone. May we trust in Christ as an immovable, unchanging, reliable, trustworthy, sovereign, reigning, powerful, loving, and gracious anchor for our soul as Hebrews 6:19-20 states.