Learning How To Hope

Posted on Posted in Christian Living, Family, Religion, Residency

IMG_0370I walked in the door tonight and passed by Chandler’s room just like I always do, only tonight, she wasn’t reading the Narnia series like she has been.

I went on to my room to put down my bag and talk to Tasha before going back to tuck her in.

I was particularly glad to see Chandler awake tonight.

I was home earlier than normal because the Leadership Development Class I’m taking released early due to the structure and topic this particular night.

I felt a bit beat down because the emphasis was on Parenting. Chandler is almost 9 years old now and I’m starting to feel actual moments racing by and opportunities more frequently passing.

Am I doing this Dad thing right? I wasn’t convinced.

I walked into her room only to verify that she wasn’t in fact reading Narnia, she was reading the Bible.

Stunned, I nervously asked, “What are you reading?”

She replied, “Matthew.”

I wasn’t so shocked that she was reading scripture. She usually does most days. I think I was just grateful that she was intrigued enough to pick it up instead of Narnia (which she usually reads at bedtime). I kneeled down beside the bed and we began to have a great conversation about Jesus. We shared our concerns, then prayed together about all of those concerns, thanking God that He is in control, not us.

You see, I’ve had the Sermon on the Mount on repeat. I’ve literally read it over and over again recently. It’s Jesus’ masterpiece. It’s his ‘Thriller’ or ‘Joshua Tree’ if you know what I mean. Basically, if you haven’t read it recently, you should. Just a word of caution though, it is guaranteed to be just as discouraging as it is encouraging. This part in particular has stuck out for some reason:

20 And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said:

“Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.

21 “Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied.

“Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.

22 “Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man!

23 Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.

24 “But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.

25 “Woe to you who are full now, for you shall be hungry.

“Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep.

26 “Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.

 

I love what Jesus says here. I love what He is calling us to. Honestly, when I read this, I believe it. I know that Jesus was right about what He said and lived up to all that He said. I know He calls us to live this way also. I feel like I know a lot of people who take this to heart and try to live this way by the power of the Holy Spirit.

However, I also know (and know of) a lot of people who say they love Jesus and all He teaches, but they look nothing like Him at all. Most of their disciplines, practices, and opinions are largely inconsistent with the scriptures.

I have to believe that the reason this happens is because we don’t know the Jesus of the Bible.

We can find Him in the scriptures, but the trouble is we don’t value the scriptures like we should. We don’t actually believe that it is true or that it has to be the authority in our lives…or at least not all of it.

In an age where blogging, podcasting, crowdsourcing, and groupthink prevails, there has to be some authority. For Christians, Jesus is the example and our authority is the scriptures. Here is what the scriptures say about itself:

2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

2 Peter 1:20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

Proverbs 30:5 Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. 6 Do not add to his words, lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar.

Matthew 4:4 But he [Jesus] answered, “It is written,“‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

 

I really believe that we should return to the scriptures as a whole, not skipping hard things or selecting verses or even whole chapters we like while avoiding others. This means even wrestling with tough doctrines and topics, all in an effort to rediscover the one whom the whole Bible is about—Jesus.

Jesus is our only hope.

Yes! Jesus, the very one who loves us, gave His life up for us, and calls us to do the same for others. One of the hardest and most important things for us to remember is that sometimes in order to point others to the hope we have in Christ, WE may have to BE that hope for people!

 

Here are three ways we can BE hope:

  1. Pray for opportunities to share the gospel with real people in need, and commit to pray for them once they share their needs. This is one seems the easiest but is in fact the hardest. We can do nothing on our own without prayer—full reliance on God to work with, or without us.
  2. Engage the people around us. This one also seems kinda simple but it is really hard to do in effective and meaningful ways. It is impossible to really do effectively without praying first.
  3. Serve anyone and everyone even in the most simple and seemingly mundane ways. Living a humble life of serving is one of the most effective ways to make a real change in the world. And of course, it helps to pray for opportunity first and engage people when serving them!

 

Theses are not new nor earth shattering, just effective.

Chandler shares the same concerns that I do about people, our world, our leaders, and the church. She knows the hope we have in Jesus, but like me—sometimes it just seems hopeless, or maybe hope is just currently hard to see.

 

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