You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in your word. – Psalm 119:114
I confess that I am having a difficult time turning off the television these days. I keep watching the news, hoping to see something positive; hoping to hear some good news about what’s happening in the world, and especially in our country, with fighting the COVID-19 virus. Unfortunately, I’m not yet finding that hope in the news. Instead I finally turn it off, feeling depleted of energy and depressed, with an escalating sense of hopelessness.
But then, I remember, that is not God’s way for us. All through the Bible we read that we are to hope in God; to hope in God’s Word.
The online Bakers Evangelical Bible Dictionary defines hope as: “To trust in, wait for, look for, or desire something or someone; or to expect something beneficial in the future.”
Hope is not something that is tangible or visible. If we could see it or physically feel it, it would be fact, but not hope. The Apostle Paul writes: “Now hope that is seen is not hope.” Romans 8:24 Yet, our hope as faithful believers is not a small thing, like hoping we don’t forget our keys, or hoping it doesn’t rain out our game. This hope is deep and full of longing.
Throughout history, God’s people have met many hardships, persecution, torture, disease, war – the list goes on. Jesus said that the rain falls on the just and the unjust, so there is nothing in Scripture that indicates that we, who are people of faith, are going to be excluded from suffering and pain. The most faithful followers have had to endure some horrific things in life. Yet, they continued to trust in God’s word of salvation and protection; of God’s promise to always walk with us through every storm.
While we are longing for our lives to be back to some kind of normalcy, we do see signs of strength and character, acts of kindness and love being shown to complete strangers. Tuesday, I went to buy groceries at the designated time for senior adults. (I guess that’s what I am). I was paying for my groceries and feeling a bit overwhelmed at how much the bill was for such a small amount of food when suddenly, a customer service employee came over and told me that a man in another isle who just left had given her money to pay for someone’s groceries. I happened to be the only one checking out at that moment! What a blessing that was. I’m not quite on my last penny financially, but I was thinking about the difficulty of stretching out what we have left for the month – and then came this gift. But it wasn’t even so much the money that was given as it was that I was the recipient of a random act of kindness; I had been given a great blessing by someone’s generosity. And I definitely plan to pay it forward with someone else very soon.
I heard the governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, say today that while we truly are in a crisis, it is in times like these where we build character and that is own daughters are learning valuable lessons in this. He reminded us that in the lives of our children and grandchildren, many of them have not ever really had to live through a national crisis like we’re in now. And these are times that shape young people. I think that is very true.
Paul wrote in Romans 5, that “endurance produces character, and character produces hope …”
In this age of so much constant information – some true and some fake – as God’s people, let us remember to keep the main thing the main thing. That main thing for us is trusting in God, believing that we are loved and we are not alone. He is our hiding place, our shelter, our refuge. No matter what happens, regardless of how difficult life gets or what suffering we may face, the Lord of heaven and earth will go with us, will save us, will give us eternal life through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, our Savior.
The Lord promises, through the prophet, Isaiah:
Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
And he says that we are precious in his sight, and honored.
“I love you,” says the Lord, our Creator.
You are loved. You are cherished. You are held in the palm of God’s hand. He has called you by name and he will not let you be consumed.
Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
--Romans 12:12; 15:13
Amen and Amen.