God’s gift – Joy for 2019!

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America has a kind of crisis of which many are unaware. It is a crisis of hope!  A stark reminder of this is the fact that about 40,000 people take their own life each year in America, a figure that is probably low, due to the fact that some suicides are reported as ‘death from natural causes.’  Why is the dark of despair overtaking so many in this country? There is no single cause, to be sure. There is a general loss of faith that contributes to the sense of the meaninglessness of life. The population is aging and the elderly are particularly susceptible to loneliness and despair. Families are more fractured now than they used to be and family support is a key to surviving times of turbulence in emotional and mental health.

In Christ, we find a blessing of hope, a gift of God to us who live in this world that has so many sorrows and disappointments.  In the opening of his letter to Christians, Peter writes this wonderful passage of promise. “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade— kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”  (1 Peter 1:3-7, NIV)

The promise of eternal life, of a glorious existence in the Presence of God, is our living hope!    This hope cannot be stolen from us for we are protected by the strength of God, which we own by faith. “Yes,” Peter, acknowledges, “there will be grief and trials along the way.   But even these are reasons for hopefulness.   They are refining our relationship with Jesus and causing those who see us standing strong to realize that Jesus Christ is worthy of praise!”    Out of this gift of faith, comes an amazing result.   “Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy.” (1 Peter 1:8, NLT)

From personal experience, I know how hard it can be to work through the darkness of a time of depression. 25 years ago,  I experienced an awful time when I felt there was no reason for a new day to dawn.  For several months,  I awakened each morning with an awful sense of futility shrouding every thought.  The question – ‘why go on living?’ was never far from my conscious thoughts. There were two faint glimmers of light that flickered into that dark time – the promises of God and the love of my family.   I clung, desperately to the truth of Scripture, though a part of my mind insisted that I was unworthy – that others might experience His loving grace – but not me.    My family held onto me, loving me when I was silent, patiently waiting for their husband and father to reappear.

I am very thankful for the wise intervention of professionals who came alongside of me and helped me find my way out of that pit. Were my brain chemicals out of balance? Was it a spiritual attack waged by Hell to destroy me, or the result of disappointment in life?   Probably there is some combination of those factors, but I experienced it as a time of awful darkness.  Truly, looking back,  I thank God for allowing me to walk that road,  for it changed me for the better, in every way. If you are struggling with real depression, don’t remain silent!

You don’t have to experience depression to feel a loss of hope. Losing one’s job, a failure of a marriage, the death of someone we love, or chronic illness can wear us down and steal the sunshine from the sky. In those times, we must renew hope in the Lord! Paul overcame the difficulties of his life with this kind of faith.   He declared, “If God is on our side, can anyone be against us? God did not keep back his own Son, but he gave him for us. If God did this, won’t he freely give us everything else?” (Romans 8:31-32, CEV)

Are you fighting with despair?  Make the choice that Moses made – “He chose to share the oppression of God’s people instead of enjoying the fleeting pleasures of sin. He thought it was better to suffer for the sake of Christ than to own the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking ahead to his great reward.” (Hebrews 11:25-26, NLT)

Our word from the Word this Monday morning points us to our Great Example! Learn from the Lord Jesus “who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls! ”  (Hebrews 12:2-3, The Message)

God’s gift to us is JOY. May we receive it by faith.

__________

10,000 Reasons (Bless The Lord)

Bless the Lord O my soul
O my soul
Worship His holy name
Sing like never before
O my soul
I’ll worship Your holy name

 The sun comes up it’s a new day dawning
It’s time to sing Your song again
Whatever may pass and whatever lies before me
Let me be singing when the evening comes

You’re rich in love and You’re slow to anger
Your name is great and Your heart is kind
For all Your goodness I will keep on singing
Ten thousand reasons for my heart to find

And on that day when my strength is failing
The end draws near and my time has come
Still my soul will sing Your praise unending
Ten thousand years and then forevermore

Worship Your holy name
Lord I’ll worship Your holy name

Jonas Myrin | Matt Redman© 2011 Atlas Mountain Songs (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing) sixsteps Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)

CCLI License # 810055

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