It is a common question – “How are you?” We don’t always ask it sincerely, do we? How refreshing when we know that a friend is actually interested in how we are doing, in listening to our heartbeat, sharing our joys, our disappointments, our fears, and our victories! So, how are you?
Perhaps you are troubled by the beating of the drums of war. Maybe you are wondering exactly how you will meet the rising costs of living. It could be that doubts about yourself are clouding your mind. There is certainly plenty of uncertainty in the world to darken the day if we allow those things to become our sole focus.
On this Monday morning I want to remind you (and myself!) that in spite of the fact that we live in a world where terrible things happen, we who are followers of Christ have great reason to live hopefully. Yes, I watch the news, too. I live with people who, from time to time, deeply disappoint me just as I fail to meet their expectations as well. Sometimes I fail God too. But disappointment, failure, – yes, even death – are not the last words in the Christian’s life. God is the Restorer of the broken, the Healer of the bruised, the Lifter of the oppressed!
We have reason for hope that is more than a positive mindset. Our hope grows in the soil God’s care which we access by faith. Even when the weight of the world feels like it is crushing there One who shares the load, praying for us. Jesus, our Advocate, “is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.” (Hebrews 7:25, NIV)
Taking a step further in faith we confess that nothing will ultimately frustrate God’s will! His conclusion is a resounding shout of hopeful faith, a reason for optimism that has no equal. Take a look. “Because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.” (Romans 8:37-39, The Message) Those who love Jesus can sing in the darkness, not because of bravado, but because of promise. They are not just ‘trying to look on the bright side,’ they actually know that behind the cloud, the Son shines!
And know this, too. God weeps with us. “We have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, (therefore) let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:14-16, NIV) Another version says it this way “He is touched by the feelings of our infirmities.”
You do not have to sing bravely, maintaining an emotional detachment from your troubles in order to please God. It may be that your most eloquent prayers are the tears that fall as you open your heart to Him.
Today, I invite you to go beyond optimism to faith. “Optimism is not living in a fantasy world where nothing tragic ever happens. Vital optimism is a confidence that tragedy is not the last word, that the best is yet to be. Optimism is being able to acknowledge brutal realities and to point to an even greater reality – that our experiences are not in vain, our responses are not futile, and our efforts are worthwhile. For Christians this kind of optimism is linked to an abiding trust that history is going somewhere and that God… is powerfully directing it.” – Harold Myra
As you begin a new week, draw on a deep reservoir of faith inspired by the care, the promise, the purposes of God. Pause to sit with Him, inviting the Presence of the Holy Spirit. Grasp hold of the hope to which you were called in Christ Jesus. “We have a clear purpose: to serve God, glorify him, and build his kingdom. Moreover, helping other people really does matter because they are eternal beings made in God’s image and they have dignity and worth. On top of this, everything we do for God has everlasting value because we serve an eternal being who sees all that we do.” – Michael Kruger
The word from the Word is our last word this Monday morning – “Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.” (Psalm 23:6, NIV)
(Video of this blog at this link)
(let this worship song speak to you today)
Worthy of ev’ry song we could ever sing
Worthy of all the praise we could ever bring
Worthy of ev’ry breath we could ever breathe
We live for You
Jesus the name above ev’ry other name
Jesus the only one who could ever save
Worthy of ev’ry breath we could ever breathe
We live for You We live for You
Holy there is no one like You
There is none besides You
Open up my eyes in wonder and show me who You are
And fill me with Your heart
And lead me in Your love to those around me
I will build my life upon Your love
It is a firm foundation
I will put my trust in You alone
And I will not be shaken
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