And his name will be the hope of all the world.
Lately I have been concerned and confronted with the rise in suicides, both attempted and successful. A dear friend of mine lost both her daughter-in-law and son to suicide within weeks of each other. Within my church family, there have been two suicide attempts in as many months. Then in the recent public eye is the suicide death of Rick Warren’s son.
So much desperation, so much darkness, so much hopelessness. Hurting people. And it is too easy to begin to find the reasons for this apparent increase in these occurrences. I, myself, have been railing against the lack of true relationships, the chasm that has been created due to the increase of technology, and the lack of faith in God. Yet, all this amounts to is pointing a finger at the many problems without offering a solution, not to mention the risk of simplifying a complex problem into something we can handle mentally.
So where do we start? By raising hope. In the Bible, the followers of Jesus knew desperation and hopelessness immediately following the crucifixion of Jesus. In Luke’s gospel (Luke 24: 13-35), two followers have an encounter on their way to Emmaus that changes their despair into delight. We can learn from them in times of deep darkness.
1. First, know Jesus. This goes beyond what we are able to see in the natural. The two followers knew only limitedly because they had faith in only what they were able to see. They believed that the body of Jesus was missing, but not that He was raised from the dead. Once their eyes were opened, they believed. “Faith is the substance of what we hope for, the evidence of what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1)
2. Get the Word into Your heart. This is where the fire is kindled constantly, and the only true way to know who God is. His character, his plans and purposes, are all revealed in the Word of God. Spend time deepening your understanding of God, through personal devotions, a weekly service, and through spending time with others that are sharing in this journey, too. Hope comes from knowing that God has a plan and a purpose for our lives, even though our circumstances may look differently at the moment.
3. Allow Him to walk with you through your circumstances. Jesus accompanied them along the way through their disappointments, and it was His companionship that brought them from despair to delight. Although Jesus cannot be with us physically, He has sent the Holy Spirit to be our comforter, our advocate. There is no better “instant messaging” than time spent in prayer and communion with God.
4. Finally, invite Him into your home, and your heart. It was in the breaking of bread, in the intimate moments, where Jesus was revealed to them. It starts with having a personal relationship with Jesus. Our homes and families are where this relationship is lived out in honesty. No matter what we may appear like in public, the reality is what happens in the privacy of our homes.
We all need hope. No one is immune. And Jesus is the answer. “And his name will be the hope of all the world.” (Matthew 12: 21)
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