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“Be strong and take heart,
    all you who hope in the Lord.” -Psalm 31:24

My goodness, it is so dark and rainy out and I am grieving about another suicide, more young lives lost to addiction, and just this general spirit of despair that seems to permeate and cling to this area. We so need Jesus, we all need Jesus, this whole area just needs a whole lot more Jesus.

Jesus helps to keep the despair at bay. Jesus is our hope. The world is lost, broken, and hurting right now and we really need all Christian hands on deck, spreading hope, spreading the good news, reminding us to keep our eyes on Jesus and to hope in Him.

I really like that verse that says, “do not neglect to gather together as is the habit of some, but encourage each other, and all the more as you see the day approaching.”

All the more. That means when times are tough and despair comes calling, reach out to others and gather together even more. Don’t isolate! There is to be no social distancing in the kingdom….. except perhaps for ten days or so if you got a scary looking rash or you’re sneezing and coughing up a storm. There’s even a Bible verse about that in marriage, nothing wrong with some time apart, but it does have an expiration date. Two weeks to flatten a curve is sensible, two years to larp out a dystopian nightmare is not.

Extending kindness to others really isn’t just about waving at someone or smiling, or saying hello, it actually does something in the spiritual that just shakes things up and moves mountains. Connection is important. It breaks off bondages, it sets people free, it matters.

“Hope” in the modern definition is not very useful, it is a sort of hollow and wishy washy thing like “wishful thinking” or something. That is not what it means in a Biblical sense! Hope has a solid foundation, it is firmly rooted in the promises of God. The experience of God.

Faith has a substance, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” It is a tangible and solid thing that manifests itself in our own lives. Nothing wishy washy about it.

People have to experience “hope” too, they have to experience Him. I used to listen to pastors talking about “hope” and just roll my eyes. Dude, hope sure doesn’t keep the lights on. Hope doesn’t put food on the table. Hope doesn’t offer us much but coming disappointment. I didn’t even know what “hope” really was.

I really am one of the most jaded, cynical, bitterest of all skeptics. True story! I can’t tell you how many paychecks have bounced, how many promises have gone unfulfilled. how many hopes have just been dashed upon the rocks. So much loss and grief and sorrow and injustice all around me. But just confessing that truth doesn’t make me sad at all, it actually makes me smile! It honestly perks me right up, because God is so good, so faithful, and He really does stick closer then a brother. I have tasted and seen that He is good, I have leaned into His promises and discovered that He is worthy of our trust.

I don’t put much trust in people, but I sure do trust in the Lord! I am absolutely certain that even if we’re going headfirst in the ditch, He is going with me, and He will be right there. Also, He’ll make it fun. I haven’t found a good example of that promise in the Bible, but I sure have experienced it. What we often think is going to be a real cesspool, the Lord is sure to have hidden pearls in. He does take our manure, a just use it to grow a good crop. All these bad things we tend to worry about are usually so much worse in our imagination, then they are in real life.

Recently I had a cold test on the nerves of some of my teeth. Laughing here, but if you possible can, just avoid this procedure. It’s like, let’s blast your exposed nerve with something frigid and see how fast it takes for it to recover. It’s quite the shock. The thing is, I got better at it each time. There’s this sharp pain and then it eases off and stops. Once you understand it’s not going to just build and get worse, but rather ease off and pass away, you know what to expect.

Life is like that too. The Bible says, “this too shall pass.” I wish I could just hand that truth to all the people in this area dealing with despair and hopelessness. As powerful and scary as pain is in the moment, this too shall pass. Feelings can change. Circumstances can change, and all in the twinkling of an eye.

I know the world is going to hell in a handbasket, but I just want to plea with Christians to take their eyes off the problems and concerns of the world, and to start spreading hope instead. Be an encourager, be the calm within the storm, and take somebody’s hand. We were made for such a time as this and it is our job to point people to the hope of the world and to show them where to rest their eyes.