As I sit here and type these words, the snow is coming down. Considering that it was in the upper 70s days ago, the reality of winter weather is upon us! Have you considered what Jesus says about hope? How did He find hope in His difficult moments? Join me as I share quotes and personal insights from Larry Crabb’s: Shattered Dreams: God’s Unexpected Path to Joy. All quotes are from Chapter 3: Jesus Speaks. All words in quotations are direct quotes. I recommend reading this great book for spiritual growth!
When God tells us to keep hoping
“What God has in mind when He tells us to keep hoping may not be what we usually mean when we think of hope. We wish for things to get better; we want to feel what we want to feel.”
God has a different kind of hope in mind for us that transcends our feelings! We find this in Hebrews Chapter 11. Hebrews 11 teaches us that not every hero of faith was delivered from death. The Gospel of Luke informs us that John the Baptist faced doubts about Christ in Herod’s prison. For details:
If John the Baptist (great prophet) faces doubt and ultimately dies, what does this mean for us?
God has a different kind of hope for us that finds fulfillment in heaven–not on earth!
Larry reminds us that “apparently God is pleased with people who suffer terribly, whose lives never straighten out, but who keep trusting.” God is most pleased when men and women trust Him even when there is every reason to give up!
Ever wonder why Jesus didn’t rescue John the Baptist? He could have struck Herod down and brought the prison walls down (like Jericho’s walls) with a simple verbal command. Yet Jesus allows the wicked king to behead John. Jesus had something better for John than release from prison alive!
I want you to carefully consider this truth and how it applies to our lives! Some situations and difficulties may never go away or get better. God doesn’t promise us immediate relief and an end to our difficulties. There are things in our lives that we will continue to struggle with until our lives end!
Jesus: Garden of Gethsemane Luke 22:39-46
Jesus faced His darkest moment in Gethsemane the night of His arrest. Hebrews 12:2 reminds us to look to Jesus (NKJV):
“2looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Jesus for “joy” endured His horrible sufferings because He was aware of the outcome. Jesus endured and persevered because He was looking forward to completion of His mission: making all things new and honoring His Heavenly Father.
Look to Him and remember His example when it seems darkest in your life! Jesus is our Example and Redeemer. We can depend on Him and forsake our vain personal efforts to create peace and meaning.
Jesus offers us the power of hope!
Jesus offers us His power (Holy Spirit)! As Jesus prepares to leave earth after His resurrection, the Disciples ask Him about when He will restore His kingdom. The Disciples were hoping for an immediate end to the political Roman oppression. They correctly understood that the appearance of God’s Kingdom would immediately solve all problems. They were hoping for immediate relief when God has something entirely different planned! The Apostles and many early believers in Christ became martyrs. The Roman Empire doesn’t end until the 5th century (in the West) and 15th century (in the East) . Jerusalem is destroyed in 70 A.D. Things clearly didn’t go as many wished! God has something entirely different in mind. He has something much greater than immediate relief and worldly triumph in store for the faithful!
When Jesus addresses His disciples in Acts 1 before His Ascension He says: Acts 1:7-8 NKJV
7And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. 8But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
Larry describes this promise and power as:
“He would promise them not the power to avoid trouble, but the power to live the only life worth living. He would promise them the same power that was keeping Him on course while His own worst nightmare came true.”
In Jesus we have power to live a life worth living even with the difficulties and deep hurts!
Jesus graciously speaks to us reminding us “You will be able to remain faithful to Me no matter what happens in your life!” Jesus gives us sustaining faith and endurance especially in those moments where we most feel lost and hopeless! Jesus gives us enduring faith instead of immediate relief. Jesus sends the Holy Spirit to guide and empower us!
Our suffering is not without purpose as it achieves a greater good
“God will never allow suffering to come into our lives that is not necessary to achieve His good purpose. He doesn’t like to see us suffer.”
While we may not currently be able to see the “greater good”; we can trust in God! Knowing that He is in control allows us to rest in Him! We don’t have to know the answers to the “whys” or pretend that all is well. Our role is to trust in Him, depend on His grace, and obey His Word. In the process, we will be made more like Christ and serve as witnesses to a lost world.
Suffering Creates Rich Hope and Great Joy
“Perhaps we’re meant to learn that the richest hope permits the deepest suffering, which releases the strongest power, which then produces the greatest joy. Maybe there is no shortcut to joy. Maybe God sometimes frustrates our desire to experience Him in order to deepen it.”
If we are honest, we would readily admit that we wish and long for things to be different! If you are struggling with these truths as I do, consider that God is at work in your life. Perhaps God is waking us up from a deep slumber of false hopes and insignificant, self-pleasing dreams unworthy of His redeemed!
What Christ might speak to us–Larry Crabb’s perspective
“Some of your fondest dreams will shatter, and you will be tempted to lose hope. I will seem to you callous, or worse, weak-unresponsive to your pain. You will wonder if I cannot do anything or simply will not. . . And I will seem to withdraw from you and do nothing.”
“When all this comes to pass, My word to you is this: Do not lose hope. A plan is unfolding that you cannot clearly see. . .I guarantee you the power to please me, not to have a good time. But pleasing me will bring you great joy.”
Accordingly, we need to: (paraphrased from page 43)
1.Long to be a part of God’s plan to move His kingdom along
2.Know and seek to please God more than anything else
3.Enjoy God more than anyone or anything else
4.Remember that we have power through Holy Spirit to represent God well.
For God’s glory and the encouragement of His precious Saints, I post this blog