Hope for the Hopeless

Long-term suffering often affects the way people think about God. They may go so far as to echo the accusation hurled against King David.

Many are saying to me,
“There is no help for you in God.” (Psalm 3.2)

“No help from God,” people tell themselves.

— God may love me, but he doesn’t show it.

— God is punishing me for something I have done wrong.

— God doesn’t get involved in problems like mine.

— There are billions of people in the world. Why should I think God would single me out and come to my aid?

— I’ve quit believing in God.

The Range of Suffering

Suffering comes in various kinds of packages.

— Victims of mass shootings experience incredible trauma.

— War wrecks the peace and hopes of vast numbers of people. The war in Ukraine is the foremost example of approximately 40 ongoing conflicts in 2022.

— The “still suffering” alcoholic/addict is an apt description of millions.

— Unexplained illness causes grief to both patients and their families.

Elie Wiesel writes about a horrific death of a child during the Holocaust where the onlookers cried out, “Where’s God?”

“Where’s God” is the spoken and unspoken thoughts of many who go through the dark valley of pain, grief, and suffering.

“He/She doesn’t have a prayer” is the ultimate expression of hopeless people. If there is no help coming from God, there is no hope at all.

Don’t Stop Praying

David was told that even God couldn’t or wouldn’t help him. David didn’t stop praying and neither should we.

But you, O Lord, are a shield around me,
my glory, and the one who lifts up my head.

I cry aloud to the Lord,
and he answers me from his holy hill. (Psalm 3.3-4)

“But you, O Lord” marks the turning point of all hopeless situations. The Bible is filled with examples of how God’s intervention changes hopelessness to hope.

Leprosy was one of the worst diseases that humans experienced in the first century. Beyond the pain of their illness, the suffering lepers were also cut off from family, friends, and society.

A leper brought his hopeless condition to Jesus and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.”

Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing. Be made clean!”

Immediately the leper’s skin disease was cleansed. (Matthew 8.2-3).

I expect the leper’s plea to Jesus wasn’t the first prayer from his mouth for healing. He was willing to trust that a “But you, O Lord” moment would happen.

When the mountain doesn’t move, dig.

One of my favorite professors in seminary began a chapel sermon with a text from Matthew.

“I tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you” (Matthew 17.20).

After reading the text, he told the audience that if the mountain doesn’t move, then we should dig. If we dig, we will find gold.

I later learned that my professor, Dr. Schwartz, had a severely disabled daughter. I expect he prayed for the “mountain” of his daughter’s disability to be removed on many occasions.

When it didn’t move, he stayed close to God and found gold. Even though he didn’t tell his students what the “gold” of his daughter’s illness was, we were able to discover some of the gold with him.

A grain of sand enters an oyster and the irritation of the foreign object produces a pearl.

A lump of coal under immense pressure and time is transformed into a diamond.

Dr. Schwartz lovingly cared for a disabled daughter and become very loving and caring himself.

Don’t Give Up

I believe that suffering is the holy ground of human life. I never want to be one who writes cheerful graffiti on the tomb of a person’s suffering.

That being said. Don’t give in to hopelessness in the midst of your pain.

Pray and expect God’s action. May God move the mountain of your pain and bring his very best.

If God doesn’t move your mountain, dig and seek to find God’s gold in your case.

No YouTube Video Today

I am still enjoying time with Toni’s family in California. The WiFi service we have is not strong enough to load up videos.

When we return home, videos with Rudy Ross will resume.

Please email your prayer request to bspra49@gmail.com. The Maywood prayer team will pray for you.

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