A Harbor of Hope
In times of grieving, God gives us the grace to grieve with hope. Recently, I noticed just how important this grace is when a very close friend went through a horrible loss. Romans 15:13 says:
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope (ESV).
Our God is the God of hope. As Christians, who do we turn to when life gets hard, and the suffering becomes overwhelming? Ideally, we turn to God—our strength, source of peace, and our safe place. He can handle our pain, our anger, the fullness of our honesty from a place of hurt. We need people who will invite us to be honest, to be our true selves in light of the reality of our situations. And because we dock in the ultimate harbor of safety, we can, in turn, be that for others.
We need to become a harbor of safety for those around us. Because the world is a stormy, broken place.
I know for certain that when we turn to God in our own grieving, He is waiting to be our comfort, peace and hope. It still hurts and the grieving process can be long, but with God as our source of hope in those dark places, it seems a lot more doable to continue living and reaching people despite our own hurt.
Becoming a Harbor
My friend gave birth to a beautiful, healthy baby girl recently. This was a huge moment, not just because of the beauty of new life, but because she and her husband had been praying and trying for this precious bundle for more than a year. Their whole community celebrated this miracle and eagerly awaited to meet their child. Sadly, just after my friend gave birth, her husband had to tell her that her mother had died. She would not get to introduce her new baby, the first grandchild, to her mother.
We are close friends with this couple. When we heard this news, our hearts completely shattered for them. Expecting a baby ourselves, we couldn’t comprehend such joy alongside deep grief and loss.
We had to ask ourselves… How do we become a harbor of safety for our dear friends in their grief and loss? How do we reassure them that it’s okay to celebrate their daughter’s life joyfully while still grieving the loss of a beloved mother? After walking this journey with them for a little while, I still don’t have a clear answer. But I do know that God is with them, and He graciously guides us as we spend time with them and support them. Sometimes that means praying, distracting them with laughter, or gushing over their little one together.
Trusting Him Despite Stormy Seas
Being a harbor of hope doesn’t have a one-size-fits-all approach, but it does have one prerequisite — putting God first and relying on Him as your ultimate source of comfort and hope.
“Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him; I will protect him, because he knows my name. When he calls to me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation” (Psalm 91:14-16).
No matter where you are today, turn to God. Be honest with Him about all that you’re feeling, and then lean into His strength, peace and goodness. And then, because He fills our cups to overflowing, let His goodness flow out of you so that you can become a harbor for those around you that so desperately need light to shine in their stormy darkness.
Delays and Persistence
“From the first day … your words were heard; and I have come because of your words. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days; and behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me.” – Daniel 10:12-13
Daniel sought God to help him understand a vision. He had every reason to expect an answer. He had served God faithfully with a clean heart. In the past, God had given him revelations about dreams and visions (Daniel 1:7). Yet day after day, God did not answer!
Daniel must have wondered why. Had he displeased God? Was sin blocking his prayers?
Eventually Daniel did receive an answer. He may have been surprised that the delay was caused by spiritual opposition. His prayers had been heard, and the answer was on the way. Daniel simply had not yet received it. Finally, 21 days after he prayed, the answer arrived. But that answer only reached Daniel because of supernatural intervention by the archangel Michael.
We need to realize that we too are involved in spiritual warfare. We should not assume that every delay is the result of demonic opposition, but we still must recognize the reality of this kind of opposition.
What happens if your prayers aren’t answered? First, be persistent. Pray and don’t give up. Seek and keep seeking (Matthew 7:7). Keep your life pure from sin (Psalm 24:3-4). Be sensitive to possible spiritual opposition. Remain armed with the “whole armor of God,” so you can “stand against the wiles of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11), and fill your life with praise.
Be confident that God hears your prayers. Trust that He will answer in His time.
Reflection Question: What have you been requesting from God for a long time?
2 Chronicles 24:17-18 17After the death of Jehoiada, the officials of Judah came and paid homage to the king, and he listened to them. 18They abandoned the temple of the LORD, the God of their fathers, and worshiped Asherah poles and idols. Because of their guilt, God’s anger came upon Judah and Jerusalem.
Jehoiada the priest was a very positive influence on Joash and upon the nation of Judah. God’s grace allowed him to live to be 130 years old. Once he died, the officials of Judah began to exert their influence upon Joash. Instead of influencing the world around them with their faith in Jehovah, they wanted to be like the world and worship gods of those nations. Joash was so influenced by them that the temple of God, that he had insisted be repaired, fell into disuse.
God sent prophets to warn the people that they would not prosper if they continued down this path. Today, in our culture, we need to be the voice that warns that our nation will not prosper if we continue our current trend of forsaking the worship of the true God. One of the voices that spoke out was Jehoiada’s own son, Zechariah. He warned that if they forsook God, He would forsake them. The officials convinced the king to have him put to death. This was the son of the man who had saved him and set him up as king. He signed the order and Zechariah was stoned in the Temple courtyard. When the voices of truth are silenced so that the people can go their own way without God, judgment is at hand. The next spring, the army of Aram came and killed all the officials who had such an evil influence and took the treasures of the city to Damascus. Joash lay wounded in his bed. His court servants assassinated him in revenge of the death of Zechariah. What a great beginning, but what a sad end! We are tempted not to speak out for fear of facing Zechariah’s fate. The alternative is to face the fate of Joash.
Consider: Life is fatal. We will all give an account of our life before God. Better to try to call those you influence to God, in hopes of repentance, rather than to be silent and die when God judges the land.
Waiting with Courage and Hope
By Jessica Van Roekel, Crosswalk.com
“We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield” (Psalms 33:20 NIV)
Waiting is one of the hardest things to do. We pray our prayers and wait for the answers. We act on the Lord’s leading and wait for the outcome. We love others through their pain and wait for their healing.
Rahab teaches us how to wait with courage. When the people of Jericho heard that the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea and destroyed the two kings, Og and Sihon, their hearts melted, and everyone’s courage faded. But Rahab declared her knowledge and belief that the Lord had already given her city into the Israelites’ hands.
Instead of letting her courage fade like her fellow countrymen and women, she took a risk. She hid the spies on her roof and struck a deal with the spies, their lives for hers and her family’s lives. To mark the deal, she tied a scarlet rope to her window. Then the waiting began. How long until they would be saved?
How many times do you and I wonder when we’ll be saved? We know life is hard. But it’s those things that take us by surprise that knock the vigor right out of us. We go to bed at night thinking all is well, and we wake up in the morning to betrayal of someone we love. Or we find a lump and hope and pray for negative results, but the doctor calls and it’s the word we hoped we would never hear. And the waiting begins.
We wait for healing and vindication. We wonder if the Lord still cares for us if he let this bad thing happen. We question our beliefs in a good, good Father and how this horror can be turned into good. Rahab shows us the way.
If we fast forward past Joshua 2 to chapter 6, we read about Rahab and her family’s rescue by the spies she sheltered. Their lives were saved because Rahab waited in her home as she was instructed. Imagine how frightening it was for her and her family to wait while an army marched around their city. Fear probably rose like a wave, and tense silence filled the city and her apartment. Rahab believed, but did her family? And how much courage did it take for her to stop her family from fleeing her home?
Then imagine peering through the window on the seventh day to watch the massive army march silently around your city not once but seven times. Then, as they raised their voices, the walls of your city came tumbling down, but your apartment, like a chimney pipe stood tall. Do you leave in terror or wait with strength and courage for your rescue?
We have the choice with our difficulties too to be strong and courageous. God has promised to never leave us or forsake us. He is good and compassionate, slow to anger, and abounding in love. But will we stay? Rahab and her family had a choice—they could believe the spies and have faith for the promised rescue, or they could take matters into their own hands and try and escape.
It’s a normal response to want to escape. We think if we don’t go through life without major difficulties, then we are blessed, blessed, blessed. But there’s a blessing that comes when we wait with strength and courage. It’s a blessing that grows our faith and makes us strong in the Lord. When we wait on the Lord in the middle of devastating circumstances, spiritual maturity happens. We realize God’s faithfulness because we experience his faithfulness. And when we experience his faithfulness for ourselves, it becomes a powerful testimony. We can encourage ourselves and others because we have the experiential truth that he is faithful and true.