Summary: Hope is what enables us to see that silver lining around the dark clouds and makes us look for a rainbow during the rainstorm.
I) Eighteen months ago, I embarked on a journey. I packed up my belongings and headed from Kansas to Northern California to begin a new life. I had been divorced for almost a year, and I had begun a relationship with a wonderful woman from San Diego, CA.
The little furniture that I had along with my pots and pans and plates and collection of mugs had all been packed in boxes and were shipped via a moving company. I even shipped my car as my fiancé, Ceci, didn’t want me driving by myself over the 1700 mile trip.
The most important thing that I took on this journey was something called hope. I was putting the past behind me. I was putting 15 years of life in Kansas and serving churches in Kansas behind me and I was looking forward to a new adventure.
I came here to Northern California with hope for a good life, hope for healing, and hope for a successful ministry with the church I was coming to serve as interim minister.
My hope wasn’t a result of crying out because of sorrow – my hope was a result of anticipating the new life that God had in store. Rather than be anxious about picking up roots and resettling in a whole new state – I was placing my trust and hope in the God who called me.
II) Last week – as we explored the connection between faith and emotions, I gave you a practical definition of “hope”.
Hope is what enables us to see a silver lining around the dark clouds. Hope makes us look for a rainbow during the rainstorm. Hope is what causes us to sing out loud, “The sun will come out tomorrow, bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow they’ll be sun.”
I would add that hope is seeing the possibilities beyond the circumstances and opportunities that God gives to you each and every day.
I love the word “journey” as a metaphor for life – especially for our spiritual life with God. You and I are on a journey – not a physical journey – but a journey called life. And the most important thing we can take with us is that thing called “hope”.
III) Psalm 77 is attributed to Asaph – one of the primary musicians and choir directors in David’s court. One of his responsibilities as a musician was to sound the cymbals during special services. He was also recognized as a prophet and spiritual leader of Israel.
Psalm 77, following the method of many other psalms, begins with sorrowful complaints yet ends with expressions of comfort, hope, and encouragement.
The complaints seem to be personal grievances, but the encouragements relate to the community at large.
David was facing opposition as a King. Other men, including one of his sons, believed that they could do a better job at being King than David. David was aware of other nations who wanted him dead and gone. Asaph, the choir director and writer of this Psalm would have known about David’s worries and fears about his enemies; he might have even had similar fears since he was so close to the King.
The psalmist complains here of the deep impressions which his troubles have made upon his spirit, and the temptation he had in falling in despair to the worries he had. He encourages himself to hold onto hope as he remembers all that God has done for him and for his nation. He has hope that he and his nation would find healing and wholeness, strength and protection.
VI) We face troubles and hardships like David and Asaph. Our obstacles may not be human enemies and armies but we, too, come up against situations, people, and circumstances that try and get us down. And like the Psalmist we can have hope for our journey. We can have hope that leads us to reach for the hand of God.
One other thing about this “hope” is that God is able to move us beyond our circumstances, hurts and our fears – and give us a reason to have hope. Hope enables us to fly above the dark clouds of life because God is with us through Jesus Christ when we’re crying out to God or just feeling anxious.
V) Ben was diagnosed with a brain tumor at the age of 16 years old. Hope is the one thing that kept his parents, Kevin and Laura moving forward. Hope is what kept them from giving up. His younger sister, Bethany, always kept her sights on the silver lining.
He went through a series of tests and a series of treatment. They discovered that the type of brain tumor he had was the same kind that took the life of his uncle a few years earlier. He underwent surgery that didn’t quite get all the tumor. Then he went through a variety of treatment that included chemo-therapy. Ben never lost his sense of humor or his compassion for other people through the ordeal.