Thursday, June 08, 2023

Hope 5


to trust; to wait, to expect; to tarry (as in not get ahead of God).

God might kill me, but I have no other hope.  I am going to argue my case before him.  God will be my salvation, because I am not godless and can stand before him.  Job 13:15-16

Job is desperate and he knows God is his only hope.  He knows God will hear him out.  Job's friends have tried to diminish Job, blame him, leaving him in a pitying pile, but Job will nave none of it.  He is clear as to his only source for hope.

I think we often go to many other sources before we go to God.  Many other comforts, when God is our only comfort.  He is the only one to trust.  "Imagine that!" my friend use to say after we had sat around and bemoaned our plight.  "We could pray!"  

When will we learn to pray first?  At the slightest level of need, run to God first.  We are like Job, in right-standing with God.  He wants us to come to him.  He wants us to trust him.

Help me, Lord to first raise my voice to you!  I will plead my case to you.  I will recognize my privileged place to come to you.  I am blessed just knowing you are my God, desiring to hear from me.  Amen!

Saturday, May 13, 2023

Hope 5

 tiqva - grounds for hope; longing expectation.  Literally, a chord, which can twist and stretch.

Oh, that I might have my request and that God would fulfill my hope...What strength do I have in order to persist?  And what is my end that I should forestall it?  Is my strength like that of stones?  My skin as bronze?  Can I even help myself, or is all chance of help driven from me?

A despondent person deserves kindness from his friend, even though he strays from the fear of the Highest One.  Job 6: 8, 11-14

Job's friend's words (in Job 5) have brought no comfort.  They were ill-timed and accusatory words.  Can we take a lesson on how to be a true help, provide hope? A person is emptied by calamity, so there is no source of hope within. When a person is so afflicted, help (ezra - assistance) and wisdom (tusiya - sound knowledge; substance) cannot come from within.  

What provides help and hope?  Kindness, goodness, faithfulness, mercy.  We don't have to have answers, instead, we can care for a person in distress.  We don't have to solve their problems, but offer compassion, love and support:  a phone call, a silent sitting, a listening ear, a hug.  The presence of another human being provides hope.  Could you provide such a simple act of kindness?

Lord, draw me into the presence of the hurting.  Help me to carry your spirit of comfort to others.  Amen.

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Hope 4

 tiqva - hope; longing, expectation; literally, a cord. 

...sorrow is not a natural product of the soil, nor does trouble sprout from the earth itself...This is why, if I were you, I would appeal to God.  I would lay my cause at his feet.  He does wonderful things that confound, with an infinite number of there is still hope for the helpless and poor..  Job 5:6-16

For there to be hope for the future, hope for wonderful things, miracles, lifting up, bolstering, justice, it must be tied to the efforts of God in each.  Also, remember that these are only needed in the face of calamity.  Only when we are dry, downtrodden, bereaved, the victim of deceitful plotting and physical peril do we recognize our own weakness and tie ourselves, "hitch our wagon," to the God of the universe, who saves.  

We will only be able to avoid some of those calamities and God will provide and provide comfort, when not.  The hope God provides in difficult and calamitous times become our guide to the future:  safety which delivers us to another day; "water" for flourishing; intervention against plots against us, blinding and binding of our enemies.

The message of Job 5 confounds and upsets Job (seen in chapter 6), but even this righteous man was a victim of a plot against him by Satan himself.  God will prove himself righteous and return Job to good favor.  Can we stand the test as well?

Lord, help me keep my eyes on your favor in the midst of trial;  my hope tied to you. Amen. 

Tuesday, March 07, 2023

Hope 3

 tiqva - hope; longing, expectation; literally, a cord.

Behold, you have instructed many and you have strengthened weak hands.  Your words have upheld him who was stumbling and you have made firm the feeble knees.  Now trouble has come to you and you are impatient with it.  Trouble touches you and you are dismayed. Is not your fear of God your confidence and the integrity of your ways your hope? Job 4:2-6

Ah, Job, teach yourself!  All this time you extolled God, helped others, taught others, did you not think the promise was for you or did you think you would be excluded from the general malaise of humanity?

Some would say Job's friends were no help to him.  Okay.  This is kind of blaming, but did Job need to hear the truth of his own words?  Maybe.  Did he need to be pointed to the depth of his own purported faith and comfort that he once gave to others?  I think so. 

And then I think of myself.  The lessons I have taught others, I must cling to!  The care and comfort I gave, I must now accept!  That is my hope!  When I am fraught with disaster, in a weakened state, dare I hope for the help from others or mercy from my God?  Dare I ask?

Lord, help me to know how to be vulnerable enough to ask for help and thus receive hope from others!  My connection to them - the cord that binds - is what will give me hope.  Let me prove my dependence and awe of you when trouble comes by living by the hope of you, Lord, and the proofing of my claimed dependence on you.  Amen.

Monday, February 27, 2023

Hope 2

 Miqve - the grounds or foundation of hope; a collection, a gathering;  bond together

As Ezra was praying and weeping and bowing on the steps of the temple of God, a huge group of Israelite men, women and children joined him in weeping.  Shecaniah:  You are right to weep, Ezra.  We have forgotten our true God and [sinned], but there is hope for Israel yet.  We shall make a new commitment with our True God....and you who are righteous (i.e. follow the law) must guide us...and we will support you.  Ezra 10:1-4

Hope must have a foundation...of truth and right living. Sometimes, hope rests on those who are in leadership, who live rightly.  When a group - here a nation - has completely abandoned the principles of God, their actions have amounted to a broken faith. Deep confession with a change of heart and path is initiated from within, when the people can see their wrongs as an afront to God. 

Then hope reaches out for leadership.

The people of Israel then build on their confession with a commitment to follow and support agents of change, their prophet and priests. It is never an independent faith.  Sin is often communal.  Righteous leadership can lead the community back to relationship with God.  

Lord, lead me to confession and to leaders who would give me hope and whom I can support in their effort to guide.

Thursday, February 16, 2023

Hope I


hope; expectation of a desired outcome

literally: a cord; attached to the future

"...if I should say I have hope...." Ruth 1:12

Naomi has had husband and sons die:  she has no hope for her or her abandoned daughters-in-law.  She has no future hope, no cord, to offer them, let alone herself.  Without hope, they wailed.  

One daughter-in-law returned to her people, where she might secure a hope for her future.  Ruth, though, attached her hope to Naomi:

"Where you go, I will go and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people will be my people and your God my God.  Where you die, I will die and there I will be buried...(verses 16, 17)

To salve an unrequited hope, Ruth knew she would need family.  She would need intimacy, closely tied to her mother-in-law.  Later, we know her dedication to relationship would give her a new hope, a new husband with the same connections.

This is the hope of social capital.  When we stay connected to the people who can most secure our future, our continuation, hope survives.  This tells me that when I am in desperate straits, when I am feeling helpless, I need those around me who can connect me to the solutions, the relationships, the future I need.

Lord, give me the social capital, the connections to relationships so as to build hope for my future.

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Abundant Life

 ...I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.   John 10:10b

It is deeply disturbing and unsettling of how accustomed we have become with death:  death on the street, death through violence and war, death of the soul.  I wonder if we have lost the vision of life before death, as a result, and not just life after death.

Where Jesus is, there is life.  There is abundant life, vigorous life, eternal life, which, because it begins now, allows us to envision life-before-death. We may need some definition on this abundant life.  Many verses actually describe this present life-before-death, but I will use my favorite:  John 17:20 - 26. 

In this, Jesus' prayers for you and me (all future believers). He tells us his request to the Father for us: that we will be unified with him and the Father, that we will share in Christ's glory, which will serve to facilitate the unity of the entire community with the Father and Son.  He prays that we would contain the love of the Father and the Son.  The love of the Father drove him to inhabit the earth and attempt justice and reconciliation for his creation.  Could we become so passionate and compassionate for life-before-death?

The "Passion" of Christ is not a one-off, tragic incident of God's intercession with humanity.  It is the final expression of God's passion - a devotion for and a costly response - for his exiled people, which is all of humanity.

Let me be so passionate for the lost world around me.  Let it be a passionate devotion, sacrificially offered, life-giving, relationship-restoring life.  New life!  Life possible before death, which leaves no room for apathy.  Self-sacrifice as Jesus modeled brings life into view today (before death).