Tuesday, July 18, 2023

Joy for the Hopeless

 By: Rebekah Hargraves

Photo Courtesy of: Joshua Earle

 “But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth.” ~Luke 1:13-15

It might be that as you read thee words of this passage today, you are battling a feeling of hopelessness. You are feeling anything but joy, gladness, or rejoicing. Maybe you have seen that the Lord has worked and does work in the hearts of people down through the ages, but life is still looking incredibly hard for you. You feel as if you have an on-going, insurmountable, uphill climb you are facing every single day and that it’s all you can do to just get to each new day. Or maybe your life isn’t really in a tragic season per se. But the hustle and bustle of a fast-paced culture is starting to creep more and more into your own personal life. You may be feeling the weight of it all while also feeling incapable of saying “no” to each new expectation placed upon your shoulders by a culture that expects you to always be doing "more". Whatever it may be, I want you to take this truth with you into your week:

God is working, and joy comes in the morning. His mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-24). Nothing can separate us from His love (Romans 8:35 - you might want to read all of Romans 8, as it is that good!). And He is always, always working. 

I spent some time one day years ago in the Facebook group of a site for which I used to be a staff writer, and a lady there had posted about her struggle with believing in the power of prayer. She was sharing her struggles with feeling so hopeless as a result of the fact that every time she prayed more and more about a particular situation in a friend’s life, that situation only seemed to get worse. It was starting to make her feel scared to even pray anymore about it.

My heart went out to her and this is what I commented in response that day:

“I'm so sorry! That's so hard. What came to mind as I read your post was Joseph's story. For years and years, his life was not going along very well. Thrown into a pit by his own brothers, sold into slavery, falsely accused, thrown into prison and forgotten about, etc. etc. etc. I'm sure he probably prayed a whole lot that whole time, and yet things kept going from bad to worse. At the end of the story, though, we find out why: the Lord was sovereignly and graciously orchestrating things in such a way behind the scenes to where Joseph would be placed in just such a position that he would be able to be used of God to save his people from a terribly long famine. The Lord had gone before Him all along and was, even in the darkest time, preparing a beautiful light at the end of the tunnel and providing for the needs of Israel. I hope that encourages you today!”

That is what I want you to know today, too, friend. God has not left you or forgotten about your pain or turned a blind eye, deaf ear, or cold heart to your situation. He’s working, He’s there, and He loves you. Take a firm hold of that joy that comes from Him - that joy that can be your strength (Nehemiah 8:10). And as an old song goes, “When you can’t see His hand, trust His heart.”

“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.  Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” ~Romans 5:1-5

Reflection Questions:

1) Are you feeling hopeless today? Do you believe that this good news, this joy and rejoicing, are for you? 

2) If not, why not? 

3) If you do believe it is also for you, how can you walk in it today?

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