A Cry for Hope
It is public confession time. Let me level with you. In the past six months, I have been downcast. I’ve complained about people. I have grumbled about things. I have murmured, whined, nagged, and criticized in my heart. I have let little things bother me. I lost hope; more accurately, I have forgotten about hope. This is not good. Sure, I could give you a million reasons why I might be justified in being downcast; unplanned bills, cloudy skies, heart surgery, plantar fasciitis, unthankful people, being tired, blah blah blah blah. I’ve had a spell of melancholy. Not a depression that has kept me in bed with the covers pulled up; but one that has been more like something you see in a cartoon, a tiny “rain cloud over my head” kind of depression. Dumb. I know.
What is most bothersome is that I know I have things pretty good! I am one of the last people on this earth that should be complaining. I have seen true poverty and find I am not poor but rich. I have witnessed affliction and find I am not afflicted but most fortunate. I have a great wife. I have a ton of friends. I am thankful for my ministry. My material possessions exceed that of the majority of the world’s population. Really, what is my problem? Snap out of it.
Sin. My problem is sin. I have been unthankful, complaining, and self-centered. I have gone to lengths to hide my sin. As a husband and father, my lost hope affects the spiritual leadership of my family. As a member of the body of Christ, my lost hope spilled in to the church through sullen expressions, somber conversation, and completing tasks more from a sense of duty than of privilege and joy. I have encouraged people to follow after Christ to pursue joy knowing that my heart was far from being joyful. My sincere apologies to all. My hope is this, if I confess my sin God is faithful to forgive and cleanse me. If we confess our sins to one another, and pray for one another there is hope for being healed.
God tells us to set our mind on the things above, not on the things that are on the earth. I need a major mind change, a renewing. I need a transformation of my thinking. What has happened is my hope has been deferred, delayed, because I have put my hope in the wrong things. I have put my hope in places that will never provide hope. Proverbs says hope deferred makes the heart sick.
Now what? What do I do about being in a foul mood? I need to repent. Repentance is more than being sorry for my sin, it means that I do something about it. I need to have a mind change, a new paradigm. I need to fight for my joy.
I know one thing for certain; I have only one place to turn. I need to dig into the Word of God, the Bible. Just as Simon Peter said to Jesus Christ 2000+ years ago, I say today, “where else can I turn, only Christ has the words of eternal life. Only Jesus Christ can fill the longings for joy that I have within. In His outstretched hands, He offers fruit from the tree of life. There is only one place I can stand to rid myself of being downcast, and that is at the foot of the cross. I read the words of a man that has stood at the foot of the cross, the Apostle Paul, and already I am greatly encouraged. He writes,
“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing greatness of the power may be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.” … “Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”
Therein has been my problem. I have been looking at the things which are seen. My bad.
Perhaps you are reading this, and you find yourself in the same state of mind. May I encourage you to pray this prayer with me?
Lord God, restore my hope. Help me to find joy again. Restore unto me the joy of my salvation. Sustain me with a willing spirit. Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners will be converted to You. You, Lord, do not delight in my “sacrifice of service or duty or money” if it is not done with a humble spirit. But, if I come to you with a broken and a contrite heart, O God, you will not despise my request. Have mercy on me.