During the month of April, I'm reading Rachel Lundy's new 30-day devotional called "Hope for the Hard Days." (Click on the link and download it for free!)
Today is day 3, and the topic is about hope. Rachel is familiar with chronic illness and expressed the difference between "hope" that is a wish for better physical days and biblical hope in God that is certain to provide both spiritual growth on earth and an eternity of health and joy.
I thought about how it's my everyday circumstances that really challenge my faith. I see and experience injustice that goes on and on. Even when I feel like God could or should intervene, he just doesn't, and I don't know why. I wish for my situation to change, and in some ways, it has improved greatly. But there is still the root of betrayal and persecution that has left a gaping, painful void of grief in my life. This pain reverberates and affects everything I plan and do. How do I maintain my hope when God doesn't act in the way and in the timing I wish?
To be honest, it has been brutally hard. I have struggled with limited energy and motivation to study God's word, and I have days when my Bible remains closed. I have pushed forward with bursts of prayer but then slacken when I feel as if nothing I say matters or is getting through. Today, I had some quiet time to read through Habakkuk. It's only 3 chapters, but it contains some of the most powerful questions and answers in scripture when it comes to why God appears silent.
Habakkuk questions where God is, why he permits arrogant, evil people to destroy his own people, and why God allows this injustice to keep going.
By the end of the book, God has promised that if Habakkuk will wait, he will see the incredible plan of justice and mercy God is going to unfold. Habakkuk says: "I will quietly wait for the day of trouble to come upon people who invade us." God will indeed act.
Habakkuk looked back and saw God's pattern in history - of vindicating those who trust in him. "The righteous shall live by his faith," God encouraged him. If we maintain our sure hope in who God is, if we look at what he created, if we look back at his character and the cords of his plan woven through history, we can trust he is at work in our own lives in the same way.
Good Friday is the best time to remember that our hope is in a living God, not circumstantial highs or lows. Jesus, perfect in all respects, was falsely accused, condemned, beaten, and hung on a cross as a completely innocent man. When he died, circumstances told his followers and friends that there was no hope. Death was the final word in human thinking. But God's plan required waiting until Sunday.
Often I feel the weight of living in that Friday state of grief - watching injustice happen, seeing wrong judgments made, being powerless, wondering where God is. But the knowledge that God resurrected Christ from the dead gives me the boldness to hope in something more than what I see or experience. It gives me certain hope in God himself.
If you are living in Friday grief, remember that Sunday is coming and don't lose hope. He is the God of all comfort. We can trust in him.
Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines,
Though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food,
Though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls,
Yet I will rejoice in the LORD,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.
The Sovereign LORD is my strength;
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer;
he enables me to go on the heights.