God offers hope in hard times

By JOSHUA HODGSON

Youth Pastor, Community Covenant Church, Upsala, MN

It doesn’t take me long while watching the news these days to begin feeling angry or saddened by everything happening around the world. My guess is many of you have felt this way too. The constant barrage of polarization in politics, the refugee crisis, terrorist attacks, domestic crimes, natural disasters and more, have brought me to my knees in prayer more than just a time or two. My heart breaks for those dealing with the loss of loved ones because of these things.

As if those worldwide events weren’t enough, we still deal with personal grief in life from the death of loved ones, job loss, divorce or other broken relationships.

Have you ever looked at all of these things and asked, “Why doesn’t God seem to answer my prayers? Why to these terrible things keep happening? Why hasn’t God stepped in to put an end to all of this madness – all of this suffering?” I’ve been there before; I’ve wrestled with those questions. Habakkuk the prophet of Judah did too.

Habakkuk 1:2-3 says: “How long, O Lord, must I call out for help, but you will not listen? Or cry out to you, ‘Violence!’ but you do not save? Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrong? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife and conflict abounds.”

God answers Habakkuk in his distress and a conversation begins about God’s plan to punish not only Judah’s enemies, but the people of Judah as well. They had all been living in rebellion to God, and the verses above are actually Habakkuk’s prayer about the injustice and violence he sees his own people committing. It isn’t until later in the book that Habakkuk is told of God’s warning to their enemies.

At the end of their conversation, Habakkuk makes a transition from questioning God to trusting God. He recalls what he’s learned about God from the past – all the times God was faithful to his people. He looks forward to the day that God will make things right, and resolves to bear every hardship that may come. Even though Habakkuk had questions, he didn’t let them hinder his faith or his hope in God.

Sometimes it feels like hope is hard to come by these days. I think part of that is we have our hope in the wrong things. We value our own strength instead of relying on God’s. We find security in our bank accounts instead of in the arms of our creator. We find belonging in our relationships with people (both healthy and unhealthy) instead of with our heavenly father. We try to numb the pain in our lives with distractions or addictions instead of laying them on the feet of our counselor.

It is through bringing our raw questions and hurts to God that we find intimacy with the Lord of Lords, and realize that he grieves these things with us. There is more comfort in our quiet place with God as we open ourselves to him, than in cliché answers like, “Everything happens for a reason” or “God never gives you more than you can handle.”

Let’s put our hope where it belongs – in the God of the universe who is good, just, merciful and faithful. The God who gave his one and only son so that we could have hope in more than this world. Let’s pray for our nation and our world, asking the deep questions on our hearts and minds, and see what God changes in us and around us through it.

If your heart is weary and burdened, call out to God and he will hear you. Not just one time, but 100 times and more. When we persevere, hope follows (Romans 5:2-5). God is faithful and he will bring you comfort.

Revelation 21:3-4 gives us a glimpse of what that will be like one day. “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

I look forward to that day.

 

  • James Steinle

    A very good article by Joshua Hodgson and well thought out in my opinion. I would add to this article a couple of verses from Isaiah 59:1-2, “Don’t think that Yehovah [The LORD] is too weak to save you or too deaf to hear your call for help. 2 It is your sins that separate you from God when you try to worship him.” (GN Bible) It is our responsibility to search His whole word to see what our sins could be and stop doing them so that He is willing to hear and answer us. Our Savior confirms this in Acts 3:26, “And so God chose his Servant and sent him to you first, to bless you by making every one of you turn away from your wicked ways.”