Friday, July 31, 2020

Being A Light of Hope

Since the beginning of the year we have been pressing forward in working on our vision, goals and organizational tasks.  The Lord began leading us in a lesson to “Finish What You Started.” 

Like many of you, I was excited about how much I was accomplishing.  Then suddenly it all came to a stop and no one had control over anything. 

A global pandemic was declared, and changed the way we went about normal life.  Freedom has taken on a totally different meaning, causing us to step back and do a reality check leaving more questions unanswered.

Is there a glimmer of hope in any of this?  Will we ever see our dreams and vision fulfilled?  How can I help someone else when I don’t have any answers myself?

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God, What’s Happening?

For months most people have been under self-isolation of some kind, while others have risked their lives caring for the sick or carrying out tasks to help the rest of us stay safe.

In the beginning, people panicked and didn’t know what to do, so they did the next best thing – treat this time as a gift, or vacation.  For now, spiritual improvement was placed on the back burner and the old honey-do list quickly came out of moth balls.

Social media began boasting photos and videos of people cleaning, painting, redecorating and catching up on their to-do lists.  They’re pleased with the “free” time to do some things that otherwise would still be scrolling through their brain of unmet goals. 

A few musically inclined have given free online concerts, my brother included, to bring a little enjoyment into a less than ideal situation.  Others have taken their instruments to the streets and entertained the neighborhood taking requests of old favorites as they strum away at the acceptable six-foot distance.  These have turned out to be blessings for both sides of the camera.

Families are reconnecting and actually spending time with one another.  They’re playing games, learning new languages, cooking, taking courses or doing projects … and get this … they’re doing it together!

People are being forced to put down their phones and literally talk face-to-face!  What a concept!

Although those things aren’t wrong, are they what we should be focusing on mainly during this time of opportunity from the Lord?  After all, haven’t we prayed for the chance to get caught-up on the things that have piled up from lack of time to do them?  Now that we have time we desperately longed for, what’s the big deal?

God is up to something and I can pretty much say this with confidence.  Crossing “paint the porch” off your to-do list probably isn’t what He has in mind while the rest of the world is literally being ripped apart emotionally, physically, financially, socially and most of all, spiritually.

Unusual Mourning

About four years ago I wrote an article on mourning, but not in the typical way that you may think as in the loss of a life.  It centered on learning how to grieve over the loss of something physical, in that instance it was a house and property but it could be practically anything that causes pain of some kind.

The Lord reminded me of that writing piece and what individuals are going through at this current time … “unusual mourning”.  People are hurting in ways they never dealt with in the past. 

Families are going through hard times with the corona virus.  The reality is that many have lost their job, income, homes or loved ones.  Businesses have closed and the future seems unsure.

Daily news continually reminds us of all the horrible things that are happening globally, and even though people are praying, frankly some are glad it isn’t them.  There’s a problem with that thinking - no one is exempt from fighting an invisible war, and all the money in the world can’t buy anyone out of it.  Unlike humanity, sickness is no respecter of persons.

Embracing the Moment - Where Is the Joy?

On the whole, a huge problem is that people don’t realize their anxiety, fear, suffering and pain are part of the grieving process over the loss of something precious or special to them.  Life got out of their control throwing this tragic curve ball, and many are wondering what else can happen.

How are you embracing this pandemic moment in history?  Are you feeling stripped of all security and terrified that another disaster might strike again at any time destroying what’s left of your life?

Maybe you’re soaking it all in with the reality of living life to its fullest now while you can.  Have you come to appreciate the important things? Perhaps the simple things in life are bringing you enjoyment, and you’re basically happier to have had this experience.

Depending on how you are “wired” by God in personality and factoring in your attitude, the response will vary from one situation to another.  Not everyone is going to consider it an endurance opportunity to “count it all joy” so their faith can grow as James (the brother of Jesus Christ) says.

“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.  But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”  (James 1:2-3 NKJV)

According to that passage, we’re supposed to profit from our trials and think of them joyfully as a perfecting from the Lord.  To quote a friend, “That ain’t gonna happen.”

I don’t blame people; holding on to a particular passage in the Bible can be difficult when we get distracted by what is happening in life.  Anyone who is alive at this time hasn’t known anything like what’s going on in the world.  They’re struggling to make sense of things all the while trying to figure out what to do, and where to find answers for something that has never been faced on this level.

Taking Back Life

Living and life has changed. Feeling overwhelmed is an understatement.  We were created by God to be interactive beings and connected to one another.  This separation from loved ones and friends has caught us off guard. 

While some are squirreled away in their homes safely, others are passing away and not just from the virus.  Who is with those transitioning from this life into the next so that they are not alone?

Families have come to rely on health personnel to walk their loved ones through the leaving process, taking on emotional responsibilities over and above the call of duty.  Although there is comfort knowing those we love are not alone, there is a lack of closure with the feeling of being cheated out of the opportunity of holding a hand gently as you say goodbye. 

We have come to appreciate electronic equipment that allows us to see a beloved by phone, Facebook, Zoom or other devices that are available in this day and age.  When they don’t engage, we feel even more alone, rejected and cut off from the world.

For the first time in history not only more internet weddings are experienced, but burials are being delayed due to a contagious virus.  Funerals are being held on Zoom along with virtual farewells, replacing a physical embrace when sharing the burden of sorrow.

We can understand this kind of grieving, but it never crossed our minds that other things in life could be just as devastating.  We’re about to see what that looks like very soon as the economy slowly reopens and tries to take back life. 

A Cry for Mercy

Are we prepared to be a Light for Jesus when people begin to take back life as it once was and they discover that life is now gone?  This is what I’ve been asking the Lord in my prayer life. How can I help people from where I am?

People are afraid and handle situations differently as they grieve in their own way.  Their outlook on life is bleak where all they can see is darkness causing sadness, depression and emotional or physical pain.

No one bargained on needing to take a life course on grieving or overcoming fear of the future.   The world cries for mercy, but their false gods don’t answer or relieve their suffering.

In order for believer’s to be a Light of Hope to those around us, we need to know what scriptures say to do.  Being a help to someone isn’t always about having the right answers, but knowing that God does.

The first step is to bring all concerns to the Throne of God in prayer, knowing that He listens and will give the answers at the right time.  We have to practice what we tell others in praying about everything and worrying about nothing.  If we don’t put our faith and trust in God completely, others will know it and we’ll never be a beacon of hope they need.

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything.  Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done.  Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”

I’d like to relay the same message as the Apostle Paul in helping you to keep your mind at rest when tests and trials overtake your thoughts.  As we experience changes from the normal and even more challenges, its vital that our focus is on God’s ability to work things out for our favor.  Only through this practice will we receive the peace of God despite what other’s are experiencing.

“And now, dear brothers and sister, one final thing.  Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable.  Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise (as in Christ and how He’s working things out for good).  

Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me – everything you heard from me and saw me doing.  Then the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:6-9 NLT)

This Week’s Challenge:
Be the Light that Leads to Hope

Like many of you, for months I’ve spent a lot of time in prayer interceding for people and situations that are happening all over this planet.  How do you tell people that things are going to get better when it's a climb to get over some challenges?

Who has the stamina to keep getting up when being continually let down?  To be truthful, it would be easy to fall in line with worldly thinking and succumb to the overwhelming fear of despair if I didn’t have the precious Word of God as my hope base. 

My hope is founded on what God says about me and my life as a follower of Christ; but what about those who don’t believe in God or follow the principles of Christian living?  What can I do that other people aren’t doing for them that will give them peace for a better future?

We need to take an inventory of what we have learned from this pandemic that has redesigned the way we live life, literally changing or attempting to destroy biblical history.  How do we show Jesus to people when we’re going through the same things?  By being children of Light (of God), we can shine Light on the pathway to hope, and where Light is, so is Hope!

Here are three ways to “be” a light of hope to others as we put our trust in God for our own outcome.

1 – Be encouraging.  To help relieve anxiety and fear, encourage people not to withhold their feelings and properly voice what they are experiencing, especially emotionally, to wise biblical counsel. 

Things have changed dramatically and we need to be patient with others as they process all the new changes that will have to be made in every area of their lives.  Let them know that you understand what they are experiencing, and how your hope for a better tomorrow is based on God’s Word and promises.

“Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end you will be counted among the wise. Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.” (Proverbs 19:20-21)

Give this word of encouragement for those whose hope is in the Lord.

"God understands and will bless the righteous.  He gives favor to the humble and oppressed who keep His commands.

The LORD’s curse is on the house of the wicked, but He blesses the home of the righteous.  He mocks proud mockers but shows favor to the humble and oppressed.  The wise inherit honor, but fools get only shame.” (from Proverbs 3:33-35 NLT)

Remind people how God rewards faithfulness with His favor when we honor Him by keeping His commands.

“Do not forgot my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you peace and prosperity.  Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.  Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man.” (Proverbs 3:1-4 NLT)

2 – Be honest.  When you don’t have the answers direct people to the One Who does – Jesus.  Let them know that all hope and salvation favor can be found in Him, so we need not be afraid of what the future may bring.

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  (Jeremiah 29:11)

Share this passage of hope with them as to why you have such confidence in believing the way you do.

“This is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life – whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear.  Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing?

Look at the birds.  They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your Heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to Him than they are?  Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?

And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow.  They don’t work or make their own clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. 

And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, He will certainly care for you.  Why do you have so little faith?

So, don’t worry about these things, saying, what will we eat, drink or wear?  These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your Heavenly Father already knows all your needs.

Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need.  Don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries.  Today’s trouble is enough for today.” (from Matthew 6:25-34 NLT)

3 – Be hopeful.  Assure others that although doors and opportunities may have closed, there are better ones coming because the hope of God’s favor is available to those who diligently seek Him.  Help them realize that today can be the day their comeback begins by placing trust in the Lord.

“Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the future glory God will reveal to us later. For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who His children really are.

We wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as His adopted children, including new bodies as He promised us.  We were given this hope when we were saved.” (from Romans 8:18-25 NLT)

When the time is right, God will open those closed doors to those who remain faithful and trust Him.  Tell them your hope is in the promise of God, not in what the government may or may not do.

“For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor; no good thing does He withhold from those whose walk (lifestyle) is blameless.” (Psalm 84:11) 

Be encouraging.  Be honest.  Be hopeful.

Lastly, remember our main focus is to be good stewards for Christ, by not squandering away the opportunities and lessons God has set before us during this time of crisis. This includes working on your God given vision, which doesn’t exclude leading others to Him, but is actually the reason for it.

"Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in Heaven." (Matthew 5:16 NKJV)

One day the Lord will ask what we did with the time He gave us in being a light that leads to hope for the lost.  How will you answer?

“Remember me, LORD, when You show favor to Your people, come to my aid when You save them.” (Psalm 106:4)

Hope Blooms Eternal (New Gospel Song April 2020)
Lyrics by Kumalawaty Sundari 
Set to the Music Morning Has Broken

Until next time, be a light of hope and receive favor! 

“I will show favor to the humble and oppressed.”
- Jesus Christ

Disclaimer: Article information is not meant to be used a treatment for mental or physical issues, but geared toward spiritual awareness.   

What’s New This Week: Click on links below.

When It Feels Like the Sky Is Falling: 
How to Find Hope in an Uncertain World 
by H. Norman Wright
Available in Paperback or eBook and Spanish

Buy it on Amazon or Christian Book

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