Dark skies above the old school house at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Keep a grip on hope

Living in the Midwest, tornadoes are a part of life. It’s like earthquakes in California or hurricanes in the South. And while those of us in Kansas are rarely casual about them, sometimes I don’t think we take them as seriously as we should.

I’m taking a break from my study of the Fruit of the Spirit this morning to join the chorus of prayers for the people of Moore, Oklahoma and the surrounding areas. I usually have something witty or moving or challenging to say, but I’ve got no words. So I’m going to remain silent this morning because God’s given us plenty of words regarding tragedy and sorrow, and no one wrote more about tragedy and sorry than prophet Jeremiah. But at the same time, for every sad, horrible thing he wrote, he also gave a reason to hope. And that’s what we need to focus this morning.

Dark skies above the old school house at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Dark skies above the old school house at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Lamentations 3:19-39, 55-57 (MSG)

I’ll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness,
the taste of ashes, the poison I’ve swallowed.
I remember it all—oh, how well I remember—
the feeling of hitting the bottom.
But there’s one other thing I remember,
and remembering, I keep a grip on hope:

God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out,
his merciful love couldn’t have dried up.
They’re created new every morning.
How great your faithfulness!
I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over).
He’s all I’ve got left.

God proves to be good to the man who passionately waits,
to the woman who diligently seeks.
It’s a good thing to quietly hope,
quietly hope for help from God.
It’s a good thing when you’re young
to stick it out through the hard times.

When life is heavy and hard to take,
go off by yourself. Enter the silence.
Bow in prayer. Don’t ask questions:
Wait for hope to appear.
Don’t run from trouble. Take it full-face.
The “worst” is never the worst.

Why? Because the Master won’t ever
walk out and fail to return.
If he works severely, he also works tenderly.
His stockpiles of loyal love are immense.
He takes no pleasure in making life hard,
in throwing roadblocks in the way:

Stomping down hard
on luckless prisoners,
Refusing justice to victims
in the court of High God,
Tampering with evidence—
the Master does not approve of such things.

Who do you think “spoke and it happened”?
It’s the Master who gives such orders.
Doesn’t the High God speak everything,
good things and hard things alike, into being?
And why would anyone gifted with life
complain when punished for sin?

“I called out your name, O God,
called from the bottom of the pit.
You listened when I called out, ‘Don’t shut your ears!
Get me out of here! Save me!’
You came close when I called out.
You said, ‘It’s going to be all right.’