Tuesday, July 14, 2015

It Always Leads to Hope

On Sunday when speaking at a church on behalf of kids needing families, I used the text of Psalm 68:1-6.   The last two verses are the most common for people involved in orphan ministries: 
A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows,
    is God in his holy dwelling.
God sets the lonely in families
But I talked for a while about the first part as well, in verse 3:
But may the righteous be glad
    and rejoice before God;
    may they be happy and joyful
I talked about how that sounds a little bit pushy -- and not even fair -- that we are commanded to be happy and joyful.   Sometimes life isn't that way.  It just isn't.  And it's easy to be resentful when we hear others -- even God -- telling us to be happy.

I talked about the whole concept in my staff meeting this morning as well and referred to the verses in Romans 5.  I talk about them a lot and have over the years.  I call it the "Hope Cycle." 
And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.  Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings for we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance character, and character, hope.  And hope does not disappoint.
I quote these verses to adoptive parents when I speak.  I repeat them to myself often and I have for years.  But this afternoon something else hit me.

The unasked question is answered.   When Paul says, "We rejoice in our sufferings." the question is "Why in the WORLD would I do that?"   And then he answers:  because it always leads to hope.

Yup, that is it folks.  It's a cycle.  And if we are faithful each season in our lives has that result.  Something comes our way that causes us to suffer.   And if we think it through we realize that that suffering is the beginning of a path that ends well. It ends with hope that doesn't disappoint.

I have a very dear friend who I have known for almost 30 years.  He is one of the finest men I know.   Yesterday I read on Facebook that he has been diagnosed with cancer.  The words he wrote are what led me to the realization that I just explained to you -- he reflected on the past and moved with confidence toward the future recognizing that God doesn't always bring us the easy stuff -- but that each bout of suffering ultimately leads to hope.

Another one of the greatest men I've ever known died Christmas Day 1990.  He had battled pain and chronic health issues since he was in his twenties and died when he was younger than I am now.   One of his favorite quotes was this:

God sees, God knows, God cares
No pain this thought can dim.
God always gives the best to those
who leave the choice with him.

Today wasn't a great day.  I'm in the middle of a season in my life that is far from easy.   But I'm choosing to rejoice in my sufferings.  Not just because God has asked me to, but because I know that "our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all."  This journey that I'm on -- this journey that begins with suffering will ultimately lead to hope that does not disappoint -- is similar to ever other journey of my life.   And I know from experience that no matter how bad it seems, it's all good.

The little boy pictured above is named Silas.  He is our 4th grandson and is now two.  He is a great example of the truth I'm writing about.  But that is another story is for another day.