Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Hope in Hopelessness

Where do you find hope in a hopeless situation?
Psalm 22:1-2 (NLT)
My God, my God, why have you abandoned me? Why are you so far away when I groan for help? Every day I call to you, my God, but you do not answer. Every night you hear my voice, but I find no relief.

Psalm 22:6-8 (NLT)
But I am a worm and not a man. I am scorned and despised by all! Everyone who sees me mocks me. They sneer and shake their heads, saying,
"Is this the one who relies on the LORD? Then let the LORD save him! If the LORD loves him so much, let the LORD rescue him!"

Psalm 22:11-19 (NLT)

Do not stay so far from me, for trouble is near, and no one else
can help me. My enemies surround me like a herd of bulls; fierce bulls of Bashan have hemmed me in! Like lions they open their jaws against me, roaring and tearing into their prey. My life is poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart is like wax, melting within me. My strength has dried up like sunbaked clay. My tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth. You have laid me in the dust and left me for dead. My enemies surround me like a pack of dogs; an evil gang closes in on me. They have pierced my hands and feet. I can count all my bones. My enemies stare at me and gloat. They divide my garments among themselves and throw dice for my clothing. O LORD, do not stay far away! You are my strength; come quickly to my aid!
The psalm of a person feeling abandoned by God, a person who is mocked and hated by everyone around them, a person who is in such despair that their body feels like it is being torn apart, a person who is so close to death that people are dividing the inheritance that will be left...a person with no hope.

However, in the midst of the turmoil of this psalm we find glimpses of hope. The glimpse of hope that stood out to me recently was found in verses 3-5:
Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel. Our ancestors trusted in you, and you rescued them. They cried out to you and were saved. They trusted in you and were never disgraced.
Right in the middle of suffering and despair the psalmist can find hope in the story of those who came before. The psalmist has heard the stories of the people who were delivered by God in the past and those people have passed their stories on throughout the generations. Those old stories have become a source of life for the psalmist who sees no hope in the current situation.

As the psalm continues it takes an amazing turn. God hears the cry of the psalmist who then promises to proclaim the deliverance of God to all who will hear. Now notice how the psalm ends:
Psalm 22:25-31
I will praise you in the great assembly. I will fulfill my vows in the presence of those who worship you. The poor will eat and be satisfied. All who seek the LORD will praise him. Their hearts will rejoice with everlasting joy. The whole earth will acknowledge the LORD and return to him. All the families of the nations will bow down before him. For royal power belongs to the LORD. He rules all the nations. Let the rich of the earth feast and worship. Bow before him, all who are mortal, all whose lives will end as dust. Our children will also serve him. Future generations will hear about the wonders of the Lord. His righteous acts will be told to those not yet born. They will hear about everything he has done.
Do you see it? The psalmist found hope in the story of people who came before. Now the psalmist declares that those who follow will find hope in and follow God because of the story of deliverance that is now being told! What an amazing encouragement for us to tell our stories.

I've recently been thinking a lot about what role our individual stories play in the life of the worshiping community. The next few blogs will talk more about this and I hope this post will begin our thinking on this topic. I pray that we can find hope, comfort, encouragement, and strength in sharing our stories with one another. Our stories are a part of a larger story and they must be told so that others can "hear about everything He has done."


Tom 1st said...

I think it's interesting that, by and large, God gave us his revelation in the form of story/narrative, not propositional truth of a systematic theology book. Even the epistles are ingrained in a larger story of redemption and experiencing the Spirit. So why has it taken the Western church so long to realize the importance of hearing one another's stories? I dunno, but I'm interested in seeing where you goo with this.

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