17 And your life will be brighter than the noonday; its darkness will be like the morning.
18 And you will have confidence, because there is HOPE; you will be protected and take your rest in safety. 19 You will lie down, and none will make you afraid; many will entreat your favor.
There are two wonderful Bible stories of suffering and hope. They flash to the front of my mind when I catch myself grumbling and grousing about the inconveniences and hardships, and even death, that we are currently experiencing due to the worldwide pandemic. The two stories that come into my thoughts are those of Jesus and Job. Both passages are full of intense suffering and the hope that comes as a result of the responses to the experiences.
The story of Job actually started in heaven. God and a fallen angel, Satan, were discussing the faith of Job. God knew Job’s heart and knew that his faith was unshakable. Job was a righteous and upright man. He was living and enjoying a life full of success, a loving family and many possessions. Satan argued that Job was only faithful to God due to the special attention received from God. Knowing the depth and strength of Job’s faith, God allowed Satan to bring terrible afflictions and suffering into Job’s life. Job lost all his possessions, his family and was stricken with a disease that left his skin full of sores. His wife told him to curse God and get death over with. Job would not. His friends would come and talk with him and suggest Job should repent of his sins and the suffering would go away. But Job knew he was innocent. He refused to curse God. Through his faith, Job knew there was hope.
God did, indeed, deliver. Job was healed, got his wealth back, had another ten children and lived one hundred and forty more years. Job 11:17-19 is reflective of Job’s new life. Another passage from Job, chapter 19, verse 25 leads into my other story of suffering and the resulting hope. “For I know that my redeemer lives, and at last he will stand upon the earth.”
John 3:16 states: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” What else could be more hoped for? And, Jesus delivered on God’s promise. He came into our world and lived life as a human. As we are experiencing death from the worldwide pandemic, Jesus experienced the death of his friend Lazarus. The Bible says Jesus wept and was greatly disturbed. Jesus saw and felt afflictions among the people. He healed them and made the blind to see. The people had faith and hope in Jesus. That same Jesus can protect and heal us from the Coronavirus. Faith in Jesus is hope. His unthinkable suffering at the hands of the Romans, Jesus’ separation from his father while nailed to a cross, and his ultimate death on the cross was like none other. Jesus died on the cross for our sins. He knew this was God’s will. Like Job, Jesus would have preferred this suffering to not have happened. He also knew that God’s will would be done. So Jesus took on the yoke and saw it to the end and a new beginning. Through belief that Jesus was God’s son, his virgin birth, his suffering and death on the cross and his mighty resurrection, we all have the ULTIMATE HOPE.
So, when I am annoyed with wearing a mask and rubber gloves, being locked down in my home with my shoes off, spraying the groceries, long hair (at least on the sides) and unable to worship in God’s house, my hope will be to try and remember the suffering Jesus went through to save us from sin and give us eternal life. My personal irritants are less than miniscule.
This, my friends, is the ULTIMATE HOPE.
Father God, dear Jesus, dear Holy Spirit,
Father, we praise your name and pray that in everything your will be done. Dear Jesus, thank you for saving me and all of us. Thank you for giving us hope that we can count on through faith in you. Holy Spirit, please give us strength, courage and stamina to make it through this pandemic. Father, we thank you for all our blessings and pray that you will help us be a blessing to those around us. In Jesus’ holy name we pray. Amen.