I intend to welcome guests to post here each Saturday, and today I am delighted to introduce Jamie Wright Bagley to you. Her words have nourished me in the months that I have known her and I am sure you will find your soul fed through her writing.
I hear a lot of stories about hope. In fact, I often seek them out. Hope is a constant hunger; a pursuit of something we can’t yet see but choose to believe is possible. It is an act of courage and defiance against despair. Sometimes, though, even when we are purposing to live faithfully, it feels like God isn’t showing up in practical ways. How do we continue to cling to hope?
In the book of Psalms, the sons of Korah felt as though God had forgotten them even though they remained faithful.
“All this came upon us,
though we had not forgotten you;
we had not been false to your covenant.
Our hearts had not turned back;
our feet had not strayed from your path.
But you crushed us and made us a haunt for jackals;
you covered us over with deep darkness.
If we had forgotten the name of our God
or spread out our hands to a foreign god,
would not God have discovered it,
since he knows the secrets of the heart?
Yet for your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
Psalm 44:17-22 (NIV)
I will say, poets are all about getting creative with imagery, and the sons of Korah are no exception. How does it feel when things keep happening outside our control? Things that break our hearts and weigh us down? It feels like we are helpless as sheep, and like them, have to sit there and watch our ill fate unfold with no way to halt it. We sometimes even cry to the heavens, “make it stop!” That is what the Psalmists are doing here. But they don’t end with lament. While there is no resolution to this Psalm, there is a call for justice and holding God accountable to deliver them.
“Awake, Lord! Why do you sleep?
Rouse yourself! Do not reject us forever.
Why do you hide your face
and forget our misery and oppression?
We are brought down to the dust;
our bodies cling to the ground.
Rise up and help us;
rescue us because of your unfailing love.”
Psalm 44:23-26 (NIV)
There is a certain confidence in these words. A confidence borne in an undying hope that God will indeed extend a saving power, and they have the right to ask for it. They cite the unfailing love of God, because even in the midst of darkness, the love connection is still there. The very presence of the Lord was a comfort and hope, because no matter how difficult the circumstances, the love was real and it was felt in spite of the anguish and sense of helplessness. I get this so very well. The apostle Paul, too, felt this same connection.
In 2 Corinthians 1: 8-11 (NIV), St. Paul relates a very similar experience:
“We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers.” (Emphasis added.)
Did you catch that? We have “set our hope” on God. Hope is not passive. It is an active placing of our trust in the divine, and an active practice of remembering our deliverance in the past.
Think about this. What is one way God has come through for you in the past? Recall and give thanks for it, and rest in the reminder that the unchanging God who was with you before is with you still. But don’t stop there. Like the sons of Korah, bring your distress into your prayer, and ask God to remember, too, and rise up to deliver you again. Ask others to join with you in bringing your petition before God.
Set your hope on Unfailing Love.
Jamie Wright Bagley resides in Chicagoland where she spends her days wearing an assortment of hats, including writing, homeschooling, and being a special needs mom. She prioritizes family and simple living. She values quality time, and will never ever turn down a good cuppa [tea]. In stolen moments she writes her heart out at http://www.jamiewrightbagley.com/. You can also follow her on Twitter @BagsEnd04.