For My Friend, Gene...and Maybe for You Too!
My friend, Gene, is in a tough place in his marriage. Both he and his bride are working hard to change things, but there are days when the change they both want seems out of reach. And on those days, Gene loses hope.
Maybe you can relate. Maybe it's not your marriage, but a wayward child, or a good friend who is going in the wrong direction.
What we all need in those moments is hope. And hope in something that is bigger than our ability to change or influence the situation. The One who created us, the Lord Almighty, has that hope – for me, for my friend, Gene, and for you.
God's Place of Hope
As Christ-followers, there are many places we can go to find hope in our seemingly hopeless situation. We can go to the Word of God, where we find hope in many places. I love the Psalms because they often express hope in difficult situations. Many times, I will have couples, coming to counseling, read the Psalms because I want them to look to Scripture for help and hope.
We can also turn to others in the Body of Christ to find hope in life's challenges. I have several good friends that I turn to when I feel myself drifting toward feeling hopeless in a situation. The comfort, counsel, and prayers of others can truly bolster our hope.
But as much as I want every Christ-follower to use the Word of God and the Body of Christ to find hope, the place we most need to remember in our moments of losing hope is this: the empty tomb. Here is what Paul David Tripp has to say on how the empty tomb shouts hope to us:
Consider for a moment what the empty tomb of the Lord Jesus Christ teaches us. First, it teaches us that God is faithful. Centuries earlier, after Adam and Eve had disobeyed God, God promised that He would crush wrong once and for all. So He sent His Son to defeat sin and death by His crucifixion and resurrection. He made a promise, and He controlled the events of history (large and small) so that at just the right moment Jesus Christ would come and fulfill what had been promised.
But the open tomb also reminds us that God is powerful. He is powerful in authority and powerful in strength. Could there be a more pointed demonstration of power than to have power over death? By God’s awesome power, Jesus took off His grave clothes and walked out of that tomb.
The empty tomb points us to one more amazing thing. It teaches us that God is willing. Why would He go to such an extent to help us? Why would He care to notice us, let alone rescue us? Why would He ever sacrifice His own Son? Because He is willing. You and I need to recognize that His willingness was motivated, not by what He saw in us, but by what is inside of Him. He is willing because He is the definition of mercy. (1)
Take a minute or two to meditate on God's faithfulness, His power, and His willingness. Thinking of the empty tomb, and what it truly communicates, overwhelms me, even as I write this. I know my propensity to wander from Him in my selfishness and fear, and yet His pursuit is relentless.
Focusing on the empty tomb and all it means to us as Christ-followers should infuse us with hope – not just hope that God will change our circumstances, because He may not. My real hope is the truth that the God of all hope is walking hand-in-hand with me through it all. He has never left or forsaken me. He has never failed me. He is forever faithful.
The Starting Place
But the starting place to find God's hope for my friend, Gene, and for you, and for me may NOT be what you think. The first step toward God's hope for the change you want is not a step toward your spouse, or your wayward child. Your first step is a step of faith towards God. You must shift your hope from the things you may have been doing to try to fix or manipulate your circumstances to trusting God, the One who is sovereign over your circumstances. Keep your focus on God and His Word as your only hope for things to change. He is the only One who can truly transform us!
And if you can honestly say you have been trusting in yourself for this change, then I encourage you to take a moment right now to confess that to the Lord. Tell the Lord that you have trusted in your own ability instead of crying out to Him. Ask Him to search your heart using Psalm 139:23-24 and confess whatever He shows you. Shifting our hope to Him and confessing to Him any misplaced hope in ourselves are the first steps toward the change you want – and the transformation He desires for you.
But don't stop there. Reach out to a mature, Christ-follower you know for their counsel and encouragement. Allow the Lord to use the Body of Christ to help you through this time.
And finally, in the days ahead, when you find yourself in that place of losing hope, don’t run away in fear or lash out in anger. Stand in your weakness and confusion and remember the empty tomb, and let it infuse you with hope. May we all cry out by faith, “I am not alone. God is with me, and He is faithful, powerful, and willing.”
1) Have you been trusting in things other than God Himself for the change you desire? Write out a short prayer or statement confessing that to the Lord.
2) Read Psalm 139:23-24 or similar verses as you ask the Lord to further reveal those things you are trusting in besides Him. Again, write those down below as a part of your confession to Him.
3) Take a moment, even right now, to reach out to a trusted, same gender, mature Christ-follower. Ask him or her to pray for you and to help hold you accountable to continue to take steps of faith and action, so you can consistently place your hope in the right place.
A Final Suggestion from the Author
One thing I personally love to do when I find myself in the place of losing hope is to listen to songs of the Christian Faith. There is something about singing truths about the Lord and His love and grace towards us that often infuses me with hope – often because my perspective changes on my situation as I see my circumstances from His vantage point. If you can, take 10 minutes right now to take a break from whatever you are doing and praise Him through song.
(1) Paul David Tripp. Three Things to Remember about Your Imperfect Marriage. Crossway Article. Feb 2016.
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
Written by Glen Solberg, Abiding Marriage, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Please email us at email@example.com for any comments or questions.