Hope in all circumstances

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

I love this verse, because it reminds me where to keep my focus each and every day. But truth be told, it is just not always easy to live in that frame of worship. I’m going to guess that maybe sometimes you struggle to always find joy in every circumstance too. Life on this side of heaven is filled with ups and downs, trials, struggles, joys, blessings, weeping, morning, laughing, and loving (Ecclesiastes 3). And the roller coaster of life can easily take its toll if we are not intentional about where our focus is.

The last 6 months have been a whirlwind of emotions for my family. At times the overwhelming feeling of sorrow and grief can feel consuming. There are moments that are indescribable, and they feel like we are all alone. But I know, and I want you to know, that although it may feel that way, that thought couldn’t be further from the truth.

We are going through the book of Psalms right now and the Psalms are so filled with examples of hurt and loneliness and sorrow. But they also describe how God is with us through those moments and seasons.

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.
Psalm 34:18

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.
Psalm 147:3

I am keenly aware that it does not always feel like He is near us in those moments, but the truth is our feelings have a tendency to betray us. Our feelings get caught up in the emotions. In fact, scientists know that grief is not only psychological, but also physical. They know that it causes the brain to send a cascade of stress hormones called cortisol and other signals to the cardiovascular and immune systems that can ultimately change the way we think, feel, and react.
This type of painful morning is described well by the writer of Lamentations:

“my soul is bereft of peace; I have forgotten what happiness is; so I say, “My endurance has perished; so has my hope from the Lord.” Remember my affliction and my wanderings, the wormwood and the gall! My soul continually remembers it and is bowed down within me.”
Lamentations 3:17-20

He fully understands and feels this painful sorrow. The author refers to focusing on the wormwood and the gall which is referring to bitterness, resentment, disappointment, or humiliation. Do you ever get focused on those feelings? There is good news in this passage because he goes on to describe to us that this feeling is not the end. There is more, there is hope and that hope is in the Lord.

“But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” ”
Lamentations 3:21-24

For those going through the thick of it, I don’t pretend to understand what you are going through. Honestly, I don’t fully understand everything my family is going through. But I know that the only way through it is by trusting in the One who does understand, that is Jesus Christ.

In the day of prosperity be joyful, and in the day of adversity consider: God has made the one as well as the other.
Ecclesiastes 7:14

So, yesterday and today and tomorrow and the next day, I make a conscious choice to trust in Jesus and rely on His strength during this time where my strength has faded.

They who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
Isaiah 40:31

And day after day He comforts me. And while the grief very much still resides within me, I find myself drawing closer to Christ. And as I am drawn closer to Him, I feel His presence even more, I feel His comfort even more, I feel His love even more.
My prayer for you today is that you find hope and encouragement, that even in the tough times that this life has to offer, we keep our eyes fixed upon the Savior who is waiting with open arms to comfort us and walk alongside us and restore to us the joy of our salvation as David described.

Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.
Psalm 51:12

Pain and sorrow are inevitable in this world. In times of grief or doubt, remember His promises. Remember who He has always been. Even in times of uncertainty, if you trust in Christ and turn to Him, He will show Himself to be trustworthy. 
Jesus has changed reality for everyone who trusts in Him, and that doesn’t always mean he changes the circumstances, oftentimes he changes our hearts. Do you feel like your suffering will never end or that you are suffering alone? Jesus is the source of hope you need to persevere through the hardest things in life. I leave you with a reminder of Christ’s encouragement to us: 

“Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33

Take heart, victory has already been satisfied on the cross. Place your hope in the Victor and trust that He will get you through.

My love and prayers are with you,

Pastor Jason


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