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Where Lies Hope

Disclaimer: This post may be a little raw.

The word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. Jesus came to us as a little baby, grew up, proclaimed the Kingdom of God and allowed himself to be killed by the most horrific form of torture in that day so that he could be Emmanuel – God with us.

But things happen I cannot pretend to understand. Our close friends just lost their firstborn son – not after he lived a full life or proclaimed the gospel to the nations or even learned to talk. At not even a week old, he went back to be with the God that sent him to earth. Why? With a prayer team of literally thousands contending for his life, his parents did not get to enjoy him for even one full week. The answers that go something like, ‘well, God has a greater plan’ or ‘you never know what God’s plan is’ or even something right out of Scripture like ‘God works all things for good’ are simply not good enough.

The plan of the enemy is to steal, kill and destroy. That’s not God’s plan – the only death that was really in God’s plan was the death of Jesus so that he could destroy the power of death. And if we have the mind of Christ and He calls us friends because we know His business and we have Holy Spirit living inside us, why does it so often feel like we – especially in cases like this – are left holding the bag and wondering. What’s more, how do we give the world hope when we can marshal an army of 2,000 people to contend for a single life (something clearly in God’s plan) and still (from my perspective) get our butts kicked?!

You can’t tell me that out of all those people, not a single one had faith as small a mustard seed. What are we missing? I see prayer requests in situations far less desperate get fulfilled with no problem. Was there a ‘desperate needs’ form that we didn’t fill out? Maybe none of those 2,000 people had a relationship close enough with God that warranted Him answering. Perhaps we prayed the wrong thing – maybe our prayers should have just consisted of something nebulous like, ‘God let your will be done.’ What happened that ended up with a life cut short? Or maybe it wasn’t cut short; maybe this little boy lived exactly the number of days he was supposed to. He clearly touched many lives in his short time on earth. But with such uncertainty, how do we give the people of this uncertain world any assurance of hope? How can we move with confidence?

When Jesus walked the earth he said that he only did what he saw the Father doing – he healed people, raised people from the dead, gave miraculous provision and yet and even in his hometown where the Bible says, “he could do no miracles because of their lack of faith” Jesus still healed people (Mark 6:5). And when Paul preached so long that poor Eutychus dozed off and fell to his death, we don’t see Paul gathering as many people as he could laboring for hours or days, instead, he goes down to Eutychus’ corpse, raises him back to life and then goes back to preaching (Acts 20:9)!! Where is that power in the Church today?

Much of the Church walks this earth doing none of those things. Instead, we create doctrines that say those types of activities died out with the apostles or that it depends on the faith of the one being healed so that we have loopholes to make ourselves feel better about our ineffective and powerless prayers. We are great with excuses as to why our prayers don’t seem to work, some of them even sound so holy they must be right. But I don’t see Jesus making excuses. Again, what are we missing?

I wish I had an answer. For our dear friends, I wish I had an answer. For my own family when our prayers seem sucked into a silent void, I wish I had an answer. But right now, the only answer I seem to have is the stock Sunday school answer: God is love. That love is so immense and so beyond comprehension that even in the midst of some of the deepest heartbreak I can imagine, we know that God is still for us, He still love us, He still holds us and He still walks with us through the darkest valleys. Our confident hope is not in the power of prayer or the certainty of an answer or the strength of our faith. Our confident hope is in a God whose love is so great that we can say, “though He slay me, yet I will trust in Him” (Job 13:15). Jesus came, died and rose again so that He could truly be Emmanuel – God with us – and that opens the door to the reality that those who die in Christ live with Him in glory. Though we mourn with our friends, struggle to understand and strive to find the missing pieces of faith, we live in confidence that death has been defeated by a God who loves us beyond our imagination and is always with us.

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