I have sunk in deep mud, and there is no footing;
I have come into deep waters, and a flood sweeps over me.
To myself and to any of us who are feeling down or adrift, I want to say these two words:
Everything we face or go through leads to a “but”, or a “yet”; that is hope in God and Christ. And here is the second piece: God and Christ do not negate your pain, but they enter into it and save you with their redemption. Triumphalism is not the gospel.
When I went through one of the most painful seasons in my life. My urgent prayer was for God to make the pain go away. Instead, this verse, 2 Corinthians 12:9, was given to me personally: “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.”
God enters into the lives of us who are experiencing heartbreak, brokenness, and humiliated weakness; and loves us unconditionally and teaches us the way.
As we gather may Your Spirit work within us
As we gather may we glorify Your Name
Knowing well that as our hearts begin to worship
We’ll be blessed because we came
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases
His mercies never come to an end,
They are new every morning
New every morning
Great is Your faithfulness, 0 Lord
Great is Your faithfulness
These words, the second part, come from Lamentations 3, from the Revised Standard Version. The next verse says, “The Lord is my portion, says my soul, therefore I will hope in him.” (RSV); or, “I say: The Lord is my portion, therefore I will put my hope in Him.” (HCSB)
And before Jeremiah writes about the steadfast or faithful love of the Lord and putting his hope in the Lord, he writes twenty verses about his troubles, then turns a corner, and in verse twenty-one writes, “Yet I call this to mind, and therefore I have hope”, or “But I call this to mind, and therefore I have hope”; and then gives us the beautiful line that is used in the song above.
Jeremiah shows us that hope floats. Here is the context, in the HCSB:
Remember my affliction and my homelessness,
the wormwood and the poison.
I continually remember them
and have become depressed.
Yet I call this to mind,
and therefore I have hope:
Because of the Lord’s faithful love
we do not perish,
for His mercies never end.
They are new every morning;
great is Your faithfulness!
I say: The Lord is my portion,
therefore I will put my hope in Him.
The Lord is good to those who wait for Him,
to the person who seeks Him.
It is good to wait quietly
for deliverance from the Lord.
It is good for a man to bear the yoke
while he is still young.
When I was a child,
I spoke like a child,
I thought like a child,
I reasoned like a child.
When I became a man,
I put aside childish things.
For now we see indistinctly, as in a mirror,
but then face to face.
Now I know in part,
but then I will know fully,
as I am fully known.
Now these three remain:
faith, hope, and love.
But the greatest of these is love. -1 Cor. 13:11-13
Another scripture passage on hope is this one from 1 Thessalonians:
We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, concerning those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve like the rest, who have no hope. Since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, in the same way God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep through Jesus. -1 Thess. 4:13-14
Do you remember the quoted scripture, by John, in John 2, when Jesus cleared the temple area of the money changers? John wrote, “And His disciples remembered that it is written, “Zeal for Your house will consume Me.” That is Psalm 69:9, the same Psalm where David is writing about feeling overwhelmed.
It is amazing how John takes a line from David, who had moods and went high and low, and in the midst of thirty-six verses of this Psalm, he makes the statement that, “Zeal for Your house consumes Me.” Take note that the Temple had not been built.
David was talking about God’s presence, the place where God dwells, whether in heaven or on earth. You might be having set backs, troubles, failures, disappointments or betrayals; while living under the banner of zeal for God’s house. You identify with David and Jesus also is identified with David, by John and his other disciples.
Hope was needed, for floating, for David, as he was going through troubles while he wrote Psalm 69. And hope always floated for Jesus, as he went through his life, including what he did with the money changers in the temple courts. Inspired by God, John sees Jesus as zealous for God’s house, and touches that back to David, who was going through a time when he needed hope to bring him up.
And, if you read all of Psalm 69, or at least up through verse nine, to get the context, you will see that David is calling out to God, asking that his followers would not lose their hope because of all that had befallen him. Here is the context:
Save me, God,
for the water has risen to my neck.
I have sunk in deep mud, and there is no footing;
I have come into deep waters,
and a flood sweeps over me.
I am weary from my crying;
my throat is parched.
My eyes fail, looking for my God.
Those who hate me without cause
are more numerous than the hairs of my head;
my deceitful enemies, who would destroy me,
Though I did not steal, I must repay.
God, You know my foolishness,
and my guilty acts are not hidden from You.
Do not let those who put their hope in You
be disgraced because of me,
Lord God of Hosts;
do not let those who seek You
be humiliated because of me,
God of Israel.
For I have endured insults because of You,
and shame has covered my face.
I have become a stranger to my brothers
and a foreigner to my mother’s sons
because zeal for Your house has consumed me,
and the insults of those who insult You
have fallen on me. -Psalm 69:1-9
I underlined verse two, which is my jumping off point; then verse six, that mentions hope; and then verse nine, that is the line about zeal for God’s house. You might be a person with zeal for God’s house and be very down and discouraged. In your prayers, you ask God to not let your journey and it’s mishaps to hurt those who have followed you, are in your care, or of who you lead relation-ally.
A certain percentage of ventures, including starting churches or ministry outreaches fail. Faith involves risk and sometimes risks fail, but God loves people who exercise faith and risk in doing so.
Praying for anything is an example of exercising faith. Doing anything in the kingdom also requires faith, and true faith always has risk. As leaders, we always have concern for others, that when failure or disappointment comes, that they do not lose hope.
And all of us are leaders, except the newborn babes among us. You lead your friends, your co-workers, and you lead in your family. The task of Christian leadership is service.
Service is always for the sake of others. And when we care about others, our service is to help them in their relationship with God. My leadership is to serve you, to help you connect with God, and become who God has made you to be, as your destiny. My back and my shoulders are for you to stand on, to see God.
You might be passionate about your ideas about God. You might be concerned for your followers, people you lead, or people in your care; just like David was. That is good, that is Christ.
Zeal for God’s house is what eventually got Jesus killed.
Is zeal for God’s house worth dying for, to you? And as you live out that Zeal, are your people very important to you? I mean, are you living out Jesus’ life that says, “This is my command: that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he would lay down his life for his friends.”
We not only want hope for ourselves, but we want it for others. In Christ, we begin to care more about others than our selves. We lead by saying to others, “How are you doing?”, rather than being centered on our selves.
We realize we need hope and take hold of it, when we are flooded by troubles. Then, we immediately turn our concern to others. It is like what they tell you in the emergency instructions, when you fly: first, get the oxygen mask on your face, then help others.
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