Spiritual Growth

When We Need to Find Hope

Easter-2014-blog-synchroblog_550x332

How does the word “Hope” fit on you? Does it roll off your tongue with a smile and a sigh? Does it wrap around your shoulders like a fuzzy afghan?

Or does it catch in your throat?

Does it feel prickly and irritating? Even downright painful? A knife in the back?

The character “Red” (Morgan Freeman), who is serving a life sentence at Shawshank State Penitentiary in the movie Shawshank Redeption, said: “Hope is a dangerous thing. Hope can drive a man insane.”

The librarian character in Warhammer 40,000 repeatedly tells gamers: “Hope is the first step on the road to disappointment.”

I used to feel just that way. For a long while.

As Peter and I watched his father get sick and die. As we cared for my ailing parents. As we struggled with infertility and endured multiple failed adoptions. Every month I would try to muster more Hope. And every month I was more deeply hurt. The virtual librarian was right.

I hated Hope. Life was better without it, I thought.

But truly? I know. I just couldn’t see.

 

In John chapter 11 we find the well-known narrative of Lazarus, the beloved friend of Jesus who died. But not just Lazarus. His two sisters as well. Who loved their brother. And sent for Jesus, saying, “Lord, the one you love is sick.”

The passage makes it clear that Jesus heard their request. He heard. Yes. But He did not hurry. For two long days, He stayed right where He was.

But why? Why? Why the delay?

Jesus tells us. Clearly. It was for the glory of God. That it might be revealed. And, too, it was for the disciples’ sake. That they might believe.

Finally, in His own good time, He told His disciples, “Let us go.”

The disciples were afraid. This was a dangerous proposition. The tension surrounding Jesus’ ministry had reached a fever pitch. And Bethany was near to Jerusalem. The center of the storm.

Nevertheless, they went.

When He arrived in Bethany, Lazarus had been in the tomb for four days. It felt too late. Hope was gone. Many mourners were gathered around. Supporting the sisters. And Martha came to meet Him.

“Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

Jesus assured her, “Your brother will rise again.”

But Martha, in her grief, misunderstood. “I know he will rise again in the resurrection day.”

So Jesus explained, “I am the Resurrection. I am the Life.” He is the Hope.

Mary came next, with a throng of followers, and repeated the scene. She fell on her face at Jesus’ feet.

“Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

And Jesus was touched. He wept. He was “deeply moved in spirit and troubled.” Three times it tells us this.

James Warfield explains:

“These words are the very words that are used by Greek poets

to describe a warhorse ready to enter into battle,

a stallion rearing on his hind legs, nostrils flaring,

angry at what he sees and ready to enter the conflict as a warrior himself.

That Jesus responds like this matters immensely.

There are moments when we can do nothing else

than cry out against the wrongs of the world.

It is just not the way it is supposed to be!

Tears matter, and sometimes they are very complex.”

Jesus was ready to fight. Death itself. And the devastation it brings. He would fight death for Lazarus. But soon, too, for the rest of the world.

“Where have you laid him?” He asked.

His only interest now was to locate the tomb. To demonstrate divine power over humanity’s ultimate foe.

So they brought Him to the cave. A stone had been laid across the door.

“Take it away,” Jesus said. “Take away the stone.”

But Martha protested. “By now, Lord, he will stink.”

“Did I not tell you,” Jesus said, “that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”

If you believe. You will see. The glory of God.

So they took away the stone. And Jesus prayed aloud. In front of all the people. He thanked His Father for hearing Him. And He prayed for the crowd.

And then.

Then.

Jesus called with a loud voice. “Lazarus, come out!”

And the dead man came.

 

Hope, for me, used to focus on my circumstances. I Hoped for a happy ending. I Hoped for my dreams to come true. I Hoped for a baby. I Hoped for healing. I Hoped for life on this earth. Hope of this nature is a tenuous affair.

But the Hope Jesus brings is Hope in Himself. He IS the Resurrection. He IS the Life. He IS the Hope.

A sure object. Our Jesus.

Our Jesus. Who hears us. Always hears us. Even when He doesn’t hurry.

Jesus. Whose goal is always—always—the glory of God. That we might believe.

Jesus. Who weeps with us. Who fights for us. Who charges into battle on our behalf.

Jesus. Who doesn’t always give us the Lazarus ending. But who always—yes, always—gives us His love.

Jesus. Who days after raising Lazarus faced His own death. Who wore that prickly crown. Who felt the knife in His back. Who hung on that cross. To give us Eternal Hope.

Jesus. Who conquered the grave. Who conquered death. And who shouts into our darkest places. And calls forth life.

 

 

4 thoughts on “When We Need to Find Hope

  1. “Our Jesus. Who hears us. Always hears us. Even when He doesn’t hurry.

    Jesus. Whose goal is always—always—the glory of God. That we might believe.

    Jesus. Who weeps with us. Who fights for us. Who charges into battle on our behalf.

    Jesus. Who doesn’t always give us the Lazarus ending. But who always—yes, always—gives us His love.”

    Thanks for writing this, Kelli. I am going through a period right now where I feel very much like what Mary and Martha must’ve felt…feeling like Jesus is just taking his sweet time, waiting for something to change, feeling a little disappointed. I know Jesus is always faithful, even when it doesn’t work out the way I think I should. Even when there is no Lazarus ending.

    1. Thank you for sharing, Teryn. And for the invitation to participate in the synchroblog. I am sorry that you’re stuck in the waiting room right now. It can be so dark and silent sometimes. Praying that the glory of God breaks through in an unexpected way. But even more, praying that you will know His love.

  2. Kelli, this is so beautiful. I love what you say: that we should not just hold onto hope in circumstances, but rather, we should hold onto a hope in Jesus: who may not always hurry, but who always loves us and hears us… I can definitely hold onto hope in the Jesus “Who weeps with us. Who fights for us. Who charges into battle on our behalf,” even if he “doesn’t always give us the Lazarus ending.” Thank you for this.

  3. Love this so very much! <3 I continue to grow in my weak understanding of hope. I trip over words like "who hopes for what he already sees?" some days. I return again and again to Jesus, my only hope! You write this beautifully, Kelli.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *