Did you ever try to picture yourself in someone else’s footsteps? How many times have you thought, “How do they cope with this?” I have pondered this question many times during the last week or so, due to a couple of very pressing personal prayer needs:
A friend and co-worker of mine and his wife recently had the RCMP issue an Amber Alert for their 14-year old daughter, who vanished without a trace over a week ago. Multiple struggles in this beautiful girl’s life finally led to this point.
The entire city where I live continues to mourn the (in our eyes) untimely death of Officer Kerrie Orozco, who was shot and killed while on duty in Omaha, NE. Office Orozco was just hours short of bringing home her premature infant from the hospital and enjoying some maternity leave with her family. (See this blog and this blog from my fellow bloggers.)
Recently, a 16-year old boy in the remote Canadian community where I teach VBS through LAMP was bullied and attacked by others. He was on life support, but was declared brain dead. This boy attended our VBS some years ago.
A few weeks ago, vandals burned down the school in another community in Canada where our LAMP team also teaches VBS. Now the children in this village have no place to continue their education–and getting supplies shipped up there is extremely difficult.
The list goes on and on sometimes, doesn’t it? You could add your own prayers, I’m sure. Those we know get ill, or become involved in an accident. Tornadoes, floods or earthquakes completely demolish neighborhoods or entire cities. The extent of injury and death is sometimes overwhelming, and sometimes the overwhelming-ness hits very close to home. My heart hurts. I want the suffering to end. Please, Lord. Please stop the tragedies.
It’s especially during times like these when I turn to God’s Word for encouragement. I need to be filled with hope in the midst of pain, whether this tragedy is one that strikes my own household, my friend’s, or someone whose situation has touched my heart. I have come to realize that there is no possible way on earth to receive hope apart from Jesus Christ. It’s so simple, yet we often make it so difficult. One of my favorite hymns comes to mind: “My Hope is Built on Nothing Less,” written by Edward Mote, in 1834.” (See and hear here.)
Recently, I was reading an article that stated that the Christian church today has more laws that the Pharisees ever had. How quickly we turn from simple faith and hope (not the hope that says, “I wish it were so, but hope that means, “a strong and confident expectation”) in Jesus’ blood and righteousness and begin to make our own rules. We decide for God whom He loves or doesn’t love according to people’s actions. We declare that certain folks are right with God (righteous) because of the way they live. We think that God will hear our prayers and answer the way we want Him to when we’ve been good, not bad.
But here is what the Scriptures say, “God doesn’t accept people simply because they obey the Law. No, indeed! All the Law does is to point out our sin… All of us have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. But God treats us much better than we deserve, and because of Christ Jesus, he freely accepts us and sets us free from our sins. God sent Christ to be our sacrifice. Christ offered his life’s blood, so that by faith in him we could come to God.” (Selected verses from Romans 3, CEV.)
Therefore, I say my hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. That is all. I have nothing more to offer you or any of my friends who are hurting. I cannot help take away your pain. I cannot, even with my prayers, take one tiny ounce of it away. But I know Who can. And I pray that you know the One I know. Oh Lord, hear my prayer. Our only hope comes from You, Lord Jesus. Help me to do Your work here on earth, and to share the hope and love that only You give, until that day when I get to meet up with You in heaven. In Your Name, I pray. Amen.
Be filled every day with God’s hope through Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
One more version of the hymn, written and sung by Hillsong, released in 2012: Cornerstone. Be blessed by it.