SUNDAY 7 MAY, 2017
HOPE IN GOD: A PANACEA TO THE FAITHFUL IN TIMES OF DISTRESS
“Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance”, (Psalm 42:5).
The Psalmist found himself at cross roads. He was possibly betrayed by his friends and that caused a great depression to him. Therefore, he speaks directly to his soul not to be distressed but to hope in God who eventually will see him through.
Nevertheless, Jesus did not promise His followers a problem free world. He says in Mark 8:31 “and He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes and be killed and after three days rise again”. Indeed, suffering will come but the child of God is not to give up. Jesus assures us: “these things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world”, (John 16:33).
Therefore, in the midst of crises or challenges as we see in the world today like sudden loss of health, unemployment, poverty, economic recession, environmental degradation and pollution and so on and so forth, the child of God should not loose hope in God. Hope means “a feeling of expectation and desire for a particular thing to happen”. It could also mean trust, confidence, faith, believe in God. One is convinced that certainly he will get out of a distressing situation no matter what happens. The Bible is replete with some characters that showed that hope in God was the final solution or bus stop to the child of God.
In Daniel 3:8-27, the three Hebrew friends Shedrack, Meshach and Abednego were thrown into the burning furnace because of their refusal to worship the golden image in the empire. Even though it looked impossible at the onset to deliver them from the burning furnace but their faith in God was total and absolute. Yes they said, if our God will not deliver us we will go on worshipping Him. What a faith! Thank God the fourth person was seen in their midst and the fire consumed them not. Praise thy Lord! Also, we read of Job a good man in Job chapter one but suddenly he lost his health, his wayward wife urged him to curse God and die in such state of life. As if it was not enough, he lost his children and his resources. He was taunted by his three friends who pretended to sympathize with him after sitting with him for seven days. They concluded that his suffering was not normal, he must have sinned against God. However, Job said to them: “be patient with me the hand of the Lord has struck me down”. Yes, he was convinced that God will see him through once again. Therefore, he says “for I know that my Redeemer lives and He shall stand at last on the earth”, (Job 19:25). At the end, we saw his confidence in God was not betrayed for the Bible says “his end was better than his beginning”. God restored to him his health, gave him resources and gave him children also. If he had lost hope, may be these things may not have come his way.
Notice in the New Testament too, we saw a woman with unshakable faith. This woman was the woman with issue of blood who suffered for twelve years without a cure. The woman came to Jesus by faith: “if only I can touch the hem of His garment I shall be made whole. And it worked according to her faith. Remember, the threat of who touched my garment did not make her to give up for she courageously owned up and Jesus said: “thy faith has made you whole”, (Mark 9:20-34).
People of God, no matter how bad the situation may be in the country or in the family or where you are living or working, it is your duty and my duty to hope in God. I am convinced that any hope put in God shall never be put to shame! Amen. God is much more and God is in control. He will not let us to be put to shame. Remember what Jesus told us “I have overcome the world”, (John 16:33). His victory is your victory. What we need do is to claim it by faith. Please join to sing this Hymn:
My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.
VEN. ERNEST ONUOHA
Rector, Ibru International Ecumenical Centre,