Monday, June 30, 2014

Hope for the Hopeless

After Chris' death, I prayed that the Lord would graciously redeem all that pain—that He would not only turn ashes into beauty in my life and in Erika's, but that He would provide me with opportunities to comfort others with the comfort I have received.  I couldn't imagine how that might look. But I knew that my heart was more tender to human suffering than it had been before. And I understood greater depths of the comforts of my loving God—the special nearness of the Father to His aching children.

Last week, Scotty and I returned from a life-changing trip. I believe God answered my prayers. He told me what He has for me—how He plans to redeem the past pain. We spent two weeks traveling throughout Lebanon. My dear husband has lived and served in the Middle East for over 20 years, but now we needed to find out what God might have for us together.  How might He use us both?

Almost immediately upon our arrival, I fell in love with the people. There is a warmth and affection in communication and hospitality that is very unlike American culture. Community is prized far above individuality. But I also saw how this honor-based society often gives way to pride and hate and abuse and murder. And myriads of devastated human beings are left in the wake. 

Hatred is everywhere. And hopelessness nearly chokes them. They are oppressed at every turn. Hunted down or caught in the cross-fire of hatred directed at another. Or they boil inside with their own hate—and they strike. Fear and anger permeates the society and the soul.

Compassion! Where is compassion? Who will show them the love of Jesus? Who will tell them of the hope that transcends this awful world? Who will weep with them when their fellow-refugee neighbor refuses to share water and their slumlord shamelessly exploits their vulnerability and need? Who will sit beside the woman who has been raped and drugged and punched by the man who shares her bed—and she finds no one in her society who takes up her case for her?

There is a stirring in our hearts to be the hope-bringers.  Pray with us! The task seems full of impossibilities, but we feel confident in the Lord's call. And "He who calls you is faithful; He will surely do it." (I Thes. 5:24) 

We read this while in the city of Byblos, Lebanon (from Streams in the Desert, June 23):

"So he said, 'Come.' Peter got out of the boat, walked on the water, and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the strong wind he became afraid. And starting to sink, he cried out, 'Lord, save me!' " (Matt 14:29-30) 

Peter had a little faith in the midst of his doubts, says Bunyan; and so with crying and coming he was brought to Christ. 

But here you see that sight was a hindrance; the waves were none of his business when once he had set out; all Peter had any concern with, was the pathway of light that came gleaming across the darkness from where Christ stood. If it was tenfold Egypt beyond that, Peter had no call to look and see. 

When the Lord shall call to you over the waters, “Come,” step gladly forth. Look not for a moment away from Him.

Not by measuring the waves can you prevail; not by gauging the wind will you grow strong; to scan the danger may be to fall before it; to pause at the difficulties, is to have them break above your head. Lift up your eyes unto the hills, and go forward—there is no other way. 

Dost thou fear to launch away?
Faith lets go to swim!
Never will He let thee go;
’Tis by trusting thou shalt know
Fellowship with Him.

We pray for faith to look not at the waves but at Christ. 

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