Why are you in despair?

We excitedly waited for the birth of our third child in Jonesboro, Arkansas.  We received the joyous news only to hear a few weeks later that no heart beat was detected.  Then came the bleeding and the hurried trip to the doctor’s office forty-five minutes away.

Just before arriving a song came over the radio that framed our situation and undergirded our emotions for what we would soon learn.  “Why so downcast O my soul?  Put your trust in God.  Put your trust in God.”

The feared miscarriage was reality.  We were not alone, however. The reality of our God, His love and presence, was tangible in that moment.

In Gordon Lightfoot’s ballad about the sinking of the freighter Edmund Fitzgerald, he asks: “Does anyone know where the love of God goes/ When the waves turn the minutes to hours?” I know the love of God goes wherever we go. Sometimes He calms the storm while at others He calms His child.  So many others have similar experiences.

God shared the future with the prophet Habakkuk.  Knowing Israel was about to be overrun by a foreign army and experience severe famine caused his heart to pound and his lips to quiver.  Nevertheless, he said, “I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign LORD is my strength.”  He knew he was not alone.  He knew blessings would come in, through, or after calamity.

The Psalmist wrote, “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation.”

The distress, anxiety, trouble and grief expressed here is the kind of emotional state that leads to discouragement if it continues over a lengthy period of time.  People give up and file for divorce, try to escape through drugs, and even abandon their integrity and long held beliefs.

Tough times call for tough choices.  Emotions must not try to lead faith.  They must flow from faith to remain healthy.  The inner battle can be, must be won, by not abandoning hope.  Hope is having every expectation that the object of your hope will occur in the future.  Hope is nurtured by choosing, with the strength of the LORD, to be joyful.

Next week is the prelude week for Easter.  The darkest days precede the most glorious success the world has yet known.  More than a story, it is an example for us all.

Choose to not be discouraged.  Do not give up.  Hope in God and joy certainly will come. Find yourself in one of the many houses of worship next week that offer special opportunities to recognize trouble and fan the flames of hope that joy is on the way.

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