Finding Hope in the Midst of Sorrow
June 12, 2020

“Finding Hope in the Midst of Sorrow”

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Today, I’d like to return to a series I really didn’t know I was on until the other week when I was looking at what we’ve been talking about since our return to the church from the COVID-19 shutdown. It was from what Paul said in his first letter to the Corinthian Church, saying that after it’s all said and done, three things are left, or remain, and they are, faith, hope, and love.

For the first two weeks we were looking at the area of faith with the messages, “Following Hard After God,” and “A Greater Measure of Faith.” And before the Lord drew me to last week’s message on “Making Peace God’s Way,” we looked the topic of hope in the message, “Obtaining A Living Hope.”

Well this week I’d like to pick up on this second thing that remains, that is, hope, and then next week we’ll look at the area of love, which Paul says is the greatest of all three.

Today’s message I believe is vital for us to learn as we move forward during these uncertain times as we have seen the loss of lives, jobs, and freedoms.

This message on hope was something I looked into seven plus years ago when Yoli Bell, head of the Mesquite Cancer Help Society, asked if I would head up a small Bible study about surviving through faith the losses we endure due to sickness and disease.

What I learned during this time is something that I would like to share with you about the losses we endure, as our nation and the world have been thrown into the fire of this new pandemic and unprecedented violence, and how many people’s dreams for the future have been shatter, either through the loss of someone they knew and loved, the lost a job and source of income, or the losses they’ve experienced through illness, disease, sickness, or addiction.

Outside they may look like the picture of health, like they have it all together, as they have learned to cope and hide what really going on, but the reality is that they are slowly dying on the inside.

They feel like they’re just marking time, and time is running out. They feel their life is falling apart with only a frayed piece of twine holding it all together, and they don’t know how much longer they can keep up the façade. They’ve become a shell of their former selves, losing the man or woman God created them to be.

This really hit home with me several years back through a loss I experienced in my family. My brother went through these same thoughts, but he found an avenue of escape, but it wasn’t through faith in the Lord, but rather it was through alcohol, which soon became an addiction. But instead of reaching out for help, he withdrew within himself and within the bottle losing hope a little bit at a time until he finally took his own life.

Life became so filled with sadness and sorrow that he found no hope in what he was facing. And while I tried to communicate the gospel to him, he would not listen, probably because of the overwhelming sorrow he felt from his own sense of guilt and shame over his condition.

And this loss of hope happens to all of us when our focus is upon what we’re going through or what is going on around us, the situations and circumstances we face in life; rather than the Lord God who will meet with us and change our despair into a real and lasting hope.

Now, if anyone could understand what we’re going through it would have been King David. Many times he despaired of life itself, but there is one thing he seemed to know beyond a shadow of a doubt, and that is that whatever he was going through, that is, the circumstances and situations he found himself in, he had his hope was in the One who holds the situations in His hands, and that is the Lord God.

David said, “Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God … Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him.” (Psalm 43:5; 62:5 NIV)

And so, to find hope in the midst of our sorrows, we need to place our hope and trust in Jesus Christ, who is the hope of this world, and He will see us through whatever turmoil and strife we find ourselves in.

As I approached what I believe the Lord would have me share with you today, there is something King David said that I have read before, but really hadn’t paid all much attention to.

“I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” (Psalm 27:13 NKJV)

Out of all that he has known and experienced, there’s this one thing David is sure about, and that is, that he would experience God’s goodness during his lifetime; that God would come and rescue him out of whatever he was facing, that is, out of his trials and difficulties. David believes that he will taste God’s goodness, along with the Lord’s protection and guidance.

We see a similar quote by David in Psalm 30. Here David remembers how he had called out to the Lord in his time of need, and how God heard his cry and healed him, bringing him up from the depths of the grave, or so it seemed to David. And then he makes this remarkable statement of faith.

Speaking of the Lord, David said, “His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for life; weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” (Psalm 30:5 NKJV)

Both of these statements, from Psalm 27 and Psalm 30, are quite remarkable, and that’s because they come from a man who has experienced sorrow in its fullest measure. While anointed by God to be Israel’s king, for years David was running for his life, barely escaping capture and death by Israel’s current king, Saul, a man that David had saved on several occasions, and fought many battles for, including the one where he killed Goliath.

But once David became Israel’s king, life didn’t get any easier. Let me give you just a little taste of his family life so you can see what I mean.

The child born to he and Bathsheba after their adulterous affair died shortly after birth. His oldest son Ammon raped David’s daughter Tamar. Ammon was then murdered by another one of David’s sons, Absalom, Tamar’s brother. After being exiled and then allowed to return, Absalom rebelled against David forcing him to flee Jerusalem, and then Absalom was killed in the uprising, causing David even greater grief.

Even though David was the king, he was not immune to the sadness and sorrow of life, and because of that, he is someone we can all relate to. He was a man who cried and despaired over the tragedies that befell, not only himself, but also his family.

We read of these heartaches throughout the Psalms, which may be the reason why we relate so well to the Psalms when we find ourselves in times of trouble, and why the Psalms bring us so much comfort in our times of grief and sorrow.

It is in these Psalms, which David sang from his heart, that we find his words being the same words that are so heavy on our hearts as well. But we never knew how to express them.

Listen to what David says of his deep sorrow over those things that happened in his life, things that were displeasing to the Lord and to which he was now experiencing discipline for.

“I am weary with my groaning; all night I make my bed swim; I drench my couch with my tears. My eye wastes away because of grief.” (Psalm 6:6-7a NKJV)

David was literally drowning in his grief.

Yet, even in all his heartache and grief, David knew the Lord God, and knew where his hope and the strength laid to survive and handle the sorrows of this life. Even in the midst of some of life’s most horrendous moments, David knew God and therefore he had hope.

It was a hope that would see him through these times of grief. We see this hope expressed in Psalm 23:4 where he said, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”

Also, it was a hope that no matter how dark it may seem at times, there was always light and joy at the end, as he goes on to say, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” (Psalm 23:6 NKJV)

And it was this hope that David continue to write about throughout the Psalms where it seemed like he would waste away from his overwhelming grief.

In Psalm 31 David cries out for God to deliver him quickly knowing God’s faithfulness. Yet it didn’t mean that he didn’t despair due to the attacks that were coming against him.

David said, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I am in trouble; my eye wastes away with grief, Yes, my soul and my body! For my life is spent with grief, and my years with sighing; my strength fails because of my iniquity, and my bones waste away” (Psalm 31:9-10 NKJV)

But in the end, David knows of God’s faithfulness no matter what, as he said, “Love the Lord, all you His saints! For the Lord preserves the faithful, and fully repays the proud person. Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart, all you who hope in the Lord.” (Psalm 31:23-24 NKJV)

The reason David could write these Psalms is because he literally experienced the despair and the hope.

Now, when we read these accounts of David’s life, and these statements of hope, does that mean that David’s life returned to normal, or what it was prior to the event. Unfortunately it didn’t, nor does it for us.

When these problems and difficulties occur that so devastate us, like the sudden and violent loss of a loved one, a life threatening or depilating illness or disease, a betrayal, divorce, or the loss of a job or career, please understand that life will never be as it once was.

What happens is that a different normality takes over! Life is and always will be different. It will never be the same as what it once was, and while it can be better, it will never be the same.

This was something the Lord revealed some time back when I pastored in Las Vegas. I was asked to become the unofficial chaplain of families of murder victims.

However, when I was asked to do a Christmas message for the group, I really felt like I was floundering like a fish out of water. Here in the midst of immense sorrow at a time that use to be of great joy, what was I to say, how could I bring comfort and a word of hope?

What the Lord showed me was what I soon began to counsel people who have had to deal with the sorrow over loss, and that is that while things will never be normal like it was before the loss, a new normal could be attained, a normal that can be just as vital and full of hope as the old normal was prior to the loss.

I liken this time to when someone loses a limb. Will life ever be normal again? Yes, but not the same normal it was prior to the loss. Instead a new normal can and will take over, that is with one limb instead of two, and that this new normal can be just as fulfilling and joy filled as the old.

And so, no matter what may have happened, no matter how bad it was or is, what we find in David’s Psalms is that joy and a future hope can settle into our souls and can be a part of that new normal, and it was this hope that David held onto when everything around him seemed to go so wrong.

I believe this is God’s desire for us. This verse has actually been one of my life verses, because there is so much that I don’t understand, but I trust that the Lord does, and that He has a new normal, a new plan for my life.

“‘For I know the thoughts that I think toward you,’ says the Lord, ‘thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.’” (Jeremiah 29:11 NKJV)

Yet, until this hope takes a hold of our hearts, souls, and spirits, a lot of bitterness and hatred builds up that literally takes control of our lives, which is what I have been seeing in the lives of so many during this present pandemic and the violent protests that have rocked our country. And so many are ready just to give up.

Let me share with you a story of Rick and Judy Taylor, who experienced the tragic loss of their five-year-old son, Kyle. They shared their experience in a book entitled, “When Life is Changed Forever.” In the book Rick answered a question that we have all thought about.

The question was, “What kind of life am I going to have if I chuck it all?”

His reply was, “Miserable, full of bitterness. Everyday people who have chosen that road fight God tooth and nail, hating Him and trying to make Him pay. And every day is wasted when you are like that. We are given only so many days on this earth, and we get to choose how we live them.”

Rick hit the nail right on the head, but it still doesn’t stop the questions. What is God doing? Why did He allow this to happen? If God is really good and loving, then why did He allow this evil?

It’s only natural to want to make sense of all these confusing pieces that seem so random, like they’re tossed into the air and then land in our lives with no rhyme or reason. And what we try to do is to somehow fit them into our nicely made up worlds.

And so we search and ask God why, getting more bitter and angry when we don’t get the answers we want. But here’s the part we don’t understand, but desperately need to. God does hear and God does understand, and God does answer, but not always in the way we want Him to.

The Lord tells us this very thing.

“‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ says the Lord. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.’” (Isaiah 55:8-9 NKJV)

God’s ways are not our own, they are over and above our ability to fully know them. But that doesn’t mean there is no hope.

Look at what the Apostle Paul said concerning those things we face, that is, the temptations that cause the sorrows of life.

“No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13 NKJV)

Now, we have all responded to this promise saying, “But I can’t bear what I am going through, didn’t God promise a way of escape?” And the answer is yes He did. Our problem is that we don’t like the way He has chosen for us to take. But, like He said, His way isn’t our way, and so what happens is that we fail to follow God’s path of hope wanting our own way instead, thus leading us further down the road of disappointment, despair, and depression.

God’s ultimate way, however, was the giving of His Son, Jesus Christ, to die upon the cross. And so God gives Himself, along with a love that only He can give to lives that have been torn apart by loss and sorrow.

God gives to us Himself. The Bible says that He is the healer of the broken hearted, the husband of the widow, the father to the orphans, the bread of life to the spiritually hungry, and the living waters to quench every thirst.

This is what God did for David. He gave to David Himself. The Bible says that the Spirit of the Lord rested upon David his entire life (1 Samuel 16:13). And so David knew God in a real and personal way, and because of that, David had both a hope and a joy in the midst of tremendous sorrow.

We see this in a prophetic Psalm David wrote, a Psalm of hope in the Messiah

“You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalm 16:11 NKJV)

David knew that true joy only comes from God, and this joy would only be found in the Messiah.

This same hope and joy is available for all of us. God gave of Himself as Jesus came and died upon the cross so that whosoever believes in Him shall never perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).

The writer of Hebrews tells us, “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16 NKJV)

When we come to God through His Son, Jesus Christ, we can find that mercy and grace to help us in our time of need, because only He truly knows our sorrows

And when we do, then the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Therefore, it is only through our having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ that we can have hope through the many sorrows that we will face and go through in this life.

And so, to find hope in the midst of our sorrows only comes through a relationship with Jesus Christ, whom the prophet Isaiah identifies as a man of sorrows and aquatinted with grief (Isaiah 53:3).

And so today, embrace Jesus Christ and find that hope for your life.

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