Okay, I’m sufficiently over the “Post Election Blues” and the end of Western Civilization as we know it hasn’t happened yet. So that’s a good sign. However, I’m still unemployed, and that is a not-so-good sign. So are millions of other folks.
Hebrews 11:1 tells us “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Did you get that? Faith is being certain of “what we do not see.” It’s also “being sure of what we hope for.” Many of us may have put our hope in a different outcome for the election, and hence, we experienced “post election blues” the following day when it didn’t happen, but the definition of Biblical hope from the Holman Bible Dictionary is this:
“Biblical hope is the anticipation of a favorable outcome under God’s guidance. More specifically, hope is the confidence that what God has done for us in the past guarantees our participation in what God will do in the future. This contrasts to the world’s definition of hope as ‘a feeling that what is wanted will happen.’ Understood in this way, hope can denote either a baseless optimism or a vague yearning after an unattainable good. If hope is to be genuine hope, however, it must be founded on something (or someone) which affords reasonable grounds for confidence in its fulfillment. The Bible bases its hope in God and His saving acts” (quote source here).
Our faith and hope are in God–period–and not in the outcome of an election or anything else. I Peter 1:18-21 states, “For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.”
We need to repeat that to ourselves again and again–our faith and hope are in God–not in man, not in circumstances, not in election results, not in our jobs or in our employers or in unemployment lines or in government hand-outs, not in savings accounts or retirement accounts, not in the ups and downs of the stock market, not in gold and silver, not in friends or family; NO–not in anything else.
Hard to do, isn’t it? It’s hard to hope in what we can’t see or feel or touch. When Jesus walked on this earth His disciples could actually see and touch and feel and hear Him. We aren’t so lucky. And even with that tangible experience, do you recall what happened when Jesus walked on water out to the boat that the disciples were in? Let’s read the dialogue from Matthew 14:25-32:
“During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. ‘It’s a ghost,’ they said, and cried out in fear.
“But Jesus immediately said to them: ‘Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.’
“ ‘Lord, if it’s you,’ Peter replied, ‘tell me to come to you on the water.’
“ ‘Come,’ he said.
“Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’
“Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. ‘You of little faith,’ he said, ‘why did you doubt?’ And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down.”
I believe it was with great compassion and not as an accusation that Jesus said to Peter, “why did you doubt?” Jesus so wants us to believe in Him with an unshakable faith, but sometimes the stresses and the circumstances in life can seem overpowering, and we quake in the midst of them. I know in the midst of this very long trial with unemployment that there are days I just want to stay in bed and throw the covers over my head (but I don’t). And with the election I found myself placing a renewed hope of finding employment in the hands of a new administration, but those hopes were dashed with the election results.
Dr. Charles Swindoll wrote a devotion that speaks to this very issue–trauma and/or stress. Let’s read it together:
Like potatoes in a pressure cooker, we twenty-first-century creatures understand the meaning of stress. A week doesn’t pass without a few skirmishes that beat up on our fragile frames. They may be as mild as making lunches for our kids before 7:30 in the morning (mild?) or as severe as a collision with another car . . . or another person. Makes no difference. The result is “trauma.” You know, the bottom-line reason Valium remains the top seller.
The late Joe Bayly, insightful Christian writer and columnist, certainly understood trauma. He and his wife lost three of their children: one at eighteen days (after surgery); another at five years (leukemia); a third at eighteen years (sledding accident plus hemophilia). In my wildest imagination, I cannot fathom the depth of their loss. In the backwash of such deep trauma, Joe and his wife stood sometimes strong, sometimes weak, as they watched God place a period before the end of the sentence on three of their children’s lives. And their anguish was not relieved when well-meaning people offered shallow, simple answers amidst their grief.
H.L. Mencken must have had such situations in mind when he wrote: “There’s always an easy solution to every human problem–neat, plausible, and wrong.”
Eyes that read these words might very well be near tears. You are trying to cope without hope, and there’s no relief on the horizon. You’re bleeding and you’ve run out of bandages. You have moved from mild tension to advanced trauma.
Listen carefully! Jesus Christ opens the gate, gently looks at you and says: “Come to Me, all you who labor and are . . . overburdened, and I will cause you to rest. [I will ease and relieve and refresh your souls]” (Matt. 11:28, Amplified).
Nothing complicated. No big fanfare, no trip to Mecca, no hypnotic trance, no fee, no special password. Just come. Meaning? Unload. Unhook the pack and drop it in His lap . . . now. Does He know what trauma is all about? Remember, He’s the One whose sweat became like drops of blood in the agony of Gethsemane. If anybody understands trauma, He does. Completely.
He’s a Master at turning devastation into restoration. His provision is profound, attainable, and right.
Allow Him to take your stress as you take His rest.
Come . . . unload . . . now! Before I got out of bed this morning I pulled the covers over my head and unloaded to God for a long time. I’d totally had it with everything and the election results was the last straw. Ever since returning from my trip to Houston a couple of months ago I have felt listless, weary, and frazzled from a job search that has gone on for way too long now (over three and a half years) with no end in sight. I was so hoping for a breakthrough during that trip . . . a glimmer of hope . . . anything tangible. Anything . . . but nothing has come from it. And I can’t afford to keep traveling to cities in search of a job that I’m beginning to believe is never going to materialize.
Faith and hope become very fragile when one is weary to the bone. I remind myself that the Apostle Paul wrote many of his letters that comprise much of the New Testament from a prison cell, not a comfortable home or an ivory tower. It is in the very midst of trials and tribulations that our faith and our perseverance grows (or dies if we are not careful). I’m reminded of what my fellow Christians are enduring right now in Syria, and Egypt, and throughout the Middle East and the rest of the world, and that gives me perspective–the kind of perspective I need right now. The Church is most awake and alive during times of trials and tribulations.
It was enormously helpful to unload to God this morning. He’s faithful, and He doesn’t gossip. He is completely trustworthy and, as the song states, “He’s got the whole world in His hands” and that include me (and you, too). And in doing so He has helped me to move on, gracefully. My outward circumstances may not have changed (from what I can see), but internally, I know He’s making a way.
But I trust in you, O Lord;
I say, “You are my God.”
My times are in your hands . . .
YouTube Video: Over the past few months I can’t tell you how many folks have mentioned The Beach Boys to me, so here’s one for all of you (and I like it, too) . . . “Good Vibrations” (1966) by The Beach Boys:
Photo credit here