Pastoral Ponderings—Lost my Hope!
I recently lost my hope—a devastating thing! Or at least an uncomfortable thing in this case. Is it a sad thing, or perhaps an encouraging thing that even a pastor can lose hope? Well, this time it was just a coffee cup of hope—which is bad enough for a guy like me when coffee helps feed my spirit! (At least I’m not as bad as the guy whose bumper sticker I just saw—“Give me my coffee and no one gets hurt…”)
I know, it’s just a coffee cup—and a Christmas one at that. Don’t we have enough coffee cups to just grab another? But I’ve actually been using this as my primary “go-to” coffee cup at the church since the beginning of COVID. These past couple years have definitely been a time I’ve needed to be reminded of reason to hope! And isn’t it true that the hope that carries us through difficult times—pandemics and so much more—is often fortified when we have regular reminders of where our hope comes from?
The word “hope” is in the Bible some 164 times, according to one official count. Most of those appearances are in the Psalms, as we might expect. Care to guess where the second most occurrences is? In the book of JOB, if you can believe that! Job, which is the story of a guy by that name who lost everything—so much so that his wife tells him to “Curse God and die,” before she herself dies (her death is not in the version of Job in our Bible, but is tragically told in another Jewish version from the story, written in the first century, called “The Testament of Job.”)
Hope is so important, both in our daily lives, and in our spiritual lives—even when it is a hope in the midst of Big Questions… perhaps even moreso in times of Big Questions, as the book of Job conveys.
What reminds you of your true source of hope? Or for a couple of those really Big Questions—have you found a true, dependable source of hope, and how do you keep hold of that hope when you’re on the edge of losing it? The good news is, my hope wasn’t lost too long—I found it within a few days—it had just been misplaced. And I think that’s how we often lose our hope—we misplace it—put it in something too prone to failure. The scriptures give us some 164 direct reminders, and how many songs and hymn remind us “He (GOD) never failed me, He’s never failed me…”? But that’s not always enough.
Sometimes it can certainly SEEM like God has failed us—but at those times—is it really GOD who has failed us, or some messenger of God? Whether pastors, fathers, mothers, friends, I’ve know too many who HAD been bearers of God’s grace and hope, but who HAVE then failed in that high calling—but that tends to be a common problem for those of us stuck in human skins.
Next time you’re on the verge of losing hope—make sure you’ve not misplaced it! Hope is one of the greatest gifts of God’s grace, and too precious a thing to lose! Make sure you put your hope in the right place!
Keep being a blessing of hope—even when WE too often fail! Rev. Jim