The menwalking to Emmaus were downcast as they thought they had the last ray of hopewane as Jesus died on the cross. Confusion and despair on realizing hopesshattered “but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeemIsrael.” (Verse 21). That must have been the talk of those whose hope ofredemption was in Jesus Christ. The challenge that any one of us has to wrestlewith at one time or another is how to make sense of the situations where itseems that God has withheld what was hoped for from us. When traversing throughthis life there are not only diversity of cold and warm seasons, but alsopredictable and unpredictable changes that can make hope be gone. There are seasonsof joy and tears, doubts and fears in addition to a withering body. It is hopefor a better tomorrow that energizes people. It is when friends and family arestruggling with ramifications of a shrinking economy, unemployment, ill-health,and other malaise that one gains insight of the pain of waning hope. Hope ofgetting a good job, well-paying job that will bring ‘everlasting’ happiness,only to find unfulfilling, hollow experiences that commodify people and sustainrelationships through threats and fear. Hope of a marriage that brings forthwell-adjusted children who fulfil our dream is shattered when the childrenbecome drug dependent, confused, addicted, and needing support. Hope thatbuilds up when highly qualified person takes the top post as a member of parliament, church, ororganization only to end up tampering and shredding the very core that gavemeaning to the structure. “All of us have been on a team with someone whomeets all the biblical criteria for leadership but is still a nightmare.”(Mark Buchanan). Shallow and circumscribed perception and understanding offaith can be tragic. Recitations of popular clichés and emotional pumping upcan be painfully hollow. Since the changes that thwart hope have always been,how have the saints who have gone before us made it?
HOWTO REMAIN HOPING WHEN SOURCES OF HOPE HAVE CLOSED UP
Admit – Pretence that all is well whenyou know that it is not true erodes the inner being. Like the men on the roadto Emmaus, share with others with whom you shared the hope. It is admittingdoubts that lead to search for answers. Do not isolate yourself, but be infellowship with another or others. We should not settle at the conflictinglevel where doubts and powerlessness make us want to act as if we are notstruggling . “ If we could pray only for perfect people, for whom would we pray? Who would pray for us?” (Jim Denison). When learning and searching opportunities are suppressed throughpretence that there is hope, however camouflaged lead to fear, shame, andhiding (Genesis 3:10). That anchors deeply hidden insecurity which block anypossibility of hope.
Do not give up - That is what the devastatedfather of a boy with an evil spirit, who had what he knew by taking theboy to Jesus disciples but they were unable to help (Mark 9:14-27). Thefather went back to Jesus and made an honest confession, “I believe, help myunbelief”. That is acceptance instead of self-negation and doubt. By saying “Ibelieve” means he had faith in God and his promises, his goodness, faithfulnessand mercy. Even though things have not worked out as expected, it is importantto hold on the character of God. “Help my unbelief” is expression ofwillingness to admit and explore doubts. It is seeking truth and a deeperknowledge of God with no intention to undermine his sovereignty and love.
Confess yourfear/doubt to Jesus Christ-However overwhelming the situation, there is a God in heaven who says, “I amthe Lord God of all mankind, is anything too difficult for me” (Jeremiah32:27). The men on the way to Emmaus, talking to each other, kind to a‘stranger’ whom they included in their conversation, had a new dawn. “Imaginethat, confessing your unbelief to the very Son of God! And you will see gracebegin to trickle down through the people you lead as they see in you and ineach other the same questions, the same need for support, the same anchor, andthe same hope in the midst of all those questions.” (Barnabas Piper).
Remember what hetold you when he was among you-The men on the way to Emmaus were discussing what Jesus had told them while helived among them. Knowing how memories of human beings fade, Christ promisedthe disciples the gift of the Holy Spirit. “ But the Advocate, the HolySpirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things andwill remind you of everything I have said to you” (John 14:26). Too many Christian messages includingmissionary appeals are based upon fancied frustration of Almighty God. At timesthe communication is meant to excite pity in listeners, not only for thenon-believer but also for God who has tried so hard and so long to save/helpthem and has failed, for want of support. That is entering into the bandwagonof the hopelessness and whatever service one offers, it is for self-pleasure.The hopelessness created by the kind of talk that make human being want todeliver God from the embarrassing situation His love has gotten Him into andHis limited abilities seem unable to get Him out of is sinful. Allow God to bewho he is. “Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him. 6 Trulyhe is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken”(Psalm 62:5-6).
Thebible story is of men and women who had a new dawn after experiencing total‘darkness’. Think of the first man and woman whose adult son earned God’s curseafter killing his adult brother (Genesis 4). Verse 25 ‘she gave birth to ason and named him Seth, saying, “God has granted me another child in place ofAbel, since Cain killed him.”’. When old age had put an end to Abraham‘shope of getting a baby through his wife Sarah, the promise of God had to befulfilled and Isaack came. “Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed andso became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, "Soshall your offspring be.” Romans 4:18). As we go through the seasons oflife, hopeful that the longed for revival is coming when the key concern ofevery believer is whether Christ is Lord in the heart of men and women as theymake developmental decisions, then you realize that hope is not gettingrealized. “For the time will come when people will not put up with sounddoctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them agreat number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.” (2Timothy 4:3). Someone has said “It’s tough when you’ve been in a church fora long time and things start to change. Soon, the church you love may feel likeit doesn’t even exist anymore.” One wishes it was just the methods andstyles that are different, but the gospel message is no longer the same.Worship is no longer the testimony of God’s grace through many dangers, toilsand snares, but it is for those with good voice. It is those who remainholding on to God’s promise that have the joy of a new dawn. Christ whopromised to be with his disciples to the very end (Matthew 28:20) remains trueto his word. To remain hoping in God’s redemption, you have to reuse to listento the popular voice and listen to the trustworthy God. “If a man does notkeep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a differentdrummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away”(Henry David Thoreau). Will you be part of those who keep the conversationgoing on, like the men on their way to Emmaus, so that Christ can revealhimself?
“Thewill of God will not take us where the grace of God cannot sustain us."(BillyGraham)