Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Revival of Hope

I don’t know about where you live, but where I live it seems like a lot of people are feeling pretty hopeless about their futures. Everywhere they look bad things are happening, and they don’t feel like they have any control over their own lives and their own futures.

According to Tara Parker-Pope of the The New York Times (May 2013), "suicide rates among middle-aged Americans have risen sharply in the past decade." Here are the stats behind this trend:
“From 1999 to 2010, the suicide rate among Americans ages 35 to 64 rose by nearly 30 percent.
“More Americans now die of suicide (38,364) than car accidents (33,687). That's 3,026 more people who die from suicide each year than in car crashes.
“The most pronounced increases were seen among men in their 50s, a group in which suicides jumped by nearly 50 percent.
“The suicide rate for middle-aged men was three times higher than for middle-aged women.
“Researchers claim that the reasons for suicide are often complex, but this article focused on two factors—the stress of the economic downturn and the widespread availability of prescription painkillers. But it also hinted that deeper issues like failed expectations and a loss of hope might be a root cause for the increase in suicides. Dr. Julie Phillips, a researcher from Rutgers University, says, ‘The boomers had great expectations for what their life would look like, but … it hasn't turned out that way.’ Dr. Phillips warns that future generations will be facing the same conditions that lead to this sense of despair.”[1]
How do you feel about your future? Do you ever feel hopeless? I think most of us do from time to time. What I find though, is that those hopeless feelings catch up with me when I start looking at my life here on earth and forget that Jesus has promised something better.

I often wonder how it would be to live without the hope of Jesus and Heaven. Have you ever thought about that? It’s hard for me to imagine because I don’t remember I time when I didn’t know Jesus – I am grateful for that blessing. There are many of you, though, who have come to know Jesus later and have had to live without that hope.

I read a story about a man named Laureano and his wife, Consuelo. In 1966, they decided they had had enough of Fidel Castro’s Cuba.

They spent several months collecting bits and pieces of scrap metal that they could put together to make themselves a little boat … a very little boat. It was hardly big enough for the both of them – more of a kayak, really. It was powered by a little lawn mower engine.

They left Cuba in September, sitting back to back in their boat, just wearing their swimming suits. They could only fit enough food and water for one or two days.

It turned out that they floated out in the middle of the Straits of Florida for more than 70 hours before the U.S. Coast Guard finally rescued them somewhere in the Florida Keys.

Why would two people take such a risk? They could have starved to death, or drowned, or been eaten by sharks.

When someone asked Laureano that question many years later, this is what he said,
“When one has grown up in liberty, [you] realize it is important to have [freedom]. We lived in the enormous prison which is Cuba, where one's life is not worth one crumb. Where one goes out into the street and does not know whether or not one will return to one's home, because the political police can arrest you without any warning and put you in prison. Before this could happen to us, we thought that going into the ocean, and risking death or being eaten by sharks, is a million times better than to stay suffering under [political oppression].”[2]
Laureano and Consuelo had no hope of a future in Cuba; they had to get to a place where they could have hope.

You and I don’t have any hope of a future on this earth. We are living under the cruel and unreasonable government of Satan. Under his regime, there is no hope for anyone. Our only hope for any kind of future is through Jesus.

Zechariah paints a beautiful picture of our lives in the New Earth in Zechariah 8 (yes the whole chapter – it’s not that long, you can read it.)

Here are some of my favorite parts:
“Thus says the Lord: ‘I will return to Zion, and dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. Jerusalem shall be called the City of Truth, the Mountain of the Lord of hosts, the Holy Mountain.’
“Thus says the Lord of hosts:  ‘Old men and old women shall again sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each one with his staff in his hand because of great age.
The streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in its streets.’” Zechariah 8:3-5
Isn’t that a great picture? Jesus living with us in a new place where there is no sin. That is certainly something that I hope for.
When this world gets too much for us, there’s something we need to remember.
Sometimes it feels like I'm watching from the outside
Sometimes it feels like I'm breathing but am I alive
I won't keep searching for answers that aren't here to find
All I know is I'm not home yet
This is not where I belong
Take this world and give me Jesus
This is not where I belong
So when the walls come falling down on me
And when I'm lost in the current of a raging sea
I have this blessed assurance holding me.
All I know is I'm not home yet
This is not where I belong
Take this world and give me Jesus
This is not where I belong
When the earth shakes I wanna be found in You
When the lights fade I wanna be found in You
All I know is I'm not home yet
This is not where I belong
Take this world and give me Jesus
This is not where I belong.”[3]
My hope is in Jesus. Is yours?

[1] Tara Parker-Pope, "Suicide Rates Rise Sharply in U.S.," The New York Times (5-2-13)
[2] Matt Woodley, managing editor,; source: From a plaque and display in the Mariners' Museum in Newport News, Virginia
[3] Jason Roy, Where I Belong, Listen to the Sound, 2011

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