Is There Any Hope?
I have been a pastor for almost 50 years (48 and counting!). During that time as you would expect, I have been present for many kinds of events and needs. Some were mountaintop experiences that were “one of a kind”. Others were great experiences that were shared with church members on great occasions.
On the other hand, some moments were very sad, and some were truly tragic. Those that were horrific due to horrible accidents, shootings, sudden heart attacks, or others like those are never easy for a pastor to truly comfort the circle of loved ones trying to grasp the reality of that moment. The sorrows come in tsunami-sized waves of grief. The pain is beyond description. The loved ones are hurting so deeply that no words are spoken. The pain is released through deep sighs, attempts to cry after the tears are gone, and the blank stares into space. Once they can speak, it is common for them to say, “I just can’t believe this is real.” “I was just talking to them an hour ago and now they’re gone.” “Why did this have to happen?” “I don’t think I can stand this….”
At that moment, there is very little that any comforter can say to the broken hearted. Whatever is said by “would be” consolers is not heard unless it is offensive and not well received because of its trite and ineffective meaning. What grieving folks remember is that friends were there, comfort might have been nothing more than holding one’s hand and crying with them or an embrace that says without speaking, “I am so sorry for your deep grief and loss”.
In days to come, those that know Christ will begin to process Scriptures of hope and promise even though they will never really understand the “why’s” of a tragedy. The “why” may never be answered, but “how” may be. That is, “How can I learn about new facets of God’s grace through this?” How can I glorify God when my heart is broken?” “How can I find hope in the midst of this sorrow?” As we seek answers to those questions, it is amazing what God does to comfort, encourage, and heal our hurts in the weeks that follow.
Hope is the message and theme of our faith. Consider these promises: Those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. (Is.40:31). Christ in you, the hope of glory. (Col.1:27). May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him. (Romans 15:13). Only in Christ is there hope that never fades and never fails. Those without Christ are without hope!
While attending college, I visited a psychiatric institution with a group of students to observe various types of mental illness. I remember one man who was called “No Hope Carter.” His was a tragic case. A victim of venereal disease, he was going through the final stages when the brain is affected. Before he began to lose his mind, this man was told by the doctors that there was no known cure for him. He begged for one ray of light in his darkness but had been told that the disease would run its inevitable course and end in death. Gradually his brain deteriorated, and he became more and more despondent. When I saw him in his small, barred room about 2 weeks before he died, he was pacing up and down in mental agony. His eyes stared blankly, and his face was drawn and ashen. Over and over he muttered these two forlorn and fateful words: “No hope! No hope!” (Copied).