Some years ago in South Africa, I visited the tomb of a saint. I watched as people pressed their hands or bodies against the sides of the tomb hoping to draw power or strength from the spirit of the deceased saint. Monetary offerings were laid near the tomb. Some prayed for healing and others made vows. The common characteristic of each supplicant was hopelessness.
On another occasion I visited a saint’s tomb near the Jordan River. Some visitors wore amulets to protect them from the evil eye or the spirits. Cloth and hair were hung on a tree as people prayed for healing or made vows. One man had traveled hundreds of miles hoping that his visit would merit the restoration of the blessing of God in his life. Again, the common characteristic of those visiting this site was hopelessness.
Events of the last couple of years have created confusion, fear, anxiety, despair – and even suffering for a lot of people. For many, hope has been snatched away. As you move into a new year, maybe you feel hopeless. Maybe you feel that you have lost the “blessing” that only God can give. Perhaps you have sinned—and feel hopelessly condemned. Or, it could be that life’s problems have simply overwhelmed you. Have you thought of what steps you might take in order to restore hope and have the blessing of God in your life once again?
The Psalmist David experienced all the above mentioned emotions. From the Book of Psalms, and based on his personal experience, here is the advice David gives about life’s desperate situations:
Guidance in Times of Confusion: “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you” (Ps. 32:8).
Courage in Times of Fear: “God is our refuge and strength, and ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging” (Ps. 46:1-3).
Peace in Times of Anxiety: “I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety (Ps. 4:8).
Hope in Times of Despair: “Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God” (Ps. 42:5).
Relief in Times of Suffering: “Blessed is he who has regard for the weak; the Lord delivers him in times of trouble. The Lord will protect him and preserve his life; he will bless him in the land and not surrender him to his foes” (Ps. 41:1-2).
Maybe God used a word or two from one of these verses to speak to you. Or, perhaps the Holy Spirit has phrased something in “just the right way” and you feel that a buoy has been offered. Grab it and don’t let go!
As you move into the new year, I pray that you will open the Holy Scriptures and start your year with a full surrender to Jesus Christ—and let real hope enter or re-enter your life.