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Dec 20, 2012

Hope In The Midst Of The Unthinkable

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Newtown, Connecticut was a quiet, peaceful town when the unthinkable happened last week. A town is in great mourning, a nation grieves, we all cry. The age old question is on the tip of every tongue, “Why? Over 2,000 years ago, Bethlehem was a quiet, peaceful town; then, the unthinkable happened. “A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, refusing to be comforted, because they are no more. (Matthew 2:18)  Job was a righteous man, God called him blameless. He had seven sons and three daughters and a blessed and prosperous life; then, the unthinkable happened. He lost all his children, all his possessions, his health, and the respect of his wife. What we call “the unthinkable crushed him.
Job’s lament is spread on the pages of the book that bears his name in the Old Testament. In the midst of his travail he comes to realize that he has much to learn; primarily, in his wrestling with God and passionately searching for the answer to “why, he understood this:  he is a man, God is a spirit, and there is the desperate need for a mediator who can lay his hand on them both. Job’s answer appears ten chapters later, “I know that my Redeemer lives, And He shall stand at last on the earth; and after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God, (Job 19:25-26) the One who truly lays His hand, of spirit and flesh, on us both.
Next Tuesday we celebrate Job’s answer and ours, for “the Word became flesh and lived among us.  Does the incarnation, the birth of Jesus of Nazareth in Bethlehem, help you at all in answering “why, or bringing hope in the midst of unthinkable evil? Or bringing hope in your own darkest hour? Only in contemplating the One who was laid in a manger on the first Christmas, seeing with the eyes of faith His pilgrimage for your salvation, understanding the necessity and the grand sacrifice of love in the incarnation, which, by His choice, lasts forever; only, ONLY in this can anyone know lasting hope in the midst of the unthinkable. Hope is much more than seeing light at the end of the tunnel; hope is knowing Jesus knows, has been there, and is where you are (“Hey, listen to me, He said, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age, Matthew 28:20); hope arises from knowing He is truly Emmanuel, God with you; He feels your pain and places His hand on your shoulder and, simultaneously, in the bosom of His Father; He directly unites you to God as He is your forever Mediator with the Father. There is no surer HOPE!
When you manifest this hope, authentically, in your countenance, in your actions, in your words; when it saturates your being, you bring hope to the darkest places: you bring hope to those who have no hope.
When that father, with tears rolling down his face, spoke of Emilie, his six year old daughter, who died on the floor of her kindergarten room, he spoke through his tears of her Heavenly Father in whose presence he knew she was. There was no greater hope that came out of our television screens last week. Some may mock and scorn, but no one can diminish this family’s hope in the midst of what is, for all of us, unthinkable tragedy.
It is not a vaporous “crutch to get through the evil. It is reality; it is the “sun of righteousness rising with healing in His wings and delivering to you a joy which is truly unimaginable! (Malachi 4:2) It is the joy we have when we fully grasp as Job, as Mary and Joseph, as the shepherds, as the wisemen, as Simeon and Anna, that the Word became flesh and is and will be our Savior forever!


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