- Baptist Beacon
A cure for despair (or a hack for hopelessness)
by John Adams
BATTLE CREEK, MI – Brothers and Sisters in the Lord, don't panic. Don't obsess over the details about what is going on. Don't argue with each other. Don't fret over canceled plans. Don't worry about how crazy some people are acting. And don't despair over how hopeless things might look. Nothing about your circumstances has taken God by surprise. He knows what He is doing and what He wants to do through you right now too."
I wrote these words a little over a year ago as the pandemic began to grow in the United States. That was a hundred plus online sermons and services ago. And many crises and deaths ago. It has been challenging, but the Lord has been with us, every step.
In Luke 24:13-35, two of Jesus' disciples are in the midst of what seems like overwhelming circumstances. They are on their way home from Jerusalem, the third day since Jesus' death. As they walk, they are discussing and arguing with each other. They are also very discouraged. It looks like every hope they had for Jesus was over, and it all seems to amount to nothing.
At some point in their journey, Jesus comes up and begins walking with them. The text says they "were prevented from recognizing Him," but it was also true they were not looking for Him nor expecting Him. Jesus joins their conversation by asking them what they are discussing. His two traveling companions are so stunned, they stop in their tracks, and I bet their mouths dropped open too. They ask Him if he is the only person who doesn't know what has happened recently. Jesus replies by saying, "What things?"
I wonder if He was able to keep a straight face or if He shed a little grin? I imagine that for the next hour or more, they unloaded on Him all the details they knew about Jesus, His ministry, betrayal, death, and burial. They even shared their hope that He might be God's coming king who will rescue and rule over His people. Surely they also had dreams of participating in the Messiah's kingdom too. But now it has been three days since Jesus' death, and nothing has happened, except a few disciples claimed to have a vision of angels who told them that Jesus is alive.
Jesus spends the rest of the trip clearly explaining how the things that happened to Him were all part of God's plan. When they reached their destination, they ask their mystery guest to stay with them. And when they give Him the honor of blessing the meal, their eyes are opened, and they can recognize Jesus. The One they were so upset and worried about had been walking with them the whole time!
Suddenly, everything began to make sense to them. Jesus Himself had explained the spiritual significance of recent events and their experiences. Now they know how to think and feel about their circumstances the way God does. All it took was a little time with Jesus to turn them from being upset and discouraged to being excited and full of hope. They could not wait to share their good news with others!
It is often easy for us to let our circumstances overwhelm us. Today is the perfect time to remind ourselves that we walk with the Lord by faith regardless of our events. When things change, and especially when they seem so beyond our control, we must remember that our relationship with God has not changed.
We still have all of the constant, never-failing love, favor, and presence of the Lord we had before. And as we continue to walk with and trust the Lord, He will open our eyes and touch our hearts about what He is actively doing in the middle of our circumstances. As life slowly begins to become the new normal, let's not forget to trust Christ every day. Even on the good days.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
John Adams is the Pastor of Grace Fellowship Baptist Church in Battle Creek Michigan. He loves his family, wife Melissa and three sons, Connor, Riley and Aiden.