Dangerous Hope

Mark 5:35-43 While Jesus was still speaking, some people came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue leader. “Your daughter is dead,” they said. “Why bother the teacher anymore?” 36 Overhearing what they said, Jesus told him, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.” 37 He did not let anyone follow him except Peter, James and John the brother of James. 38 When they came to the home of the synagogue leader, Jesus saw a commotion, with people crying and wailing loudly. 39 He went in and said to them, “Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep.” 40 But they laughed at him. After he put them all out, he took the child’s father and mother and the disciples who were with him, and went in where the child was. 41 He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum!” (which means “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”). 42 Immediately the girl stood up and began to walk around (she was twelve years old). At this they were completely astonished. 43 He gave strict orders not to let anyone know about this, and told them to give her something to eat.

When I read “Don’t be afraid, just believe” in the passage above, Mark 5:36, I first think of an overdone Disney movie and cringe. My Bible’s notes add that it is literally translated, “just keep believing.” (Yep, now I’m thinking of Dory. Or maybe a fish sandwich.)  I know, that sounds terrible. How could I wish anything but good on these cute little characters? I wasn’t always so cynical. I, too, started life with stars in my eyes and big, puffy hopes. Real life quickly crushes these simple and beautiful hopes, doesn’t it? I would say I’ve had a good life, certainly with much less tragedy than many others I know. But, early on, I realized it’s much less painful to be a realist, or even a pessimist. Disappointment takes a toll on our fragile hopes. And I’m not just talking about finding out your stuffed animal isn’t real or the Lucky Charms cereal leprechaun can’t fulfill your wishes. What kid wants to be introduced to the horrors of abuse, rejection, separation or death? Every person that’s lived in our fallen world has had to face dashed hopes. Many people then refuse to be completely vulnerable ever again, with anyone, even God.

The more hardships, trials and disappointments you’ve experienced, the more doubtful you may be about hope. Maybe you’re like me, and had a nice tidy “court trial” long ago as a kid, where

hope was found to be too dangerous,

given a quick trial and doled out the death penalty.

Do we tell ourselves sternly, “Time to grow up, be realistic and stop dreaming.”  Or do we continue to hope and if so, how much? Enough to live a lifetime with dreams that seem not to be answered? What about my unsaved family member, sick friend, struggle with infertility, singleness, depression, chronic disease and death? What about the tragedy my coworker just faced or the grief of losing a child? How can we hope when we have the brutal reality of pain and suffering shoved in our faces every day? A choice does need to be made and the results will affect our entire lives.

As Christians, our choice, intentional or accidental, to be cynical can completely undermine us. The Almighty God that paid the highest price to be reunited with us is also the God of joy, goodness and hope. When we decide to follow Him, we hand Him

all our hopes and dreams for safe keeping.

Whatever shape they were in at first, we can know without a doubt, He is working to resuscitate them to health again. The hope I brought to Him long ago, as a teen, was pretty beat up and left to die. Every day since, God has been strengthening it back into the strong and powerful place in which He intended it to be. We all know it takes work to have faith, to be obedient to God’s commands and to look to other’s interests above our own. But, don’t we assume hope just magically exists for some people…and oh well, not ourselves. No, it’s an essential part of every person’s life and always will be. When it is healthy, that very hope builds our faith and sustains us through difficulty and loss for a lifetime. The human race is usually so enamored by stories of people that never gave up and finally saw their hopes and dreams fulfilled, basically

grown up fairy tales come true.

Let’s go back to the verses above and look at the excruciating fall Jairus’ hope took as he walked with Jesus that day. How long and hard he had looked for answers to his daughter’s illness, we don’t know. But He was determined to talk directly to Jesus and ask for His help. It’s all going well and Jesus is happy to head to his home. Jairus had to be elated. One small pause as Jesus addresses another person seeking healing then enter some very blunt men…I hesitate to call friends. They blurt out Jairus’ daughter is dead and hey, leave Jesus be. Jairus’ hopes at that instant plummeted to the lowest low. But Jesus interrupts just then and  tells Jairus not to fear, just believe. What went through Jairus’ head at that moment I wonder? Did he instantly have relief? Or did he fight off waves of cynicism and disbelief? After all, death is death. It’s the end, right? Not when God is in the situation!

God requires of us a simple and childlike hope in Him. I certainly am not an expert in this myself….obviously from the name of my blog!

We are all meant to be dreamers,

full of faith and hope in God’s goodness. If we’ve lost that hope, God is entirely capable of reintroducing it to us. It is actually required! Matthew 18:3 says “And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” God places great value on the open, trusting heart of a child.

If you’re struggling with hope, you may need to start with reminding yourself that God is truly 100% good. Psalm 107:1 says, “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.” In fact, He is the only one ever that can honestly say this. And, He has wonderful plans for you! Psalm 16:6 says,”The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.” That is how God looks at each of His children. To help us be even more confident of His goodness and wonderful hopes for each of us, we read in Genesis 50:20 that others’ plans against us are even thwarted! “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” God is serious about us knowing His amazing goodness and trusting that He is present each moment of our lives working for our good and His glory.

Wherever you’re at, you can rest assured that

Jesus understands.

He lived for 33 years as both God and man. He was subjected to more pain, suffering, and rejection than we will ever know. He died naked, nailed to a cross for all the sin of the world in which he never once took part. And then, glory of glories, He rose from the dead! The God who makes the impossible possible says HOPE. He died to change our hopeless lives into lives of joy and victory. And from that point on,

life needs never be hopeless.

Bad things do happen quite often and cause great pain. But hopelessness has been vanquished. It has been robbed of its hold on us. It’s like watching a horror movie that was filmed on a beautiful sunny day, with flood lights illuminating every once dark corner. Yes, sin still exists…. but with the lights on. The fear just isn’t there like it was before Jesus rescued us. We see the creepy monster approach from afar and shut the door. We aren’t surprised as much when the zombie peers into the window or the wind blows a door shut. We have a heads up and are able to prepare for the difficult times. Best of all, we are never alone. Jesus is with us every second. No, “I’ll be right back after I check out the creepy noise ” or “stay right there while I see what’s in the basement” like I absolutely dread! He is always with us, holding our hand, speaking encouragement and comfort to us, empowering us to get through hard times. Hebrews 10:23 says, “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is able.

“Just believe”….

Let’s agree it is a phrase meant for each of us. No more running away from hope and goodness. We have a personal invitation from the God of the Universe! Let’s accept it!

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