We Must Play Hope’s Song
America is mourning another senseless shooting. The shock of innocent children, as well as adults, being mercilessly killed is hard to cope with. The reality is that America is diseased on the inside. More of our kids will die today of overdoses; others will be killed in gang-related violence; still, others will take their own lives. As I stated yesterday, no human can fix us; only God, through a spiritual awakening, can heal America. We must continue to contend for this. To foster hope, I am sharing some thoughts today from my book, The Power of Hope. We must continue to believe, even as we grieve.
People sometimes refer to their difficult times as “winter seasons.” There is a powerful picture associated with this in Ezekiel 47. The prophet Ezekiel was given a vision of the river of life. The river produced life and healing everywhere it went. Interestingly, the Hebrew word for “river” in the passage is nachal, and means “a stream, especially a winter torrent.” (1) Some streams and rivers are dry during parts of the year. They fill up, however, when there is rain or, as in this case, the spring thaw melts the snow and ice on the mountains. Tiny rivulets develop, coming together to form streams and, eventually, becoming nachalim (rivers). Though Ezekiel’s “winter river” began as a trickle in verse 1, it eventually became a mighty, unfordable river by verse 5.
God’s healing river often begins as a trickle. We can be confident, however, that it will deepen, that God will use the snow and ice of our winter to bring a deep flow of His healing power to us. Our season will change.
For those who are confused and disillusioned…
For the heart grieving from pain and loss…
For the faithful but weary soldier whose streambed is dry…
For those who have lost their first love connection to Him…
For the rejected of the world who are heartsick with hope deferred…your season is changing…
The warmth of spring will do its work, summer is coming. Thank God winter doesn’t last forever. The river of healing will flow to us, and we will drink of its healing power.
As the following story states, there is a song in you.
One night a discouraged man in London was on his way to drown himself. At that moment, his life did not seem worth living. As he walked along the street, he stopped and looked at a painting in a shop window. It was George Frederic Watt’s Hope - a woman, blindfolded, sitting on top of the world, holding a lyre with but one string. Yet still hoping and believing the instrument will make music, she is ready to strike it. The man, as he stood looking at that painting, said to himself: “Well, I have one string - I have a little boy at home.” So he returned home to his son. (2)
When we feel there is nothing left, we must look again. The prophet Habakkuk said the flock might be dead and gone, there might be no fruit in the orchard, and the hillsides might be bare. But still “I will exult in the Lord,” he said. “I will rejoice in the God of my salvation” (see Habakkuk 3:17-19). There was music possible yet!
And there is still music in our nation. We must play hope’s song, even in the dark night of the soul. Job, in his hellish suffering, said the Lord “gives songs in the night” (Job 35:10). David, during his time of exile, said, “His song will be with me in the night” (Psalm 42:8). Paul and Silas, beaten, bleeding and in chains, “about midnight…were praying and singing hymns of praise to God” (Acts 16:25). There is hope in the night, and there is music somewhere in our broken nation. Don’t give up!
A passage in the Song of Solomon speaks of the end of “winter”:
“My beloved responded and said to me, ‘Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, and come along. For behold, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers have already appeared in the land; the time has arrived for pruning the vines, and the voice of the turtledove has been heard in our land. The fig tree has ripened its figs, and the vines in blossom have given forth their fragrance. Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, and come along!’”
(Song of Solomon 2:10-13 NASB)
Working Things Together for Good
Psalm 51 was written by a man experiencing hope deferred. King David had lost his first-love connection with God, which resulted in sin and a winter season. The following prayer he offered was answered: “God, make a fresh start in me, shape a Genesis week from the chaos of my life…Bring me back from gray exile, put a fresh wind in my sails” (vv. 10, 12, The Message).
God wants to do that for America and for you. A fresh start…a Genesis week…out of exile…a fresh wind - that’s what He wants for us.
A well-known verse in Romans speaks of God taking our pain, hurts, and destruction and bringing good from them. It is actually one of the most famous verses in the entire Bible: “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). This verse packs an even greater power than most people realize.
The phrase “work together” is from the Greek word sunergeo, from which we get the English words synergy and synergism. Synergism is “the working together of two or more to produce an effect greater than the sum of their individual effects.” (3) In choosing this word, God is promising He will take all of the bad, all of the pain, and every attempt of the enemy to destroy our faith - “all things” - and then put Himself in the mix, infusing the evils with His miraculous power. I will synergize with them, He says, and the good in Me will overpower the bad in them. Amazing! Disappointment, plus pain, plus loss, is used for something good when God’s river of healing enters. Believing in this truth is part of restoring hope.
When complimented on her homemade biscuits by Dr. Harry Ironside, the cook responded, “Just consider what goes into the making of these biscuits. By itself, the flour doesn’t taste good; neither does the baking powder, nor the shortening, nor any other ingredient. However, when I mix them all together and put them in the oven, they’re transformed. They come out just right.”
Much of life can taste bad. But God is able to combine these “ingredients” of our life in such a way that when He is finished, the result is good. (4)
God is going to send His river to America. It is, even now rising. He will heal, save, and restore. Keep your appeals strong - they are saving our land.
Pray with me:
Father, grief does not contradict or negate faith. We pray for Your comfort to those experiencing unspeakable pain. And though we grieve for our broken nation, we believe You are coming to release Your river of healing. Yes, we have been in an icy winter. Without a doubt, there is no hope for us but You. However, You are merciful, and You don’t abandon people or nations in their times of wandering. Your heart is always to redeem, and our hope is in You.
As many well-meaning people today formulate plans and discuss ideas to try and fix America, we are keenly aware that unless You build the house, they labor in vain. Bring the awakening we cry out for. Convict millions in America over our rejection of You. Help them see that our sick condition is due to this, and that the only cure is to return. Bring Your warmth and thaw frozen hearts until the winter in America is over, and the river of Your healing flows with its full force.
Strengthen the intercessors. Keep them strong, hope-filled, and full of faith. Remind them that You bring good even out of evil and can even use the plans of evil people to do so, just as You did for Joseph. We draw on You for strength, and we will persevere in our prayers.
We decree that the level of God’s healing river is rising, and He will heal our land.
Today’s post was taken from my book The Power of Hope
Click on the link below to watch the full video.
James Strong, The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1990), s.v. OT:5158, “nachal.”
Oden, 100 Meditations on Hope, p 72.
Dictionary.com, Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, s.v. “synergism,” http://dictionary.reference.com/cite.html?qh=synergism&ia=ced (accessed October 2, 2013).
Adapted from Edward K. Powell, Fresh Illustrations for Preaching and Teaching (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1997), p 118.