[#pictureLent] April 11: HOPE

By Nicole Logan
FUMC Winter Garden
Clermont, Florida

First, read Psalm 71:1-14

Did you ever one of those days where it felt like the whole world was against you?

You woke up late, couldn’t find your jacket, and accidentally wore two different shoes. You realized that your group project or team file you were working on was due but you hadn’t finished it and your classmates or co-workers were held responsible for your mistake. You forgot your lunch and no one really wanted to eat with you. Your bus broke down or your car got a flat, dinner was late, and ended with everyone slamming the doors to their rooms.

Yeah, I’ve been there too. 

Your heart beats fast, your palms get sweaty, and your stomach hurts. There’s a headache brewing behind your eyes. You can’t wait for the day to end so you can go back to bed. You just want to turn out the lights, pull the covers over your head and go to sleep for days.  You feel totally alone.

And yet…

God has been with you since way before the sun came up, holding you, and holding everything together. God has been with you before you were knit together in your mother’s womb and God will be with you when there are only memories of your childhood woven together by photographs and videos. 

Whether your enemies are attacking you for real and their actions are hurtful and their words break your heart or you just face days or weeks or months of things that don’t go your way and people who let you down, God is the place you can always run to and the person who will always listen and the hope that will give you the strength and the courage to wake up, throw off the covers, hit the floor, and say I will praise you more and more. 

As we walk through this holiest of weeks, we are reminded that Jesus is about to face his darkest days. Not only will his enemies come after him and mock him and beat him, but his friends will scatter and deny even knowing him. 

“In you, O LORD, I take refuge; let me never be put to shame. In your righteousness deliver me and rescue me; incline your ear to me and save me.

 But I will hope continually, and will praise you yet more and more.” Psalm 71:1-2, 14

“Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples, ‘Sit here while I go over there and pray.’

And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not what I want but what you want.’” Matthew 26:36, 39

Nothing is too small or too silly or too scary for God to make sacred. God wants us to seek refuge and also longs to hear our praise. Whether we come before God asking for help or we come giving thanks; whether we come crying or singing or praying or questioning. It only matters that we come. And that we keep coming. And that we never give up hope in the one who is our living hope.

Prayer: God of hope, we all have things that weigh us down and trip us up and days where nothing goes right and people who try to make us feel as if we are fighting a losing battle. We know that even on those hardest days, you are right there with us, holding us tight and cheering us on. We may not see the joy that is to come but we hold on to the hope that is within. We know that we are stronger than our bad days and our toughest enemies because we seek shelter in you. We thank you for your protection and we praise you all of our days. Amen.

Discussion/Reflection Questions:

1. Share a time when you felt like everyone and everything was against you. Were you able to remember to reach out to God?
2. What does the word “refuge” mean to you? Do you believe that God is your refuge?
3. Is it easy to praise God when you are in the middle of a battle? What could help you to praise God more, even when it might seem hard?