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We live in a fast-paced world in which social media, the internet and rapidly changing cultural values are placed front row, and center in our lives. It seems like everything that those in my baby boomer generation counted as stable is falling away. Some of that, to be honest, is a good thing. I’m beginning to realize the ‘simple life’ I grew up in was often a cover-up for an undercurrent of things that never should have happened.

The trade off, however isn’t always positive. With all the ‘advancements’ our society has made, one thing that seems to have been left behind is hope. HOPE. Such a simple word, yet so complex. Wars have been fought in the name of hope; lives have been destroyed in the search for hope.

Hope is elusive on the human plane. We seek it in relationships. We seek it through political and social action. We seek it, or at least try to escape it’s evil twin– hopelessness — through chemicals. We may even try it through religion. But none of that really satisfies. People fail. Government fails. Gaining rights for one group rapes other groups of their ‘rights’. Religion only offers surface comfort for the pain.

There is only one thing that offers total hope and that is Jesus. He’s not about rules and religion. He has no expectations for you to measure up to who he is. When we place our focus on who he is, and what he has done; when we realize the hopelessness of this world is temporary and a better world awaits us; when we realize the pain we suffer now is nothing compared to the joy we have in him, we also find that elusive thing we’ve sought for: HOPE.


Eeyore, the always negative donkey in the children’s story, “Winnie the Pooh” has an incredible knack for seeing the negative in everything. I remember chuckling at some of his statements while reading to my children. In his world there was nothing good. There was no hope. Expectations always fell short.

We can chuckle at this fictional character’s outlook on life, but reality is, it’s easy for us to do the same. It’s easy to live trapped by our past. I’m grateful for a relatively boring childhood, but many are still grappling with abusive homes, dysfunctional families and sometimes, as a result, mental illness or addictions. It’s been said ‘our past can kill us or make us stronger’, and while there is some truth to that, its easier said than lived.

It’s also easy for us as believers to lose hope when we look around us at the direction society seems destined for. Often our belief in Jesus Christ is construed by society as intolerant, out of touch and irrelevant.

Peter wrote his book to Christ followers in a society that, believe it or not, was more brutal to the things of God that the one we live in. Yet he wrote of great expectations. Not because of his past, but because of his future. Not because of who he was, but because of who Jesus is.

Don’t base your hopes, aspirations and expectations on who you are or what you can do. Don’t allow the actions and accusations of others deter you from expecting great and mighty things in your life. Success by God’s standards comes from a live lived rich in integrity and holiness. Success by societies standards is like flags in the wind, being tossed by every new idea. Jesus gives you stability in an unstable world and hope among the hopeless.


Desire. It’s really the driving force in all we do. It’s desire that drives our relationships. It’s desire that keeps us going through the tough times. When we lose desire we lose the will to go on. But desire is a cruel taskmaster. It often drives us down the road most easily traveled rather than the way best for us. It entices us to grab for the things that hurt rather than nurture; that poison us rather than help us. Jesus came to show us desire in its purest, most excellent way.


We’ve never done well with choices. Ever since Adam and Eve chose the fruit over obedience mankind has consistently chosen self-gratification. Ironically, satisfying our physical desires never lasts. The body constantly demands more to fill the emotional side of us. It’s a futile attempt because nothing we can see, taste or touch will satisfy forever. Someone once said that within the soul of every person is a God shaped hole. The only thing that will fill the void is Jesus. But here’s the kicker. You have a choice. Will you continue to try to fill the void with the temporal or will you choose the narrow road and follow Christ? It’s your choice and your decision will determine your level of satisfaction and contentment.


Our God has said: “Encourage my people! Give them comfort. Isaiah 40:1 (CEV)

Where do you get comfort from? For the Christ-follower, the ‘Sunday School Answer’ is Jesus. Okay, we have that one out of the way. Easy enough, right? Not if you are stuck in a marriage that never seems to find the fulfillment you hoped for when you said your vows; not when you struggle with an addiction and find yourself once again suffering from its consequences; not when you are a mother sitting by the bedside of your child or spouse as they breath their last breath; not if you are loading the last boxes onto the moving truck because the bank has foreclosed on your dream home because you lost your job.

It’s at those times that all the ‘Sunday School Answers’ of your past may seem to pale in relation to the pain in your soul. Is God real? Yes, you believe it with all your heart. Does he love you? Certainly. Never a doubt in your mind. Does it take away the knot in your stomach? The knot that seems to be growing so large that it is making it hard to breathe? Not always.

During the darkest times of our lives we don’t need another sermon on God’s provision, we need comfort. We seek comfort in many ways. Some seek it with a new relationship, but new isn’t always better, in fact, second marriages are more likely to end in divorce than first marriages and the chances of success at marriage decrease with every attempt.

Other comfort foods for the soul can be food (leading to guilt and health issues), drugs, anger, withdrawal, depression, religion and a whole list of other attempts at quenching the pain in life.

When you’ve tried all the above remedies for the pain within you it turns out the ‘Sunday School Answer’ really is the best. Sometimes, when we are honest with ourselves, we realize the pain we are experiencing is the result of our own sin. Other times we’ve done ‘everything right’ but our spouse still leaves, our health fails and our bank account disappears.

After years of slavery and exile, Jehovah God tells Isaiah to comfort his people with these words. The trial is over. The penalty has been paid. His words point forward to the restoration of Jerusalem (physical restoration) and the sacrifice of Jesus (restoration of the soul).

If you are struggling with the pain of life let me point you to Jesus. Not the religion of Christianity, but the relationship with a loving Savior who understands your need and longs to comfort the pain in your soul.

If you have ridden out the battle and find yourself on top, remember that those who are struggling with life don’t need another sermon. They don’t need a reminder of their faults. They need the comfort and encouragement that only the grace of Jesus can give them. Please be an instrument of that encouragement. Their pain is great enough.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, I thank you for the blessings you’ve given me. I ask that you empower me with your Holy Spirit to be an encouragment to those who need you so that they may experience the comfort only you can give. Amen.

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