When you face tragedy or a difficult situation with no apparent solution, learn what will carry you through.
[Gary Petty] When you’re overwhelmed by tragedy or difficult situations with no apparent solutions at all, what exactly is the hope that can carry you through times of anxiety and fear? I mean, where does that hope come from?
When I was 13 or 14 years old I had an experience that changed the way I look at life. It was a rather simple event. I was alone at home and turned on the television news and they were doing a story on the war in Vietnam and showed an actual firefight between U.S. soldiers and the North Vietnamese. Another story, though later in the program in the newscast, showed a race riot in a large U.S. city and there were soldiers and armored personnel carriers moving slowly down the street while on both sides buildings were burning. At that moment I felt a sense of anxiety and realized that how I viewed life would never be quite the same. I’ve had the same experience numerous times since. All of you have. You’ve had that experience. The surprising loss of a job, the death of a loved one, health issues that just come on suddenly, watching the second plane slam into the tower on 9/11. Remember that? Those of you were watching that the first time you saw it, you realized something has fundamentally changed in the way most of us are going to see the world.
During the early stages of the COVID-19 crisis, I told my wife that this was another of those watershed moments when we realize that no matter what happens we’re experiencing a fundamental change in how people view life. This pandemic produced a wave of anxiety and fear around the world, and you know much of that anxiety and fear it continues, right? Now we could hear motivational speakers say that hope is the remedy for anxiety and uncertainty. Okay, but what is hope? What is it we should hope for? A world without disease where there’s no virus, a world without crime and war, a world without natural disasters. Well in all human history no one has ever been able to create a society like that. That isn’t the reality of the world that you and I live in. I mean bad things happen. We are constantly faced with anxiety, fear, and stress. What does hope really mean in the face of life’s real, absolutely real, anxieties and stresses?
Hope is usually defined as a confident expectation of a positive future. Now when you’re overwhelmed by tragedy or difficult situations with no apparent solutions at all, what exactly is the hope that can carry you through times of anxiety and fear? I mean where does that hope come from? I mean we’ve all experienced the emotion of hope and we know how fleeting that could be. You know at the beginning of every sports season fans are filled with confident expectation that their team is going to win the championship. I don’t care what it is, baseball, or football, or basketball. You know by the end of the season hope fails for all teams and all fans except for one. In 1 Corinthians 13, the Apostle Paul writes, “That of all the Christian virtues there are three that abide,” that means they live on. Three virtues that live on. Faith, hope and love.
Now faith is the core human response to God. It’s trust in His mercy and ultimate good. Hope, well that’s the confident expectation of a positive future. Love, now that’s the mind and heart of God himself. Faith and love are obvious spiritual attributes but why would Paul give hope such an important place in the Christian life? I mean how are we to define the Christian confident expectation of a positive future? I mean does this mean that Christian hope means that you’ll never get sick, you’ll never get in a car crash, you’ll never lose a job? You see to understand hope as a Christian virtue you’re going to have to find a new way of looking at hope. So let’s begin with this very simple truth. I want you to think about this. I want you to read this with me in your mind. Read it out loud. Write it down. The power of hope is based in what we hope for. The power of hope is based in what we hope for.
Let’s face it. If your hope in life is to hit the lottery you have a weak and meaningless hope. And I want you to think about it, even if you hit the lottery you can’t control the next virus that comes along, can you? You can’t control the next tornado, economic turndown, car wreck. Just think of your fears and plug them in, okay? All the things you fear, if you were suddenly wealthy you couldn’t change all of those things. I mean so much of what we hope for in life, it doesn’t take away our inner anxiety, our inner stress, our inner insecurities.
Now here’s a second great simple truth and I want you to think about this one too. The hope that gives us the power to overcome anxiety and face fear is based in the faith that God is the source of your hope. This is very important. Once again, write this one down because this is really important. President Barack Obama once said, “The absence of hope can rot a society from within,” and that’s absolutely true. But you know, if your hope is in a human government to give you security, provide you prosperity, and make sure you never get another virus, you’re in real trouble. You’re in real trouble. Remember what we just said because this is the basis of what we’re going to talk about today. The hope that gives us the power to overcome anxiety and face fear is based in the faith that God is the source of your hope. In other words, God must give you hope that you can’t give yourself. God has to do it.
King David of ancient Israel faced many situations that seemed hopeless. In his Psalms David writes about the anxiety of being sick, the fear of having people try to kill him, and the stresses of being the leader of a country. Now these are real anxieties and fears that all of us would experience if we were walking in his sandals, okay? David always finds hope though because he returns to the source of his hope, and here’s what he writes about in some of his Psalms. In Psalm 119, he says, “You,” speaking of God, he says, “You are my hiding place and my shield. I hope in Your word.” In another place he says, “Be of good courage, and He,” speaking of God, “shall strengthen Your heart. He does it, and all you who hope in the Lord.” In Psalm 39, he says, “And now, Lord, what do I wait for? My hope is in You.” If you really want to start to understand hope, take the Psalms and find all the places where the word “hope” is used and read what David says, what he learned.
All of us are going to suffer some anxiety and fear in life. It’s part of life. But when we are overwhelmed by it, when we suffer from irrational anxiety and fear, it’s because we really don’t know God. Remember what I said earlier, the hope that gives you the power to overcome anxiety and face fear is based in the faith that God is the source of your hope. You cannot experience God as the source of hope if you don’t know Him as the Creator, if you don’t realize He is the source of all that is truly good, the only source of instructions of how to live life because He created it. He is the source.
Now later we’re going to look at God’s promised future for those who seek Him as the source of their hope, but first, let’s look at another example of hope. You know, even when we know God is the source of hope, all of us still suffer times of worry, anxiety, and despair. It’s just part of the human experience. The Apostle Paul experienced times like that, the Apostle Paul, okay, the man who had great faith, who faced incredible things in order to obey God. There’s one case in the Bible where he had a particularly difficult time on one of his journeys through Asia Minor which is modern-day Turkey, and he wrote about it to the church in Corinth. And I want to read what he wrote to those people as he explained what he had been going through. He says, “We,” talking about the group he is with, “We are hard pressed on every side yet not crushed, we are perplexed but not in despair, persecuted but not forsaken, struck down but not destroyed.”
Wow. I mean before you get too hard on yourself, realize that the Apostle Paul felt sometimes like life was pressing in around him. He felt perplexed by what was happening, and he felt knocked down. But what’s amazing is that he still had hope, a positive expectation of the future. Why? Well let’s read what he says in the next verse. He says, “Always carrying around in the body, the dying of the Lord Jesus.” He says, “I’m always carrying around the knowledge of who Jesus Christ is, His life, His death, His resurrection.” In other words, he’s carrying the gospel around.That’s why he wasn’t overwhelmed by the things he was going through. He says, “That the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our bodies.” Paul wrote that though he was hard pressed, though he was perplexed, and persecuted, and struck down, he had a positive expectation of the future because he believed the gospel.
And you know what? Jesus didn’t bring a health and wealth gospel. He brought a message about why human beings suffer and then he brought this message to offer God’s solution for us. You see human suffering isn’t caused by God. He is the only solution to our suffering. Humanity suffers because we have turned our backs on God as the source of all life, and truth, and hope. You know we can play church, and do what we want and then get upset with God when He doesn’t save us from the consequences of our own actions.
How can we find hope? We can have hope only when we seek God as the source of hope and we only receive hope from God when we accept Him as our Father, we accept Him as our Sovereign King over our lives, and we accept Jesus Christ as our spiritual guide. You know let’s think about what Paul said, We’re hard pressed on every side, we’re not crushed, we’re not perplexed, we’re not in despair. Persecuted but not forsaken, struck down but not destroyed. Always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus that the life of Jesus may also be manifest in our body, in our lives. We see the work of God, what God is doing. Paul was not overwhelmed in his anxieties and fears because he knew who Christ was, he knew God’s promised future for him and God was giving him a hope that he could not give himself.
Now I want to tell you about today’s free study guide, “Why Am I Suffering?” This study guides centers on the hope God gives us when we look at the Bible as His word. Now let me read you the opening lines in this study guide and you’ll see where this goes. The very beginning of the study guide says, “Often, when we’re faced with a trial that seems too hard to handle, we feel abandoned.” So true, isn’t it? “Abandoned by friends, abandoned by family, and sometimes, especially, abandoned by God. And these dark times, our cares or worries overwhelm us with negative and even hopeless thoughts. God is a God of hope, however. He tells us through the Apostle Peter, that we should go to Him in prayer and cast our cares on Him for He cares for us.”
Do you need some hope in your life? Are you struggling? Well this study guide will take you to the Bible where you could discover God as the source of hope. Order your free copy of “Why Am I Suffering?” Call the number on your screen or go online to beyondtoday.tv, beyondtoday.tv where you can download your own free copy.
So we’ve talked about how hope comes from focusing your life on God, but what is the ultimate hope of this life? I mean how many times have you wondered, “What’s my purpose? I mean, why do I suffer? Why did God put me on this earth to sometimes suffer all the time?” What is the hope that only a Christian can experience, because that’s the hope of David and that’s the hope of Paul that we’ve read about, okay? What is that hope? In a letter that Paul wrote to the Romans, he… now remember, Paul is a man who experienced fear, he experienced anxiety and worry. He tells about positive expectation. He tells about what hope really is for the Christian. It’s in Romans 8. We’re going to start here in verse 18. Paul writes, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” This isn’t the health and wealth gospel. He says the sufferings we’re going through as Christians are nothing compared to the future God has for us. So he starts with an understanding that even for a Christian, there is suffering in this life, there are times when bad things happen, there’s times when we are perplexed, when we don’t understand, but God is preparing a future.
He goes on and says, “For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God.” That’s a very important concept there. The entire world, God’s creation, is waiting for the revealing of the sons of God. The sons of God, the children of God are people who have given their lives to God, and become part of His family, and are living their lives in hope of this. What he’s talking about here. And the whole creation of God is waiting for the revealing of those children. He says, “For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope.” I mean that means God created this world and then it became futile. It lost its purpose. It lost its purpose because of Satan, it’s lost its purpose because of sin, and we’ve wandered around in this darkness for all these millennia, and we’ve done this because God said, “Nope, there’s a hope. In this, I want you to find hope.” It is in this experience that we have God show us faith, hope, and love. These are the virtues we learn.
He says, “Because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.” This is the focal point. This is the hope. This is what Christians live for. “For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. And not only that, but we also, who have the first fruits of the spirit,” that means Christians, “Even we ourselves grown within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.” If you believe, “Well, I’m a Christian because that means God is just going to give me everything I want, everything is going to be great and everything is going to be good,” then you’re misunderstanding something. We groan because we live in a world that is not God’s. We live in a world that is evil. We live in a world where we see others suffer and we are to suffer with them, we are to feel the suffering of the world, and we are to groan. And in this groaning, in this anxiety, in this pain, we see the future. And that’s why this is what he says next. Listen to this, “For we were saved in this hope. But hope that is seen is not hope. For why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.” You don’t hope for something you already have, you know? Oh I hope I get that promotion, and you get the promotion. The next day, you don’t say to everybody, “Oh, I hope I get that promotion,” right? You have it.
We are still hoping for something and because of that hope, it says here, Paul says, remember who is a man, he said, “There’s times I just feel pressed down but I never lose hope.” Why? He says, “You’re hoping and eagerly wait for it, eager for that future with perseverance.” We continue to move towards the future. That doesn’t mean you know everything in today is bad. God gives us purpose and there’s lots of wonderful, wonderful things in our lives today. But in all the suffering and pain we still see something out there and say, “That is where we’re going. That’s where we’re going.”
We skip down here, just a couple more verses in the same passage, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” We know that all things work for good, now He didn’t say every day will be perfect. He said all things work for good. There’s a future we’re shooting for. There’s a point where all this comes together. What God is doing comes together in your life and when that happens, it all comes together for good. And that means faith doesn’t always mean we understand why something is happening right now. We don’t. It does mean that sometimes we are like Paul, hard pressed, perplexed, persecuted, and struck down. This is a belief that God is involved. He cares for you and He will work out situations for your ultimate good. From here to there it may be tough but He gets us there because the hope of this ultimate good is fulfilled when Jesus Christ returns to set up God’s Kingdom on this earth.
Why am I suffering? Why do I have no hope? Why does it feel like my life sometimes is, it’s just filled with anxiety and fear? These are questions all of us have asked. I’ve asked them, okay? We have to be honest here. We’ve all asked these questions. That’s why you need to get your free copy of the biblical study guide “Why Am I Suffering?” Go to the scriptures and let God help you find the answers. And this study guide will help you discover God’s words of encouragement and the reason why there is so much suffering throughout the world. You’ll discover the source of your hope. Order your free copy of “Why Am I Suffering?” Call the number on your screen, or go online to beyondtoday.tv, beyondtoday.tv where you can download your own free copy.
Remember what the Apostle Paul wrote? “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Now the fulfillment of that good isn’t always in the immediate future. It’s not always right now and today because God has a greater purpose for your life than just what happens right now. He’s taking us someplace to a great future, anybody who wants that future, who wants to go there. You see God wants to give you hope in what He can do, not what you can do. You know sometimes that means letting us do things our own way and failing. Let me ask you. Are you tired of failing and living without hope? God wants to give you hope in everyday life, but that means we have to give up our own selfish ways and learn to become disciples of Jesus Christ. You know we have to learn to live by God’s commandments. Are you tired of putting your hope in the latest, get-rich-quick scheme, or living for the weekend? I mean is that your hope? Is your main hope is you’re living for the weekend? Is that what this life is all about? Is that what this life is all about? No, everyday has purpose because of a future. God wants to give you hope in that future. This means you have to put your life or give your life to Him and give up your current just silly priorities and standards, that’s all they are, and replace them with the priorities of the kingdom of God. It means becoming what I call, you’ve heard me say this in the program before, a theocrat. You know I’m a member of the God party and as a member of the God party, you’re living for the day when Jesus Christ rules on earth as King.
You know, I said at the beginning, do you want a world without war, a world without crime? Well that’s ridiculous, isn’t it? Well it’s not when Christ comes back. That’s the world we’re looking for. I mean are you tired of putting your hope in politicians who seem to always fail? Well yes because human beings will always fail. There’s only a way for that world that we want to happen because there’s only one who has the power to do it, and that is the Son of God who is going to come and establish that Kingdom. And that’s the hope. That’s what gets you through today. That’s what keeps you moving forward as a Christian. That’s why this hope is only a Christian hope. You can’t have this hope unless you’re a Christian because the source isn’t from you, and the source isn’t from politicians, the source isn’t from a self-help book, the source is from God and God alone.
You see there is a better way, a way of living every day in the expectation of a positive future. That’s what hope is. But this future is planned and carried out in your life by the Almighty God, if you want it. If you’re willing to repent, to give your life to Him, He will carry this out, and that’s the future He plans for you. And it doesn’t matter what poverty you’re living in now, what health issues you’re living in now, what troubles you’re living in now, because that future is there. Now to learn more about this positive future call right now, please do, and get your free copy of “Why Am I Suffering?” because you have to seek God to receive His hope. He’s the source. It’s the only place you can get it from. Order your free copy of “Why Am I Suffering?” Call the number on your screen or go online to beyondtoday.tv, beyondtoday.tv where you can download your own free copy.
I’m talking about hope today. All of us need hope, a positive expectation of the future. And you’re never going to find that hope in politicians, social movements, money, or fame. God has promised a future for all those who turn to Him. Jesus Christ is returning, not as a baby at a stable but as the King of Kings. And He is going to establish God’s Kingdom on this earth, and He is going to deal with poverty, and He is going to deal with war, He’s going to deal with crime, He’s going to deal with all the things that make us hopeless, including viruses. God’s Kingdom is coming. This is the hope of all those who have turned their lives over to God and this is a future worth hoping for.
[Narrator] Call now to receive the free booklet offered on today’s program, “Why Am I Suffering?” When tragedy enters your life it’s natural to ask, “Where was God? Where is God? And how could a loving, powerful God allow terrible things to happen?” Our free study aid, “Why Am I Suffering?” will give you the tools to deal with tragedy and to overcome fear. Order now, 1-888-886-8632 or write to the address shown on your screen. You don’t have to wonder about your circumstances or what the future holds. God promises to help Christians through the trials they face. Learn how you can use suffering to draw closer to God. When you order this free study aid, we’ll also send you a complimentary one year subscription to “Beyond Today Magazine.” “Beyond Today Magazine” brings you understanding of today’s world and hope for the future. Six times a year, you’ll read about current world events in the light of Bible prophecy, as well as practical knowledge to improve your marriage and family, and godly principles to guide you toward a life that leads to peace. Call today to receive your free booklet “Why Am I Suffering?” and your free 1-year subscription to “Beyond Today Magazine,” 1-888-886-8632, or go online to beyondtoday.tv.
[Gary Petty] Hi, I’m Gary Petty, a pastor with the United Church of God. If you’re looking for a church that encourages living what the Word of God really teaches, you’ve found the right place. We’re a community of believers dedicated to seeking the truth and preaching the good news of the coming Kingdom of God. We’d like to welcome you to come and join us on this spiritual journey. We have hundreds of congregations around the United States and across the world. Visit ucg.org to find a church near you. We’re looking forward to meeting you soon.