Thursday, August 7, 2014

Could your hopelessness be part of God's plan?

Image Curtesy by Stuart Miles/
I was inspired to write during a recent Sunday morning sermon, as my pastor spoke on Luke 24:13 - 'The Walk to Emmaus'. If you are familiar with the passage, you know that it is a story of two men who are taking a journey from Jerusalem to Emmaus and unknowingly have a conversation with Christ along the way. The two men leave Jerusalem confused and hopeless concerning Christ's death, but arrive enlightened with newfound hope and understanding after Christ reveals to them the truth of His death and resurrection. The message of this story is typically the same, spun from different voices, however one particular verse kept jumping out at me that brought a whole new light to the passage. 

"And we had our hopes up that he was the One, the One about to deliver Israel. And it is now the third day since it happened." v. 21

More specifically on my mind, is the second part of the verse which reads, "And it is now the third day since it happened". Seemingly insignificant, these words would be easy to scroll over without a second thought. However, every single word in the Bible is significant and of importance and this short phrase is not excluded . In fact, I have noticed that the phrases that don't seem to make sense in the passage sometimes have the most awesome part to play in the story! I feel this way about these words. They have haunted me since I read them. I can see the two men, heads hanging, utterly devastated. Enter Jesus
So why do these words have such significance? It is common in Jewish culture to believe the soul of the dead hovers over the body for three days, making resurrection possible. However, after those three days are over, it is believed that the soul departs. These men had most likely been desiring or expecting Christ to rise within those three days and once the those three days were gone - so was their hope. Now here they are, totally and completely lost. Their spirits are crushed and any reveries of a king, sitting on a throne, bringing them deliverance from their physical oppressor are lost. 

Be patient with me, however, as I say that I believe their state of devastation was right where Christ needed them to be.  Up until this part of the story, His plan had been molded into their plan, in a form that made sense to them and was possible without divine intervention. Their hopelessness is good and is a much needed means to an end, an end that will benefit them tremendously. They were so intent on believing they knew how things should play out, that they never would have been able to see they were missing the forest for trees - if He hadn't set those trees on fire - so to speak. I can see Christ patiently waiting until the moment their human hopes were out of the way, so that he could step in. Perhaps he even walked by them - invisibly - until that precise moment that they hit pure hopelessness, then BAM! he appeared, ready to do His thing.

You see, sometimes God has to peel apart our fingers and loosen the grip of the hope to which we cling, so that He can then replace it with Him - allowing us to see that what we have been holding to, so strongly, is false. And would you blame providence for this? For the momentary breaking of one's heart, ideals and plans, in order to show us what He has is real. Not better, but real...true. 

Christ does not offer better hope, He is hope. 

So, as I reflect on these two men, I see the importance of complete reliance on Christ. Had they not had to set aside their assumptions and focused on Him, they wouldn't have ever known that true salvation was coming for them - not just a physical deliverance from bondage, but an eternal salvation for their souls!  They found a hope that day that isn't based on circumstances. It goes beyond that. Beyond pain, confusion and frustration. These men, and their famous journey, are a beautiful picture of how our crushed dreams and lost hope aren't necessarily an end, but the beginning of a journey that holds more than we could ever dream of for ourselves. 

"But as it is written, 'Things which an eye didn't see, and an ear didn't hear, which didn't enter into the heart of man, these God has prepared for those who love him.'" 1 Corinthians 2:9 World English Bible