Living with hope and faith even when life hurts

Posted Jan 14, 2022

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Daily Scripture

Romans 8:22-25

22 We know that the whole creation is groaning together and suffering labor pains up until now. 23 And it’s not only the creation. We ourselves who have the Spirit as the first crop of the harvest also groan inside as we wait to be adopted and for our bodies to be set free. 24 We were saved in hope. If we see what we hope for, that isn’t hope. Who hopes for what they already see? 25 But if we hope for what we don’t see, we wait for it with patience.

Reflection Questions

The apostle Paul faced many tests of his faith (cf. 2 Corinthians 11:22-28). Today’s passage showed that he had moments of doubt as the apparently indestructible Roman Empire opposed the message of Jesus. Clearly, he couldn’t “see” the Roman emperor accepting Christianity 300 years later, much less today when over 1 billion people identify in some way as Christian. But he chose to live “with patience” in his hope for God’s invisible better world that he (and we) cannot yet see fully realized.

  • What was the favorite gift you received this Christmas? Would you tell anyone you’re still hoping for that gift you received? Of course not—you have it. In a much bigger way, that was what Paul meant when he asked, “Who hopes for what they already see?” But there is still brokenness and pain in our world. What helps you, like Paul, to anchor your spiritual hope in God, and live with patience and trust for God’s full restoration of our broken world to its intended wholeness?
  • What hopes of yours has the pandemic put on hold, or forced you to give up completely in this world? The editor of Kansas City magazine listed questions he asked doctors for this month’s issue, like “Is it okay to use the term ‘post-pandemic’? Do viruses actually tend to grow milder with mutations, as some experts say?” * What questions or doubts do you carry into 2022? How can the Spirit’s presence help you anchor your hope beyond today’s problems and limitations?

Prayer

Loving Lord, I want to trust you. I need to live in your hope. Go with me into this new year, that I may face none of its days entirely in my own strength. Amen.


* Martin Cizmar e-mail about the January 2022 issue of Kansas City magazine. Copyright 2022 © Kansas City magazine.


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Leah Swank-Miller

Leah Swank-Miller

Leah Swank-Miller is Director of Student Ministries at Resurrection Overland Park. A Kansas native, she has been a professional actress for the past 15 years, and she loves to see the vastness of God’s creation through theatre and the arts. Leah is pursuing an M.Div. from Saint Paul School of Theology. Leah, Brian, and their two children love to play tennis, golf, soccer, and board games.

Doubt is an interesting thing. It’s uncomfortable and confusing, amplified by painful situations and outcomes. But it’s necessary for growth. Beautiful discoveries can be made when doubt isn’t shamed away but instead acknowledged, seen, and heard.

Paul was acknowledging his doubt and questions in a time when he knew the Holy Spirit was guiding him to bring the church forward to greater things. He had no idea how many souls would be forever changed by the life-giving, heart-healing gospel of Jesus Christ. He received the mighty love of Jesus, knew that love to be true, and hoped for that truth to spread amid persecution and uncertainty. His words give light and hope because of the questions with which he wrestled.

I struggle with doubt. I doubt my worth and question how God could use me in the midst of my constant shortcomings and fickle nature. In my lowest of times, I have circled the drain on my faith, questioning God’s love and purpose for me and this world. Are you familiar with those times, when the darkness is closing in and you wonder, is God even there? I’m a youth pastor. I can’t have doubts like this, can I? How do I lead a youth ministry through a pandemic when I don’t even know how to navigate it myself?

If there’s one thing I’ve come to know through the pain and suffering of a global pandemic, it is that it’s good to ask those questions, to have those doubts. It’s good because questions mean you care. I’d rather care than have apathy. Apathy is the death of discovery--it’s giving up.

Dear readers, don’t give up on the creator of the universe. Don’t become apathetic to the One who knows your heart better than you do and loves you more than you’ll ever know. We spend our lifetimes asking questions and discovering all the different ways and to what magnitude God loves us, whether we always feel it or not. The more we discover about God’s love and goodness the more we release that love and goodness into the world. We do this so it can look more like God’s kingdom here on earth. This we hope. We cannot see it, but we hope. And in the meantime, we keep asking questions and discovering God’s mysterious, perfect, unconditional, and unending love. So, ask those questions friends. Don’t be ashamed. You’re safe here.

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