Lana Elder

I'm believin'!

Always Have Hope

on April 1, 2012

With Easter coming up this week I felt God put a message on my heart to encourage you to always have hope and never give up on God.

I heard the story recently of a seminary student who was struggling to keep going. He was tired, exhausted and ready to give up. He fell asleep in class one day and didn’t wake up until everyone else had gone home—except his teacher.

His teacher gently woke him up and said:

“Go home, eat a good meal, get some sleep and don’t make any important decisions in the next three days.”

The student followed his advice, regained his strength, and is now leading a worldwide ministry.  He said his teacher’s advice was some of the best he had ever received.

Three days can often mean the difference between victory and defeat.

I think of the story of King David in the book of 1 Samuel.  From almost the moment that David was anointed by Samuel to be the next king of Israel, King Saul, the current king, wanted David dead. If you read in 1 Samuel 17, you’ll see that shortly after Samuel anoints David to be the next king, David kills the giant Philistine, Goliath.  From then on, King Saul seems to have it in his heart to kill David. Throughout the rest of the chapters in 1 Samuel, Saul pursues David in an attempt to kill him.

Life has got to be difficult when your king wants to kill you.  Can you imagine if the President or King or Prime Minister of your country wanted you dead?  But every time King Saul tries to kill David, God continues to protect him.

One of the most devastating times in David’s life takes place when David escapes to the land of the Philistines to avoid being destroyed by Saul. While David was gone on one of his fighting expeditions, the Amalekites raided Ziklag, the town where David and his men and their families had settled.  The Bible says:

“David and his men reached Ziklag on the third day. Now the Amalekites had raided the Negev and Ziklag. They had attacked Ziklag and burned it, and had taken captive the women and all who were in it, both young and old. They killed none of them, but carried them off as they went on their way.
 
“When David and his men came to Ziklag, they found it destroyed by fire and their wives and sons and daughters taken captive. So David and his men wept aloud until they had no strength left to weep. David’s two wives had been captured—Ahinoam of Jezreel and Abigail, the widow of Nabal of Carmel. David was greatly distressed because the men were talking of stoning him; each one was bitter in spirit because of his sons and daughters. But David found strength in the Lord his God” (1 Samuel 30:1-6).

I try to imagine what it must have been like to be David. God had anointed him to be the next king, but his life at first was nothing like royalty. King Saul was constantly trying to kill him—and then this happens. Everything David owns is burned and his wives have been captured. David and his men weep until they have no strength left. His own followers were now talking of stoning him. All hope seemed lost.

I think I would have given up. Looking at the situation from my human perspective, I would have said, “That guy Samuel the prophet was wrong. I certainly have not been chosen by God to do anything. Everyone is against me. God is not for me. If He were for me, my life would not look like this. I am just going to go back to tending sheep.”

Thankfully I’m not David. Instead, the Bible says, “David found strength in the Lord his God.” David didn’t lose his faith in God through all of his trials. If he had, we would never have known about one of the greatest kings this world has ever had. But David persevered. He inquired of the Lord and chose to pursue his enemy. Amazingly, they found an abandoned slave of an Amalekite who was left for dead because he was ill. The slave was able to lead David and his men to their families. The Bible says:

“David fought them from dusk until the evening of the next day, and none of them got away, except four hundred young men who rode off on camels and fled. David recovered everything the Amalekites had taken, including his two wives. Nothing was missing: young or old, boy or girl, plunder or anything else they had taken. David brought everything back” (1 Samuel 30:17-19).
 
Okay, now that’s why this guy is so famous! David was certainly known to be a fighter, and in this instance, he doesn’t disappoint us. In the very next chapter, just three days after David’s most intense battle to save everything dear to him and to those around him, he gets the news:  King Saul has died.  The Bible says:

“After the death of Saul, David returned from defeating the Amalekites and stayed in Ziklag two days. On the third day a man arrived from Saul’s camp, with his clothes torn and with dust on his head. When he came to David, he fell to the ground to pay him honor.
 
“Where have you come from?” David asked him.
 
He answered, “I have escaped from the Israelite camp.”
 
“What happened?” David asked. “Tell me.”
 
He said, “The men fled from the battle. Many of them fell and died. And Saul and his son Jonathan are dead” (2 Samuel 1:1-4).

In the next chapter, David becomes king of Judah, and eventually he becomes king over all of Israel.  What’s significant to me is that his life really changed in a matter of days—three days to be exact. I think of how downcast David must have been up to that point, “greatly distressed” as the Bible says, when his belongings were burned and his people were captured.  Then just three short days later he had it all back again, and not only that, but the king who had been pursuing him was finally dead. Life certainly was looking better for David.

This, of course, reminds me of another story in the Bible when things didn’t look too good, but God turned things around in a miraculous way—in just three days. It’s the story of Jesus.

Jesus was a man who, much like his great ancestor David, was destined to reign as king.

As the angel told Mary in Luke 1:32-3:

“He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David, and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever; His kingdom will never end.”

I wonder how His mother felt on that day the angel visited.  And then I wonder what she must have felt on the day she saw him crucified. Here was her beloved son, destined to be king, yet hanging dead on a cross. How could this be? All hope seemed lost.

But for God, time is relative.  Hope is eternal.

Jesus had a lifetime of doing incredible things here on earth.  He healed the sick.  He raised the dead.  He walked on water.  He encouraged people to forgive and to do what is right.

He told stories to encourage people to use their gifts and talents today, not worry about tomorrow, and not to judge others. He talked about what were the most important matters of the law, like justice, mercy and faithfulness.  He criticized hypocrisy.  And yet with all of His miracles and powerful teaching, there were still leaders who wanted Him dead. They pursued Him much like King Saul pursued David to try and kill him. And in Jesus’ case, they succeeded—or so it seemed.

But just like David, Jesus never gave up His faith in His heavenly Father. Jesus trusted His Father to do what was best, even when He was carrying His own cross to His death.  Jesus prayed:

“Father, if You are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but Yours be done” (Luke 22:42).

Jesus, just like David, “found strength in the Lord His God,” even spending His last night on earth in deep and earnest prayer.

And His Father did not disappoint Him.  Even though it may have looked hopeless, hope was never lost.  It never is.  Even after Jesus’ death on the cross, hope was just around the corner.  Three days later, Jesus rose from the dead!

Jesus’ death on the cross turned out to be part of God’s plan.  As Jesus Himself said:

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

I wanted to tell you these stories to encourage you that hope is eternal.  Even when things may seem to be at their worst, God can turn them around in a matter of days, hours, or even a moment.

You may be a seminary student and ready to give up.  Don’t!  Go home, eat a good meal, get some sleep and don’t make any important decisions in the next three days!

You may have thought you were destined for great things in your lifetime, but now you’re hiding in caves.  Even the king seems out to get you.  You may think it would be better if you just gave up your dreams and gave in to despair.  Don’t!  Don’t lose hope now, as God’s most important miracle for your life may be just around the corner.

You may be facing an impossible situation, one that seems irreversible, incurable or unchangeable.  You may be ready to give up on God altogether, perhaps even considering turning away from Him for the rest of your life.  Don’t!  I can’t guarantee you what the outcome will be, but I can guarantee you that God will always be there for you, if you’ll keep putting your faith in Him.  Never give up on God.  As David said in the Psalms:

“Wait and hope for and expect the Lord; be brave and of good courage and let your heart be stout and enduring. Yes, wait for and hope for and expect the Lord” (Psalm 27:14, Amplified Bible).

Let’s pray…

Father, I thank you that we can always come to you even when all hope seems lost. You always have a plan and you know what’s best. Help us to trust you in all things.  Whether it’s three seconds, or three days, or three years or more, help us to trust You today and every day until we see what You have in store for us just around the corner. In Jesus’ name, Amen.


6 responses to “Always Have Hope

  1. Richard says:

    You may not be David, but you certainly demonstrate the strength and perseverance of a Mighty Warrior of God! The message that you just shared is one of the most dramatic messages of God’s love, compassion, mercy, and hope that I have ever read! God is certainly using you in a mighty way Lana. You are an inspiration to all of us!

  2. Sharon Herrington says:

    Lana, All who read this can see that our God is speaking to all of us through you. His love for us all is shining through you. And knowing what you are going through at this time shows us how real your love for our Lord is and how real His love for us is. Thank you for sharing Him with us. We all need Him. You are a great example of what Mother Teresa has said: “I am a little pencil in the hand of a writing God who is sending a love letter to the world.” Except I do not consider you a little pencil but a mighty PENCIL! I am going to share this message with others who it might help also.”You are loved with an everlasting love” and ” underneath are the everlasting arms”- that’s what the Bible says. Praying for you, your friend in Jesus, Sharon

  3. Dasheni Emmanuel says:

    Hello Lana

    you are such a blessing ! you will reap 100 fold and your healing is coming. wow you really made my day i so enjoyed reading this passage and i took so much encouragment from it.

    thank you kindly
    Dash E

  4. Lana,
    I felt God’s power as I read this message…. Thank you for allowing the Lord to use you while you are facing such personal challenges to encourage me today. You are an amazing woman!
    I pray for your healing daily. As we enter Holy week, that time we, His church, celebrate those three days of waiting for His power to be made manifest by bringing life out of death, May you be touched in a way you will never forget by that same resurrecting grace.
    He is never late, Lana.
    Love to you, always
    Danese XO

  5. Philip Bayer says:

    That was an amazing message that was much needed for me to hear. Its so basic and we all know it but when things get tough sometimes we can lose track of his plan. Thanks so much for sharing and I hope the Lord continues to use you as a blessing. I pray the Holy Spirit continues to fill your heart with love and hope.

    Philip

  6. Jim Dumas and Leila Dumas says:

    We must always remember that if Jesus is our Lord and Savoir, our hope is guaranteed.

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