Monday, 23 September 2019

God gives us hope amid our despair

WRITERS, philosophers, poets and singers down the centuries have spoken about the futility of life without God.

“Life is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” Shakespeare.

“Life is but an empty dream.”

Longfellow.

“Life is made up of sobs, sniffles and smiles, sniffles predominating.”

O Henry.

Samuel Beckett once described the sense of futility in Waiting for Godot:

“Life has no reasons;
A struggling through the gloom
And the senseless end of it
Is the insult of the tomb.”

Many express the same emptiness when there seems to be no God, no final answers, no true meaning, no real explanations.

This may be why there is so much apathy and disillusion in our world today. Why bother to stand in the queue as though life makes sense?

On the other hand, if there is a God the picture changes dramatically. If there is a God who made us, who loves us, who understands us, who has a purpose for our lives, who is ultimately in control of this world (in spite of the mess we often make), and who can give real answers to the questions of life and death, mankind’s whole outlook is transformed.

It is no surprise that Christians and Jews cherish the Psalms in the Bible. Psalm 23 ends on a wonderful note of hope and encouragement, both for this life and for the future:

“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

In the one verse there is both encouragement to face the challenges that life throws at us (knowing we are not alone) and hope for eternity. Both rest on the same thing — the love and care of God.

The psalm pictures the Lord as a good shepherd who guides and provides for his flock and who guards and protects us when we come under any threat.

No wonder a different attitude to life is encouraged when God’s role is recognised — one of hope and confidence, not resignation or despair.

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