Good morning brothers and sisters! I’m sure all of us have experienced a really emotionally difficult last week with the passing away of our brother. Even as we are grieving with Punit’s family and all of you, do pray that God would give us the grace to share His heart.

As elders as we were trying to figure what to share, we arrived on this topic of Hope. Every person on the face of this earth (believer OR unbeliever) is living by some kind of ultimate hope. Either it’s a hope for a better life in the future.

Either it’s a hope to be happily married to someone. Either it’s a hope to get a well paying, stable job.  Either it’s a hope to buy a nice home someday. Or it’s a hope to move to another foreign country and settle there. These hopes drive our lives.

These hopes control our goals and ambitions in life. And so as we were trying to answer this question – what drives us to a point of utter despair? The answer isn’t actually a lack of hope but the fact that we’ve been trusting in a false hope. This false hope promises alot, but it never really delivers. And that’s why we despair.

In the background of all that happened this week even as we are dealing with grief and many unanswered questions in our hearts, I want us to ask ourselves “What am I hoping on? What is driving all the decisions that I make in my life? What am I hoping for which will give me true happiness?”

Even as we are thinking through the question, the Bible actually offers a real lasting hope called “Gospel Hope”. Let’s try to understand that through the passage from Psalm 42.

1. Gospel hope helps us to acknowledge the brokenness in our lives

Many times we imagine people filled with hope as people who are always happy, calm and unmoved by the sin and suffering in their lives and around them. But that’s a false picture & I want to tells us that Gospel Hope actually is quite different from that – it acknowledges the brokenness and is not in denial of the brokenness. In this very Psalm we see different ways in which the Psalmist acknowledges his brokenness:

A) Acknowledging the distance with God

As a deer pants for flowing streams,

    so pants my soul for you, O God.

My soul thirsts for God,

    for the living God.

When shall I come and appear before God? (v1,2)

I think many times we interpret this passage as a call to be desperate in our relationship for God but also when I read the context I realized that his desperation was because the Israelites were exiled away from their land as a result of their idolatry and sin.

We know that in the OT – access to God and God’s presence among them was signified by the Jerusalem temple. And now when they are exiled and in a foreign land as captives, there is this dryness that the Psalmist is experiencing in his relationship with God and he longs to come back to God’s Temple to relate and worship God more deeply. 

Now this is pre-cross in the OT, but let’s recognize the principle that true Gospel hope frees us to be able to acknowledge the season of dryness and emptiness in our souls. We don’t have to be in a perfect-believers to be able to have Hope.

This past few months I’ve experienced dryness and emptiness multiple times in my relationship with God. But I usually play that down by telling myself – at least I’m reading my Bible, at least I’m ministrering to other believers in the church, at least I’m sharing this with other believers so I think that’s alright.

But I would often forget is that we can honestly pour out our own dryness of our souls before a God who hears & responds. In fact as we will see later on, this Gospel Hope is what restores and rejuvenates our dryness.

B) Acknowledging the distance with God’s people

4 These things I remember,

    as I pour out my soul:

how I would go with the throng

    and lead them in procession to the house of God

with glad shouts and songs of praise,

    a multitude keeping festival.

As the Psalmist is looking backwards, he remembers that time when he was one of the main worship leaders leading God’s people into the temple. And now as a result of being in exile and displaced from their land as a result of the people’s sin, he now longs for the faith community. Right now as a result of the pandemic, the fact is that we’ve been displaced from our normal pattern of meeting together and fellowshipping with each other. And yes, it’s quite possible that a result of this lockdown and the sin of our hearts that loves isolation, that we can experience a distance with God’s people. It’s important to acknowledge that but also let this psalm encourage us to pray and cry out with longing to God – asking God to once again open the doors and means for us to meet together, sing worship songs together, break bread together, cry with each other, hug each other, encourage each other & challenge each other in the Lord. And even right now if we are experiencing that distance, ask God to redeem that and create avenues to enjoy genuine fellowship in this season. I would say in our Gospel Community, we have actually seen more openness and vulnerability in these last 5 months than prior to that. God is able to redeem this season for you and me.

C) Acknowledge our pain & helplessness within

3 My tears have been my food

    day and night,

5 Why are you cast down, O my soul,

    and why are you in turmoil within me?

7 Deep calls to deep

    at the roar of your waterfalls;

all your breakers and your waves

    have gone over me.

The Psalmist isn’t hiding his pain and helplessness. He’s not pretending to be alright when he’s not. He’s not in denial of the troubles that are overwhelming him.

How does that kind of transparency and vulnerability come about? And I think that’s possible when we realize that we are not self-sufficient, all-knowing, all-powerful and ever-present. It happens when we realize that God is God and we are not. And I feel like that’s counter-cultural for many of us. We’ve grown up and been trained in a culture where expressing any kind of pain and helplessness is looked down upon. So we are tempted to live our Christian lives that way – we wear our best clothes on Sunday and put on our best smile on Sunday and we sugar coat the pain and helplessness that we experience through the week. And this prevents us from getting the help that we need from God and from each other. Gospel Hope tells us that God knows everything about us – He knows our sins & our weaknesses that we will playout through our entire lifetime & yet He sent His Son to come after us. We can be absolutely honest with God – something I feel in this season that God is pointing my heart towards.

4) Acknowledge Hostility from the outside

while they say to me all the day long,

    “Where is your God?” (v3b)

10 As with a deadly wound in my bones,

    my adversaries taunt me,

while they say to me all the day long,

    “Where is your God?”

It’s not always pain that we experience pain from within but sometimes it comes from the outside. Sometimes the taunts of the world (maybe it could be family members that are unbelievers, it could be colleagues at work or college, or it could be some hostile neighbours) which can hurt & affect us.

Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted (2 Tim 3:12) We see out here that is invariably going to happen to every true believer in Christ. But as we acknowledge our weakest moments before God, the Lord’s presence will be more intimately revealed to us.

In the book of Acts, it’s amazing to see the journey of Paul from being a murderer zealous for the Jewish traditions to now being a follower of Jesus zealous for God’s glory. After his conversion, we see him boldly proclaiming the gospel to big and small people alike.

It didn’t matter how many people or who all persecuted him, he continued to boldly preach the gospel. But I love the fact that Scripture also tells us of moments of vulnerability like in Acts 23. After spending time in a Jerusalem prison, facing multiple hearings and fierce accusations, at that low point of discouragement, there this amazing verse in v11 The following night the Lord stood near Paul and said, “Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.”

Right across Scripture – whenever God says “Take courage” – it’s a response of care and encouragement to His people who are discouraged. That should encourage us to not hide the pain of hostility and opposition to a Lord who stands near us and encourages us!

But not only does Gospel Hope help us acknowledge the brokenness in our lives but it also

2. Gospel Hope helps us express our doubts and despair

9 I say to God, my rock:

    “Why have you forgotten me?

Why do I go mourning

    because of the oppression of the enemy?”

Sometimes when we read the Psalms, it surprises us with the kind of candid, open questions of doubt and laments. “Why have you forgotten me? One might think that’s not the way we talk to God and yet this is part of Scripture.

I think the reason behind this lies in the phrase “I say to God, my rock”. Rock was a symbol of security and refuge. And I think the reason why the Psalmist feels open enough to express this is because of the security in the relationship with God.

There is so much of security in the relationship, that allows the Psalmist to express what he is thinking and feeling.

Now we know that not always do our thoughts and emotions accurately reflect and respond to the character of God. But I find it astounding that God would create a space for us to express that and reason with him.

God tells Isaiah in Isa 1:18 –“Come now, let us reason[c] together,

This is an amazing truth because God really delights in our relationship and wants to relate with us as personal beings. We are not just robots following orders but we are created for a deep, intimate relationship.  There’s security in our relationship with God to express what is in our heart and mind. The end goal in our relationship is not for us keeping ranting to God, but grow in intimacy.

And that’s why we meditate on Scripture daily & walk with God, because He will use all that to shape our hearts to be able to pray more in line to His heart and character.

Because of the great security that we share with Christ- “no one will snatch them out of my hand.” (John 10:28), there can be greater room for honesty in our relationship with God.

We don’t have to go through a filter process to figure which question, which doubt, which thought deserves to be shared with God. Allow God to filter that through Scripture and the Spirit’s work in your life.

But not only does Gospel Hope help us acknowledge the brokenness in our lives & not only does it help us express our doubts and despair

3. Gospel hope is hope because it is centred around God

11 Why are you cast down, O my soul,

    and why are you in turmoil within me?

Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,

    my salvation and my God.

This is the main thing – brothers and sisters. When we encounter a season or multiple seasons of despair, let’s remember that the solution will be found not in any false hope in the world:

not relationships,

not our family,

not our jobs,

not our bank balances and

not even our pleasures

– they are all going to leave us empty & shattered. The only solution that will help us is the permanent and objective Hope of the Gospel.

When we look at v11, the Psalmist is not saying “Put your hope in God and everything will be fine “hopefully”. It’s not optimism or positive thinking. He says “Hope in God – for I shall again praise him (in the Temple courts), and the reason for His Hope is because He knows His God and He knows what His God can do.

We recognize that the pain, grief and despair we experience is a result of what happened in the Garden of Eden. It’s not the way that God had designed our lives to be.

When we think about what happened to Punit, that was not how God intended for His life. We know that all of this is a result of the darkness that is there inside our souls and also in our world.  We are all broken.

It’s so amazing that instead of leaving us in our state of brokenness and self-destruction, that the Son of God Jesus makes His entry into this broken world to introduce us to Gospel Hope.

Take a look at the description of Jesus in a prophecy that was made hundreds of years before his birth:

He was despised and rejected[b] by men,

    a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief

and as one from whom men hide their faces[f]

    he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

4 Surely he has borne our griefs

    and carried our sorrows;

yet we esteemed him stricken,

    smitten by God, and afflicted.

5 But he was pierced for our transgressions;

    he was crushed for our iniquities;

upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,

    and with his wounds we are healed.

Here is our God not alien to the world of despair and grief, but He Himself experienced the full impact of the brokenness. And then as a response to fix the brokenness and reverse what had happened in the Garden, He gave up His life on the cross for you and me & rose victoriously from the grave on the third Day – to get us our Gospel Hope and healing not for a few years but for all of eternity.

Today we stand in the middle of that Story post cross and pre-Jesus’ Second coming.  And that’s why it is a Certain, objective, permanent Hope. If God can step into my broken world and sacrifices His own life to rescue me, then I know I can live in Gospel Hope.

23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. (Heb 10:23)

Can our God ever be unfaithful? No.

Can our God lie? No.

Can our God change His promises & plans according to what is convenient? No.

Because He is our Faithful God,

we can now have Gospel Hope which will never disappoint us. Even in our weakest of moments, God is still faithful. Even in our struggles with sin, God is still faithful.  Even if we are humiliated and hurt, God is still faithful. Even if we lose our job and our money, God is still faithful. Even if the whole world deserts us, God is still faithful. If you have surrendered your life to Jesus Christ, if He is your Hope, then know that your story will not end in brokenness but on the Day when Jesus comes back again we will be made perfect, like our Savior.

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