Jesus, His Message of Hope

I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry.  He drew me up from the desolate pit, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure.  He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God.   (Is. 40:1-3)

My seminary invited many guest preachers.  Most of those preachers and most of their sermons I don’t remember.  But one preacher and one sermon I’ll never forget.

The first time this man was scheduled to preach, he didn’t get there.  A few days before his expected arrival, his wife had been killed in a car accident.

A year later, he did come.  Instead of getting into the pulpit with a formal sermon, he just stood in our midst without notes.

He stated:  “I was supposed to have been here a year ago. I couldn’t come because I’d just lost my wife. This past year has been really hard. I was afraid of losing my faith. I despaired of life itself.  I came this year because I’ve something to tell you.  I hit bottom, and I discovered that the bottom is solid. I also found out that I wasn’t alone at the bottom.  God was there.  God knows bottoms.  God knows how to lift us out of them.  I’ve come to share this message of hope because someday you might need it.”

I heard that sermon nearly 40 years ago. I’ll never forget it because those words have spoken to me with great power on many occasions when I felt like I was going down, when, in fact, I’d hit my own bottom of despair, loss, and grief.

Today I encourage us to believe that this preacher spoke the truth.  I want us to trust that the bottom is solid and that we’ll not be alone at the bottom.  Jesus is there.  Jesus knows and will share our bottoms.  And Jesus will not leave us there.  The bottom isn’t our end.  The Lord will indeed “Set [our] feet upon a rock,” and the Lord will also “put a new song in [our] mouth, a song of praise to our God.”

Reflection Questions:

  1. Have you ever hit bottom? If so, when and what were the circumstances that drove you there?
  1. At your lowest and bleakest times, did you know that your bottom was solid and that someone met you there? If that hasn’t been your experience, how do you explain that you survived?
  1. If indeed you hit your bottom and knew that Jesus was there for you, what is the “new song” you have been given to praise God? Are you singing it, sharing it, living it?

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