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Jan 06, 2024 367 Ellen Hogarty, USA
Encounter

Hope in Dark Times

No matter how bad the tough times, if you hold onto this, you will never be shaken.

We live in very dark and confusing times. Evil is all around us, and Satan is doing his best to destroy society and the world we live in. Looking at the news for even a few minutes can be very disheartening. Just when you think it can’t get any worse, you hear of some new atrocity or wickedness in the world. It’s easy to get discouraged and to lose hope.

But as Christians, we are called to be a people of hope. How is that possible?

I have a friend who is originally from Rhode Island. One Father’s Day, his kids got him a hat with a picture of an anchor and Hebrews 6:19 embroidered on it. What was the significance of that? The Rhode Island state flag has an anchor with the word “hope” written on it. It is a reference to Hebrews 6:19, which says: “We have this hope, a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters the inner shrine behind the curtain…”

The book of Hebrews was written to people suffering great persecution. To acknowledge that you were Christian meant death or suffering, torture or exile. Because it was so hard, many were losing faith and wondering if it was worth it to follow Christ. The author of the letter to the Hebrews was trying to encourage them to hang on, to persevere—that it was worth it. He tells his readers that hope based in Jesus is their anchor.

Solid and Immovable

When I was in high school in Hawaii, I was part of a program that taught marine biology to students. We spent several weeks at a time living and working on a sailboat. In most of the places we sailed to, there was a dock or pier where we could tie the boat up securely to the land. But there were some remote high schools that were not located near a harbor or bay that had a dock. In those cases, we had to use the boat’s anchor—a heavy metal object with some sharp hooks on it. When one drops the anchor into the water, it hooks onto the bottom of the seabed and prevents the boat from floating away.

We can be like boats, tossing and floating about on the tides and waves of daily life. We hear about a terrorist attack in the news, shootings in schools and churches, bad court rulings, bad news in your family, or natural disasters. There are a lot of things that can shake us and make us feel lost and full of despair. Unless we have an anchor for our souls, we are going to get tossed about and not have any peace.

But for an anchor to work, it needs to be hooked onto something solid and immovable. A boat can have the strongest, best anchor available, but unless it is hooked onto something secure and firm, that boat will be swept away by the next tide or wave.

Many people have hope, but they put their hope in their bank account, in the love of their spouse, in their good health, or in the government. They may say: “As long as I have my house, my job, my car, everything will be fine. As long as everyone in my family is healthy, all is well.” But do you see how shaky that can be? What happens if you lose your job, a family member gets sick, or the economy fails? Do you lose your faith in God then?

Never Swept Away

I remember when my dad was battling cancer for the last few years of his life. It was a stormy, turbulent time for our family as with each new checkup, we alternately heard good news or bad news. There were trips to the ER, and he was even airlifted once to another hospital for emergency surgery. I felt very tossed about and on shaky ground as we watched my dad suffer and get sicker and weaker.

My dad was a strong, devout Christian. He spent hours each day reading and studying the Word of God, and he had taught Bible studies for years. It was tempting for me to wonder where Jesus was in all of this. After hearing another bad prognosis, with my soul feeling wrenched by this latest stormy report, I went to a church to pray.

“Lord, I’m losing hope. Where are you?”

As I sat there quietly, I began to realize that I had been putting my hope in my dad’s recovery. That’s why I was feeling so shaky and insecure. But Jesus was inviting me to put my hope, my anchor, in Him. The Lord loved my dad so much more than I ever could, and He was with him in this difficult trial. God would give my dad what he needed to run his race well until the end, whenever that was. I needed to remember that and put my hope in God and in God’s great love for my father.

My dad passed away at home a few weeks later, surrounded by love and much prayer, tenderly cared for by my mom. He died with a gentle smile on his face. He was ready to go to the Lord, looking forward to seeing his Savior face to face at last. And I was at peace with it, ready to let him go.

Hope is the anchor, but the anchor is only as solid as what it is connected to. If our anchor is secure in Jesus, who has gone through the veil ahead of us and is waiting for us, then no matter how high the waves get, no matter how wild the storms around us are, we will hold steady and not be swept away.

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Ellen Hogarty

Ellen Hogarty is a spiritual director, writer and full-time missionary with the Lord’s Ranch Community in New Mexico. She blogs at cacklescorner.com.

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