Hope for others

Listen to this song by the band Third Day.  

My life is full of stories of people who stepped in to support me in the lowest moments. I will be honest and say that I am someone who enjoys positive affirmation and sometimes even needs it in order to thrive. Affirming and encouraging words have made significant impacts in my life.

But there is one time I remember quite clearly. I was in a spiritually low moment, thinking and believing not for the first time that I had blown it and God was done with using me!

Have you ever been there?

I was working in a coffee shop at a church and a new guy on the ministry team that I hadn’t met came to order a drink.

He approached the counter and asked ‘Is your name Paul?’ it took me aback that he even knew my name, but then he said something even more direct: ‘I had a dream about you last night, can I share it with you?’

We sat down and he explained this dream he had, a dream of HOPE, a dream of compassion and a dream that God was not through with me. That conversation led to a friendship that restored my belief in myself as I became vulnerable and honest about my failings, fears and hurts. That friendship made me more whole than I had ever felt before. His commitment to me, his journeying with me transformed my life.

Jesus carries the cross

Read Luke 23:26-32

The cross is the central symbol of the Christian faith and on his final journey to his death Jesus was forced to carry the cross upon which he would be crucified. Jesus, already weakened by beating, was weighed down by the physical burden of the wood. Christians believe that Jesus also 'carried' the weight of the world’s evil to the cross with him.

There are many different types of burden, but all of us have burdens to carry. Some are visible and some only we know about. Our burdens can weigh us down, especially if we have to carry them alone.

Question: How did Jesus feel? Embarrassed? Humiliated? What happens when we feel embarrassed or humiliated?

‘Deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me’

As he travelled towards his crucifixion, Jesus was surrounded by a hostile, angry, jeering crowd. Seeing that he was stumbling, the soldiers pulled an innocent bystander from the crowd and forced him to carry Jesus’ cross. All we know about him is that his name was Simon, and that he was an immigrant.

Question: Had one of the soldiers taken pity on Jesus, or had Simon stepped forward in an act of mercy towards a stranger?

Either way, Simon took the burden of the heavy cross and his support enabled Jesus to continue his lonely journey. Kindness, particularly from strangers, is unexpected and can make a huge impact on our lives. 

Jesus identifies with our weakness, our vulnerability. He is helped by a stranger.

‘When you do it for the least of these, you do it for me’ Matt 25:40

Question: How easy do we find it to accept help when we need it?

As he continued his journey Jesus came across some women – perhaps his mother and her friends, and others who had followed him. They were weeping as they watched him struggle. But he said to them 'Do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and your children.' He knew that there were times of terrible suffering coming their way.

In the middle of his own terrible pain, there was a moment of compassion shared between Jesus and the women. Sometimes, even when we are hurting, we can share in the hurting of others.

Sometimes all we can do is to weep with those who weep. To mourn for the pain of others. This is all the women can do for Jesus. They cross the boundaries, braving the soldiers to empathise with his pain. 

Question: How easy do you find it to look beyond your own challenges and struggles and see others who are struggling?

It is hard to imagine at this time of incredible grief, pain and suffering there was HOPE. HOPE for the whole of humanity in the suffering of Jesus. So whatever you are going through today, know there is HOPE for you. 

HOPE can be hard to find, but it is always there. As we enter into the fourth week in Lent I want to give you some challenges for the week to help us find HOPE and share HOPE with others. 

Actions:

  1. Do something kind and generous for someone you know who is struggling today.
  2. If you are struggling in any part of life, identify someone you would be willing to ask for help and ask them! 
There is nothing more beautiful than someone who goes out of their way to make life beautiful for others

Mandy Hale