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May, 2001

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Hope in Times of Hopelessness
by Leonard J. Pellman

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When tragedy strikes, cries go out to God. In March, 2001 we saw it all over the network news -- hundreds of people praying , including school administrators who are normally castigated if they are observed praying . . . right on the grounds of Santana High School! In such times of tragedy and despair, those with a strong faith cry out to God for comfort. Those with weak faith or no faith at all cry out, "Where was God when this happened?!"

That was the question on hundreds of lips Monday, March 5, 2001, when a young man gunned down 13 of his classmates and two school employees at Santana High School, near San Diego, California.

My wife spent the following day counseling with the victims of the shooting. In particular, she met with the mother of one of the boys who was killed. In the course of a long, emotionally-draining meeting, my wife learned something about the young man that allowed her to give a grief-stricken mother hope for her son's future. Yes, hope for a future for a young man who had just been killed the day before!

About a week before the shooting, that young man had been with some friends who had been talking to him about their faith in Jesus Christ, and how it changed and guided their lives. During that conversation, the young man prayed to receive Jesus Christ as his savior! If the Christian faith is true -- and I am convinced that it is -- that young man indeed has a future . . . a future of eternity in the loving presence of God.

In the Bible (Jeremiah 29:11, NASB), it says, "For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for calamity, to give you a future and a hope." Yet, being murdered at school certainly does not seem like "welfare" or "a future and a hope." To us, it seems unquestionably more like a "calamity." But, this young man had just placed his faith in God, and that faith carries with it a promise of eternity in heaven. We weep and say, "God, I don't understand." And God says, in effect, "Trust me, for I know the plans that I have for you . . . " A week before a schoolmate would take his earthly life, God indeed had a plan for that young man's future, and by His grace drew him to salvation through a profession of faith in Jesus Christ.

Faith is easy to have when everything seems to be going well. We can smile and say, "Look how God is blessing me!" But, when things seem to fall apart for us -- when disaster strikes at our own doorstep -- our first reaction is to cry out in rage, "I don't deserve this!" Our next response is to ask, "Where was God when this happened?"

God was there, just as He has always been. But, the fact is that we live in a fallen and sinful world. And when people do bad things, real people suffer -- good people; not just evil ones. Real people -- good people -- are robbed, beaten, murdered, discriminated against, ravaged by war, starved during famine, and suffer every possible tragedy. The only difference is whether those people have a hope for a life beyond this one. That is the truly great hope! Certainly, we also have a hope for God's guidance and sustenance in this brief life. But, our greater hope lies in spending an eternity in which " . . . He shall dwell among them, and they shall be his people, and God Himself shall be among them, and He shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there shall no longer be any death; there shall no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain . . . " (Revelation 21:3-4, NASB).

If you don't yet have that hope, and you would like to know more about it, please feel free to e-mail me personally or call me.  I will not force my faith on you, but if you want or need more information about the hope that comes from a faith in Jesus Christ, and why I am convinced that it is a real and certain hope, I would be happy to discuss it with you.

The Bible has even more to say about hope, value, and power. To read about it, click here

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2003   Leonard J. Pellman

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