"Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy." Psalm 126:5....."No matter how hopeless your situation, how difficult your struggles, how distant your exile - or, to be more specific, no matter how painful your divorce, your bankruptcy, your unemployment, or your disease - in one way or another, God will bring you back. How do we know? Because that's what God does." Chris Tiegreen
Pain, suffering, loss, death, in all forms, is a part of everyone's life. It's a reality that can't be escaped, so it's imperative that we know a greater Reality in the midst of it all. Plans collapse, desires go unfulfilled, dreams die. The consequences can be, are, crushing. Our world is shaken, and sometimes those shakings can seem to be unending. Like Job, bad news can be followed by even worse news. All visible support has crumbled. All visible hope has disappeared. Yet Scripture calls us to be "prisoners of hope." That's not possible unless we're living in the greater Reality. The reality that He is Lord, that He is sovereign, that He is intimately aware and involved. That where we are is not where we'll stay. That He does not leave His own to die in the wilderness. One way or another, He will bring us back. The prisoner of hope knows this. Because of this knowledge, the prisoner of hope can press on.
In that awful first year of the loss of my marriage and ministry, "bad to worse" was the theme of my life. I was beset by trial after trial. I didn't know where I would go, or what I would do. One sub-zero night on a church campground, I sat, desolate, in a small cottage and read from His Word. Paul wrote of how, on his first defense before Caesar, none stood with him, but that in the midst of that reality, a greater Reality took place; Christ stood with him. As I read that, though alone, I knew that He too stood with me. Words cannot describe the feeling of being lifted above all of it, and hope gone was now hope restored. More trials would follow, more of the reality of a life in a fallen world would come, but every time, the great Reality that is Christ would arrive. New wine. New life. New hope would be given. One way or another, He always brought me back. He still brings me back.
There is a deeper, greater truth to be found in this great Reality that is the Three in One God; His workings and ways are not all about here and now. He works to bring upon and through us, a "greater weight of glory." This world is passing, though so many try to grasp what can't be kept. We were created for eternity, and what we walk through here is part of the equipping. I can't say that every hope, every desire, every dream in this life will come to pass. I can't promise that every loss of this life will be restored. What I do know is that none of those lost dreams, hopes, and desires can keep us from being brought back to what He means to accomplish in our lives in this present "reality," and the greater reality, eternity, that we've been created for. Nothing, for the believer, the prisoner of hope, is final. Not even death. As a pastor once told me in the midst of my sorrow, "His best wine is always yet to come." The prisoner of hope is always looking ahead to the reality of His best wine. The enemy of our soul may seek to convince us that wine has been lost forever. The Father brings us back to it. How do we know? It's what He does.