Beyond Hope

Some situations become hopeless. There comes a point when there is nothing more that can be done and all that was fought for lies shattered on the ground. This is the time “beyond hope”.

King David prayed desperately for his dying son. He pleaded for the child’s life with all he had. But God had decreed the illegitimate child of the King’s adultery would die. Once the child was dead, David rose from his intercessions and went back to normal duties. The matter was closed. It was beyond hope.

All Is Lost

Have you been in a situation where all is lost? Have you held out in hope, only to be bitterly disappointed by the outcome? Have you had to live with the aftermath of tragedy, where the hoped for help never came?

hopelessDespite the fact that such situations do occur, as King David experienced, it is not the only reality. There is another possibility where all is not lost. That is my focus in this lesson. Whatever you have been through in facing despair, I have an exhortation for you. Do not lose heart. Do not give up hope. It is possible for there to be hope, even when all hope is lost!

Hope Beyond Hope

It’s a contradiction to say there is hope beyond hope. But that is what the Bible reveals, and so, it is true. There is hope in God beyond the hopes of men. When men give up hope, others, who know their God, are able to yet press on in hope.

What man deems to be “hopeless” may not be hopeless at all. Man’s judgement is not the same as God’s judgement. Man’s ways are far inferior to God’s ways, which surpass human ways as the heavens are higher than the earth.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, says the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8,9

God is able to see the grand scheme of things and to intervene in the course of things outside anything that man would expect.

The Funeral

A young man takes ill, so the doctors are called. There is hope in the doctors. But the doctors find they can do nothing. Their interventions fall short of a solution. Hope fades. Then one comes along with herbal remedies. These are applied with the zeal of desperation. Hope has sprung again. But the desired effect is missing. The anticipated recovery does not come and the man drifts perilously closer to death.

Word comes that there is a religious man who has cured others. The man is called for and prays his prayers and prescribes the appropriate observances. Hope has sprung up again and the family follows the instructions religiously. But, as before, the intervention leads to nothing. The man lingers at death’s door for a time before stumbling through it and into oblivion.

All hope is now gone. They had reached the eleventh hour, and watched the clock tick to the final minute. Then, as that figurative clock struck twelve, there was no more time. Time had run out. The door of opportunity slammed shut.

clock2As the weeping widow followed her dead son’s body upon the funeral stretcher she was in abject despair. There was no one else to care for her in her state. Bitter tears of loss and fear were all she could muster. All hope, every single skerrick of it, was dead with the stiffened bones of her son.

Then Jesus Came

Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ, the Son of the Living God, chanced to be at that village of Nain that very day. He arrived in time to meet the funeral procession as it stepped its morbid journey to the grave.

Jesus stopped the procession, walked to the funeral bier and raised the dead son to life again. Resurrection overcame death and rejoicing overcame despair. Hope from God trampled in the dust the lost hopes of man and pointed to a whole new realm of possibilities.

The new hope “beyond hope” that we have is the hope of Jesus entering a situation and the power of God being released in miraculous proportions. “Then Jesus Came” is the catch-phrase that declares the foundation of faith and hope transcending the ticking clock of man’s perceptions.

God’s Way

God is not intimidated by the clock of man’s expectation. God does not need to act by 11:59. Man’s “midnight” may not be God’s calculation. In fact, it is often God’s way to mock man’s perceptions and bring something much better than an “eleventh hour” solution.

God’s solutions are able to be even more effective way past midnight, when the mourners have spent their tears and despair has numbed the land. Hope does not rely on the clock of human interpretation. God laughs at our measurements and delights to reveal that He is God!

Fiery Furnace

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego passed the hope of not being discovered. They were reported to King Nebuchadnezzar for not bowing to his idol. They went past any hope of mercy, when the King sentenced them to death. They passed the moment of God’s deliverance, when they were thrown headlong into the fire. All hope was gone. They had no mercy, no escape and no hope. They went into the full fury of the punishment prescribed.

Yet they had chosen to hope in God. “Our God will save us”, they declared. And they put in a disclaimer, just in case they were fried in the fire. They defied the King, even to the torments of death.

“Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods, nor worship the golden image which you have set up.” Daniel 3:17,18

The result, beyond hope, was a miracle of deliverance. What occurred was far more wonderful than being undiscovered in their faith, or being given clemency by the king. The more hopeless their situation the more glorious their deliverance. The miracle sprang from that time beyond twelve. The eleventh hour had elapsed, and so too had the next sixty minutes. The clock had struck its dreadful midnight. All natural hope was spent and gone. But supernatural hope prevailed!

Hope Abides

Hope is one of three enduring things. It is listed with faith and love as the three things which abide forever.

“And now three things continue: faith, hope, love; but the greatest of these is love.” 1Corinthians 13:13

Human hope dies. It dies daily. Hope in the doctors, the herbs and the man with a reputation falls flat. But hope in God endures. Faith in God endures. God’s love endures. And hope that is anchored in God has an abiding, enduring stamina. It is not undone by the circumstances, or by the ticking of man’s clock. Hope that is placed in God is not lost, even when the funeral procession is half-way to the tomb.

Abundant Testimony

Lazarus was dead and buried. Mary and Martha had no hope. Then Jesus came. Lazarus was called forth from the grave.

Daniel’s accusers had him trapped. The king who wanted to save him could not do so. The old man of God was thrown into the lion’s den. But that was not the end of the story. The lion’s were miraculously restrained and Daniel came out alive. The enemies met the lions on less restrained terms.

Jesus was dead and buried. The disciples were in fear and shock. Hope was gone and all were bewildered. Evil had won the day. But three days later, long past the eleventh hour, and way past the terrible midnight of the soul, Jesus rose from the dead and all of humanity was impacted.

Put Away the Clock

If your hope keeps one eye on the clock, then you are not hoping in God. God will reveal His glory and fulfil His word, whether your clock says midnight, or 3am in the morning.

Put your clock away. Put aside your hope in man and your trust in uncertain supports. Trust in the Lord, for that is where the blessing rests.

Allow me to add the element of “hope” to verses I have referred to in lessons before…

“Thus says the LORD; Cursed is the man who trusts (and HOPES) in man, and makes flesh his arm, and whose heart departs from the LORD. For he will be like the heath in the desert, and will not see when good comes; but will inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land and not inhabited.

Blessed is the man that trusts in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is. For he will be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreads out its roots by the river, and will not see when heat comes, but the leaves will be green; and they will not be careful in the year of drought, neither cease from yielding fruit.” Jeremiah 17:5-8

Adjusting the Settings

My first factory job had me chomping lengths of angle-iron in a metal fabrication shop. The boss would set the stopper on the old Italian cutting machine and I would either push the lengths toward the machine or pull the chomper handle once the length had been measured.

Wanting to make a good impression I worked hard and wore holes in the protective gloves. However the boss came out an hour later in a foul mood. We had pushed the metal so hard that the measuring mark had moved over time. We were now cutting lengths that were too long.

We were then taught how to check our lengths regularly and adjust the stopper if we moved it. Our pace was reduced, but our output was much more consistent.

And so it is with many processes. Machines and systems have to be recalibrated. Machines have to be put back to the manufacturer’s settings from time to time. It’s part of routine maintenance of most equipment.

Check the Settings

Parenting involves attention to the settings in our children’s lives. It is ours to determine the correct settings, put those settings into our child’s life, and then check the settings regularly, making adjustments as required.

Most parents, however, don’t even realise that they are responsible for the settings in their child’s life. Most don’t know what the best settings are. Nor do they know how to check the settings and adjust them. Consequently, most parents don’t realise that there are many people messing with the settings in their child’s heart and mind. That is why some families are completely surprised by the direction their child takes over time.

This series will open your thinking to this important process and give you some notion of how it works. You will be directed toward the best settings to follow and the best way to reset your child’s life to the settings you want them to follow.

First I need to get you thinking about the settings in your own life.

The Missing Printer

printerLast week we struck a problem when our laser printer went out of service. The reliable older machine no longer matched the newer equipment we used on a daily basis. An old laptop was our only means of activating the printer. When that old laptop gave up the ghost we were stuck.

My mind went to finding adaptors that would allow our newer computers to drive the reliable older printer. I called people who could help me and tracked down a store where I believed I could get the right parts.

Just before I set off to buy the needed adaptors my son pointed to a machine sitting on a shelf and asked, “Isn’t that a printer?” I had to look twice to confirm that indeed it was. I did not remember the machine even being there. It was more modern than the machine we had been using, but for some reason it had been put aside. I was able to get that machine working fine and our printer problem was solved, without adaptors.

Blind Spots

I would have sworn that there was not another printer in the building. But what is worse, I had looked at the shelf containing the waiting machine many times each week for the past few years. The printer was in my line of sight, but never registered in my brain. My eyes saw it, but my brain did not.

This relates directly to “settings”. I had deemed that printer to be of no value, due to a problem with the toner supply. Once my brain had accepted that setting it no longer saw the machine as a “printer” but simply as something to ignore. My brain did an excellent job of ignoring that equipment. I completely forgot it was there.

Settings in my brain determined how it processed information it received. My eyeballs regularly provided an image of the printer, but my brain relabelled the image as “irrelevant” and did not catalogue the machine among the things it bothered to remember.

My brain creates blind spots, based on the settings I tell it to follow.

Reticular Activating Device

Our Reticular Activating Device (RAD) is credited with being able to program our brain to see or not see certain things. Until something becomes significant to us we can be completely blind to it. Once we have our eyes “opened”, as it were, by being tuned in to something, we begin to see what we never saw before.

A crowd of people will look like a crowd of people to a casual observer. But someone looking for a pretty girl will have looked at the crowd differently. A security guard will have looked at the crowd differently again. An insurance salesman will have looked at the crowd with different eyes again.

Each person has their own unique “settings” which engage the brain in filtering information in a unique way.

Heart and Mind

The process of “seeing” involves more than just a mental process. Heart issues are just as potent as thoughts of the mind. They are probably more significant. Moral issues, motives and similar heart responses impact our ability to see, just as our mind does.

If someone accidentally spilled coins onto the footpath some people would rush to their aid while others rushed to get something for themselves. Some people reject the opportunity to steal, lie, cheat or be immodest, because of moral sensitivity in their heart. Others have no qualms about such things, because their heart is darkened.

Manufacturer’s Settings

Most machinery is supplied with the manufacturer’s settings installed. Changes can be made to those settings if required.

adjusting2Your role, as a parent, is to imprint the basic manufacturer’s settings into your child’s heart and mind. You are to ensure they have the correct settings and that those settings are not being tampered with.

Whether you like it or not, you are impressing settings into your child’s heart and mind all the time. Your attitudes, reactions, values, choices, words, daily routine, and so much more are pre-programming your child’s future.

Others, such as their friends, television programs, songs, teachers, and even strangers who cross their path, are also programming your child in one way or another. So parents, the task is “adjusting the settings” is your mission for the first decades of your child’s life. Get used to the idea.

And look out for further posts in on Adjusting the Settings, where I explain more about this important aspect of your parental responsibility.