June 24, 2016

How to Have Hope in Tough Times

I have been obsessing about seeds lately. Why? I’m buried under a load of mental darkness--like a seed. It’s hard to “breathe”, and it’s hard to imagine the light in the world above me. How can we believe in the light when we’ve always lived in a world of darkness?

Seeds are symbolic, really. They are a perfect example of how all can seem forever dark and lost. In actuality, the unattractive seed will eventually break open and become a plant that will provide shelter, beauty, or food. The seed will not transform into anything until it is buried.

You are planted, not buried; there’s a difference.

“Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.”—John 12:24

New growth only comes from being planted in the ground. A seed isn’t buried, it’s planted. There’s a difference. Something actually buried doesn’t continue to function and grow. However, a seed deep in the ground is still alive, and it continues to grow. Seeds need the nutrients of the soil to live. In the same way, we usually grow in the dark times. We don’t learn and progress when our life is easy. For that reason, breakthroughs often come during our darkest hours. 

Miracles come at the end of all hope.

Luke 5:1-11 includes one of the accounts of the miraculous catch of fish on the Sea of Galilee. This is the time when Jesus called his first disciples: Peter, James, and John. It was early in the morning. Peter and his friends were just coming in from an unsuccessful night of fishing. They hadn’t caught a single fish all night. Jesus asked Peter to throw his fishing net out on the right side of the boat.

Peter told Jesus that he and his men were exhausted and ready for a break, yet he agreed to throw his net out again, as instructed. “When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat [James and John] to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink.” (Verse 6) At that point, Peter acknowledged Jesus’ divinity, and Jesus called the three friends and business partners to be disciples.

Please notice that Jesus didn’t perform the miracle until all rational hope had been given up. (Otherwise, it wouldn’t be a miracle, would it?) Peter, James, and John had been fishing without luck all night. They were done with fishing. They were already packing up their gear. On the other hand, Jesus wasn’t done; he was just beginning.

Quotes on Dealing with Tough Times by Joel Osteen:

“You gotta go through it to get to it.”
“The brokenness is only temporary.”
“An exclamation point is a question mark straightened out.”
“People don’t determine your destiny; God does.”
“God knows how to get you where you need to go.”
Tell yourself things like “New growth is coming my way.”

My Conclusion

If you’re like me, you often feel buried under the weight of the ups and downs of life. It’s dark. You’re suffocating. You want to claw your way to the top, especially if you’re claustrophobic or asthmatic. Actually, you are planted, not buried. Like a seed, you need the soil and darkness in order to grow. In time your shell will burst open, and you will produce beautiful fruit and blossoms. You couldn’t do that if you remained a seed, could you?

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How have you sprouted new life?

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