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October 3, 2017

Restoring Hope: Part 2

“The LORD took hold of me, and I was carried away by the Spirit of the LORD to a valley filled with bones. He led me all around among the bones that covered the valley floor. They were scattered everywhere across the ground and were completely dried out.” Ezekiel 37:1-2 (NLT)

How can God restore hope when all hope is gone? If I am going to move from hopelessness to hopeful, I must stop running from my pain and turn to God.  It’s amazing to me, particularly among people of faith, how often we live in denial.  We stuff our pain and act like it’s not there.  We are afraid to acknowledge it, thinking it won’t sound spiritual. Grief and loss is painful!  It hurts.  We think sad is bad. Sadness is part of the human process.

In Ezekiel 37, we find that God doesn’t save Ezekiel or the people of Judah from sorrow and pain. In verses one and two, Ezekiel said,

The LORD took hold of me, and I was carried away by the Spirit of the LORD to a valley filled with bones. HE LED ME all around among the bones that covered the valley floor….”

Three times, he gives emphasis to the fact that it was God who led him through this valley. Ezekiel and the people of Judah were scattered and suffering.  They had lost all hope and felt like their nation was finished for good!  It was painful.  A valley of dry bones!  But, God was about to restore their hope!  How?  By helping them confront their loss.  They had to stop running from their pain and turn to God.  We must do the same.  What am I saying?

Release your grief; don’t repress it.  If you try to stuff it, it will just come out in some other way.  It may be with chronic pain, high blood pressure, migraines, heart disease, or any number of other psychosomatic illnesses.  What do you do with traumatic losses in life?  Here’s what Jesus said to do:

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”  Matthew 5:4 (NIV)

If you want to go from surviving to thriving, you must stop running from your pain and turn to God.  God made tear ducts for a reason.  Feelings were meant to be felt.  Jesus said you are blessed when you grieve your losses.  There is no expiration date on grief!  I’ve discovered through some personal, painful losses that you will never get over them, but you can get through them with God’s help. The Psalmist tells us,

Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for You are close beside me. Your rod and Your staff protect and comfort me.

How do you get through those dark valleys in life?  You keep walking!  Don’t stop.  The Psalmist said,

“… when I walk through the valley….”

You will never get over it, but you will get through it!  Of the 150 Psalms in the Bible, 50 of them are Psalms of complaint and lament. So, stop running from your pain and turn to God.  And, if you are with those who are sad, it’s not your job to cheer them up.  When my wife is hurting, it’s not my job to make her happy but to feel her pain and to be understanding. The Bible simply puts it like this,

“… Weep with those who weep.” Romans 12:15 (NLT)

This is the first step for restoring hope.