helley O’Brien runs a hotel in Yale, Michigan, a small town north of Detroit. She is making headlines because of her offer to women who live in states where abortion is restricted: if they come to Yale, “we will support you with several nights lodging and transportation to and from your appointment.”
O’Brien likens her support of abortion to the Underground Railroad that was used to lead slaves to freedom. “I have three granddaughters, two great nieces and a lot of other women that I care about, and I don’t want any of them to die in back-alley abortions,” she added. “And I don’t want any of them to ever have to proceed with a pregnancy if they don’t want to. . . . People aren’t perfect, and people shouldn’t have to die for their mistakes.”
But babies should?
A $50 million trip to space
NASA has announced that private tourists can travel to, stay on, and return to earth from the International Space Station. For around $50 million, you can spend thirty days in space. But the fallen world you left will be waiting for you when you come back.
I live in Dallas, Texas, where a ferocious storm toppled a crane Sunday afternoon, falling on a downtown apartment building and killing a twenty-nine-year-old woman. Yesterday morning, giant tree branches littered our neighborhood. More than 100,000 people are still out of power this morning.
Former Red Sox star David Ortiz was transported to Boston early this morning after he was shot in a Dominican Republic club Sunday night. A helicopter crash-landed on the roof of a high-rise building in Midtown Manhattan yesterday afternoon, killing the pilot. Officials say there is no link to terrorism.
And an airplane passenger opened the emergency exit door after mistaking it for the toilet. Fortunately, the plane was still on the ground. Unfortunately, the exit slide deployed automatically and the flight was delayed by seven hours.
The power of hope in hard times
If my car breaks down, I blame the manufacturer. If my roof leaks, I blame the roofer. If my laptop crashes, I blame Apple.
When our world breaks, it’s only natural to blame its Creator.
But Christianity has never guaranteed its followers that their lives would be easier as a result of their faith. The opposite is true, in fact: “In the world you will have tribulation,” Jesus warned us (John 16:33). “Tribulation” translates the Greek word for a weight that crushes grain into flour.
Such suffering is not occasional for believers: “We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22 NKJV, my emphasis). That’s because we live in a culture that has rebelled against its maker and is now dominated by Satan, the “god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4).
What Jesus did guarantee is that he would redeem all he allows. Henri Nouwen: “Our hope is not based on something that will happen after our sufferings are over, but on the real presence of God’s healing Spirit in the midst of these sufferings.”
Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” was so painful that he pled three times with God to remove it (2 Corinthians 12:8). But the apostle heard from God instead: “My power is made perfect in weakness” (v. 9, my emphasis). His hope was found, not on the other side of hardship, but in its midst.
Choosing the “Way of Holiness”
But there’s a catch.
For us to experience God’s best in hard times, we must choose a lifestyle that positions us to be led and used by his Holy Spirit. When we choose the “Way of Holiness” even in the wilderness (Isaiah 35:8), the Spirit sanctifies us (1 Peter 1:2), leads us (John 16:13), empowers us (Acts 1:8), and equips us for ministry (Acts 2:4).
As Oswald Chambers noted, “The Holy Spirit is the One Who makes real in you all that Jesus did for you” (my emphasis).
Such holiness in hard times can be our most powerful witness. As Paul and Silas sang songs of worship at midnight in prison, an earthquake broke their chains and their jailer was converted (Acts 16:25–34). When John Wesley encountered Moravians worshipping during a terrifying storm, their faith helped lead him to a saving relationship with Jesus.
To quote Chambers again: “You can never give another person that which you have found, but you can make him homesick for what you have.”
“Search me, O God, and know my heart!”
When David found himself confronted by enemies (Psalm 139:19–22), here was his prayer: “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” (vv. 23–24).
What hard place is your address today?
Would you make David’s prayer yours right now?