Stay on the Road, Please.

“Life is pain, your highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something.”

The Princess Bride

How’s that for some encouragement? But also, how true can this quote be? No one wants to come out and say it this way because then you’re a cynic and a Scrooge, or grumps, or a negative Nancy.

But the fact of the matter is, life is tough. Hard to understand, impossible to explain. Why do some things happen? What is the deal with all the awful stuff going on? Why do I hurt? There are so many questions I need answered, but can’t seem to find them.

If you allowed it, you could work yourself into a tizzy thinking about this.

Life is tough.

There is pain.

We all deal with things.

We were even warned about this in Scripture:

In this life, you will have trouble….

John 16:33 (make sure you read the entire verse to get some encouragement)

So listen, life is difficult. It is hard enough as is. If there are things we can do to prevent adding to the difficulties we face in life, why not do them? As Christians, it should be a driving force for us. Do what we can to give perspective, encouragement and hope.

There is a sickness in this world right now, and I have learned the diagnosis:

Lack of hope.

Lack of hope is a pervasive sickness, destroying anyone in its path if untreated for a long period of time. The Bible literally tells us lack of hope makes us sick. It hurts our body, soul, mind, spirit and heart. It makes us internally sick.

Hope deferred makes the heart sick….

Proverbs 13:12 NASB (once again, read the rest of the verse for the encouraging part)

This is a terminal illness if not properly treated. But there is good news; we have the antidote and it guarantees 100% survival.

Want to know what it is?… It’s hope.

This time in life has been difficult for many reasons. Reasons that lead to our lack of providing the antidote to this world (I will touch on this later). I think one of the scariest things about this year has been lack of connection with other humans. Connection is at the core of things we need in our lives. Isolation is the enemy of connection.

Isolation is one of the worst sentences we could receive, because we have been wired for connection and intimacy with other humans. Take that away, and hope quickly leaves.

I say all of this hopefully to bring light to the fact people are seriously struggling right now and we ALL need to be aware and do our part to inspire hope.

People are struggling and our job as Christians, as HUMANS, is to inspire hope! When hope lacks or is non-existent, a sickness grows in our minds. When there is nothing to look forward to, it can become easy to lose hope.

Which brings me to my main point today.

There is a bigger picture we all need to be aware of we are currently ignoring. The bigger picture is there being a lack of hope in many people today and too many of us are hanging out “in the ditches”.

Did you get my metaphor? No? Let me explain.

There are differing opinions and viewpoints on a lot of things (everything really) and, honestly, everyone is entitled to their own convictions, viewpoints and opinions.

But life is a two-lane road. You can have people going in opposite directions, but they are “still on the road”. Different opinions, but still able to drive and get somewhere and do so right next to someone who may disagree with them. Doesn’t matter, they are still on the road.

But too many of us are going so far off “the road” we are hanging out in the ditch.

The far left. The far right.

Democrat. Republican.

Mask. No mask.

Blah, blah, blah.

Doesn’t matter what the topic is, we are so polarized in this country no one is “driving on the road” anymore. And if you are, people will pressure you to get into this ditch, or that ditch. Because now, YOU HAVE TO PICK A DITCH. Roads are for the wishy-washy, right?

I am tired of it for this reason: it does nothing to inspire hope in people, and HOPE is the one thing we all need right now.

You have every right to your own opinion (it is honestly one of the best things about this country), but our time on social media has allowed us to say things without accountability, where things are easily misinterpreted and comes out incredibly polarizing. When you are in the ditch, it doesn’t really matter how you drive, because you’re already in the ditch. But when you are on the road, you have to be aware of people in your lane and in the other lane. To drive on the road, there has to be a lot more care.

Quick summary:

  • Life is very hard at times
  • Hope is lacking (or absent) in our world
  • We have chosen to go off-road (into the ditch instead of the road)
  • Inspiring hope is what will heal lack of hope.

I understand there is much to be frustrated about. And I promise you, I have been frustrated, confused and angry about many of the same things you have. But what good does it do to share only on those things? What good does it do, honestly? Do you think someone from DC is going to check your Twitter or Facebook (or MeWe and Parler) and be like, “Oh, this person knows what they are talking about. Let’s bring them in to solve all the issues.” Not likely. So really, you’re just complaining without offering solutions.

If you have read this far, thanks. If you are angry with what is being said, hate to say it, but I don’t care. Jesus is the hope of the world, and as Christians, Christ-followers, emulators of Christ, we should do similar things He did. Like inspiring hope.

Have your opinions still, do your research, have conviction with what you believe. But can we please change our tune? I think everyone would agree there is a lot of issues in our world today. So why continue to shout about the problems? How about we fix what we can. And I know which problem you can begin to fix right now that is within your control:

INSPIRE HOPE!

How do you inspire hope? Simple! Let me give you some suggestions and ideas:

  1. Say Encouraging Words: We did this at our small group last week, and it was one of the coolest times of encouragement. Loved it. And it is super simple, just start saying nice things about them.
  2. Reach Out: As I said earlier, we humans tend to hide our ugly and put on our “best self”. We may not always know when someone is struggling. Don’t wait until they are struggling to reach out. Call, text, email, video chat or show up to the people you have connection with. We never know what each person is struggling with.
  3. Change Your Tune: Even if you are not a Christ follower, I think it is safe to assume you would enjoy life in a world full of encouragement and good things right? In that case, check the words coming from your heart and through your mouth and fingertips, and ask yourself one simple question: will this give hope to people? If not, may be don’t say it and just write in on a piece of paper instead. (And then throw it away)
  4. Fix Your Perspective: The world is not getting darker, people are simply dimming their light by releasing more negative than positive. We need to get ourselves up above our current situation and look at the bigger picture.

I hate that there are people who feel completed isolated right now.

I hate that there are people considering suicide.

I hate that depression and anxiety affect so many people.

I may not be able to fix everything, but I know I have the power and ability not to add to the issues. I choose (and I hope you will too) to inspire hope as often as I possibly can! I will be encouraging, I will reach out to friends and family, I will be aware of the things I say and type and I will realize life is bigger than the things we are currently seeing and facing today. My hope is in Jesus Christ, and my job is to show, and be, that hope to as many people as possible, because each person created is a child of the Creator. God loves His children, don’t you think we should too?

To wrap this all up, I would simply ask for each of us to take a hard look at what we are putting out there and consider not saying or typing some things if they are negative, critical, unloving or narrow-minded. We need to realize how serious lack of hope is and the awful repercussions that come from it. Especially when this is something we can actively fight and conquer! Instead of driving in the ditch, let’s get on the road and realize life is bigger than we we see right now.

Speak life. Be encouraging. Inspire hope. Because:

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but desire fulfilled is a tree of life.”

Proverbs 13:12 NASB

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