Today's guest preacher in Chinyere Brent, college student and member of Good Shepherd.
When have you personally felt all hope is gone? I will let you have a few seconds to think about it...
I have felt hopeless after I got jumped my sophomore year. I was jumped by four girls. I felt hopeless because I was scared. I didn’t want to go back to school, I wanted to change schools. It made me feel as if God wasn’t with me. Hopelessness makes you feel like everything is gone and your life is empty. I know everyone has had different experiences and has had different things happen to you throughout your lives.
In the gospel that was read today the Canaanite woman was on her last string of hope, when she saw Jesus she begged for him to come and heal her daughter. We have seen many examples of healing throughout Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. In all four gospels there are many examples of faith where Jesus heals people, such as, the blind man, the paralyzed, the woman who suffered from hemorrhage and so many more. Canaanites believed in many gods and goddesses. Not in the One and Only God or Jesus. So for her to beg for Jesus to heal her daughter, took a lot of courage and she had to loosen her pride. This woman was probably a proud Canaanite, that's all she knew. But for her, a Canaanite to kneel before Jesus it says a lot, by that I mean that kneeling is the utmost respect to a person. How do we tie this back into all hope is gone? Losing hope can seem like there’s nothing to hold on to, but as Christians we need to especially keep in mind that there will always be hope in Jesus. If the Canaanite woman could believe that Jesus was her only hope, then Jesus is definitely our hope.
We can say that our faith is frequently tested. When the Canaanite woman pleaded to Jesus, the response that Jesus gave was, he replied in verse 24, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel”. It seems at first glance that he was agreeing with the disciples when they told him to turn the woman away. But when we read the whole chapter it seems that Jesus used this encounter to challenge the disciples faith and understanding of his work and of their work. Jesus’ work is beyond just the work with the jews, but for everyone and anyone. This concept is something that Jesus instills in the disciples and in his followers. This will eventually lead to spiritual growth for both the disciples and the Canaanite woman, and honestly his followers as well. Jesus is being very clever and insightful in this story. He did not give in to the disciples request and he clearly wants to draw the woman into further conversation. Personally I felt her pain and suffering through the gospel reading. Jesus was her last and only hope. Because of her faith Jesus picked her up and held her and responded out of deep compassion to immediately heal her daughter.
I read the gospel several times and in discussion with Father Josh. I remembered that God does answer prayers. He answers them at the right time and sometimes prayers go unanswered because it is not what God wants for us or it's not the right timing for us. As stated in the book of Ecclesiastes Chapter 3, there is a time for everything. As a christian I believe faith and hope are two of the most important beliefs.
What is faith? For the people who want to know the definition: It's complete trust or confidence in someone or something. What is hope? It's a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen. Every human being has access to God’s love, God’s grace and God’s mercy. It is not meant for a few, is available for everyone. There is no secret club, it- is -free.
Facing the giants is one of my favorite movies: in this movie faith and hope are expressed. In this movie Grant Taylor, who is a football coach at a Christian highschool is facing many challenges. He and his wife have infertility problems, his football team, the Shiloh Eagles, for the last six years have never won a football season. He found out many parents were trying to have him removed as the head coach of the football. And on top of that his car would always die. In the midst of these challenges he prayed and asked God for guidance. The next morning God gave him a sign. Hope and Faith then blossomed. Grant inspires his team to use faith to conquer their fears and to glorify God whether their prayers are answered or not. This movie brings happiness, love and peace. And I encourage you to watch the movie.
As we are living with Covid-19 we are able to turn to Jesus and find the strength, the hope and peace to cope with this pandemic. We all have a responsibility to care for each other. We live in community and as a community we have to work together. Simple things like wearing a mask, using social distancing, which can minimize the spread of Covid-19 including death, pain and suffering. It is clear that the selfishness of a few people puts many lives in danger. Faith and hope will take us to the next level, but if we don't listen to the knowledge and wisdom that God has given the scientific community to overcome Covid-19 we will fail.
I would like to end with a little story that some of you may know. There was a man stuck on his rooftop in a flood. He was praying to God for help. Soon a man in a rowboat came by and the man shouted to the man on the roof, "Jump in, I can save you. The stranded man shouted back, "No, it's OK, I'm praying to God and he is going to save me." So the rowboat went on. Then a motorboat came by. "The man in the motorboat shouted, "Jump in, I can save you." To this the stranded man said, "No thanks, I'm praying to God and he is going to save me. I have faith." So the motorboat went on. Then a helicopter came by and the pilot shouted down, "Grab this rope and I will lift you to safety." To this the stranded man again replied, "No thanks, I'm praying to God and he is going to save me. I have faith." So the helicopter reluctantly flew away. Soon the water rose above the rooftop and the man drowned. He went to Heaven. He finally got his chance to discuss this whole situation with God, at which point he exclaimed, "I had faith in you but you didn't save me, you let me drown. I don't understand why!" To this God replied, "I sent you a rowboat and a motorboat and a helicopter, what more did you expect?" From this story we learn having faith and hope also means we need to be willing to listen and trust God.
Faith is complete trust or confidence in someone or something. And hope is a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.
God bless you! AMEN.