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January 14, 2015

How to Process Hope When We Hear Disturbing News

by Dave Malnes

The disciples gather around the table to prepare to eat another supper. But, this was not going to be an ordinary meal. Jesus was going to share some shocking news that will rattle their faith and confuse these men who have faithfully followed him throughout Galilee.

How Jesus leads them to respond can serve as a great example for us when we are confronted with disturbing news.

In the gospel of Mark, Jesus tells his disciples that he is going to horribly suffer for the sake of the world. This was to be the work of the Messiah as the prophets declared long ago. To add to their shock, Jesus revealed that a disciple sitting among them will betray him. With great sorrow, Jesus extends the bowl from which the betrayer would dip his bread.

evening_shadows_380a291c2045ffc3b5e013e784fe40aaJesus then announces a new covenant from the result of his body and blood. The Lord’s Supper is instituted and carried out for the first time. Remember my words. Trust my presence. Your sins are forgiven. Go in peace.

While still gathered around the table, the disciples sing a hymn before they went to the Mount of Olives (Matt 26:30).

We wonder what hymn they could have sang that night.

Many theologians have discussed and researched the possibilities. It seems highly probable that Jesus and the disciples could have sung the second half of the Hallel Psalms (115-118) which were commonly used to conclude the Passover meal. We can picture the disciples responding to the words with great faith and hope during this time of great uncertainty.

And so can we.

prayerJesus leads by singing, “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good!”

We respond, “His love endures forever.”

Jesus: “Let those who fear the Lord say:”

Us: “His love endures forever.”

Together: “In my anguish I cried to the LORD, and he answered by setting me free. The LORD is with me, I will not be afraid.”

When immediately confronted with difficult circumstances or challenging news, we can respond appropriately by crying out to the Lord and he will set us free.

Instead of being spiritually crippled, Jesus “sets us free” from fear, worry, or anxiety.

The Hebrew word for “free” can mean “spacious place” or “meadow.” The word means to be set away from the darkness of a thick forest and placed in a comfortable area that provides both safety and freedom. With this understanding, we can trust that God has placed us in a safe place despite the looming darkness of a thick forest filled with despair and worry. We are safe because He is with us. He is our strength, he is our song, and he is our salvation.

praiseWe can never truly know the will of God or his plans for our life. But whatever the plan may be, we trust that it’s all for good.

When disturbing news hits us like a blast of cold, rainy wind, we can respond by singing the same words of the disciples on the night Jesus was betrayed and hung on the cross on behalf of the entire world. It is a song of trust, a hymn of thanksgiving that God is always with us.

Picture Jesus singing, “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.”

Preying-or-prayingUs: “His love endures forever!”

Jesus: “The Lord is with us, He is our helper.”

Us: “His love endures forever!”

Jesus: “You are my God and I will give you thanks.”

Us: “His love endures forever!

Jesus: “You are my God and I will exalt you.”

Us: “His love endures forever!

Jesus: “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good!”

Us: “His love endures forever.” (repeat softly and often)

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