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And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.  Romans 5:8 (NLT)

Over this past weekend a missionary couple who our church supports came to share and minister during their furlough in the US. They are serving in the Democratic Republic of Congo. If you’re wondering (as I was) what it’s like to serve as a missionary in the Congo, here is some text taken from the Presbyterian Mission website:

The Democratic Republic of Congo, a country roughly one quarter the size of the United States, has been ravaged by conflict. The havoc wreaked by the rebellion that ousted the dictator Mobutu Sese Seko in 1997 and the following war to topple President Joseph Kabila have been aggravated by internal and regional inter-ethnic sentiments. After two civil wars the country is left with a devastated infrastructure and economy. People throughout the country struggle daily for survival. Despite these circumstances, the church in the DRC continues to faithfully bear witness to Christ’s good news through their multifold ministries.

We’ve experienced an increase in the number of families who attend FPCC that have come to the US from the Congo due to the factors listed in the previous paragraph. This made the past weekend especially relevant as our Congolese community added their voices to the discussion of mission work in their native land.

The message yesterday morning centered around hope; a worthwhile subject considering the backdrop of the Congo. Rev. Bob Rice (one of the missionaries) shared that serving in the Congo is difficult because they often feel a sense of hopelessness. A paraphrase of the first part of the message is this: Will the fighting ever stop? Will children stop dying from malaria and typhoid? Will teenagers be able to receive an education and subsequently obtain a decent job?

I found the entire message deeply moving because he related that so often we can look at the landscape in front of us and wonder if things are ever going to get better. I’ve been there; sometimes arriving at the place because of the actions of others and sometimes as a result of my sin. Either way, it’s a desolate land filled with worry, doubt, fear, and (for me) a pervading sense of isolation. So what do we do when we are in that place? Here’s the word from yesterday to remember:

Hope is a gift
To receive hope we believe

We can’t manufacture hope on our own. It is a gift from God that comes as we endure trials and tribulations – believing that He is the God who saves. Another way to frame this is that if we continue to believe in God’s faithfulness and His power at work in our lives, even through the season of darkness and trials, hope is the byproduct of pressing in and trusting in a God who loves us. And this hope, to quote Romans 5:8, does not disappoint.

If you’re in the slough of despair this week, I pray that you’ll continue to believe in God’s goodness. If you’re not in the pit, then pray for someone who is. May hope arise more vibrantly in and around us as God fills our hearts with His love.

Til next time,