Tragedy: From the Valley of Trouble to the Gateway of Hope

“I will return her vineyards to her and transform the Valley of Trouble into a gateway of hope.” Hosea 2:15

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It’s no surprise that tragedy is happening in our world today. All you have to do is look at the news, or even social media, to see it. In the past month or so, we’ve had multiple hurricanes, a mass shooting, a shooting of a police officer on a college campus, extremly damaging fires, and I’m sure there’s more. We live in a broken, hurting, and lost world. It is not hard to see that.

It has been really amazing to see how people have responded to these tragedies. And I want you to know, that is what these are. It’s not normal and we should never approach a place where we normalize these circumstances. Although a tragedy, it has been amazing to see people carrying others out of multiple feet of water, hear stories about people putting others above themselves and how naturally it kicked in, and how people have really come together through these awful circumstances. It’s truly amazing the response we, as humans, citizens, friends, family, and strangers have had during these moments.

That’s the thing about tragedies, everyone comes together. Everyone stands on the same side. Everyone works together. Everyone puts aside their differences for the cause of helping one another. It’s inspiring. It’s encouraging. It’s what we should be aiming to achieve all the time. But why can’t we?

I’ve heard it said before how disheartening it is how fast we forget about a tragedy if we weren’t directly impacted by it. We mourn and post a sympathetic post about it..then a week goes by and we aren’t talking about it anymore. This is very unsettling. These are people’s lives being impacted…and what if it was you? How would you want others to treat something terrible that happened to you? I think, however, it should be more disheartening how much it takes for us to get to a place where we choose love.

It takes awful circumstances for us to willingly choose to love one another. When someone loses a loved one, we all come around the family and friends and offer love and support. When someone loses their job, we offer encouragement and hope. When someone gets diagnosed with a life threatening disease, we surround them with hope, love, and encouragement. It’s natural for us to tap into those skills and emotional support when bad things happen. But…what about in our normal every day lives? Does this apply?

As I mentioned earlier, it is not hard to see how broken our world is today. That’s exactly it, our world is broken. We are all broken, including myself. We are surrounded by broken people every single day. Think about it…your co-workers, your family, your friends, your neighbors, the people serving you at restaurants, yourself, the list could go on and on. We’re all dealing with things, fighting battles that no one knows about, and waiting for someone to choose love for us. And not just to choose love, but to love well. Our world is dying to be loved.

Look around you. Everyone is trying to be noticed, appreciated, cared for, etc. Look on social media at the fight for likes, selfie after selfie, constantly seeking attention and love. Look at women, starving themselves, spending way too much money on clothes, having procedures just to look the part so that they can feel loved and wanted. Look at the men falling into addiction to pornography to hide their desire and need to be loved. We can all think about our life and see the places where we are letting it show that we need love.

The good thing about this realization is that we, as humans, were created for love. God created us with community in mind. He created us and commanded us to love one another. This isn’t a coincidence. It has meaning behind it. The problem is that we aren’t choosing love day in and day out. Instead, we choose selfishness, pride, greed, guilt, shame, and all these characteristics that simply won’t do any good. I’ll be honest, love isn’t always an easy choice to make. I can agree with you on that but that doesn’t discredit the impact it could make on a hurting people. What our world needs, what we need, what you need is more love. I know it sounds cliche and corny, but I’m being so serious.

This topic holds near and dear to my heart. I love to love broken people. It’s one of my passions and one of the many reasons why I chose the career path I chose. I want to be able to say that I loved broken people, when no one else would, and that I loved them well when it’s all said and done. Even though this is my heartbeat, I can still admit that I struggle to apply it to my everyday. It’s easy for me to apply it in youth ministry or at the jail with broken teenagers or hurting inmates. It’s not as easy to choose at my school, in my community, or even in my own home at times. Sometimes we forget that every area of our lives needs to be coated in love. We love where we see necessary and neglect other areas that maybe don’t seem as broken. Although, as I mentioned earlier, we have the opportunity to love the broken every single day. Everyone deals with things, everyone is tempted, and everyone hurts from time to time. We have an opportunity to love others each day. So, why aren’t we?

I think one of the biggest reasons is because we have come to point where we don’t think it’s okay to feel. We have almost made it seem abnormal to hurt, deal with pain, or feel any emotion that isn’t positive. We convince ourselves that it’s not that bad or that someone has it much worse than me. Honestly, what good does that do? Someone will always have it better and worse than you, but that doesn’t discredit your feelings. So often we sit in our feelings, or we hide from our feelings, or we ignore them, whatever the case may be and this is not healthy. This just makes things worse. We were made to feel emotions, hurt, and cry. It’s not negative, it’s normal.

This is where loving one another comes into play. If we chose love more often, the need to hide would disappear. The need to suppress any negative emotion would disappear. We would be able to walk in freedom from our emotions instead of letting them control our every day lives because we are trying to handle them all on our own. What if we had people around us who chose to love well? It would make a huge difference.

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Now, I want to take time to explain love. Love isn’t just affection and mushy gushy stuff. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, one of the many times love is described in the Bible, gives us an awesome example of what love looks like. Love is patient, kind, not jealous, or boastful, or proud, it doesn’t demand its own way, it keeps no records of wrong, it doesn’t rejoice over injustice, but it rejoices when the truth wins. This is what we should be aiming for in our daily moments with others. This is what we should be modeling.

Another point I want to make is that we’re entering into holiday season, another time where people naturally choose love. We put the donations in the red buckets, we feed the needy, we donate to the homeless, etc. It’s almost second nature for us. What if we kept that momentum throughout the whole year? What if we didn’t stop after the holidays? I challenge you to really reflect on your own life and how you act in the holidays as opposed to the rest of the year? Is there a difference? If so, how can you transfer that mentality into the other 9 months or so?

Broken people are who populates our world today. Sadly, that’s what happened when sin entered the world. We went from almost perfect beings to imperfect beings in a matter of seconds. With that comes hurt, pain, and a longing to be loved, to belong. Each person has a different story than the next, yet still broken. We are all fighting some kind of battle. Luckily, we have the Hope of the world and the Comforter by our side. We serve a God who brings peace that surpasses all understanding, comfort in the midst of chaos, love when it’s hard to find, and joy when it seems hard to smile. God wants to instill those qualities in us, as believers. He wants us to be models of what He has already promised. He wants us to be living examples of the intense love He has for those around us. He loves the broken more than we could ever imagine. He loves them even when they run from Him, so why shouldn’t we?

I truly believe if our mindset changes and we remember what God has already promised, like He did in Hosea, that our own Valley of Trouble can be transformed into a gateway of hope. When we choose to love, even when things look good, that is when our world will change. When we rely on God to change our hearts and minds, that is when true, evident, and world altering change happens. God calls us to love one another. That’s it, there is no one circumstance that requires more love than another.

My heart goes out to anyone impacted by any of the recent tragedies. I know what you’re going through is difficult, it seems hopeless, and it’s really hard. I can’t even begin to imagine what you’re going through. I am praying for you, your families, your friends, your communities, your teachers, your nurses and doctors, and anyone else involved. I am praying that God would show you a love like you have never experienced.

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I have attached my own personal worship playlist below. I know that it helps me when times get tough and helps me refocus my mind. Worship is a very powerful thing. I encourage you to listen to it and let it minister to you. There is nothing special about it, I just put some of my favorite worship songs together in one place! It is in no specific order, my best recommendation would be to press shuffle. I hope God speaks to you through it, offers you hope, brings peace amidst the chaos, and challenges you to look at your own life and how you’re loving others. Is it circumstantial? Are you loving well? And what could you be doing differently?


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