Friday, January 12, 2018
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It's one of those photos you never forget – like, you know, the picture of those American soldiers raising the flag on Iwo Jima. You've probably seen the photo of those three weary, dusty firefighters raising the American flag in the ruins of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. USA Today says "it may have been the blackest day's blackest hour" when that picture was taken. It was becoming apparent that there would be few survivors, and another tower – 7 World Trade Center – was about to fall. An evacuation order was issued to all firefighters searching in the rubble. But one firefighter saw something on a docked boat – a debris-covered American flag on a broken pole. With the help of two other firefighters, he found a large metal flagpole jutting at a 45-degree angle from a ledge about twenty feet above the ground. They climbed up and they rigged the flag to the pole, totally unaware that a photographer was watching and capturing it for all the world to see. A woman who taught nearby, summarized what that moment meant: "People were grasping for hope," she said, "and suddenly there it was."
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Defiant Hope."
That's what it is when you raise your flag at a time when everything seems to be collapsing – it's defiant hope. You could be in one of your "blackest hours" right now, but you still have to raise the flag that says hope in a seemingly hopeless situation.
It's that kind of defiant hope that Job expressed in our word for today from the Word of God. Through the centuries, no name has been more synonymous with human suffering than that of Job. He lost his fortune, he lost his family, he lost his health – in fact, he says in his book, "If only my anguish could be weighed and all my misery be placed on the scales! It would surely outweigh the sand of the seas" (Job 6:2-3). But listen to the faith that sustained him. Job 13:15, speaking of God, he says, "Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him."
Later, Job looks beyond his current tragedies to affirm, "I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end He will stand upon the earth . . . I myself will see Him with my own eyes" (Job 19:25, 27). But Job didn't have to wait until he died to see God as he had never seen Him before. Reflecting back on what he had gained by losing it all, he said in Job 42:5, "My ears had heard of You, but now my eyes have seen You."
Job shows us how to respond when things seem really dark, when the pain is almost unbearable, when hope seems almost gone. You choose to hang onto your God more strongly than you have ever held Him before! That's a choice you make. You raise a flag over the rubble that says, "I'm trusting my God – no matter what." There are times you just say to Him, "Lord, I don't always understand You, but I always trust You." And you know what that trust is based on? The fact that the cross of Jesus proves that He cares more about your life than His own.
You stubbornly decide that your pain will not take you out of your allegiance to Christ. As Job said, "Till I die, I will not deny my integrity. I will maintain my righteousness and never let go of it" (Job 27:5-6). Well, that's it-unshakeable obedience and stubborn faith.
So today, in the middle of what may be one of your blackest hours, would you raise your Jesus-flag above the rubble around you and experience the healing power of defiant hope!