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Passionless Hope

• Jessica Kelley

This message examines Christian hope and how we are called to prophetically speak hope into seemingly hopeless situations. While hope is vital, certain understandings of God’s character and role in radical suffering can leave victims of trauma with passionless hope. But when our picture of God is rooted solidly in the revelation of Jesus, it is possible to have a passionate faith, regardless of the circumstances. *We have Jessica’s book available for purchase; please email Jodi at jcremers@whchurch.org if you’re interested!

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Jessica’s message begins by sharing a story that took place a few months after the death of her four-year-old son, Henry. Jessica had decided that she couldn’t walk past Henry’s clean, vacant bedroom anymore, so she and her husband decided to sell their house. While she cleaned their home one final time, she listened a podcast sermon about Ezekiel and the Valley of the Dry Bones. In that story, God takes the Prophet Ezekiel into a valley that is filled with dry bones and tells Ezekiel to prophesy breath, tendons, flesh, and skin over the bones. In other words, God calls the prophet to speak hope into the hopeless. Ezekiel obeys and the bones join together before his eyes and are covered with tendons, flesh, and skin. Ezekiel prophesies once more and the bodies fill with breath and rise to their feet. When the sermon that Jessica was listening to ended, she realized that she had finished cleaning her family’s home. Flashes of her life and memories of her little boy began to lap over her. She sank to the floor in her empty house, too heart-broken to leave… until she followed Ezekiel’s example. Prophetically speaking hope into that seemingly hopeless situation gave Jessica the courage to rise to her feet and move forward.

While hope is vital, so is passion. Jessica discusses how the blueprint worldview leaves broken hearts primed for passionless hope. The blueprint worldview is the idea that history is a working out of God’s meticulous divine blueprint, and that there is a specific, good reason behind everything that comes to pass. Yet this view requires Christians to embrace a picture of a God who causes or specifically allows their suffering – such as the death of their children – for a mysterious higher purpose. Jessica explains how the belief that God orchestrates specific horrors, ranging from individual tragedies to mass atrocities, renders God’s heart for humanity mysterious at best. Within this blueprint framework, many can find the hope to survive, but their faith can lack the passion to thrive.

Listeners are encouraged to critically examine the blueprint worldview and to move towards a passion-evoking picture of a God based on the person of Jesus. Doing so can enable us to fall deeper in love with God and to better trust his heart. The knowledge that God is doing everything possible to maximize good and minimize evil within the constraints of the world he created allows suffering Christians to embrace hope and passion for God. They are equipped with hope for tomorrow and a passion-evoking picture of God today.

Three Actions Steps:

  1. Play the word association game. Using the prompt “Jesus,” write a list of words that spring into your mind.
  2. Then do the same using the prompt “God.”
  3. Compare the lists. Does your picture of God’s character differ from the character you find in Jesus? Begin to wrestle with any discrepancies.

Jessica Kelley is an author, speaker, and survivor of child loss. You can read more about her testimony, the loss of her son, and the picture of God that continues to bring her hope and passion at LordWillingBook.com.

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Topics: God's Will, Hope, Pain & Suffering

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Focus Scripture:

  • Ezekiel 37:1-13 (CEB)

    The Lord’s power overcame me, and while I was in the Lord’s spirit, he led me out and set me down in the middle of a certain valley. It was full of bones. He led me through them all around, and I saw that there were a great many of them on the valley floor, and they were very dry.

    He asked me, “Human one, can these bones live again?”

    I said, “Lord God, only you know.

    He said to me, “Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, Dry bones, hear the Lord’s

    word! The Lord God proclaims to these bones: I am about to put breath in you, and you will live again. I will put sinews on you, place flesh on you, and cover you with skin. When I put breath in you, and you come to life, you will know that I am the Lord.”

    I prophesied just as I was commanded. There was a great noise as I was prophesying, then a great quaking, and the bones came together, bone by bone.

    When I looked, suddenly there were sinews on them. The flesh appeared, and then they were covered over with skin. But there was still no breath in them.

    He said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, human one! Say to the breath, The Lord God proclaims: Come from the four winds, breath! Breathe into these dead bodies and let them live.”

    I prophesied just as he commanded me. When the breath entered them, they came to life and stood on their feet, an extraordinarily large company.

    He said to me, “Human one, these bones are the entire house of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope has perished. We are completely finished.’ So now, prophesy and say to them, The Lord God proclaims: I’m opening your graves! I will raise you up from your graves, my people, and I will bring you to Israel’s fertile land. You will know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and raise you up from your graves, my people.

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