The prayer meeting had come to a close but Bill Peterson was not feeling any better. Harold had gone missing and no-one had been able to find him. He was hoping really hard that the prayer meeting would help make a difference in the search for his missing son and as much as he trusted God to help, he couldn't keep himself from thinking he would never see Harold again and he couldn't keep himself from crying.
“I got here as soon as I could.” Sergeant Halfway said walking over to Bill but when he saw him crying he could only think the worse. “You're crying, Bill. Did something bad happen to Harold?” “We still can't find him.” Bill replied between the sobs, “And I'm starting to lose all hope of ever seeing him again.”
“Is the search team still out looking for him? Sergeant Halfway asked. “No” Bill sobbed, “The search got called off.” “What?” Halfway exclaimed in surprise. “My officers never told me that.” “They've looked everywhere.” Bill said. “There's no where left to look.”
“How long has been missing now?” Halfway asked. “It seems like it's been forever.” Bill told him, “And, and, I don’t think I can keep going. I’m losing hope.” “What about the prayer meeting you just had?” Halfway wondered, “Surely it did some good.” “I'd like to think so.” Bill replied, “But I'm not sure it will do any good.”
“What do you mean?” Halfway asked. “I think we waited too long.” Bill explained, “Besides, half of the people are beginning to believe that Harold was really taken captive by space aliens.” “But there is no such thing as space aliens.” Sergeant Halfway said sternly. “Are you sure?” Bill asked, “Were you at the cemetery?
“Well,” Sergeant Halfway said, “ What did you see when you went to the cemetery?” “I, didn't actually go there myself.” Bill stammered, “But I heard that something had been out there and some trees were destroyed.” “Well, if you didn't go to the cemetery,” Halfway said, “Who did? Somebody had to have gone there and checked it out.”
“I don’t think anybody went out there and looked.” Bill said, “Cemeteries are creepy enough, but a cemetery with space aliens... No way.” “Bill!” Sergeant Halfway said sternly, “That should have been the first place any body should have looked.”
“But why” Bill protested, “If Harold had really been trying to scare somebody do you really think he would have stayed there?” “No.” Halfway answered, “But he might have left a clue as to where he did go.” “Well, Bill said hesitantly, “If it will help me find Harold I guess I’ll go but if I don't come back the space aliens got me.”
But Festus, wishing to do the Jews a favor, said to Paul, "Do you wish to go up to Jerusalem and there be tried on these charges before me?" But Paul said, "I am standing before Caesar's tribunal, where I ought to be tried. To the Jews I have done no wrong, as you yourselves know very well. If then I am a wrongdoer and have committed anything for which I deserve to die, I do not seek to escape death. But if there is nothing to their charges against me, no one can give me up to them. I appeal to Caesar." Then Festus, when he had conferred with his council, answered, "To Caesar you have appealed; to Caesar you shall go."
Acts 25:9-12 (ESV)
Paul had been in jail for preaching - in fact, he'd been there a couple of years. Festus, wanting to please the Jews wanted to have a trial in Jerusalem for Paul but Paul, knowing he had done nothing wrong, made an appeal to Caesar which he could do as a Roman citizen. So, off to Rome he goes.
And when it was decided that we should sail for Italy, they delivered Paul and some other prisoners to a centurion of the Augustan Cohort named Julius. … the centurion found a ship of Alexandria sailing for Italy and put us on board. … We sailed slowly for a number of days and arrived with difficulty off Cnidus, and as the wind did not allow us to go farther, we sailed under the lee of Crete off Salmone. Coasting along it with difficulty, we came to a place called Fair Havens, near which was the city of Lasea. Since much time had passed, and the voyage was now dangerous because even the Fast was already over, Paul advised them, saying, "Sirs, I perceive that the voyage will be with injury and much loss, not only of the cargo and the ship, but also of our lives." But the centurion paid more attention to the pilot and to the owner of the ship than to what Paul said. … But soon a tempestuous wind, called the northeaster, struck down from the land. … Since we were violently storm-tossed, they began the next day to jettison the cargo. And on the third day they threw the ship's tackle overboard with their own hands. When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days, and no small tempest lay on us, all hope of our being saved was at last abandoned. Since they had been without food for a long time, Paul stood up among them and said, "Men, you should have listened to me and not have set sail from Crete and incurred this injury and loss. Yet now I urge you to take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. For this very night there stood before me an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I worship, and he said, 'Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before Caesar. And behold, God has granted you all those who sail with you.' So take heart, men, for I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told. … And so it was that all were brought safely to land. Acts 27:1-44 (ESV)
You can go to the Bible and read the complete story, I've just shortened to catch some of the highlights. Like Bill in our puppet story the men of the ship had lost hope.
What is Hope? It is to wish with expectation, it is to have confidence or trust that something will come to be, it is to expect or desire something to happen. The Bible has some things to say about hope.
- Job 8:13 Such are the paths of all who forget God; the hope of the godless shall perish. (ESV)
- Ephesians 2:12 Remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. (ESV)
- Proverbs 10:28 The hope of the righteous brings joy, but the expectation of the wicked will perish. (ESV)
- 1 Timothy 1:1Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope, (ESV)
Here's Something To Ponder
- Like Bill, Have you ever felt hopeless?
- In who or what do you place your hope?