Hope for Living: Look for ‘stump’ to find hope amid life’s storms

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Mayfield and Bowling Green Kentucky will be one of the tragic memories of Christmas

2021 — so much devastation coming at one of the most hope-filled seasons.

I was stirred emotionally when I first saw the effect of an F4 tornado’s random 200-mile sweep. I thought of

the outside Christmas decorations and purchased gifts hidden in closets, basements, garages

with the anticipated joy of giving them to family and friends. In a matter of seconds, all these

decorations and gifts cited to bring joy and laughter, gone! Devastation!

Even greater, the instant loss of 80+ lives that were expected to be seated at the table for the Christmas meal.

In Isaiah 6, when the Lord reveals the future plight of the prophet’s people and their

properties, the emotion for the prophet is similar. Horrific devastation! The land and cities are

a desolate waste.

However, the prophetic picture at the close of the prophecy is hope in the form of a “stump!” The tree may be gone, but if there is a stump remaining, there is hope!

When I scanned the destruction of these central Kentucky cities and surrounding communities, I saw signs of hope rising from the ruins, almost immediately: People coming together and leaders emerging out of the ruins, collecting what was salvageable — the “stump” of what was left.

It is the experience of hard times, the sudden reversals in life, that opens our eyes to the “stump.” The seasons of Christmas and Easter opens our eyes once more to the “stump,” the holy seed of God, Jesus!

Cultural tornados are like 200-mile storms that sweep through our city and town communities, ripping away at values and beliefs that have guided and guarded us for years. The greatest damage is robbing people of hope. The most severe robbery that can be done to anyone is to take away hope.

Job, the man who suffered devastating losses, held on to God as his stump — “Though he slay me, I will hope in him; yet I will argue my ways to his face” (Job 13:15).

Paul, the “tornado” who sought to rip and tear apart the message of Jesus, and those who followed him, wrote from his discovery “stump” these words: “For we do not want you to be ignorant, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves, but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again” (2 Corinthians 1: 8-10).

If you feel like Mayfield looks, I urge you to find the “stump!”

David Woods is a teaching pastor at Park Chapel Christian Church in Greenfield. This column is written by local clergy members.

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