I'm from a tiny little town in Southwestern Virginia. Living in a one-stoplight town that still has trouble picking up a local Christian Radio station, I grew up listening to country music and the year’s top 40s. I didn't even know Contemporary Christian music existed until I was sixteen years old, and almost twenty years later, I still love a good country song.
So the other day, as I was enjoying the rare opportunity to drive in the car alone (I'm a mom of two young boys, can I get an amen from the moms?), I heard these words from popular country singer, Toby Keith:
Where do they go?
They come here
To drown in their sorrow and cry in their beer
They’re in need of a mind-bender
I’m a bartender
At the end of the day
I’m all they’ve got
Hope on the rocks
In spite of the fact that Toby Keith seems to have some kind of fixation on singing about bars, and despite the song’s somewhat morose theme, it caught my attention, and I found myself pondering the deeper meaning behind it.
People lose. Dreams are shattered. Life ends up being harder than we expected, and sometimes we just want to run away.
Anywhere to get some hope.
I’ve been in that situation a time or two, where life hurt too much and I just wanted out of the pit. In the fall of 2011, my husband and I lost our third child to an early miscarriage. It came on the heels of five other significant losses in a span of just six years, and it left me feeling sucker-punched by God, wondering if I could really trust Him to take care of my heart. I lost hope, and wasn't sure where to turn to get it back.
Maybe you can relate?
Or maybe you know someone who’s living in that valley right now? You’re watching her claw her way out of the pit doing everything she can to grasp hope and fight the black cloud that is pulling her down. If so, there's an important life lesson we can learn from this song.
You may be someone’s divine appointment with hope.
That mom in the grocery store who's getting ready to snap …
That teenager who's showy outfit makes you want to cover your childrens' eyes …
That man in your church who sits alone week after week …
The car that cut you off and made you want to explode in anger …
All potential opportunities to share hope.
Far be it from us to decide who or what God will use to bring hope to someone at just the right time.
As Christ’s ambassadors we have the living hope, the Person of Hope — Jesus Himself — living inside of us. All the power of heaven is at our disposal to guide us and keep us from missing the opportunities where our world collides with someone else’s for the purpose of hope.
Want to be an ambassador of hope? Here are three simple ways:
1. Ask the Lord to make your heart sensitive to His Holy Spirit, and to give you discernment so you know who needs hope, what they need to hear, and when they need to hear it.
2. Be okay with Divine interruptions to your day. This one is the hardest for me, but I'm getting better at answering that email or Facebook message when I’m already swamped with mothering and work. When someone reaches out to me (especially someone in my inner circle, or that I know in real life) I think Jesus might want me to reach back with His words of comfort and care.
3. Stop and pray with someone right then and there instead of just saying you will later. You’ll be amazed at how much your spoken prayers will bless someone in need of a touch from God.
I’m not advocating that we all become bartenders, but with only a few small changes we can become hope-givers. In the words of Toby Keith, we might be all they’ve got.
What are some ways you can share hope today?