Running and crawling through waves of artillery, mortar, grenade and rifle fire, a young man risked his life to save his wounded comrades. Not just one time, but scores of times. Putting his own safety aside, he made his way through hellacious gunfire and mortar shelling to rescue the dying. He was a man on a life-saving mission that would not be denied. He was Desmond T. Doss, a World War II medic who was also a conscientious objector.
As a young man I remember being glued to the pages of the book The Unlikeliest Hero: The Story of Desmond T Doss1 as it outlined his heroics. Chronicling miracle after miracle, the book testifies about the care of God over his life that enabled Desmond to extend that care to others.
It can be argued that Desmond was simply committed to his role as a medic and that while unusual, he was just doing his job. That element is true but there’s also a more personal motivation behind Private Doss’s heroic actions. In his own words, Desmond explains it.
“They were my buddies…they trust me. I didn’t feel like I should value my life above my buddies.”2
They were not just people he was responsible for serving – they were people he valued. He gave the wounded and dying hope because they knew he would not forsake them and would do all in his power to rescue them.
And that brings us to this week’s lesson on Intimations of Hope. What is it that gives us hope? What gives us confidence in the promises that can only be claimed by faith? Just what is our hope built upon?
A part of the answer is in our value. We are valuable in God’s sight. You might think this goes without saying, but often I hear the opposite sentiments expressed about how God views us – terms like “filthy rags,” “wretched and miserable trash” are often used in a warped sense of humility. “We are nothing, but God will save us” is our summation of salvation.
If I view myself as less than nothing, it is hard to accept that God loves me enough to care about my life. My salvation is now driven by my complying to the letter of the law. My resistance to sin is not motivated by a reaction to God’s love for me as much as it is His tolerance of me. My hope is shaky at best and my doubts are stronger than my faith. After all, why would God care for me when there are other people more deserving of His love?
God loves us because He values us – enough to pay the ultimate price to restore us.
“For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:7-8
Being a sinner or ungodly does not equate to being valueless. Viewing ourselves as trash and going through life with our heads bowed down in shame is an indication that we do not appreciate who God made us to be nor how He views us.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.” Ephesians 1:3-6
A son has more hope in his father than a stranger would have. Why? Because he knows his father loves him and he can trust that that love will always work in his behalf. God claims us as His sons and daughters.
“If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” Matthew 7:11
We can have hope because we know and believe God loves us and is caring for us and values us on our worse days, not just our best. We may not understand the circumstances of life we face. The sky may get dark at times and the feeling of loneliness may try to overtake us. Through it all we must believe in His love for us and that He will never leave us nor forsake us. Like Job, we must hold onto to our hope. Like Desmond Doss, Christ risked everything to save us.
“Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.” Job 13:15
Here are a few Hit the Mark questions for this week’s lesson discussion:
- What does “trusting God” mean to you?
- Describe some difficult areas of life to trust God with and why.
- Is it true that God loves some people more than others? Explain your answer
- If it is true that God loves me why then does He allow bad things to happen to me?
- How can I be an instrument of hope for others?
- Describe what heaven is to you.
- How, if at all, does the true observance of the Sabbath increase my trust in God?
- Is the following statement True, Mostly True, Somewhat True or Not True: Isaiah 64:6, “all our righteousness are as filthy rags” describes how God sees us. Explain your answer.
We close this week’s lesson with Peter’s the summation of our hope after he describes that final awful day of the Lord.
“Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.” 2 Peter 3:13
Until next week, let’s all continue to Hit the Mark in Sabbath School!