Hope Restored > Hope Lost
Hope Restored > Hope Lost
Welcome to Share. The Newsletter. Before I get into the meat of the message today, I’d like to welcome in some new folks that have joined this community in the last few weeks! I also want to quickly reintroduce myself and this project!
My name is Joel Barnes, I am a single father to an amazing 14 year old daughter, Hannah, and we live in Chicago, IL. I’m a single dad, but also a co-parent with Melissa and her and her family have now become my own family. Through the ups and the downs, our families have become joined through the love of our kid. Honestly, that whole story is nothing short of a miracle.
The cliff notes of my personal story: I was born and raised as a mixed kid (black and italian/irish) in a black low income neighborhood in Orlando, FL. Until I ‘got with the program’ I was bullied in the hood… and I was bullied at the rich white elementary school we got shipped out to.
My father was a pastor and conman who physically and emotionally abused my mom, myself and my 3 siblings. My mother was the spiritual lantern that guided me and my siblings towards God’s goodness and grace. It’s and Only God story (and another miracle to marvel at) that we ALL came out of that abusive life with an anointed spirit that craves relationship with the Holy Spirit. We had every excuse in the book to walk away from the truth and perpetuate the brokenness that we’ve all experienced.
Professionally, I started in the service industry 25 years ago. From dishwasher, prep cook, line cook, server, bartender, to corporate trainer for the Cheesecake Factory to lead trainer to manager to General Manager to owner to consultant of multiple nightclubs and bars and restaurants around Chicago. I did it all.
Then I was called into ministry. From the top of the totem pole of the industry I was in, to an entry level position stacking chairs at my local church, I followed that call.
Before I get to the next part, I want to make something extremely clear here.
I have ZERO regrets. You might read my story and have more regrets on my behalf than I do… lol. But I DO NOT.
I am not a victim. Not even a victim of circumstance or situation… God has conquered the next part of my story… even though I’m still going through it.
God is incredible.
Aight… let’s get to the next part of the story about the mixed kid from the hood who never fit anywhere and now fits in EVERYWHERE.
I did physical labor stuff for about a year and then transitioned to full time and more physical stuff. Honestly, I was pastoring in the hallways and while we folded tables and stacked chairs and I was leading small groups and doing ministry in there trenches… but my body was getting beat up. Late 2019 I was diagnosed with 3 slipped discs in my back and a torn meniscus. Meniscus surgery scheduled for April 2020 … but then COVID.
11.3.2020 I had a “simple meniscectomy” and something went wrong and I haven’t walked without crutches or pain since. I was diagnosed with a rare nerve pain syndrome called CRPS in February of 2021. WILD TIMES. lol. It’s been the hardest 17 months of my life. I haven’t been ABLE to work or cover my bills for 17… MONTHS. Depression, anxiety…. PAIN…. On a level that I never knew could be survivable. Truly.
That’s all heavy stuff…. But that’s not what I think this season has been about.
Honestly, I think it’s been about HOPE.
Let’s get into this message for today.
The only thing harder than having hope is losing it.
Thank you God for finally revealing what this whole newsletter is about… y’all, I been just writing blind here. He’s only been giving me the next thought and I have written it… and He’s given me the next thought and I have written it. Trust me… there’s nothing fun about telling a story that gets to THIS part of it. Especially since I haven’t transcended it yet. I had 2 pain flares this week. April rent isn’t paid. THIS week, I had a surgical consultation with a new surgeon that was planning on scoping my knee to try to find out what’s mechanically wrong with it… work comp cancelled the appointment in the 9th hour. THIS WEEK… I experienced Aqua Therapy and it was amazing… matter of fact, this was my post about it:
I just swam. In a pool.
They put a buoyancy board between my legs so that I didn’t have to use my legs to kick.
And I swam.
In a pool.
And I’m super emotional about it…
I haven’t moved on my own in over 17 months…
(Over 300 reactions and comments from people that were so happy to hear this for me)
Guys it was amazing and surreal and incredible and life giving and…. and guys!!! It was CANCELLED by work comp three days later. Literally HOURS after they had cancelled my surgical consult.
In that moment, I knew that it was the subject of today’s newsletter. “The only thing harder than losing hope was having in the first place” - yeah… I reworded it there.
First of all… having hope cancelled on me TWICE within a few hours. The hope stolen of a new surgical opinion on my knee that could give me some help and relief… upsetting. The hope of the best overall treatment I’ve experience in the aqua therapy stolen… via a third party email… upsetting. KNOWing that I now had to go and share that news with my mom, my family, my close prayer circle, my friends and eventually, here, with you… devastating.
I don’t care about reactions or likes or comments or any of that bullshit… but I had just delivered HOPE in my story, and now, I gotta walk it back. Honestly, I cared more about that, than I did the news of the cancellations.
But it all just made sense….
I’ve been asking God to show me the meaning.
Easter is my favorite holiday. Always has been. You know what I’ve always been enthralled by? Imagining being there. Honestly, it’s the only way God’s ever let me understand the Bible and the Bible stories. To imagine that I was there…
In my faith, Easter is the celebration of the death and resurrection of Jesus. I don’t know if you believe what I believe but that’s gotta sound like some wild stuff to you. “So this man who God sent to earth, as God on earth, died… and then a couple days he came BACK?!” Yeah… we can have a hundred conversations about that event, whenever you want to… but today, I gotta focus on what God showed me a few minutes ago.
Jesus traveled around the land for 3 years doing miracles and changing lives and freeing people from the existing human interpretation of God’s love. The Bible is broken into 2 parts, the Old Testament and the New Testament. Here’s the definition of a testament.
a person's will, especially the part relating to personal property. "father's will and testament"
something that serves as a sign or evidence of a specified fact, event, or quality."growing attendance figures are a testament to the event's popularity"
The New Testament is the new Will of God. It’s the new way, the new “sign or evidence” of His presence and relationship with us, His kids here on earth. It was marked by the HOPE of God walking the earth. His coming had been preceded in the Old Testament … and now it was happening!!
And this week, over 2000 years ago, all of the hope that had been anticipated for years…. All of the hope that had been craved and desired and urned for… would be snuffed out by Friday. Matter of fact, today is called Palm Sunday because this day marks the day that Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey and people celebrated by laying palms on His path and fanning Him with palms as He rode in. A King was coming to take the thrown. Hope was gushing from the people who had been looking for Him to deliver them from the tyrannical Roman rulers. Hope was at an all time high. Could you imagine it?
And then… He’s brutally murdered and tortured and publicly hung to die with murderers and thieves.
His disciples had to be in shock. They had to be devastated and confused. We can even find stories of them denying even KNOWING Jesus during this time. Hope was stolen. Snatched away. Unbelievably ripped out of their hands.
My story isn’t the same. But it kinda is… right?
The hope that you have lost… it might not be the same, but it feels similar, doesn’t it.
You just knew he/she was the one for you, but it didn’t work out. You had hope.
You just knew you taught you kid to do better than that. You had hope.
You just knew that you were eating right and exercising but you still go that diagnosis. You had hope.
You just knew that this was the church for you, but situations broke your heart. You had hope.
You just knew that you’d be further along in life than you are. You had hope.
I think for me, I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that hope doesn’t just float down and land on me when I’m in a tough situation. Hope is a verb. It’s active and not passive. It’s worked for and doesn’t just appear. I’ve had to work for hope and fortify my soul with HOPE. Hope is built up around my heart like a wall.
This week, I’m so thankful for hope that’s been stored. I’m so thankful for when the wolves of death and despair and pain and disappointment approach, I get on my knees, and I grab my shield and my sword, as I call on You God. I don’t have the strength or resources to handle this season and having hope knocked out of my hands… but you have won the battle for me, already. Knowing that is faith.
Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Here’s the revelation of this past week versus this coming week. What we KNOW is that we can lose hope. We can have it stripped out from under us. Situations can come and attempt to rob you and steal your joy from you.
But I already know the end of the story. Events of the day might rock my hope but my faith says….
But my faith says….
But my FAITH says. I know who won this battle.
Friday, Jesus was murdered and hope was lost….
But by Sunday…
on the other side of the story….
on the other side of your heartbreak….
on the other side of your struggle…
on the other side of your pain…
on the other side of hope lost…
Your hope will be restored because death and despair and depression and anxiety and hurt and pain and heartbreak and struggle have been defeated. Conquered. As they were in that grave… they have been overcome.
And look… I’m telling you this, while I’m crouched on my knees and in my fighting stance. With MY hope attacked and dashed… just a couple days ago. But sometimes, I truly believe that in order for us to sure up our faith, our hope has to be tested. Sometimes hope has to be lost so we can find it again. As a person who’s gone through the process over and over again… no matter how many times I tell the story, He ALWAYS conquers the grave. He always defeats my enemies. He always brings me through to the next season. ALWAYS. My faith can’t allow me to see it any other way because I’ve seen it too many times. I’ve had to work to restore my HOPE so many times. I’ve had my faith tested so many times.
You are NOT alone. God is not done with your story. He didn’t stop at the grave… He fought off death for you. He fought off depression and anxiety for you. He fought to restore your hope. He fought to secure your faith.
What a good lesson this week. Honestly, I’m sad that I continue to fight for healing and health and something keeps pushing back. My hope is hurting this week, but my faith remains strong.
If your hope or your faith is hurting, this week, I’m praying for you. If you are just exhausted, I’m praying for you. If you are cruising through life and killin it… I’m praying for you.
To close…. I think it’s pretty funny how this piece turned out. I started to give you a snapshot of what this whole newsletter and podcast project is… of who I am. Of why I do this every week. And then it just naturally evolved into exactly that: A New Testament of Hope through Hardship.
I love this ministry. We are “Teaching people to SHARE their blessings and bruises to connect with love and empathy”. Thank You for that assignment God. Thank You for what you are doing in ME through it all.
I thought I was done but God said… take em to church a lil bit. I’m supposed to SHARE this scripture from Luke 24:1 with you.
If you are not listening to the podcast version for this… I would recommend it because I’m going to place the verse below, but let it flow as I read it.
1Very early on Sunday morning the women went to the tomb, carrying the spices they had prepared. 2They found the stone rolled away from the entrance to the tomb, 3so they went in; but they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4They stood there puzzled about this, when suddenly two men in bright shining clothes stood by them. 5Full of fear, the women bowed down to the ground, as the men said to them, “Why are you looking among the dead for one who is alive? 6 He is not here; he has been raised. Remember what he said to you while he was in Galilee: 7‘The Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, be crucified, and three days later rise to life.’ 8Then the women remembered his words, 9returned from the tomb, and told all these things to the eleven disciples and all the rest. 10The women were Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James; they and the other women with them told these things to the apostles. 11But the apostles thought that what the women said was nonsense, and they did not believe them. 12But Peter got up and ran to the tomb; he bent down and saw the linen wrappings but nothing else. Then he went back home amazed at what had happened.
13On that same day two of Jesus' followers were going to a village named Emmaus, about eleven kilometres from Jerusalem, 14and they were talking to each other about all the things that had happened. 15As they talked and discussed, Jesus himself drew near and walked along with them; 16they saw him, but somehow did not recognize him. 17Jesus said to them, “What are you talking about to each other, as you walk along?”
They stood still, with sad faces. 18One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you the only visitor in Jerusalem who doesn't know the things that have been happening there these last few days?”
19 “What things?” he asked.
“The things that happened to Jesus of Nazareth,” they answered. “This man was a prophet and was considered by God and by all the people to be powerful in everything he said and did. 20Our chief priests and rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and he was crucified. 21And we had hoped that he would be the one who was going to set Israel free! Besides all that, this is now the third day since it happened. 22Some of the women of our group surprised us; they went at dawn to the tomb, 23but could not find his body. They came back saying they had seen a vision of angels who told them that he is alive. 24Some of our group went to the tomb and found it exactly as the women had said, but they did not see him.”
25Then Jesus said to them, “How foolish you are, how slow you are to believe everything the prophets said! 26Was it not necessary for the Messiah to suffer these things and then to enter his glory?”
Thank you for making it this far. Thank you for continuously encouraging me to SHARE and not to hide during this trying time.