Week of Monday,  November 28 ­– Sunday, December4
Hope – Man as Chaplain
"There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit. And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. And his delight shall be in the fear of the Lord. […] In that day the root of Jesse, who shall stand as a signal for the peoples—of him shall the nations inquire, and his resting place shall be glorious. " - Isaiah 11:1-3a, 10 ESV
Four-letter words. As you might imagine, I heard a lot of those during my time in the military. We are all exposed to them in our coarse culture. But there was one four-letter word that became precious to me in the military and still is today. That word is “Hope.” 
After losing some brave men during the Battle of Mogadishu, otherwise known as “Black Hawk Down,” I was broken and bitter and had nearly lost hope. Identifying their bodies, then sending their flag-draped coffins back home was almost more than I could bear. I angrily demanded, “God, where were you?” Then, I started down that dark road toward thinking, “Well, maybe there is no God.” I was so angry with God at that moment. But then the thought immediately came to me: “If there is no God, there is no hope.” Of course, I came back around to the truth that there is a God. Therefore, there must be hope. Even so, I must admit that I had a hard time experiencing hope during those dark days.
When we read these early chapters in Isaiah, we read about a people who were experiencing some dark days, were under the judgment of God, and had lost hope. At the end of Isaiah 10, we see the LORD leveling the nations with an axe, chopping down the proud as if they were mighty trees. Isaiah paints the picture of a vast wasteland—what was once a dense green forest is now clear-cut with nothing left but grey stumps. Yet, here in chapter 11, we have the picture of the LORD looking over these lifeless stumps and causing a tender green shoot, a Branch, to grow out of one of them. He identifies this Branch as the root of the family of Jesse, King David’s father. Ah, the first signs of hope!
Think about this prophetic promise. The royal authority of the house of David was taken away by Babylon and lay dormant like a stump for some 600 years. For all intents and purposes, there appeared to be no hope. But then, at a dark hour, with the Jews under Roman rule, the promised Messiah from the line of David came in humility and lowliness, born in a stable and laid in a manger. His coming was like a new green Branch emanating from what looked like a dead stump.
The LORD wanted Judah to know that even though the Assyrians and later the Babylonians would come and bring judgment, God would still use them and bring forth life and fruit from them. The promises to Abraham and David would be honored by God. Even if God’s people looked like a long-dead stump, God would bring a Messiah, a King from humble circumstances, who would one day rule both Jew and Gentile alike in a glorious kingdom. His first coming renewed our hope. His second coming will make our hope a tangible reality.
In the meantime, during these dark days, we not only need to maintain our hope in God and the glorious future He has in store for His children, but we need to inspire it in those we lead in our role as Chaplains. There’s a well-worn saying that goes something like this: “A person can live 40 days without food, four days without water, four minutes without air, but only four seconds without hope.” I realize that’s a bit trite, but it is nonetheless true: hope is a powerful thing. When times are tough, hope is the fuel to keep moving forward. Hope empowers us to forge ahead to a better future. Sometimes, hope simply supplies enough reason to take the next steps, press on through the pain, and keep on living. We all need hope. Use that four-letter word to inspire your family because there is certainly HOPE in Jesus.
1. Can you identify some seasons in your life when you lost hope? How did God help you out of it? Was it time spent with Him, and He gave you a word like He did me, or was it through a trusted Battle Buddy?
2. What are you doing during these dark days to develop and inspire hope in God for the future within your family and the guys you influence? What game plan could you put in place to be more intentional about it?
3. Ask God to renew your hope as you celebrate the first coming of Christ this Christmas season and help you to inspire hope in others as we anticipate the fulfillment of our hope at His second coming.